Chocolate Mocha Torte

All of my Grandma Murphy‘s desserts are delicious, but some are popular than others. Take for example, the beloved chocolate mocha torte.

chocolate mocha cake recipeThis tall, dark and handsome dessert is practically a celebrity in my family. When I asked relatives to share their favorite of Grandma’s recipes, almost all of the replies included the mocha torte. With its layers of moist chocolate chiffon cake and creamy mocha frosting, it’s totally worthy of its superstar status.

For me, this cake is synonymous with celebrations. It’s been my favorite cake for as long as I can remember. Even as a kid, I liked the rich mocha flavor and it was often the highlight of my childhood birthday parties. My mom loves this cake, too. For years, my grandma made it for her on her birthday, and I can’t think of this dessert without imagining my mom blowing out candles, her bright smile spread across her beautiful face.

If you try this recipe, I hope your family loves it as much as mine does. Enjoy!

For the cake: 
3/4 cup boiling water
4 squares sweet or semi-sweet chocolate 
1 2/3 cups sifted cake flour*
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tablespoons instant coffee
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
8 eggs, separated
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar 

For the frosting: 
3 cups whipping cream, chilled
1 1/2 cups icing sugar
1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa 
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons instant coffee 

Preheat oven to 350 F

Combine chocolate in boiling water. Microwave for 1 minute. Stir well and let cool. 

Sift flour, 1 1/4 cups sugar, coffee, baking powder, and salt into small mixer bowl. Make a well in the mixture and add oil, egg yolks, and chocolate. Beat well. 

Combine egg whites and cream of tartar and beat until frothy. Gradually beat in remaining 1/4 cup sugar until stiff peaks form. Fold in chocolate batter until well mixed. Bake in an angel food cake pan for 45 to 50 minutes. Upturn pan until cool. 

For the frosting, combine cream, sugar, cocoa, salt, and coffee. Refrigerate, covered, for 30 minutes. Beat mixture with electric beaters until stiff. 

Split cake into three layers and ice liberally. 

*Can substitute with all-purpose flour.


Morning Muffin Magic

I have a weakness for muffins. Every time I walk into a coffee shop, I instantly forget that I came in to order a latte, and start drooling over the plump muffins staring at me from behind the pastry case. “Pick me! Pick me!” I hear each one pleading. Like adorable little orphan-muffins in a pound.

But as tempting as the muffins in the cake stands at my favourite cafe are, nothing comes close to homemade muffins. Especially Grandma’s homemade muffins.morning muffin magicMy Grandma Murphy is 91 years old, so you won’t be surprised to hear that she doesn’t bake as often as she did when she was a young mother with a husband and five daughters to feed. When she does bake these days, though, muffins are her go-to goodies.

morning muffin magicThere are no special instructions for these muffins. Like all muffins, they’re a great grab-and-go breakfast or cure for those mid-morning stomach rumbles. The one thing I will say about these muffins, which are loaded with chunks of pecans, pineapple and raisins, is that there’s a reason why they have the word “magic” in their name!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups grated carrot
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup chopped pecans or other nuts
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup crushed pineapple, drained, or 1 apple, peeled and grated
3 eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F

Combine first 10 ingredients in a large bowl. Stir well to blend.

Beat eggs, oil and vanilla in small bowl. Make a well in dry ingredients and pour in egg mixture, stirring just until moistened. Fill greased or paper cup-lined muffin tins 3/4 full. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.

Special thanks to the beautiful and talented Scarlet O’Neill for helping me style this shoot.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite childhood moments with my Grandma Murphy involve pulling up a chair to the edge of the counter and helping her stir batter or roll out dough. Many of these memories include my brother, Colin, and my cousin Julie. The three of us spent lots of time in the kitchen with our grandma when we were younger, and she always had two rules: 1). Clean as you go and 2). Don’t eat the batter.

chocolate chip cookie As kids, we couldn’t resist Grandma’s delicious chocolate chip cookie dough, and we snuck it by the spoonful when she had her back turned or left the room. She always noticed the missing batter and we, of course, blamed it on the dog.

As an adult, I still follow at least one of Grandma’s rules because, let’s face it, sometimes the best part of making chocolate chip cookies is eating the batter.

Here’s my grandma’s foolproof recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

3/4 cup Crisco
1 1/4 cups firmly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 375°F

In large bowl, cream together Crisco, brown sugar, milk and vanilla and blend until creamy. Add egg to mixture and blend.

In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt and baking soda. Add to creamed mixture and blend. Stir in chocolate chips and pecan pieces.

Use a tablespoon to drop cookie dough 3 inches apart on ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes for chewy cookies (they will appear light and moist) or 11 to 13 minutes for crisp cookies. Let cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before removing to cooling rack.