Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Cracking the German (chocolate) code

Several years ago, my aunt who doesn't really cook bought me a cookbook for Christmas. I love cookbooks. I have dozens, most of which I use for only one or two fantastic recipes -- but I love the sheer clutter and weight they bring to my kitchen. And the more dilapidated the better, as it suggests that I am such a good and prolific cook that I cannot be bothered with cleanliness.

Back to the book, Betty Crocker's Ultimate Cake Mix Cook Book. The premise is that it's possible to make a cake mix (good heavens) into a dessert that appears to require actual skill. Having it on my shelves is almost as humiliating as setting out a coffee table book of pornography.

But you cannot beat the German Chocolate Bars. Not only are they terrific, they're easy, successful every time, store well and almost never stick to the pan. They're my go-to dessert in a pinch, and only require chocolate cake mix, German chocolate frosting, chocolate chips, butter and milk.

Naturally, JFG loves them. But until Betty Crocker starting producing gluten-free mixes, it was impossible to get the algorithm right. It still takes some fiddling, as the gluten-free chocolate cake mix only makes an 8x8 inch (thick) or 9x9 inch (thin) cake. So, use the recipe at the link but make the following substitutions:

-- Use half a cup of butter instead of 2/3
-- Use 1/8 of a cup of milk
-- Use 3/4 of the container of coconut pecan frosting (and only use Betty Crocker frosting -- it's gluten-free)

And to spread the cake batter, do it with very wet hands. Keep a close eye on the pan in the oven and remove it as soon as the top is dry to the touch. Also note that, like most other gluten-free desserts, this needs to stay in the fridge.

But make sure you keep this our secret. I'd rather people think that the bars are some mysterious form of alchemy that only I know.

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