Sugarless Chocolate Sheet Cake

This is how the cake should have turned out. (Photo from the NY Times.)

This is not exactly what I had in mind when I decided to "eat less sugar" this year.  I had been wanting to try the recipe for the Denver Chocolate Sheet Cake that had appeared in the NYTimes and my friend Boguska was here helping me.  I was mixing dry ingredients while she was preparing the cocoa and butter mix.  Shortly after we put the cake in the oven, I realized that I forgot to add the sugar to the dry ingredients. 

The cake didn't rise very much (was that because of the lack of sugar???) but it tasted like a chocolate biscuit.  I knew that the chocolate icing was going to be very sweet because it calls for a pound of confectioners' sugar.  Boguska suggested that I cut the cake in half and make a two layer cake out of it with a layer of the icing in the middle as well as on top.  That should make it sweet enough. 

I should have realized that there was a rather small amount of batter. 

Batter for cake part.

Into the oven.
Cut in half.
Today I made the icing.

Melting the butter, buttermilk and cocoa.

I usually add a bit of espresso whenever I'm making chocolate icing.

Melted cocoa and butter poured into bowl of mixer.

1 pound of confectioners' sugar.  That's a lot of sugar.
Adding the sugar.

Adding the chopped walnuts.
Icing the first layer. 


Here's the recipe:

2 1/3 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 c. butter
1 1/4 c. water
4 tbsp. cocoa
1/2 c. buttermilk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 c. butter
4 tbsp. cocoa
6 tbsp. buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 lb. powdered sugar
1/2 c. chopped walnuts or pecans
FOR CAKE: Mix flour, sugar and soda in bowl. Bring butter, water and cocoa to a boil in saucepan. Pour over dry ingredients. Mix thoroughly. Add buttermilk, eggs and vanilla. Beat well. Pour into greased 9"x13" pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until done.FOR FROSTING: To make frosting, heat butter, cocoa and buttermilk to boiling. Remove from heat and mix in vanilla, sugar and nuts.NOTE: A delicious, moist chocolate cake. The frosting will be runny but hardens as it cools. Cake freezes well.

Finished cake.

The cake part is a bit dense but it is certainly sweet enough with all that icing.

Plum Torte Using Pluots

The most requested recipe of all times of the NY Times recipes is the recipe for this Plum Torte.  Intrigued by this, I decided to give the recipe a try.  I happened to have some pluots on hand.  I had bought this fruit that is a cross between a plum and an apricot, thus the name pluots out of curiosity and they were quite good. 

Pluots, a cross between a plum and an apricot.

Halved pluots.
  • ¾ to 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup unbleached flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Pinch of salt (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 24 halves pitted purple plums  (I used 12 halves pitted pluots.)             
  • Sugar, lemon juice and cinnamon, for topping


  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream the sugar and butter in a bowl. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs and beat well.
  3. Spoon the batter into a springform pan of 8, 9 or 10 inches. Place the plum halves skin side up on top of the batter. Sprinkle lightly with sugar and lemon juice, depending on the sweetness of the fruit. Sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of cinnamon, depending on how much you like cinnamon.
  4. Bake 1 hour, approximately. Remove and cool; refrigerate or freeze if desired. Or cool to lukewarm and serve plain or with whipped cream. (To serve a torte that was frozen, defrost and reheat it briefly at 300 degrees.)
Adding eggs and dry ingredients to creamed sugar and butter.
Pluots placed skin side up on batter in pan.
Sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar.
Into the oven.
Out of the oven.
A nice afternoon snack with a cup of hot tea. 

I think I will try it with purple plums next time. 

Planked Salmon in the Oven

This was the planked salmon prepared by Laura and Anthony.

On our recent trip to Cape Breton, Laura and Anthony prepared delicious planked salmon.  As soon as I returned home, I did the same.  At Whole Foods I bought two nice pieces of wild salmon, where the thickness was more or less uniform.  I decided to use the hickory planks, because I like the hickory flavor. 

I soaked the planks overnight so that they were wet through.  You will need to put some kind of weight on the planks to hold them in the water. 

Soaked the hickory planks overnight.

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees.  I place the two planks on a cookie sheet with lips so that any of the juice would not run out in the oven.  I oiled the fish on both sides with olive oil and placed it skin side down on the planks.
Oiled on both sides.  Fish placed skin side down.  

I seasoned with fresh ground pepper and smoke maple flakes that I had on hand.

Seasoned with fresh ground pepper and smoked maple flakes.
Into the oven preheated to 350 degrees.

Cooking time was 20 minutes at which the salmon flaked perfectly. 

Out of oven. 
Ready to serve.  This is good at room temperature or even cold.

This is so easy and I think it is going to be my go to way to cook salmon in the future.