Ye old spice shoppe, secret chocolate cake


The smells of seven continents make The Spice Shop a spa for the senses. OK, maybe not Antarctica -- six continents!

OMGsh, as our friend Marilyn writes so no one thinks she’s cussing. Waiting for supper last week with two other friends, I wandered into the Savory Spice Shop in Birkdale Village, just north of Charlotte. I’d been looking for vanilla beans that cost less than a sports car, and there they were, just inside the front door and at four different prices.

I nearly went berserk. I managed to control myself somewhat — skipping the lavender vanilla sugar but buying three vanilla beans, crushed red pepper flakes, a medium-hot chili powder and eight ounces of Black Onyx Cocoa Powder.

This cocoa looks more like coal dust than Hershey’s, and you use it for only one-quarter to one-half of the cocoa called for in a recipe. I just used it in my mother’s “Secret Cake” recipe and, I promise, the icing has aftertones of a dark and exotic jungle. I’m just sorry I put most of it on the cake!

To make the cake heat your oven to 400.° In a large saucepan melt together 1 stick butter, 1/4 cup vegetable shortening, 1 cup water and 3-

No one knows what the secret of the Secret Cake might be, unless it's that any one of us could eat it in a single and very large bite!

1/2 tablespoons cocoa (I used 1 tb. of the Black Onyx and 2-1/2 tb. Hershey’s). In bowl mix together 2 cups granulated sugar and 2 cups flour. Pour over the chocolate mixture and stir gently. In bowl beat together 1/2 cup buttermilk, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add to flour mixture and beat by hand, just until well-mixed. Pour into greased and floured 11-x16-x2-inch pan and bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean.

During the last few minutes of baking, boil in the saucepan (which you’ve washed) 1 stick butter, 3-1/2 tablespoons cocoa and 1/3 cup buttermilk. Remove from heat. Add 3 cups confectioner’s sugar and 1 cup chopped walnuts. Spread on warm cake. Cool cake (in pan) completely on rack.

I don’t know how many servings it’s supposed to be. I think I’ll make two!

The combination of the two types of cocoa gives a rich chocolate taste.
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