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Angels Unawares, Serial #9 and Chocolate Chip Skillet Cakes

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Skillet and cake–now that sounds like a match made in heaven.

But the skillet needs to be a cast-iron skillet, like the ones your Grandma used to threaten Grandpa with. (Just kidding. Sweet little old white-haired Grandma–may she rest in peace–would never do something mean as that. Not! How about the time I reached for the cookie jar and got the flour canister by mistake because I couldn’t see over the edge and dumped the whole thing on the counter and on the floor and all across the kitchen–and on me too, covered from head to toe in white like a ghost. But a ghost could’ve hid from Grandma but I couldn’t–about wore my hindside out with that wooden spoon. Or was that the nightmare I had the other night?)

Where was I? Oh, yeah–skillet and cake. You need a cast-iron skillet with a cast-iron handle, so it won’t melt or get brittle when you put it in the oven to bake. If you don’t have one, go out and invest in this versatile and relatively inexpensive utensil. It doesn’t have to be enameled or Teflon-coated, just plain 100% cast-iron. You should be able to find it in any kitchen store or most grocery stores or even in some hardware stores, there behind the boxes of loose nails and the chainsaw files. The 10-inch size is the old reliable, but for most of us this is too big. Try a 6-inch one or, for this recipe, a couple 4 1/2-inch minis. The smaller sizes are big enough for frying a couple eggs or some hashbrowns, and a whole lot easier to handle and store.

Now this is important: If you get a new cast-iron skillet, or dust off an old one that hasn’t been used for years, you have to season it before using. Seasoning a cast-iron pan is simple as pie (or cake or cookies or a glass of water or whatever else you think sounds easy). Pour about a tablespoon of cooking oil into the pan and spread it over all cooking surfaces with a paper towel, discarding any excess. Then put the pan in the oven, heat it to about 250 degrees, then turn the oven off. Once the oven is cool, your pan is seasoned. After each use, just wipe the pan clean with a damp cloth or, if necessary, with a sponge and a little soapy water. Don’t put it in the dishwasher, and never leave it to soak–unless you want rust stains in your sink and on your counter and all over the pan. Iron rusts, so please don’t leave water in or near your cast-iron cookware. Other than that, the pan is pretty much indestructible (as my Grandpa found out–or was that another bad dream?)

So now you’re ready for this week’s dessert. And it is easy as pie (or cake)–stir, stir, stir; mix, mix, mix; blend, blend, blend; fold; pour; bake; eat. What can be easier? (As long as you have the right utensil, seasoned and ready to go.)

And while you’re waiting for the pan to season or the cake to bake, check out Angels Unawares, Serial #9. Josh’s long-lost daughter Angie makes an appearance–in Iraq, of all places. Her situation and life is about as far removed from Josh’s deathbed struggles as could be imagined. Or is it? Check it out. See what you think.

cookie cakes

Chocolate Chip Skillet Cakes

1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 cup light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

1 egg yolk

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt (about 1/8 teaspoon)

1/3 cup chocolate chips

skillet cake

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease two 4 1/2-inch cast iron skillets* with butter or spray with cooking spray, and set aside.

Add the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar to a mixing bowl. Cream the ingredients together until everything is well combined and the mixture is fluffy. (You can use an electric mixer to speed up this process.) Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and beat into butter mixture. To this, add the flour, baking powder, and salt, and slowly mix the dry ingredients into the batter. Do not over mix the dough. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Divide the cookie dough in half and press each half into the prepared skillets. Bake the cake for 18-20 minutes, or until the edges begin to brown. The center will look slightly underdone, but it will continue to set up as it cools. Remove the cake from the oven and let cool slightly. You can serve this cake warm with vanilla ice cream, or let it cool completely and frost (like the cookie cakes you see at the mall).

Makes 2 individual skillet cakes.

*You can also use one 6-inch cast iron skillet. Prepare the recipe the same way, but increase baking time to 30-32 minutes or until the edges begin to turn golden brown.

bite of cookie cake

{Adapted from Dessert For Two}

Click below to listen to or read Serial #9 of “Angels Unawares”.

Angels Unawares, Serial #9, audio © Jeffrey Anderson

Angels Unawares, Serial #9, text © Jeffrey Anderson


About Elaine

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