Perfect for picnics: chocolate swirl cake

A delicious dessert sturdy enough to hold up in any kind of weather.

The Pastry Chef's Baking
Moist chocolate swirl cake with shredded coconut for a chewy texture.

The first day of summer and always brings to mind summer barbecues and picnics. And to my foodie brain, picnic cakes. You know, as in cakes that would be good on a picnic or road trip because they're sturdy, yummy and not too fussy or too delicate with frosting that can melt so they hold up in any weather. I think picnic cakes are on my brain partly because a lot of the baking books I have left to go through in my baking challenge are cake-type books and partly because they're just easy to make quickly, portion out and give away. I admit, I don't go to a lot of picnics. I like outdoor eating as much as the next person but I'm super finicky about food getting spoiled underneath a hot sun not to mention ants and other insects also in attendance along with the human guests.

I've had this little spiral-bound recipe book for ages. The recipes are pretty simple and they were created out of Hershey's test kitchens so it advocates using their products. This one calls for using chocolate syrup. I'm not a big chocolate syrup fan and prefer hot fudge over my ice cream. The chocolate syrup I usually bake with is Trader Joe's Midnight Moo, not Hershey's – it doesn't taste as processed (sorry, Hersheys).

The coconut is optional in this recipe but I love coconut so I added it. I also veered slightly away from the directions to layer the two batters on top of each other since that just sounded like it would make a two-tone cake rather than a swirled one. So I put about 2/3 of the coconut batter first, all of the chocolate batter then the remaining 1/3 of coconut batter before swirling very gently with a knife. This baked in my oven for about 62 minutes before the toothpick came out just barely clean (a couple of minutes earlier there were still moist crumbs on it). With this kind of cake you actually do want to get a mostly clean toothpick test, otherwise it might be gummy and underdone.

It came out of my Bundt pan almost completely cleanly, just had a couple of bits here and there of cake stuck to it. That was probably due to the fact that I finally got a new nonstick Bundt pan more than anything else. In any case, I tried a slice of this cake while it was still warm. Oh my. Good. Great. Awesome cake. It had the perfect Bundt/pound cake texture or just a wee bit of a softer crumb. But it was excellent. I loved the coconut in it as part of the yellow cake to give it some chewiness and the chocolate part didn't overwhelm it. There ended up being more chocolate cake than I expected, at least in the taste test piece I had. But that was fine with me. I'm glad I only swirled it slightly as I do like the distinct parts of the cake complementing each other without being too mixed in together. For chocolate and coconut lovers, this is a perfect cake to bring to your next summer picnic.

Chocolate Swirl Cake
From "Hershey's Chocolate Classics"

1 cup butter, softened
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 eggs
2-3/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup Hershey’s Syrup (I used Midnight Moo chocolate syrup from Trader Joe's)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup flaked coconut (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter, sugar, and vanilla in large mixer bowl until light and fluffy. Add eggs; beat well.

Combine flour, 1 teaspoon baking soda and the salt; add alternately with buttermilk to creamed mixture. Combine syrup and 1/3 teaspoon baking soda.

Measure 2 cups batter into small bowl; blend in syrup mixture.

Add coconut to remaining batter; pour into greased and floured 12-cup Bundt pan or 10-inch tube pan. Pour chocolate batter over vanilla batter in pan; do not mix.

Bake for about 70 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan; glaze or frost as desired.

Carol Ramos blogs at The Pastry Chef's Baking.

Related post: Orange Pound Cake

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