Sunday, February 27, 2011

Chili Bar

I needed to serve dinner for my son's birthday party on a tight budget. So I decided to do a chili bar. It was easy to prepare, fun for the guests and cost effective.
I made a huge pot of my favorite chili the night before - I wanted to give the flavors plenty of time to get to know one another. Two hours before the party I started warming up the chili. When it was time to eat I poured the chili into a serving bowl and prepared my "bar". In separate bowls I had torilla chips, diced green onions, sour cream, oyster crackers and cheese. Everyone enjoyed customizing their own bowl of chili. One year I did a pasta bar but this is much easier.

For the cake we made a chocolate cake from scratch in a car-shaped cake pan. The cake is really moist and rich - it calls for a cup of hot coffee (Thank you Barefoot Contessa). See recipe below.


  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups Dove chocolate Discoveries Cocoa Powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

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