xx Monday, October 26, 1998

For Halloween, spin a spider web cake

 Scare up some fun at your Halloween party with a moist cake whose flavour comes from unsweetened cocoa powder. It can make a decorative centrepiece as well as an appropriate dessert for this night of fright.

 After you spread the chocolate frosting onto the cake, use melted white chocolate chips to create a web. Microwave the chips and shortening in a small, heavy seal-top plastic bag. Make a small diagonal cut in a bottom corner of the bag.

 Starting at the outside rim, squeeze thin lines of white chocolate in a circular motion across the top of the cake. Repeat so that there are four or five circles inside one another. To complete the web, gently drag a knife or toothpick from the centre of the cake to the edge, drawing eight to 10 lines evenly around the cake, to create the look of a spider web.

 Garnish the cake with a "spider" -- use a peppermint patty for the body, a round caramel for the head and black licorice for the legs. Or, decorate with a store-bought plastic spider.
A Chocolate Spider Web Cake is an eye-catching dessert for Halloween. The web is spun from white chocolate trailed across the chocolate icing, the spider is a peppermint patty with a round caramel head. (CP PHOTO)

 Chocolate Spider Web Cake

 410 mL (1 2/3 cups) all-purpose flour
 375 mL (1 1/2 cups) sugar
 125 mL ( 1/2 cup) cocoa
 7 mL (1 1/2 tsp) baking soda
 5 mL (1 tsp) salt
 2 mL ( 1/2 tsp) baking powder
 2 eggs
 125 mL ( 1/2 cup) shortening
 375 mL (1 1/2 cups) buttermilk or sour milk (see note)
 5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla extract
 One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)
 Spider Web (recipe follows)

 Heat oven to 175 C (350 F). Thoroughly grease and flour two 23 cm (9-inch) round baking pans.

 Combine dry ingredients in large bowl; add eggs, shortening, buttermilk and vanilla. Beat on low speed of mixer 1 minute, scraping bowl constantly. Beat on high speed 3 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally. Pour batter into prepared pans.

 Bake about 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in centre comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

 Frost with one-bowl buttercream frosting. Immediately pipe or drizzle spider web in 4 or 5 circles on top of cake. Using a knife or wooden pick, immediately draw 8 to 10 lines from centre to edges of cake at regular intervals to form web. Garnish with a "spider" made from candies. Makes 12 servings.

 Note: To sour milk, use 22 mL (4 1/2 tsp) white vinegar plus milk to equal 375 mL (1 1/2 cups).

 One-Bowl Buttercream Frosting

 90 mL (6 tbsp) butter or margarine, softened
 660 mL (2 2/3 cups) powdered sugar
 125 mL ( 1/2 cup) cocoa powder
 60 to 90 mL (4 to 6 tbsp) milk
 5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla extract

 Beat butter; add powdered sugar and cocoa alternately with milk, beating to spreading consistency. Stir in vanilla. About 500 mL (2 cups) frosting.

 Spider Web: Place 125 mL ( 1/2 cup) white chips and 2 mL ( 1/2 tsp) shortening (do not use butter, margarine, oil or spread) in small, heavy seal-top plastic bag. Microwave at High 45 seconds. Squeeze gently. If necessary, microwave an additional 10 to 15 seconds; squeeze until chips are melted. Make small diagonal cut in one bottom corner of bag; squeeze mixture onto cake as directed above. Makes 12 servings.