- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 6, 2007

I love how winter’s cold weather pulls us indoors. It’s time to gather by the fire, pull out a board game, or have friends over for a leisurely weekend breakfast at midday. It’s not a workday, so rise and assemble this simple meal that is pure comfort when served.

It’s not every day that you want a chocolate cake served before noon, but this cake is different. Sure, it contains chocolate syrup, but it has the simple homespun flavor of a coffeecake, and I think it’s perfect to serve with coffee, tea or a glass of milk.

To bake this cake ahead for even easier entertaining, bake and then store this cake, covered in aluminum foil or plastic wrap, at room temperature for up to 1 week. Or freeze it, wrapped in foil, for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving.

Two time-shaving ways to entertain friends for breakfast or brunch:

• Assemble an overnight cheese souffle, cover and bake just before guests arrive.

• Make pancake batter early in the morning. Place toppings such as blueberries, chocolate chips and dried cranberries out for adding as the pancakes cook on the griddle.

Mom’s chocolate syrup cake.

Vegetable oil spray for misting the pan

Flour for dusting the pan

1 package (18.25 ounces) plain yellow cake mix

1 package (3.4 ounces) vanilla instant pudding mix

1 cup sour cream

cup vegetable oil

4 large eggs

cup chocolate syrup

cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 10-inch tube pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour. Shake out excess flour. Set the pan aside. Place the cake mix, pudding mix, sour cream, oil and eggs in a large mixing bowl.

Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again, if needed. The batter should look thick and smooth.

Pour half of the batter into the pan, smoothing it out with the rubber spatula.

Pour the chocolate syrup evenly over the batter, making sure not to let the syrup touch the sides of the pan. Pour the remaining batter over the syrup and swirl gently with a knife, making sure to keep the chocolate syrup away from the sides of the pan. Scatter the pecans over the top of the batter. Place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cake until it is golden brown and springs back when lightly pressed with your finger, 58 to 60 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes.

Run a long, sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a rack, then invert it again onto another rack so that the cake is right side up.

Allow it to cool completely, 30 minutes more. Slice and serve.

Makes 16 servings.


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