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Recipe: chocolate magic custard cake

There are a few things you learn about early season skiing after eleven seasons. The first is that you probably shouldn’t wax those skis just yet, because you’ll likely hit a few (or a lot) of rocks. If you were a good and proper ski fanatic, you waxed those babies at the end of last season so they wouldn’t dry out over the summer. You can wax them properly after a good base has been established. The second is that you haven’t actually forgotten how to ski after one summer. This weekend we took Neva out for her first ski tour. The very first one was more like a trial run because Jeremy was on skis and I hiked/jogged alongside the two of them just in case there were issues. It can be really difficult to manage a first timer dog while you are moving on skis. When Kaweah was a puppy, she kept attacking the ski tips (she didn’t realize they were connected to our feet) and standing on the skis when the snow was deep, and then running in front of us and sometimes stopping when we skied downhill. Even as an adult, Kaweah didn’t quite register the whole “keep clear of the metal edges” thing.

neva keeps pace with jeremy

noodling along

having a blast

You probably already know that we are not the sorts who fly by the seat of our pants. We put a lot of thought into Neva’s first ski. We wanted to make sure she had fun, but we also had to guarantee that she would be safe. We took Neva up a forest service road so there would be plenty of room for her to maneuver about without getting tangled up in the skis on a narrow trail (or driving Jeremy into a tree). She absolutely had to be on a leash. That girl is always looking off into the woods and we know why. On the two occasions we have let her off leash, she bolted deep into the forest tracking the scent of every wild animal she could pick up, completely ignoring our calls.

Well, Neva was GREAT on her first tour. She avoided the skis, but kept pace like it was no big deal (this is one of the reasons we’ve been doing a lot of leash work with her on trails). She didn’t tangle up the leash much and was incredibly sweet and happy. The next morning, we went on a right proper ski tour with Erin, Banjo, and our fatter skis. The snow and the weather were amazing for early season. And while Neva did pull a little on the climb (she was VERY excited), she was really well-behaved. Neva had fun hanging with Banjo, who loaned her two of his spare booties when her back paws got balled with some ice. We wondered how she would do skiing out, because when we run, she sometimes gets excited and jumps up to bite our pants. Jeremy and I took turns skiing out with her and she was PERFECT! I posted a video of it on my Instagram. I think Neva is going to be a great little ski dog.

climbing up in the morning

skiing with dogs = best thing ever

The third thing that I apparently haven’t learned about early season skiing for two years in a row, is to remember to switch my skis to tour mode on the uphill climb. I felt I was struggling to keep up with Jeremy’s pace on the way up and chalked it up to being out of ski shape. But when we turned around to ski out, I bent over to lock my bindings into ski mode and noticed they were already there. Doh! I did this exact same thing on my first ski tour last year. It was funny, and I laughed. But my quads and butt were not in the mood for laughing. Still, it felt heavenly to be gliding on snow again. It was doubly so because our little pup seemed to enjoy it as much as we did.

Perhaps if more people discovered how amazing it is to ski in the backcountry, winter wouldn’t get such a bad rap. For the folks who hate winter, I think you’re doing it wrong. After a good and exhilarating workout, it’s nice to come home and reward yourself with some delicious calories. I usually opt for something savory, but Jeremy almost always makes a beeline for the latest sweet thing on the counter or in the refrigerator. This weekend, we had chocolate cake – but this was special chocolate cake. This was chocolate magic custard cake. I think it was all the rage a few years ago, but I was too distracted with Kaweah’s geriatric care to try it out. I bookmarked the recipe from Todd and Diane’s blog a while ago, and dug it up just last week.

cocoa, melted butter, flour, espresso, white vinegar, eggs, milk, confectioners sugar, vanilla extract

warm the milk and separate the eggs

whisk the flour and cocoa together

whip the egg whites to stiff peaks

Lately, I haven’t done much fancy baking thanks to Neva. But there are times when baking a cake in a single pan is quite satisfying – like when you are hungry and don’t have the time or patience to make a layered, filled, frosted, decorated cake. What intrigued me about this cake was the stratification during baking and that Diane said it wasn’t too sweet. Also? I am a total custard whore. Yes, me. Lactose intolerant. But I’ll suffer for a good custard! The recipe does use several bowls for the various components, which offsets the one-pan wonder aspect. Still, it’s worth making at least once – and if you like it, then it’s worth making again and again!

beat the yolks and confectioners sugar together

add the espresso, butter, and vanilla

mix in the flour-cocoa mixture

stir the warm milk into the batter

fold the egg whites in a third at a time

During the baking process, the egg whites appear to rise to the top of the batter and form a delicate spongy layer that is light and airy. The center layer is a soft custard and the bottom is a firmer, chewier version of the middle. The texture reminded me a little bit of chocolate mochi cake, although not as ridiculously chewy (as mochi tends to be). I overbaked my magic cake a smidge (on accident) and I also think I overfolded my egg whites because the top layer wasn’t as thick as I have seen on other versions. Even so, it was deliciously chocolaty and smooth. I was able to cut mine into shapes using cutters which made for very nice plating.

pour the batter into the baking pan

baked (maybe a couple of minutes too long)

cooled and sliced

I really like that this cake isn’t overly sweet. It’s just sweet enough and one serving is quite satisfying on its own. The cake is even better with some powdered sugar and fruity accompaniments. I’m pretty sure Jeremy has had it for dessert, breakfast, snack, and lunch. As far as I’m concerned, the words: chocolate, custard, and cake, cannot steer you wrong. But the extra bit of magic is what makes it so special.

top with confectioners sugar and set in a pool of raspberry sauce


Chocolate Magic Custard Cake
[print recipe]
from White on Rice Couple

1/2 cup unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder (I used Dutch-process cocoa powder)
4 eggs, separated
4 drops white vinegar
1 3/4 (210g) cups confectioners sugar
1 oz espresso or strong coffee
1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Lightly grease an 8×8-inch baking dish. Melt the butter and set aside to cool to room temperature. Warm the milk to lukewarm and set aside until ready to use. Whisk the flour and cocoa together in a separate bowl. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the balloon whisk (or using electric beaters), beat the egg whites with the vinegar until they form stiff peaks. in another bowl, whisk the yolks and confectioners sugar together until light colored and thick. Beat the melted butter, espresso (or coffee), and vanilla extract into the egg yolk mixture for 2 minutes until mixed. Switch to a paddle attachment and mix the flour-cocoa mixture into the batter until incorporated. Gently whisk the milk into batter. Fold the egg whites in a third at a time, making sure they are blended without popping all of the bubbles. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 50-60 minutes until the center is just slightly jiggly (not like a waterbed jiggly, but just shy of being set). Remove from oven, let cool. You can invert the cake from the pan or cut the cake in the pan, but be sure to loosen the sides before turning the cake out. Serves 9.

more goodness from the use real butter archives

chocolate mochi cake chinese egg custard tarts custard apple pie toasted coconut custard tart

15 nibbles at “magical”

  1. Chefhelen says:

    The heart pic of the cake looks beautiful….and DELICIOUS!

  2. Kristin says:

    Oh whoa! I have been wanting to bake for several weeks, but nothing has jumped out at me like this has! My husband hates coffee, so I usually have to leave it out, but he has never detected it in your chocolate bourbon cake. I’m guessing that it’s more noticeable in this cake, right? If I can’t resist before hearing from you, I think I will try making it with Amaretto or Grand Marnier in place of the espresso. This looks so good!!!

  3. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    Beautiful cake – pinned! :)

  4. jenyu says:

    Chefhelen – thank you!

    Kristin – I think you can swap out for the espresso/coffee. The flavor isn’t that strong to me, but yeah – use something else that you think your husband would like. Let me know how it works!

    Eva – thanks! xo

  5. Mittens says:

    Cake looks amazing! And I can’t express how happy I am to follow your adventures with Neva both on your blog and on instagram. Even for us readers it’s an exhilarating ride, and I think you could never share too many pictures and stories with us!

  6. Kristin says:

    Thanks! Will do!

  7. Sharla Derry says:

    What a beauty and looks easy enough but the way you plated it looks Amazing! I think I’ll try this one. Love your blog, been reading it for years.

  8. Pey-Lih says:


  9. Deb in Indiana says:

    I happened to stumble across a similar recipe elsewhere a few days ago. It was interesting, but did not call my name until I saw it here. Thanks!

    I have been meaning to write you a note to tell you how much I value your blog. I have followed Kaweah and Neva stories and on each new post, I really appreciate your beautiful pictures (food, pups, and outdoors). Most amazing to me is the work you continue to put into the blog without a bunch of sponsors, ads, click-throughs or all that jazz.

    My sincere thanks for all you do for your readers.

  10. diane and todd says:

    So much beauty here and you always give us the much needed glimpse of beautiful winter weather. Well, maybe winter for us. :) And of course, puppy Neva!! Thanks for satisfying our cravings for the outdoors and puppy! Wow, the plating on the cake looks amazing and elegant! Such a great idea, we’ll have to do that too. hugs. xoxo

  11. Kristin says:

    Made it. I think I would have preferred the espresso to enhance the chocolate flavor because it was weaker than I usually like, and I couldn’t really taste the Amaretto. My husband still thought there was coffee in it…weirdo. I am not sure if I overbaked, but the bottom layer almost seemed like it had gelatin in it. Good flavor, loved the creamy layer. It felt kind of light at first while I was eating it but, by the end of the small piece, I realized it was not!

  12. Michelle says:

    I initially read the recipe title as “Chocolate Magic Mustard Cake”… culinary inspiration, or disaster?

  13. jenyu says:

    Mittens – aww, thank you. I always wonder if people get tired of seeing Neva photos over and over again :)

    Sharla – thanks! xo

    Pey-Lih – thank you!

    Deb – you are incredibly sweet. Thanks for following along and commenting. It’s nice to know that folks enjoy what I share here! xo

    dianne and todd – love you guys!!! xoxo

    Kristin – to be honest, baking at altitude, I am never sure that I get it right either. I think mine was a little overbaked, but my oven also sucks balls. Maybe try the vanilla custard version (see Todd and Diane’s link and it will take you to the original recipe) so your husband won’t have to worry about coffee at all?

    Michelle – ha ha!!

  14. Irmi says:

    I’m not really a fan of that that French chocolate cakes with their gooey centers. But I can’t help this magic custard cake looks overwhelmingly good. And by cutting out these nice heart shapes placed over that oh so gorgeous red coloured fruit base you arranged it heavenly. You are such an artist. And the photographs are just super! I think I have to give it a try…
    Thank you, Jen, for sharing this recipe.

  15. Jackie says:

    My body has slowly been revolting when I have dairy, mostly milk in fact. I now keep Lactaid milk at all times in the fridge instead of regular milk. It tastes a touch sweeter (since the lactose has been broken down into its simple sugars) but I don’t notice any difference in taste or texture when using it for baking purposes. I use it all the time in my German buttercream, which is a custard base, and it’s glorious. May be worth trying out if you’re super sensitive to milk! Love your blog and photos (long time reader but rare commenter)

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