One of my proudest first-grade moments, alongside playing Mrs. Rabbit in the school play, was when my mother made cake cones for the class. I beamed as she walked through the door carrying a tray of ice cream cones, topped with thickly swirled chocolate frosting and alit with candles. There was no convincing me otherwise, I truly thought those cones were the coolest birthday treat ever! The Wacky Cake that fills these cones evolved from a tradition that hearkens back to the Depression era, if not earlier, when supplies were short -- this cake is eggless and dairy free -- and innovation necessary. The wacky reaction of the baking soda and vinegar causes the cake to rise. Part of the wackiness, too, was that the batter was mixed in the pan. Although the batter for these treats is whipped up in one bowl instead, baking it in cones makes it wackier still. With little effort, you too can make a child’s heart sing.
Sweet Home by Rebecca Miller Ffrench (Kyle Books; 2012)
|3 cups all-purpose flour||2 tablespoons white vinegar|
|2 cups sugar||1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract|
|1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder||36 flat-bottomed ice cream cones|
|2 teaspoons baking powder||8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature|
|1 teaspoon salt||3 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar|
|2 cups water||1/4 cup heavy cream or more as needed|
|3/4 cup canola or vegetable oil||Multicolored sprinkles|
Make the wacky cakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Place 1 cone in each cup of a standard 12-cup muffin pan (it helps them remain upright when you put them in the oven).
Stir the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together in a large mixing bowl. Add the water, oil, vinegar, and vanilla extract (1 tablespoon) and stir until thoroughly combined, at least 150 strokes.
Using a 1/4 cup measure, fill each cone about three-quarters full. Bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted all the way into a cone comes out clean. Unless you have 2 standard 12-cup muffin pans, you’ll need to repeat this twice with the remaining batter. Let cool completely.
Meanwhile, make the Vanilla Frosting: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter for 4 minutes, or until light and fluffy. Slowly add half of the confectioners’ sugar until fully incorporated. Add the cream and continue to beat until smooth and creamy. Continue to add the remaining sugar and beat until your desired consistency is reached, adding more sugar or cream as necessary. Beat in the vanilla extract (1 teaspoon).
Frost the wacky cake cones and decorate with sprinkles.
Note: An empty egg carton makes a great container for holding and transporting the cones.
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