Suzi's Blog

Diablo Cake from Beekman 1802 Heirloom Desserts


Devil’s food cake is an American creation, a fairly recent one from the very early 1900’s. The first printed recipe occurred in 1905. And, then evolution set in. The cake is characterized by being more moist and more airy than traditional chocolate cakes. Instead of melted chocolate, cocoa is often used. And most recipes use a combination of buttermilk and baking soda to achieve that particular tang that pairs so well with cocoa.

In The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook, authors Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell have a little fun with the name and the ingredients. Calling their cake Diablo, they add some cinnamon, allspice and cayenne pepper to the mix. Just a word: be careful of the cinnamon. It seems that the other ingredients act as a catalyst so a simple ½ teaspoon of cinnamon packs enormous flavor punch.

The recipe below includes the custard sauce recommended by the authors. I found the cake so spicy, and the day was so hot, that a simple vanilla ice cream was used in an arranged marriage that actually worked.

If you have loved Devil’s Food Cake and could not imagine it getting better, then you do not have to go to hell, but you do have to make Diablo.


Diablo Food Cake with Custard Sauce

Yield: serves 10 to 12


For the cake:

  • ·        Cooking spray
  • ·        2cups cake flour [spooned into a cup, leveled off, and sifted]
  • ·        1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ·        ½ teaspoon salt
  • ·        ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ·        ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ·        ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ·        ⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ·        ½ cup water
  • ·        1 cup buttermilk
  • ·        2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ·        8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • ·        1 cup granulated sugar
  • ·        1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ·        2 large eggs

For the custard sauce:

  • ·        2 cups milk
  • ·        ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ·        ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ·        4 large egg yolks
  • ·        ⅛ teaspoon almond extract


To make the cake, preheat the oven to 350T. Coat a 9 X 13-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment or waxed paper. Coat the paper with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, allspice, and cayenne. In a separate bowl, stir together the cocoa powder and ½ cup water. Stir together the buttermilk and vanilla.

In a bowl, with an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the butter and the granulated and brown sugars together until light in texture. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the cocoa mixture. With the mixer on low speed, alternately add the flour mixture and buttermilk in 3 additions, beginning and ending with the flour mixture.

Scrape the batter into the pan and tap the pan on a countertop to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out with some moist crumbs attached and the cake is beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan. Let cool in the pan on a wire rack. Invert (right side up) on to a cake plate, removing the paper.

To make the custard sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the milk, sugar, and cinnamon and bring to a simmer over low heat.

In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks. Gradually whisk about a cup of the warm milk into the egg yolks, then whisk the warmed eggs back into the pan. Cook, whisking, for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is thick enough to coat a spoon. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl. Stir in the almond extract.

Cut the cake into serving pieces and serve with the custard sauce.


Source: The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook by Brent Ridge and Josh Kilmer-Purcell

Photo Information: Canon T2i, EFS 60 mm Macro Lens, F/4.5 for 1/10th second at ISO-3200





Juliet’s Kisses from Michele Scicolone


“Too big.” I said. I know what I am talking about.

“They’ll be fine,” Suzen countered.

I bit my tongue. I waited. They baked. They cooled. Suzen made the filling and began to assemble these sandwich cookies.

“Too big,” she said.

I said nothing. I just picked up “a half” and ate it very pleasantly without the filling. It’s all to easy to become a tad exuberant when you bake these cookies. A simple teaspoon of dough seems too little so you add more and pretty soon each “half” of the sandwich cookie is just the right size just by itself.

I love these cookies so much that very often I will forgo the filling, decline to create sandwiches, and just enjoy the fragile beauty of a perfect kiss.

Our good friend and fabulous cookbook author Michele Scicolone created these sandwich cookies a long time ago. Suzen bakes them often as just the perfect end-of-meal treat. These cookies are breathtakingly soft — thanks in part to the cornstarch in the confectioners’ sugar. By the time you put two of them together with filling, you have a cookie that requires you “open wide.”

The secret to making this cookies just perfect is the butter. Try to find a good French or European butter that is rich in fat. Certainly, an upscale cocoa is important, too.

The downside to this cookie is its interaction with air. They appear to frequently just evaporate spontaneously. Just like those news stories you see about people dying from spontaneous combustion in the National Enquirer. I believe those stories. Suzen is skeptical about the fires and totally believes that some human being is responsible for the surreptitious disappearance of these cookies.

I am an innocent man.

Juliet’s Kisses

Yield: 48 cookies


For the cookies:

  • ½ pound [2 sticks] unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted
  • ½ cup finely chopped toasted almonds

For the filling:

  • 2 ounces semisweet chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup blanched almonds, toasted and finely chopped


Preheat the oven to 350°F.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the salt and vanilla. On low speed, beat in the flour, cocoa, and almonds just until blended.

Roll teaspoonfuls of the dough into ¼ inch balls. Place the balls about 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Bake the cookies until firm but not browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool.

To make the filling, in a small heatproof bowl placed over a saucepan of simmering water, combine the chocolate and butter, and heat until softened. Removed from the heat and stir until smooth. Stir in the almonds.

To assemble kisses as a sandwich cookie, spread about 1 teaspoon of the chocolate mixture on the bottom on one cookie. Place a second cooking bottom side down on the filling and press together lightly. Place on a wire rack until the filling is set. Repeat with the remaining cookies and filling.

Source: La Dolce Vita by Michele Scicolone