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Dutch Oven Chocolate Cake

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Generally, you can cook almost anything in a dutch oven that you can cook in a regular oven. The following recipe is from the back of a can of Hershey's Cocoa (it is also featured on their website as well). While you can just follow the normal recipe, I have modified the it to make it easier to cook it while camping. The key was in the packaging of the ingredients. In my case, I had to send the recipe pre-packaged with some scouts unfamiliar with dutch oven cooking. The wet ingredients are pre-mixed, as are the dry ingredients. A cup of boiling water will also be needed (my group heated the water on top of the charcoal starter).

For my version, you will either need two dutch ovens, or you will need to cook the cakes one at a time (it makes two). For my version, we are going a little less traditional by using cake pans in the ovens. That's right, you don't even need a seasoned oven! You will also need something to space the pans so they are not sitting flat against the bottom of the dutch ovens. I use three standard 5/16" nuts placed in a triangle pattern in the bottom of each oven. This allows air to fully circulate around the pan in the oven, and avoid "hot spots" on the bottom of the pan.

The Hardware

You will need the following items: two dutch ovens (or one if you make both each cake separately), bag of charcoal, charcoal starter, newspaper, mixing bowl, spoon, paper towels, 1 cup measure, 2 cake pans, tongs, leather glove, six 5/16" nuts, & pliers

The packaging

Combine the following in a large ziplock bag (mark the bag with a sharpie - Bag #1)

In a separate, smaller bag, put an additional 1/4 cup of Hershey's cocoa powder (mark this bag - Bag #2)

In a small container, mix the following:

Mark this container "liquid pre-mix" (this will need to be stored in a cooler).

You will also need a small amount of solid shortening (Crisco). This comes packaged in butter-sized blocks and does not need refrigeration.

The recipe calls for making icing, I found it easier to just to use a container of vanilla or chocolate icing in its original container.

Making The Cake

First, let's lube up the pans. Pull out the bar of Crisco and using a folded paper towel pull out a "nilla wafer" size chunk of lube and wipe all over the bottom and side of one of the cake pans. Do the same for the other pan (just make sure you coat the entire bottom and sides with a light coat).

Now, grab bag #2 (the cocoa powder) Lubed pans sprinkled with powdered chocolateand dump it into one of the freshly greased pans. Shake & tilt the pan to coat the "greased surface" with the chocolate (you can tilt the pan on its edge and turn the pan to coat the edges - just do it over the other pan). Dump the remainder into the other pan and do the same coating procedure. The ants can have any remaining chocolate (just turn the pans over and tap out any remaining powder). You should now have two greased pans with a light dusting of chocolate in them (yum). You are done with the Crisco and bag #2

Let's setup and light the charcoal now. Fill the upper half of the charcoal lighter unit with charcoal (about 50 briquettes). Stuff a couple of sheets of newspaper (loose) under the unit and light. Put your water (1 cup+) in a small pan and put on top (You can also boil your water separately). By the time the charcoal is ready, so should the water.

Now, grab bag #1 "The Mix". Put it in the mixing bowl and add the contents of the "bottle pre-mix" (shake it up first). Stir this concoction together till smooth. Add 1 cup boiling water and Bucket built and wired upstir. The mix will be very thin - this is normal! Pour half of the mix into each of the prepped cake pans.

Let's cook!

Once the charcoal is fully heated, dump it into the area where you are going to cook your cakes. Using the tongs and the leather glove, put about 8-9 briquettes under each of the dutch ovens Coals sitting upon the dutch ovensevenly spaced. Put 3 of the steel nuts in the bottom of the dutch ovens as separators (the cake pan sits on top of these). Place the cake pans into the ovens. Put on the lid, and add 16-18 on top evenly spaced. That's it.

Now, give the cake about 35-40 minutes to cook. Pull the lid and take a look (use the pliers). The cake should have puffed above the pans (If they are not completely cooked, cover again and give another 5-10 minutes). With the lid off, move the dutch ovens off of the heat and allow to cool down. When the cakes have cooled down fully, open up the icing and slap some on (or you can even eat it plain!) Enjoy.