December 16th, 2010
03:15 PM ET

How To Hack a Cake

I consider myself a good cook. But baking is a whole different story. Still, when News Stream needed a “30 second chocolate cake” I jumped at the chance to make it. Cooking and calling it “work” sounded like the perfect day.

I didn’t have the nifty gadget needed to aerate the batter but was going to borrow one at work. I still wanted to try a microwave cake recipe before I got to the office, though. So I found this one from the “Cooking for Geeks” book club blog.

It was super easy. A few packets of hot chocolate, some flour and sugar, plus some oil, water and an egg. It didn’t look like much at first… but three minutes later, it seriously could’ve passed for soufflé.

The “30 second” recipe was a bit trickier. Instead of instant cocoa, I had to melt a dark chocolate bar. No oil or water in this one… but by the time I stirred in the flour, sugar and eggs, my batter was a bit lumpy.

Here’s what I learned: “strain mixture” is not a suggestion. I failed to plan for that step of the recipe and had to settle for what sort-of passed as a strainer, found in the office kitchen cabinet. But my batter still didn’t come out right. In fact, it wouldn’t come out of the whipped cream canister at all!

After much shaking (and swearing) a little dribbled out. I cooked it anyway, just to see what would happen. It's in that little red robot. Definitely not pretty enough for TV. The one in the white ramekin got air time instead.

If you watched News Stream on Thursday then you know what happened next. The beautiful “3 minute" cake had hardened into a brick. I tasted it after the show and it was kind of oily, too. Bummer.

But the “30 second cake” was delicious! It had a silky texture, like a flourless chocolate torte. Please give it a try and tell us how it turns out (recipe after the video). And for some help "hacking" the rest of your holiday feast, check out Kristie's interview with author Jeff Potter.

Jeff kindly let us share his recipe for 30 second chocolate cake. He also sent this bit of advice: Some whippers can only work with cream, so make sure you get one that's suitable for foams, espumas, etc. Not sure which kind I had... but now you know!


4 ounces (113 grams) bittersweet chocolate

4 large eggs

6 tablespoons (80 grans) sugar

3 tablespoons (25 grams) flour


1. Melt the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Let cool.

2. Whisk in eggs, sugar and flour until smooth.

3. Pass the mixture through a strainer.

4. Transfer to a whipper; pressurize.

5. Spray mixture into a greased, microwave-safe ramekin, leaving at least the top third of the container empty.

6. Microwave until the foam has set, about 30 seconds.

To serve, flip onto a plate and dust with confectioners' sugar.

For better-tasting  results: Try adding Nutella or Marshmallow Fluff. Spray a thin layer of cake batter in the container; drop a spoonful of filling into the center. Spray more cake batter on top of and around the filling.

December 16th, 2010
08:00 AM ET

Tweeting about Facebook

Congratulations to U.S. satirist Stephen Colbert, author of the most retweeted message of the year. In the BP-bating summer of 2010, this was the definitive social media contribution:

Colbert was able to triumph over a plethora of pop stars, including News Stream's guilty obsession Justin Bieber (who had to settle for fourth place). That's not say young Justin didn't feature heavily in the top ten. Both Joe Jonas ("I cry because I love Justin Bieber!!!") and Rihanna ("Justin Bieber just flashed me his abs in the middle of a restaurant! Wow! He actually had a lil 6 pack! Sexy, lol!") offered belieber-themed nuggets that thousands saw fit to forward.

But Colbert is riding high. So influential are his outpourings that he was among the favorites to be named "Time"'s Person of the Year. And not content to lose out on the prize quietly, his thoughts on the actual recipient are now trending highly in America and around the world:

Stephen Colbert has apparently inspired countless skeptics to take to Twitter and vent their feelings on Mr. Facebook. Whether swayed by the less-than-flattering portrayal Zuckerberg received in "The Social Network" or merely objecting to the mighty scale of his cultural phenomenon, it appears Twitter fans aren't the biggest Facebook fans.

Here's a selection of the cleaner offerings:

Yes, the last of these is a lie. But just as we were outraged by Susan Boyle's snub in favor of Ben Bernanke last year, our small team would like to reach out to Mr. Bieber in his hour of isolation. Your "Time" will come, Justin. We, er, beliebe.

You can read more about the world's reaction to Time's decision on cnn.com.

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