Monthly Archives: October 2015

Aryn’s Amazing Chocolate Cake Recipe


Or the “Happy 8th Birthday, Inspire(d)” Cake

Oh hey, we’ve been doing this whole Inspire(d) Magazine thing for 8 YEARS this October (2017 update: 10 YEARS! Woot!)! Thanks for reading, you lovely unicorns, you! We like to celebrate happy things with chocolate cake. (You too? Good idea.) This is Aryn’s go-to, amazing chocolate cake recipe … it’s good. Like really good.

Thanks again for all your support. You guys are the best.


Chocolate Cake!

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt + a pinch more

2 eggs
1 cup coffee (I usually use what I have left from the morning…if there’s usually none left, make extra the day you’re making this cake so there is!)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat over to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans, one 9×13 pan, or get ready to make at least 24 cupcakes (I actually made this batch into 12 cupcakes and on cake in a pie pan. Worked great!).

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients (the first section of the list above). Make a well in the center.


Add eggs, coffee, milk, oil, and vanilla (the wet ingredients). Save the chocolate chips for later. Beat the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients for 2 minutes on medium speed. Don’t worry – the batter is supposed to be thin (see it here)!


Pour into prepared pans, and sprinkle chocolate chips into each pan or cupcake paper.

4 2

Bake at 350 for 30-40 minutes for the round pans, a little longer for the 9×13, and about 15 minutes for the cupcakes. Do not over-bake! Dry cake is no bueno. Check doneness with a toothpick – it should come out with just a little cake on it still.


Allow cake to cool for 15 minutes before running a knife along the edge of the pans and cooling completely on a cooling rack.


Chocolate Buttercream/Ganche Frosting!

Okay – this is a buttercream/ganache-ish hybrid. I love it, and hope you will too!

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups powered sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa
Pinch of salt
Milk, as needed

In a double boiler pot (I actually just use a stainless steel bowl over a pot with water on the stove), melt chocolate and 1/4 cup butter. Remove from heat.

Add in softened butter, powdered sugar, cocoa, and pinch of salt. Beat with mixer on high. If it seems too wet, add more powdered sugar (1-2 tablespoons at a time). Beat and check texture. If it seems too thick, add a little milk (we use whole milk because that’s what we have, but I think any would be okay. Of course, the higher fat content, the richer the frosting). Repeat until you reach your desired texture – so if you want it to be pourable like ganache, add more milk. If you want it to be spreadable like frosting in a jar, add more powdered sugar. And if you feel like it’s gotten too sweet, add a little more cocoa to bring it back.

Assemble your cakes and frost! Add sprinkles if desired (you totally should). I put sprinkles on a plate and “dipped” my cupcakes in to get the sprinkles to stick.


Enjoy! Please let me know if you have any questions, and thanks for reading Inspire(d) for 8 years!



October 2015 Calendar

It’s fall! Whew – where is the time going? Get a head start on your fun-planning with this handy-dandy October 2015 calendar (and you can download the pdf here). Enjoy! XO, Inspire(d)


Check out these great fall activities!  In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar!

13. October 2-3: Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement’s 40th Birthday Bash! Get inspired by Rev. William Barber, Jim Hightower and other big-name thinkers/doers. Oct 2-3, Des Moines,

14. October 2-4: 18th Annual Northeast Iowa Artists’ Studio Tour. 55 Artists at 42 locations – all within 35 miles of Decorah! Most Artists ever – Free! Daily 10-5.

15. October 3: WitchFest at The Rustic Corner. Put on a pointy hat and enjoy a day of shopping in Charles City. Go to for details!

16. October 4: Farm fest at Prairie’s Edge Farm! Join us for hay rides, critters, cider pressing and more at Prairie’s Edge Farm. Meat and more for sale. 10am-4pm. 1206 150th Street Castalia

17. October 5-9: Scenes of the Driftless: A Community Art Exhibit at ArtHaus, Open to all to submit for free, Dropoff Oct 5-9, Reception October 9 from 6-8pm, On display through Nov 20,

18. October 9-11: New Albin Library quilt show. Over 200 quilted items on display. Antique section, vendors, demonstrations, and more. New Albin Community Center. $5 Admission. More info 563-544-4325

19. October 21: Witchy Wednesday Wine Down – 4pm to 8pm at The Rustic Corner, Charles City. Get uncorked with a Halloween flair! More info at

20. October 23: Dubious Cowgirls duo at High Court Pub in Lanesboro, MN with food and drink specials to kickoff Lanesboro Girls Day Out weekend.

21. October 24: Girls Day Out Lanesboro, MN featuring the band Drinkwine with Friends. Shop all day, dance the night away! Like us on facebook: Girls Day Out Lanesboro.

22. October 24: OboeBass! Concert. Award-winning Vecchione/Erdahl classical duo: Engaging audiences with folksong, jazz, tango and literary inspirations. St. Mane Theatre, Lanesboro, MN. $15/$12.

23. October 30: Cringe Night presented by ArtHaus, Hosted by June Melby. Friday, October 30 at 508 W Water St. Doors open at 6:30pm, event starts at 7pm. $5