Tag Archives: chocolate

Let them eat…

Title_Image_1Although I definitely have a complicated relationship with my own birthday, I am totally down with O.P.B. [YEAH YOU KNOW ME] For those of you who don’t appreciate the Naughty by Nature reference, I think we can all agree that the beauty of celebrating Other People’s Birthdays is that we are all able to partake in the merriment without the burden of the spotlight. (Unless you’re into that sort of thing, weirdos)

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For my fellow introverts, I’m sure you appreciate the following:

  1. The sadistic enjoyment of watching the Birthday Boy/Girl’s comfort level plummet as he/she is obnoxiously sung to and clapped at before receiving a mediocre, but hopefully comped dessert. Usually in the form of: a) “Molten” Lava Cake (Chili’s), b) créme brulée (Upscale Chili’s), or c) ice cream scoop with candle (Japanese restaurant).
  2. Reveling in the continuity of your own youth while family members or co-workers around the water cooler repeatedly ask the Birthday Boy/Girl “So, HOW old are you NOW??”
  3. Cashing in on the comp’d lunch and cake at work while the Birthday Boy/Girl wishes they were a million other places.
  4. The Pay-it-Forward feeling when signing that “Hope all your wishes come true! XOXO” card.

Cheesecake

Ultimately, we get to sing off-key, stay “x” years young, eat cake, and revel in the celebrations at the expense of the celebratee. Bystanders’ win. Of course we don’t get presents or anything, which kind of rock, but cake! We get cake!

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And on that note, a chocolate cake and a cheesecake: 

Fudgy Chocolate Cake:
(Adapted from Emandal Farm Celebration cookbook)

Cake:
1.5 C sugar
1.25 C Flour
.75 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp salt
1 C buttermilk
3 eggs
2.5 tsp vanilla
6 tsp butter
1 C hot coffee

Filling:
.75 C half and half
dash of salt
2/3 C sugar
.25 C butter
1 egg
1tsp vanilla
1 1/3 unsweetened coconut
.5 C walnuts or pecans (chopped)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 3 8″ round cake pans.

In a large bowl, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Whisk buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in a separate bowl. Melt butter in the hot coffee in another small bowl.

Beat half of the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients. Beat in half of the coffee mixture. Scrape the batter down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the remaining buttermilk and coffee mixtures.

Evenly pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 25-30 mins, or until the cakes spring back when lightly pressed. Allow to cool in the pans for 10 mins. Cool completely (or freeze) before frosting.

To make filling, combine all ingredients (except vanilla, coconut and walnuts) in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until thick and bubbly – about 12 mins. Cool lightly and add the rest of the ingredients. Let cool completely before spreading on cake.

Cheesecake
Courtesy of the Miette Cookbook. Buy it- you’ll thank me later. (Thanks Sam!!)

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Ivory & Ebony

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I appreciate diversity. I actually require diversity in every facet of my life – e.g. demographically, culturally, dietarily, in social circles, trail mix, and (of course) in dessert options. Following suit, I recently made these two flourless cakes for a dinner party and then subsequently to celebrate a lovely coworker’s birthday the next day – a total multitasking baking win for no leftovers! The first is a chocolate lover’s dream: a deceivingly light Nutella cake with hazenut dark chocolate and a rich ganache. The second: an airy cinnamon snacking cake made with almond flour, then topped with roasted almonds and dusted with spices. Both are gluten-free (’tis the craze these days, so let’s hop on that bandwagon), using nut flours that I whipped up in my mighty mighty Vitamix. All hail the all-powerful Vitamix!

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The importance of diversity is really about balance – anything too homogenous automatically becomes uninteresting (and unappetizing – 50 filet mignons in an aluminum vat, gross). Also, I firmly believe that as a baker we can adopt the model that too much of a good thing – when accompanied by other good things – is never a bad thing. People appreciate their options!

Cake #1: Almond Cinnamon Cake

Adapted from Nigella’s iphone app Nigellissima (beautifully done, btw), also seen here.

8 egg whites
½ cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
Zest of 1 orange
½ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for greasing tin
1 ½ cups almond meal
1 teaspoon
1 cup sliced almonds
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Powdered sugar, to decorate

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F, and grease the springform cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.
  2. In a clean, grease-free bowl, whisk the egg whites until they are opaque and start to hold their shape, then slowly add the sugar, whisking until it’s all incorporated and the mixture is thick and shiny. Add the almond essence and the clementine or orange zest. Then, in about 3 goes each, alternately whisk in the oil and the almond meal (mixed with the baking powder) until they are both smoothly incorporated into the meringue.
  3. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, then mix together the flaked almonds and cinnamon and sprinkle them over the top of the cake.
    Bake for 35-40 minutes (though start checking at 30), by which time the top should have risen and be set and the almonds become golden, and a cake tester should come out clean, barring the odd almondy crumb.
  4. Remove from the oven and let the cake cool in its tin on a wire rack. Once it is no longer hot, spring open the sides of the tin, but don’t try to remove the cake from the base until properly cool.
  5. When you are ready to serve, dust with powdered sugar.

Cake #2: Nutella Cake

Adapted from here.

For the cake
6 large Eggs
1 pinch of Salt
125 g Unsalted Butter (softened)
400 g Nutella (1 large jar)
1 Tbsp of Frangelico liqueur
100 g ground Hazelnuts
100 g Dark Chocolate (melted)

For the icing
100 g Hazelnut (peeled weight)
125 ml Double Cream
1 Tbsp Frangelico liqueur or Water
125 g Dark Chocolate (chopped)

  1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC (degrees Celsius).
  2. In a large bowl, beat the butter and Nutella together, and then add the Frangelico, egg yolks and ground hazelnuts and set aside.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff but not dry.
  4. Fold in cooled, melted chocolate to the Nutella mixture, then lighten the mixture with a large dollop of whisked egg white before gently folding the rest, bit by bit.
  5. Pour into a greased 23cm/ 9 inch round and lined springform tin and cook for 40 minutes or until the cake’s beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on a rack.
  6. Toast the hazelnuts in a dry frying pan until the aroma wafts upwards and the nuts are golden-brown in parts: keep shaking the pan so that they don’t burn on one side and stay too pallid on others.
  7. Make the ganache: put a heavy-bottomed saucepan onto the stove and add the cream, Frangelico (or water) and chopped chocolate. Stir continuously until the chocolate has melted.

  8. Take it off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency (should be a smooth cream like texture).
  9. Release the cooled cake from the mould carefully, leaving it on the base (as it is wet and heavy and will break). Slowly glaze the top of the cake with the chocolate ganache.

  10. Finish it all off by placing the toasted (and cooled) hazelnuts onto the cake.

Granola Bars, Part Deux

Good morning hunger pains! Per the usual, I woke up this morning completely ravenous, eagerly anticipating stuffing my face voraciously with granola (also quite typical). Shuffling my sleepy self to the kitchen with a craving for peanut butter, I realized I had prematurely gobbled up my granola supply (#firstworldproblems), so I quickly scrounged up the ingredients for these rockingly easy granola bars. This is a recipe so simple that any pre-caffeinated brain can handle on the emptiest of stomachs. However, waiting for these buddys to set before cutting may be a different story… These are definitely a new essential to keep on handy for satiating frequent morning (or afternoon, midnight, 3am…) hunger pains. Customize with chocolate, nuts and dried fruit to your hearts content! Peanut Butter Granola Bars adapted from here

2/3 cup brown rice syrup

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup agave syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon salt, optional and to taste

3 cups oats

1 cup dried unsweetened coconut flakes

Optional Add-ins:

1/3 to 1/2 cup raisins (or any bite-sized dried fruit will work)

1/2 cup almonds, roughly chopped (or walnuts, pecans, peanuts…)

1/3 to 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a 9 x 13″ baking dish with tin foil. In a large microwave-safe bowl (think big, you’ll be mixing everything in here), combine brown rice syrup, peanut butter, agave, and heat on high power for 1 minute; stir to combine. Add vanilla, cinnamon, salt.

Add oats and coconut to the wet ingredients and stir to combine. Add any dried fruit, nuts and chocolate and fold to incorporate. Pour mixture into prepared pan, spread parchment paper over mixture, and pack down firmly with a fists. Place pan in the freezer for at least 1 hour, or until you can’t take waiting anymore. Slice bars and wrap in parchment or tin foil for easy snacking and/or breakfasting!

How to Make New Friends

Ah, peanut butter and chocolate – such a reliable combination. Not only do these cookies employ the notoriously beloved duo, but they take it up a notch with a dollop of creamy, almost-too-decadent fudge and a hearty dose of oats. The oats make a moist and chewy cookie and set the perfect background for the fudge to take center stage.

If you want to get people to like you, bake these cookies for them. That is, unless they have a peanut allergy – these guys do have quite the (deliciously) lethal dose of PB. I made these a few weeks ago on a baking binge, and the people are still reminding me of their success!

A super easy recipe and one definitely worth trying (and subsequently inhaling). Bakers enjoy, eaters rejoice!

Peanut Butter & Fudge Oatmeal Cookies (Recipe from here)

1/2 cup unsalted butter, very soft
1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup white sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chocolate chips
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Preheat oven to 350°F and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the butter, peanut butter, and sugars. (You can use beaters, but it’s easiest to just vigorously mix by hand.) Mix in eggs and vanilla until thoroughly incorporated. Add the oats, baking soda, and salt, and mix thoroughly. Refrigerate the dough while preparing the fudge topping.

Mix the chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk in a small saucepan. Warm over low heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Stir vigorously to make sure the mixture is evenly mixed. Turn off the burner under the chocolate.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and roll half of it into walnut-sized balls, pressing each one semi-flat on the cookie sheet. Top each ball of dough with a teaspoon of the warm chocolate mixture.

Bake the cookies for 10 minutes or until just golden around the edges. Repeat with the remaining dough and fudge topping. (Warm and stir the chocolate over low heat if it has hardened too much to scoop.)

What’s your type?

There are two types of dessert lovers in this world: Those that love fruity desserts (I feel guilty about eating this, but even covered in whipped cream, strawberries are good for you right??) and those that cannot fathom the existence of a dessert without chocolate (What?? Cake comes in other flavors??) If you’re ever having difficulty deciding what to bake for a crowd, be forewarned that the latter far outweighs the former. The people LOVE their chocolate and this recipe is definitely a crowd pleaser.

I’ll admit I belong in the first category (A baker wit sweet-induced guilt? Masochistic, I know…) but whenever baking for a crowd, you really can’t go wrong with a good brownie. Novice bakers and fourteen year old girls will go for the boxed stuff, but there really is something magical about brownies made from scratch. Yes, I said magical: chocolate so simple, so fudgy and so goddamn good. It really doesn’t take much longer to melt the chocolate and break the eggs – I think you still have to break eggs into a mix, right? Even Betty Crocker herself would approve of this recipe! While your guests are bowing at your feet your waistline may not be as ecstatic, but we’re trying to rid ourselves of the guilt here so bake on bakers, bake on.

Find the recipe here (via Brown Eyed Baker). Oh, and add an extra tablespoon of espresso powder. Just for kicks.