Chocolate and Almond Cake

I love the idea of Julie & Julia.  Learning how to cook by working through all of the recipes and techniques in ‘Mastering the Art of French Cooking’.  I just can’t handle the idea of an aspic.  Who want’s to eat a savory jello?

This recipe is from Mastering the Art of French Cooking.

No substitutions were made.

chocolate almond cake 1

Chocolate and Almond Cake

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

A round cake pan 8 inches in diameter and 1.5 inches deep – I used a square pan
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate melted with 2 tblsp rum or coffee – I used coffee

Butter and flour the cake pan.  Set the chocolate and rum or coffee in a small pan, cover and place (off heat) in a larger pan of almost simmering water; let melt while you proceed with the recipe.  Measure out the rest of the ingredients.

3 quart mixing bowl
A wooden spoon or an electric beater
1/4 lb or 1 stick softened butter
2/3 c granulated sugar

Cream the butter and sugar together for several minutes until they form a pale yellow, fluffy mixture.

3 egg yolks

Beat in the egg yolks until well blended

3 egg whites
Pinch of Salt
1 tblsp granulated sugar

Beat the egg whites and salt in a separate bowl until soft peaks are formed; sprinkle on the sugar and beat until stiff peaks are formed.

A rubber spatula
1/3 c pulverized almonds
1/4 tps almond extract
1/2 c cake flour, turned into a sifter

With a rubber spatula, blend the melted chocolate into the butter and sugar mixture, then stir in the almonds, and almond extract.  Immediately stir in one fourth of the beaten egg whites to lighten the batter.  Delicately fold in a third of the remaining whites and when partially blended, sift on one third of the flour and continue folding.  Alternate rapidly with more egg whites and more flour until all egg whites and flour are incorporated.

Turn the batter into the cake pan, pushing the batter up to its rim with a rubber spatula.  Bake in the middle level of a preheated oven for about 25 minutes.  Cake is done with it has puffed and 2 1/2 to 3 inches around the circumference are set so that a needle plunged into that area comes out clean; the center should move slightly if the pan is shaken, and a needle comes out oily.

Allow cake to cool in the pan for 10 minutes.  Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and reverse cake on a rack.  Allow it cool for an hour or two; it must be thoroughly cold if it is to be iced.

Chocolate-Butter Icing

2 oz semi-sweet baking chocolate
2 tblsp rum or coffee – I used coffee
a small covered pan
a larger pan of almost simmering water
5 to 6 tlbsp unsalted butter
a wooden spoon
a bowl with a tray of ice cubes and water to cover them
a small flexible blade metal spatula or a table knife

Place the chocolate and the rum or coffee in the small pan, cover and set in the larger pan of almost simmering water.  Remove the pans from heat and let chocolate melt for 5 minutes or so, until perfectly smooth.  Lift chocolate pan out of the hot water, and beat in the butter a tablespoon at a time.  Then beat over the ice and water until chocolate mixture has cooled to spreading consistency.  At once spread it over your cake with spatula or knife.

cartoon-strawberry-9We had some friends over for dinner and I made this for dessert, which is why there’s only a single picture of the cake.  Also, I moved the cake when it was cooling and a corner broke off completely.  This icing worked as the perfect glue.  If you have the time, make the cake in the morning and the icing in the afternoon, when the cake has had plenty of time to cool.  BTW, this cake is dense and moist; the almond and chocolate balance each other perfectly.

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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

Happy Anniversary!  Last November I stared this little cooking blog focusing on all the recipes I have floating around my kitchen.  I’ve shared some of my favorite recipes, found a few that didn’t really cut the mustard, and have had so much fun sharing wonderful food with you!  To celebrate, let’s have some chocolate cake!

This recipe is from a Penzey’s Catalog.  (Unfortunately, I’m not sure which one..)

No substitutions were made, but I did half the recipe.

choc zuc cake 1

Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake

1/2 c butter, softened
1 3/4 c sugar
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/2 c all-purpose flour
2 tblsp cocoa powder (natural or dutch)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 c buttermilk
2 c peeled, shredded zucchini (1 medium)
2 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

choc zuch cake 2

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.  Beat in the oil, eggs and vanilla.  Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl and add to the creamed mixture alternately with the buttermilk.  Stir in the zucchini.  Pour into a greased 9×13-inch pan.  Sprinkle with the chocolate chips.  Bake at 350 for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool on a wire rack.

choc zuch cake 3

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choc zuch cake 4

cartoon-strawberry-9This is a very light, moist cake, and the zucchini is not noticeable at all.  This cake would be an easy way to sneak some veggies into a child or husband’s diet. 😉

Rocky Road Ice Cream

So my ice cream maker is leaking blue freezer fluid.  After 6 uses!  I’m a little upset, but have started the return process.  (ugh)  I’m just hoping this isn’t a sign of things to come.  It’s just a fluke, right??

This recipe is from Williams-Sonoma Ice Cream.

Substitutions made, noted below.

rocky road 1

Rocky Road Ice Cream

1 1/2 c whole milk – 1 used 2%
1 1/2 c heavy cream
6 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsley chopped
2 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/2 inch chunks – I used chocolate chips
4 large egg yolks
1/2 c sugar
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c coarsely chopped walnuts – I used almonds
1/4 c mini-marshmallows

In a heavy 2 quart saucepan, combine the milk and 1 cup of the cream.  Cook over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges of the pan, about 5 minutes.

Put the coarsely chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Pour the hot milk mixture over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 3 minutes.  (Set the saucepan aside for later use.)  Whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, sugar, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cream.  Whisk until the mixture is smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve.

Gradually whisk about 1/2 cup of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture until smooth.  Pour the egg mixture into the reserved saucepan and stir in the remaining milk mixture.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon and keeping the custard at a low simmer, until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and leaves a clear trail when a finger is drawn through it, 4 to 6 minutes.  Do not let the custard boil.  Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl.  Add the vanilla and stir to combine.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl partially filled with ice cubes and water.  Stir occasionally until cool  Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly on the surface of the custard to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate until chilled, at least 3 hours or up to 24 hours.

Pour the custard into an ice-cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  When nearly frozen and the consistency of thick whipped cream, stir in the chocolate chunks, walnuts and marshmallows.  Transfer the ice cream to a freezer safe container.  Cover and freeze until firm, at least 3 hours or up to 3 days before serving.

rocky road 2

cartoon-strawberry-9The good news is this recipe came out creamier than the others I’ve tired!  I froze it in a glass container and pressed parchment paper onto the top.  And it’s WONDERFUL.  Husband has texted me from work “I’m craving Rocky Road…”  Will definitely make this one again, if I get my freezer bowl fixed…

Chocolate Chip Cookies

I forget about the recipe box in my cupboard all the time.  3 x 5 cards of recipes copied down from my mom, from friends, and a few Pampered Chef recipe cards.   Do you have one of these hangin’ out with your cookbooks?  No?  Just Me?

This is a great recipe for a cookie that is chewy but not gooey, and gets a little crunchy around the edges.  And who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies on a random Wednesday night?

choc chip 1

Chocolate Chip Cookies

3/4 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c butter
1/2 c shortening
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1 tsp baking soda
1 3/4 c flour
1/2 tps salt
6 oz chocolate chips

choc chip 2

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl beat sugars, butter and shortening until light and fluffy.  Add vanilla and egg, beat well.  Add flour, baking soda and salt, mix well before stirring in the chocolate chips.  Drop by tablespoon full onto ungreased cookie sheets.

Bake approx 12 minutes, until edges are done and cookies are a light golden brown.

choc chip 3

cartoon-strawberry-9These cookies come together quickly and are wonderful right out of the oven, at room temperature, or with a caramel latte… (Have I mentioned how blessed I am to have a barista husband??)

Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream Sandwiches

I’m hoping y’all love ice cream as much as I do, because I am intending to wear out my new ice cream maker.

We had some friends over for dinner and I thought it’d be fun to have ice cream sandwiches for dessert.  And what’s better than chocolate and coffee??

choc coffee ice cream sandwhiches

For the cookies I used this recipe for Chewy Chocolate Cookies from Bunny’s Warm Oven.

For the ice cream I used this recipe for Coffee Ice Cream from A Cup of Mascarpone.

The taste of these sandwiches is divine!  BUT I didn’t make the sandwiches quite right and figured out my mistakes a couple days later.  I just plopped a scoop of ice cream between two cookies, wrapped them in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer.  The idea was there, but the execution was pretty messy.

Next time?  I will freeze the ice cream in a shallow dish between two pieces of parchment paper for a couple of hours.  Then use a round cookie cutter to cut out circles of ice cream to put between the cookies.  Roll the edges in nuts or even more chocolate, wrap in plastic wrap and freeze.

I can’t wait to perfect the ice cream sandwich, the possibilities are endless…

Happy Birthday!

It’s my birthday!

Here’s a fun Julia remix.

PBS has also done similar remixes for Reading Rainbow, Bob Ross and Mr. Rogers.  So great!

And I made myself a birthday cake.  A two day, three layer, chocolate amaziness overload cake.

choc mouse cake

You can find the recipe and instructions HERE.  Thanks Crunchy Creamy Sweet for the amazing recipe!

Treat yourself to a piece of cake on me!

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

I’ve never been a huge fan of bread pudding, but this one looked interesting enough to try.  The chocolate chips didn’t hurt too much either. 🙂

This recipe is from Nigella Kitchen.

Substitutions made, noted below.

choc chip Collage

Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding

9 oz stale bread, cut into 1′ cubes (approx 5 1/2c of cubes) – I used the 2nd loaf of the Portuguese Sweet Bread
1/2 c bittersweet chocolate chips – I used dark choc chips
3 eggs
3 tblsp light brown sugar
2 tblsp dark rum – I didn’t have any rum, so I used vanilla extract
1/2 c heavy cream
2 c whole milk – I used 2%
4 tsp turbinado sugar
1 ovenproof dish, approx 9′ diameter x 2 1/2′ deep (approx 1 1/2 quart capacity)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease a round pie dish lightly with butter.  Tip in the stale bread cubes; if your bread isn’t stale, then leave sliced to dry first, for awhile, on a wire rack before cubing and using.

Toss in the chocolate chips to spread evenly among the bread cubes.

Whisk together the eggs, light brown sugar, rum, heavy cream and milk.  Pour this mixture over the bread and press the cubes down to coat them in the liquid.

Leave all to soak for 20 minutes, then sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and put straight into the oven for 40-50 minutes.  If your oven browns unevenly, turn the dish around halfway through cooking.

Let the dish stand for awhile before serving – if you can.  The smell as it bakes is almost overwhelming, and it can be hard to wait once it is out of the oven.

Make Ahead Note: Assemble bread pudding 1 day ahead, but don’t sprinkle with the turbinado sugar.  Cover and keep in the refrigerator.  Remove from the refrigerator and leave at room temperature for 15 minutes, then sprinkle with the turbinado sugar and bake as directed in recipe.

choc chip bread pudding 3

cartoon-strawberry-9Nigella is quickly becoming one of my favorite celebrity chefs.  I’m itching to get my hand on every book she’s written and work my way through each one.  This came out of the oven perfectly crispy and gooey and yummy.  Using the sweet bread, I should have used orange extract instead of the vanilla.  Using a sourdough or french bread, the vanilla or rum would be perfect.

Extra-Special Dark Chocolate Cake

Last fall, husband and I went out on a Saturday for some wandering.  In our adventures, we came upon a small antique store and decided to see what treasures it might hold.  Not surprisingly, I came home with a cook book.  Meta Given’s Modern Encyclopedia of Cooking, Vol 1, A-F.  If I’m reading the inside cover correctly, mine is from the sixth printing in 1957.  It’s a worn out book, the printed spine is about to fall off and the previous owner left notes, newspaper clippings and other recipes tucked inside.  Such a treasure to me.

We had some friends over for dinner a last week, and I thought the “Extra-Special Dark Chocolate Cake” would be the perfect dessert to serve to some extra special people.

No substitutions were made.

dark choc cake 1

Extra-Special Dark Chocolate Cake

2 1/2c cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4c brown sugar, packed
3/4 c shortening
1 whole egg and 3 egg yolks
3 squares unsweet chocolate, melted & cooled
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c sweet milk – from the touch of research I did, ‘sweet milk’ is fresh milk. I used 2%.

Line bottoms of two 9-inch layer pans with waxed paper – grease paper.  Start oven 10 min before baking; set to moderate (350 degrees). – I skipped the wax paper and sprayed my pans with Bakers Joy.

Sift four, measure, re-sift 3 times with soda and salt.  Put sugar through coarse sieve if lumpy.  Cream shortening and sugar with wooden spoon until smooth and shiny.  Remove spoon and use rotary beater to bean in egg and yolks, beating until smooth and fluffy.Remove beater and use spoon.  Stir in chocolate and vanilla. – I used my stand mixer for all beating and stirring.

dark choc cake 2

Add flour and milk alternating in 3 or 4 portions, beginning and ending with flour and beating until well-blended after each.  Turn into prepared pans.  Bake 22 to 25 minutes or until cake tests done.  Cool in pans on cake racks 5 minutes, then turn out on racks, strip off paper and invert to finish cooling.

dark choc cake 3

And what would chocolate cake be without a great frosting??  I used the Coffee Butter Frosting, from this same cookbook.

Coffee Butter Frosting

1/3 c medium grind coffee
1 c cold water
1/4 c soft butter
2 c xxxx sugar (powdered sugar), sifted and packed
1/4 tsp salt
1 tblsp corn syrup

Add coffee to water and heat just to boiling; remove from heat, cover and let stand 2 min, then strain through fine sieve or cheese-cloth to remove all grounds.  Cool before adding to frosting. – I had husband make me a shot of espresso. 🙂

Cream butter until smooth and shiny, gradually blend in sugar alternately with about 3 tblsp of the coffee.  Then beat in the salt and the corn syrup until mixture has good spreading consistency.

dark choc cake 4

cartoon-strawberry-9Oh what a cake.  The batter was almost the consistency of pudding, and I had to rinse out the bowl before I stuck my head in it to lick it clean.  As you can see, the frosting wasn’t quite enough to cover both layers, but there was enough to make them stick.  In the future I’d double all the ingredients for the frosting, except for the coffee and maybe add a bit of chocolate syrup to make more of a mocha flavor.

A slice of this cake and one of husband’s latte’s were a wonderful compliment of each other.  And a perfect treat to share with our Extra-Special friends!

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

When husband and I were dating, there was a coffee shop near his home where he would always order a Mexican Mocha.  I was hoping these cookies would remind him of those mochas.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, December 2009.

I made one slight substitution, noted below.

Mexican Chocolate Cookies 1

Mexican Chocolate Cookies

5 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used a combo of unsweet, bittersweet and semi-sweet. It’s just what I had on hand.
3.4 oz all-purpose flour (about 3/4 c)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
Dash of black pepper
Dash of ground red pepper
1 1/4 c sugar
1/4 c butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

mexican chocolate cookies 2

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place chocolate in a small glass bowl; microwave on high 1 minute or until almost melted, stirring until smooth.  Cool to room temperature.

Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife.  Combine flour and next 5 ingredients (through ground red pepper); stir well with a whisk.

Combine sugar and butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended.  Add egg; beat well.  Add cooled chocolate and vanilla; beat just until blended.  Drop dough by level tablespoons 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until almost set.  Remove from oven.  Cool on pans 2 minutes or until set.  Remove from pans; cool completely on a wire rack.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

mexican chocolate cookies 3

cartoon-strawberry-9The pepper in these cookies adds a great little kick!  But to get the flattened crinkle cookie, I had to pull the sheets out of the oven about 2 minutes before the baking was done and flatten them with the back of a spoon.

Towering Flourless Chocolate Cake

I’m sure y’all think we do nothing but eat sweets, cookies, cakes and pie, Oh My! I promise, we do have a good dose of protein and veggies every day.

I had planned to do a post on the steak and potatoes  that I made for husband’s birthday.  But I only took pictures of the beginning stages of everything and not the final product.  It’s a blessing and a curse really.  The steak didn’t come out as well as the last time I made it (curse), but I have a pretty good idea why (blessing).  I guess I’ll just have to make it all again to redeem myself and to take all the proper pictures.

This is the cake I made for husband’s birthday.

The recipe is from Food Network Magazine, March 2012.

No substitutions were made.

Any cake that starts out with 12 ounces of chocolate is a winner in my book!

Any cake that starts out with 12oz of chocolate is a winner in my book!

Towering Flourless Chocolate Cake

For the Cake:
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces, pluse more for the pan
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
3/4 c turbinado sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 c stout beer (such a Guinness)
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the Meringue:
2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tblsp unsalted butter
1 tblsp light corn syrup
1 c granulated sugar
3 large egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

choc cake Collage

Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9 inch springform pan and line the bottom with parchment papaer.

Put the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the bowl touch the water).  Stir until the chocolate melts, then remover the bowl from the pan.

Put the eggs, turbinado sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer.  Set the bowl over the same pan of simmering water and whisk until the mixture is warm, about 2 minutes. Transfer the bowl to the stand mixer; beat with the whisk attachment on medium speed until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the beer and vanilla to a low boil in a saucepan.  Reduce the mixer speed to low; beat in the beer mixture, then the melted chocolate, until combined, about 2 minutes.  Gradually beat in the butter until incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick come out with a few crumbs, about 35 minutes.  Cool in the pan, on a rack 1 hour, then run a knife around the edge of the pan and remove the ring.  Let cool completely.

flourless choc cake 3

Make the meringue:  Microwave the chocolate, butter and corn syrup in a microwave-safe bowl in 30 second intervals, stirring until the chocolate melts.

Whisk the granulated sugar, egg whites, cream of tartar, salt and 1/3 c of water in a heatproof bowl.  Put the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; beat with a handheld mixer on low speed, then gradually increase the speed to high and beat until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the pan; continue beating until the meringue is cool and fluffy.  Fold in the vanilla, then fold in the melted chocolate until swirled.  Spread the meringue on the cake.

flourless choc cake 4

cartoon-strawberry-9  This cake is superb, ‘fudgy’ and dense, but not heavy.  The meringue adds a wonderful lightness to the whole thing.  Husband loved it and I just need another excuse to make it again.