bleu cheese, bacon crumbles, fresh chive,
homemade cheese sauce, seasonal fruit, real maple syrup
and a peated scotch ale.
AND WHERE WERE YOU?
Leggo my eggo this instant.
life as an aspiring amateur
Chocolate cake. Inspiring all kinds of “whoa” since forever.
Father’s Day deserved a special cake for the best father. Don’t mind my cliché-edness. It’s just a blog.
He really is, though.
It called for deep chocolate. It also called for relatively complicated technique (this is most definitely a multi-bowl affair), but that is beside the point. The technique resulted in deep chocolate, which is really what matters in this life besides Jesus.
Chocolate sliced and thriced. For some reason, when I mixed the melted chocolate and cocoa mixture, the chocolate seized a little. It turned out all right. I had to be thorough about folding it into the eggs, but I have no idea why it happened, which is annoying.
Layered with care. The chocolate in the middle made for a near-molten center. It wasn’t ultra sweet because the recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate. Less sweet, more rich.
But because we love sweet, I served it with a Malibu butterscotch sauce. Next time, I will make the sauce thicker and add enough liquor so that you will actually be able to taste the coconut. With vanilla ice cream of the “super premium” variety, no one was calling foul on the sauce.
Thanks to Mum for helping me bake!
Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake with Malibu Butterscotch
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 tablespoons Malibu Rum
Place butter, cream, and sugar in a small sauce pan. Place pan over a medium flame and cook, whisking occasionally, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Allow mixture to boil for an additional 5-7 minutes after sugar is dissolved, stirring only once or twice, and cooking until mixture is quite thick. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and Malibu. Let the sauce cool for 2 or 3 minutes, then carefully pour over top the cake. Keep refrigerated.
When I’m trying to be all possessive of the ingredients in the house that I’m saving and Dad contributes his two wisdom cents. Thanks, Dayd.
Avocados, fudge and limoncello? Don’t mind if I do.
Ok, so, maybe gross, you think. I didn’t combine the chocolate and limoncello (although, who knows? sounds like the chocolate and lemon thing has been done before. but the limoncello just feels like altogether too much punch to me.) But I did combine the chocolate and avocado, which was the best life choice I’ve made in a while. PLC. GLC. BLC.
Sidenote on the limoncello. My roommate made that. She made her own limoncello. She is constantly showing me these cool things, and I’m like, “Who are you?”
Avocados, like other fruits that can be used as fat substitutes in baked goods (hello banana bread, black bean brownies, chickpea blondies, applesauce zucchini muffins), are an excellent way to add some extra health points to your bakes, if you are even going for that. You needn’t.
But here is the thing, before you’re all like,”Spare me, Lauren. Green and I, we don’t jive.”
You guys, these brownies were insane good. They had this chewy, not dry crust, which was actually addictive, and the center parts were ultimate dark fudge gooey. Like underbaked glory brownies sans chicken salt. Not a green speck in the batch (be sure to mash up your avocado vry, vry well.)
I didn’t completely cut the fat–next time I might reduce the added oil by a tablespoon or so, just to see.
It was not a bad thing that I topped them with some leftover fudge frosting like I was re-creating the opening credits of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, either. Stream on, fudge river, stream on.
Fudgy Avocado Brownies
Adapted from Averie Cooks
flesh from 1 average-sized ripe avocado, well-mashed
1/4 cup canola oil
1 large egg
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons coffee or water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules, optional
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Got a new roommate–those are all her pretty things.
Tried to make her a welcome muffin–because warm muffins are like, the most welcoming thing. Besides, you know, open arms and a smile, I guess. But we talk food on this blog, and I don’t know her well enough to hug her.
I just imagined this one-sided convo that is everything that I would think and that would likely lead to a one-sided hug, probably:
“Wait, are you a hugger? Because I’m not really. But like, I would hug you, if that is what it would take for you to feel at home in your new home where I already live. You seem like you wouldn’t smell bad, based on the tasteful home decor items you dropped off a few days ago. But really, decorating taste is no indication of hygiene habits, so I really can’t say. Welp, I guess we can hug. Ok. That wasn’t so bad. Welcome. Here is a muffin.”
IT IS CHERRY SEASON.
And nothing goes with cherries more classically than almonds.
True life: I was rushing when I made these and encountered two problems. One: I overmixed the batter, which can make for a denser batter, when I wanted light and fluffy. Two: I used self-rising flour that is so old that it kind of has chunks in it that I can’t get out because I have no sifter, which made the flour incorporate unevenly. This was especially obvious in the chocolate version. I could see little white specks, and texture was definitely off. It could be the recipe, too–I thought there wasn’t enough liquid in the batter.
Luckily, because these muffins have fresh cherries in them, they really softened up overnight. By morning, the texture was much more moist, if not less dense. And if all else fails, just top with hot fudge sauce. Because that stuff makes anything into a sundae.
Sew many problems, but maybe you should try it. For an ultra-quick muffin recipe, this can’t be beat. The almond flavor is good. Plus, when eaten fresh from the oven, even an average muffin is a winner.
For all you huggers, I would hug you, maybe,
Cherry Almond Muffins + Chocolate Cherry Muffins
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
2 3/4 cups self-rising flour* (for a chocolate version, replace about 1/3 cup flour with 1/3 cup cocoa)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk or buttermilk (or half and half)
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
3/4 teaspoon almond extract (for chocolate version, replace with 1 teaspoon vanilla extract)1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen cherries
sliced almonds or hot fudge sauce, for drizzling
Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.
Whisk together the flour and sugar (and cocoa, if this is the chocolate version). In a separate bowl, whisk together the milk, oil, eggs, and extract. Add to the dry ingredients, stirring until the flour is moistened; it will be a bit lumpy. Gently stir in the cherries, being careful not to overmix.
Fill the muffin cups 3/4 full and sprinkle muffins with sliced almonds. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Remove the muffins from the oven and let cool for 3 to 5 minutes in the pan. Remove from the pan and serve warm or at room temperature. Wrap airtight and store at room temperature for several days. The fresh fruit will make these soften up over time. I found that the texture had improved the following morning, but if your flour is in better shape than mine, this may not be an issue for you.
*Don’t have self-rising flour? Here’s how to make your own from scratch.
Once I thought I had this novel idea about hazelnuts. For some reason, I really wanted to try and make a hazelnut mousse. Not, like, a chocolate hazelnut mousse like Nutella, but just straight up hazelnut. Imagine the flavor of hazelnut in a fluffy, creamy mousse. Omheavens.
Anyway, I haven’t done it yet. I thought I was being so original, the only person in this world to separate chocolate and hazelnut. And then I heard about this cake. And for over a year, I have deliriously desired to make it.
Hazelnut. And brown butter. And no chocolate added. It is my dream come true.
I put off my dream for an age because I was loathe to buy that amount of hazelnuts. They so expensif. BUT THEN. I found hazelnuts at HomeGoods, which were cheaper than buying nuts at the regular grocery store. And already peeled, imagine that. So I had no excuse. And at that point, I didn’t even want an excuse anymore. I’m sick of all my lame excuses to not make the best cake ever conceived.
Oh wait, one more lame excuse + lame story. Once I ate a whole hazelnut out of my mum’s drink at Applebee’s of all places, must’ve been around 11, and my throat swelled up, and I thought I was allergic for a number of years. Somehow by my own might and willpower, I have overcome this detrimental health condition. But even if I hadn’t, I would still make and eat this cake.
I also found this special vanilla bean/extract at HomeGoods. Not sure if you can really taste the
rainbow difference, but it adds a few pretty vanilla specks to the batter and made me feel fancy, sooo impulse buy.
This cake requires some technique, and I really took my time and enjoyed the process. Not your standard one-bowl affair. And the result is worth every minute you spent meticulously folding in the dry ingredients. You know how I feel about folding. (Not great, but I do it out of necessity. I have to really want it. And I really want hazelnut brown butter. So.)
And guys, I actually spent some time plating it. With salvia, not the drug kind. And also blackberry sauce, which made it all the prettier, and was a very nice complement.
I was worried that the cake would be dry–I baked it a full 20-30 minutes less than the recipe recommended–and I thought the sauce would make up for any mishaps. Upon tasting, the cake was dense but light, if that makes sense. So the sauce, while appreciated and recommended, is unnecessary, which makes this an all seasons type ‘o cake.
Enjoy with my best,
Brown Butter Hazelnut Cake with Blackberry Sauce
5 ounces hazelnuts, toasted with dark skins removed
1/2 pound unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups powdered sugar, plus extra for dusting the cake
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 large egg whites
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 °F.
Cut out a circle of parchment paper to fit in the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan. Spray the pan with nonstick cooking spray, line with parchment, then spray generously again.
Place the butter in a medium saucepan and cook the butter over medium heat until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). Frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Set aside to cool. Stir in the vanilla extract.
Grind the hazelnuts with the confectioners’ sugar in a food processor (or Magic Bullet, if you’re me) until finely ground. Transfer to a large bowl, then whisk in the flour.
Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Add the granulated sugar and mix on high speed 4 to 5 minutes, until the mixture forms very stiff peaks. When you turn the whisk upside down, the peaks should hold.
Alternate folding the dry ingredients and the brown butter into the egg whites, a third at a time. Scrape all the brown bits out of the bottom of the butter pan–it adds so much flavor.
Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake for 30-40 minutes. Mine was done at 30, though the original recipe suggests 50-60 minutes! Cool on a rack 30 minutes (my cake shrunk fairly significantly during this time). Run a knife around the inside edge of the pan, and invert the cake onto a plate. Peel off the paper, and turn the cake back over onto a serving platter. Sprinkle it with powdered sugar and blackberry sauce (recipe follows).
6 ounces blackberries (if frozen, defrost slightly in the microwave)
squeeze of lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
Process all ingredients in a blender or food processor until smooth. Strain through a fine mesh strainer to remove blackberry seeds. Let chill in the fridge for a bit to thicken.
Look at these fleckkkkks. So pretty. If you’ve never tried cardamom, please do soon. I’ve heard it described both as like Coke and like nutmeg, so I don’t even know what to tell you about it. It’s a warm spice. Like in the cinnamon/chai/fall spices category.
Traditional pound cake is supposed to be butter, sugar, eggs, flour, but this recipe included sour cream for moistness. As with many sour cream recipes I do, I am once again subbing greek yogurt for the cream.
My vision was to serve this with whipped cream (or creme fraiche) and strawberry rhubarb compote, but I only got as far as raspberry jam. I wasn’t sorry about it. Poundcakes freeze well, so perhaps I’ll make another and save it until I can compote. ‘Compote’ isn’t a verb, but do you get me??
If you’re interested, here are some other great flavors to pair with cardamom, to get your brain working. Another pairing list I found:
Apples, bananas, beans, caramel, cinnamon, citrus, coconut, coffee, coriander, curry, dates, ginger, grains, grains of paradise, nuts, pepper, pumpkin, sugar, squash, yeast breads
No idea what “grains of paradise” is, but sounds like heaven. Haha. I’ve written like five blog posts today, and I’m at the point where my bad jokes are actually making me laugh.
Cardamom Pound Cake
Adapted from Bon Appetit
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. ground cardamom
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
1 cup white sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. almond extract
2 cups all-purpose flour