Spicy Chocolate Loaf Cake

ChocolateSpiceCake03I came across a really intriguing recipe on Pinterest a few months back, it said for a Starbuck’s Chocolate Cinnamon Bread. Thing is, I have never seen this chez Star Chuck’s. Maybe it was a regional release, maybe it was a long time ago, I don’t know. But, I made it and we loved it. It was delicious, but I decided if I made it again I wanted more spice. And more chocolate.
ChocolateSpiceCake 1
Then I forgot about it. Until last week. I was out of cocoa powder. (What?!? I know, right?) After some browsing on the interwebs, I decided to take a chance on Valrhona alkali processed cocoa powder. I’d always been a loyal Droste girl. Ever baked with Dutch processed cocoa instead of regular cocoa? It’s a huge difference – you know how some cakes and brownies have that deep, dark, almost black color and rich chocolate taste? That’s from the alkalized cocoa; that cocoa is essential for this cake. Go nuts and use Valrhona or just buy some Hershey’s Special dark cocoa powder at the grocery.
ChocolateSpiceCake01

This is a lovely, densely chocolate indulgence. The spice adds a lovely warmth without outshining the chocolate or being obvious. The chocolate chips make it decadent. The sugar spice on top lends a wonderful, crunchy top layer that is a fantastic contrast to the rich chocolate interior. Have a slice with afternoon coffee. If you want to go over the top, warm it up ever so slightly so the chocolate chips are a bit melty. Or, you can make it dinner party dessert-worthy and dress it up with some spiced whipped cream* and a salted caramel sauce.
ChocolateSpiceCake03

Ok. Chocolate cake. Let’s do this:

Double Chocolate Spice Cake
Makes two 9” loaves
Based on this recipe I found through Pinterest – http://www.tablefortwoblog.com/starbucks-chocolate-cinnamon-bread/

for the cake:
1.5 c. butter
3 c. sugar
2 c. flour
½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp salt
1 c. dutch process cocoa powder
¼ c. warm water
1 c. buttermilk
5 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla

for the topping:
¼ c sugar
½ tsp pumpkin pie spice
½ tsp cinnamon
2 Tbsp turbinado or sparkle sugar, if you have it.

Grease and flour the pans then line each loaf pan with parchment. Preheat oven to 350*. Mix together the topping.
In the mixer bowl with the paddle, mix the flour, sugar, spices salt, leavening and butter. Mix on low until it resembles moist, clumpy crumbs. While that is mixing, in a medium sized bowl, whisk together first the chocolate and water, then the eggs, vanilla and buttemilk. Add the wet to the dry and mix on high for about 30 seconds. Add in the chocolate chips and give it a quick whirl.
Divide the batter between the pans, smooth the top. Sprinkle evenly and generously with all the spiced sugar topping.
Bake 50-60m. until a tester comes out clean. Cool to just warm, then remove from the pans to finish cooling.

Cool complete before slicing. Seriously. Or it will look like raccoons tried to eat your baking. Unless you live by yourself, in which case have at ‘cuz this is luscious warm.

**Now, to make that whipped cream… You can even do this a day or two ahead and keep it in the fridge. Just don’t eat all of it, because it’s amazing. You need heavy whipping cream for this. Commit to the indulgence – nothing else will do. For each 8oz of heavy whipping cream, in a glass measuring cup or small saucepan mix 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin with 4 tsp of water. When the gelatin is thickened, heat the mixture on low while stirring until it is clear (or 20 seconds at a time in the nuker), and cool it to room temp. You want it pourable, not set up. In a chilled mixing bowl, whip the 8oz of heavy cream with about 1/4c powdered sugar and the spice (1/2 tsp. of cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice, or Chinese five-spice powder). When it starts to thicken a little, slowly drizzle in the liquid gelatin while mixing. Keep whipping it on high until it becomes dull instead of shiny, and looks like, well, thick whipped cream. If you take this too far, you will wind up with butter so don’t go nuts. This stuff is so stable you can frost cakes with it, and it will keep for DAYS in the fridge. Just one caution – cover it tightly, you don’t want it to absorb the flavor of whatever’s next to it on the shelf. And! do not.stir it when you take it out of the fridge. Just scoop and go. Stirring will pop all those tiny bubbles you worked so hard to incorporate to make it fluffly. Whenever I make the pumpkin pie spice one. people seriously just start shamelessly eating it out of the bowl with a spoon. It’s that yummy.

Blueberry Sorbet

This is one of those cheater posts, where its so easy I feel guilty even sharing it. A two-ingredient wonder.   But this is yummy. And easy. And fast.   So, we’ll just have to suck it up and know it’s really close to the blueberry cheatagranita recipe I posted last year.

Blueberry Sorbet 1Cmed

 

So, this serves like gorgeous soft serve when you first make it. But, I wanted perfect little boules so I froze it before scooping.  And, I’d say just make this and eat it.  Honestly, once it was frozen it actually flaked gorgeously in to a a granita…but that’s already here, so …. yeah.

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The longest part of this is the waiting. But hey, set out the blueberries when you sit down to supper, and then just whip together dessert.
Ingredients
3 c. frozen blueberries
6 packets Truvia or PureVia sweetener
Instructions
Put the frozen blueberries in the food processor, and walk away for 20 mins.
Once they’re partially thawed, sprinkle them with the sweetener.
Pulse until everything is mostly smallish and then leave the processor going for 1-2 minutes.
Scrape down the sides halfway through.
Stop when it looks like soft serve.
Garnish with some whipped cream or coconut cream or nothing.

serves 4
calories 65
fat 1
cholesterol 0mg
sodium 1mg
carbs 15g
-fiber 3g
-sugars 11g
protein 1g

Nectarine Sorbet: Hello, summer!

 

Another three-ingredient miracle thanks to magic of the season.

NectarineSorbet5med
Ever have one of those recipes in your mind, and you can just imagine and taste how it will be. And then you make it, and it’s good. It’s yummy.  It is just not the mind-blowing deliciousness you had in mind? Yeah – that’s me this week.  But this was still a yummy treat, and it froze and reserved beautifully.

Nectarine Collage

My only complaint is I thought this would have a deeper nectarine taste. Then I remembered the ice cream Alton Brown lesson – d’oy – if it’s going to be frozen, it needs to be super-saturated in flavor and sweetness or it won’t taste right at the end.

Nectarine1med
See how the color lightened up, and it looks fluffy? That’s done!

 

That said, we totally ate this. It was delicious. Next time, I might try roasting the nectarines like the pears.

NectarineSorbet3Bmed

Or maybe leaving the fruit out until it is almost too ripe. Time will tell – stay tuned!

I am just not happy with shots for this post. Dammit. The pear shots turned out so great, and these are….meh. 

Kvetching aside, Bon apétit.
For the frozen nectarines
6-8 just ripe to almost too ripe nectarines.
1 lemon, washed and chopped in to chunks.
¼ c sugar.
For the sorbet
You *may* need a couple Tbsp of simple syrup or fruit juice.

DIRECTIONS
Blanche/peel the nectarines. Cut in to chunks (Mine were not free-stone, so I cut them up like a mango). Squeeze the lemon chunks with the sugar in a big bowl. Toss in the nectarines, and mix to coat with the lemony sugar mixture.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment. Spread out the coated nectarine chunks in an even layer. Put the tray in the freezer, and freeze until they’re hard. Remove from the parchment, and keep in a zip bag in the freezer for up to a couple months. (Ha! Yeah – like they’ll last that long)
OK – to make it, set in the cuisinart for 10-15 mins.
Once you’v tempered the frozen fruit, you just pulse it until it is creamy and lightens in color. You may need to add a couple tablespoons of simple syrup (or apple or orange juice).
Be sure to pulse – because one second you’ll have crumbles and then whoosh it comes together.
Fantastic fluffy texture using this technique
Could you do this without peeling the fruit? Totally – it will just have tiny flecks of skin throughout. I’ve tried it that way, but didn’t like the texture.
I thought this would be awesome in a bellini, btw. Haven’t tried it yet.

Servings 4
Calories 54
Fat 0 g
Sodium 1 mg
Carbs 14 g
Protein 0 g

Roasted Pear Sorbet

Dude – this has four ingredients. Four. And it is AMAZING. Remember those roasted pears from last week?

PearSorbet2Cmed

 

So, I put some in the freezer. Yes, fine, so I wouldn’t just eat all of them in one sitting. You got me. Then I started to think of that awesome banana “ice cream” you can make with just frozen bananas, and thought, “Hey! I wonder if I could do that with that bag of frozen roasted pears?”

 

 PearSobet3Cmed

The answer is YES.  It was amazing. But himself was not impressed. So, I added some minced candied ginger – and pop! He liked it!  I’ve read about this flavor combo tons, but never thought I’d like it so didn’t try it. This is delicious!

PearSorbet4Cmed

 

There isn’t really a recipe for this – take the Roast Pears post from last week, freeze it and then puree it in the Cuisinart. Stir in some candied ginger and serve. I can’t tell you if it freezes well at this time because….uh…..there wasn’t any left. Yeah. Try it, tell me what you think. 

PearSorbet1Cmed
And, hey! That garnish is those Martha pear chips I linked to last week.

 
Ingredients
1 batch roasted pears (peel/core/cube 4 pears, toss w/ lemon juice & sugar & roast 375* 40m), frozen
2 Tbsp. minced candied ginger
Instructions
Put the frozen pears in the food processor. Spin till a beautiful soft serve is formed. Stir in the ginger, and serve in frozen dishes.
Servings 4
Calories 2
Fat 0 g
Sodium 1 mg
Carbs 7 g
Protein 0 g

Roast Pears

Damn you, Costco. Damn you and your cute food. I can never resist the bags of those dainty and delicious Forelle pears. They beckon me, in their out-of-season-shipped-from-Chile voices. Pear bastards.

RoastPear2Cmed

Next to nectarines, pears are my favorite fruit. Fresh, they are a dream. But when it comes to cooking, they just lose their essence. Their delicate flavor is lost and a mealy texture remains. I thought when I discovered Pear Honey it would be the solution, but that’s just so damn sweet. (Yes, I see the word honey in the title. That stuff is amazingly delicious, btw, and you should make some immediately. But I digress.) 

RoastPear3BCmed

 

So, I’m walking past three pounds of pears on the dining table for a week, waiting for them to ripen. The magic day arrives – and I realize I have to eat three pounds of pears in the next 48 hours or they will go bad. What to do, what to do. 

RoastPearCUPbCmed
With spoonful of plain yogurt, a drizzle of honey and some fresh thyme. (Himself called that gilding the lily, and prefers them plain.)

 

So last night, I got out the mandoline and made some pear chips. (Thank you, Martha.) Yum! Need some chèvre to eat ’em, though.  This morning I woke up and said, chuck all – I will just toss them in lemon juice and sugar and roast them all. 

RoastPear1med

 

All in all, this was pretty easy. Any pear would work for this, although personally I wouldn’t use a Bosc. Mainly because they are a pain in the ass to peel and cube with that long skinny neck. D’anjou and Bartlet will do just fine, or the Farelle.

So, why roast? It cooks out some of the liquid in the fruit, and concentrates the flavor. That, with that tinge of caramelization makes for a more pear-tasting pear. Trust me, this is delicious.
Ingredients
4 large or 6 medium pears, just barely ripe
Juice of ½ lemon
¼ c sugar
Instructions
Heat oven to 375*.
Line two baking sheets with parchment.
Peel, core, and cube the pears.
Toss with the lemon juice and sugar.
Spread out evenly not touching on the baking sheets.
Bake about 40 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through. The bottoms of the pears should be just barely caramelized, and the top edges tinged golden.
Ways to eat them
By themselves, straight off the tray.
With plain greek yogurt (or crème fraîche), thyme and honey.
With whipped cream and sprinkled with chopped candied ginger.
On top of vanilla ice cream.
On top of yogurt.
Frozen and pulsed into a sorbetto/granita hybrid in the cuisinart with chopped candied ginger.
Baked in to a coffee cake.
Pulsed with some fresh pear cubes and a little simple syrup and made in to popsicles.

Servings 4
Calories 182
Fat 0 g
Sodium 3 mg
Carbs 48 g
Protein 1 g

Blueberry Cheat-a-Granita, or Dessert in 60 Seconds

BlueberryGranita2BCmed

 

It was Mother’s Day dinner. I’d thought to skip dessert, since Bill is supposed to be avoiding sugar and flour and all that. But as we sat talking after our meal, it just felt weird without dessert. Then I remembered that HUGE bag of Costco blueberries in the freezer and thought of something I’m betting thousands have thought of before: run those fuckers through the food processor. Put Bill’s in a dish, and then do it again with some sugar for me and mom.  It was awesome – but the sugar was grainy, so it was time to refine.

When I redid it for this post, I thought I’d try it with my favorite liqueurs and some powdered sugar to avoid graininess.
BlueBerryGranita6medOut of the liqueur round, the Chambord won hands down. The Grand Marnier overpowered the berries.  But, honestly, I liked the powdered sugar the best. Although I bet a drizzle of Chambord topped with some sweetened whipped heavy cream….well, that will have to wait for another post.

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It took longer to assemble the equipment than it did to make dessert. And, it keeps in the freezer if you make too much. Please try this – it’s a new favorite at our house.  Himself sprinkles on some Truvia, I sprinkle on some powdered sugar and it’s dessert all around.

Blueberry Cheat-a-Granita
Serves 4
Granita in 60 seconds
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60 calories
14 g
0 g
1 g
0 g
0 g
117 g
1 g
10 g
0 g
0 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
117g
Servings
4
Amount Per Serving
Calories 60
Calories from Fat 6
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 1g
1%
Saturated Fat 0g
0%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0g
Monounsaturated Fat 0g
Cholesterol 0mg
0%
Sodium 1mg
0%
Total Carbohydrates 14g
5%
Dietary Fiber 3g
13%
Sugars 10g
Protein 0g
Vitamin A
1%
Vitamin C
5%
Calcium
1%
Iron
1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 3 c. frozen blueberries
  2. Sweetener to taste
Instructions
  1. Dump the berries in the food processor.
  2. Whir until it looks like granita.
Notes
  1. Serve and sprinkle with powdered sugar, or drizzle with Chambord and top with whipped heavy cream.
beta
calories
60
fat
1g
protein
0g
carbs
14g
more
Bucket of Yum http://bucketofyum.com/

Cupcakes. Chocolate, of course.

Cupcake1BC

 

 

Do you dream of chocolate? I do.  I love Ina’s chocolate cake recipe, but it just never works as cupcakes for me. The palette is too small for the bold, airy structure of that cake.  So this necessitated a quest for a good chocolate cupcake.  These were tasty.  My only complaint is the glaze is too hard, and slicing in to it smooshes the cake. But hey, if that’s ya got to complain about…..
Bon apétit, tout le monde. 

Cupcake2BCOther than a different-sized cupcake liner a little sliced strawberry garnish, these are just a food network recipe. But honestly, they stayed moist for days.  And the glaze is a double batch of this. 

Give ’em a shot – pretty tasty stuff. 

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Brownies. With Nuts.

Mmmm brownies

These are always a hit. A long time ago these started out as the cocoa brownies in  Betty Crocker’s Best of Baking, slowly evolving with some grown-up touches like Kahlua and some salt on top.  These are a quick and easy rich treat to be munched in a little over half an hour.  Just remember the Alton Brown sling when preparing the pan! (You remember that one, right? Where he uses parchment to line the bottom and go up the sides?)

 

You can almost make out the sugar and salt on top
Extreme close up to see the sugar and salt on top

 

Chocolate Orgasm Brownies
Serves 16
Rich, dense brownie with chunks of dark chocolate and a salty/sweet nut topping.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Total Time
35 min
177 calories
22 g
39 g
9 g
2 g
4 g
44 g
195 g
16 g
0 g
4 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
44g
Servings
16
Amount Per Serving
Calories 177
Calories from Fat 79
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 9g
14%
Saturated Fat 4g
22%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 39mg
13%
Sodium 195mg
8%
Total Carbohydrates 22g
7%
Dietary Fiber 1g
5%
Sugars 16g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
2%
Iron
4%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
For the batter
  1. 1 c. sugar
  2. 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  3. 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  4. 1/4 c. Kahlua
  5. 2 eggs
  6. 2/3 c. AP flour
  7. 1/2 c. dutch-process cocoa
  8. 1/2 tsp baking powder
  9. 1/4 tsp. salt
For the topping
  1. 1/2 c. chopped pecans
  2. 1/2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped chunks
  3. 2 Tbsp. raw sugar
  4. 1 tsp. kosher or flake salt
Instructions
  1. Mix the topping in a small bowl.
  2. Preheat oven to 350*. Coat inside of 9x9x2 square pan with cooking spray. Take a sheet of parchment paper 9" wide, and make an Alton Brown-style brownie sling.
  3. In a large bowl, sift the dry ingredients. Mix the wet in the mixer, add in the dry. Mix just until combined. Place batter in the prepared pan. Smooth surface. Sprinkle with the topping.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes, until tester comes out clean. You will see the brownies pulling a little from the edge. DO NOT OVER BAKE. Cool 10 minutes, loosed the non-parchment side and *gently* lift the brownies from the pan for slicing.
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Best of Baking
beta
calories
177
fat
9g
protein
2g
carbs
22g
more
Adapted from Betty Crocker's Best of Baking
Bucket of Yum http://bucketofyum.com/

Blondies

Blondie2

Blondies. Bill has this memory of earth-shatteringly good blondies from the Just Desserts bakery in San Francisco from [cough cough] years ago.

I can’t tell you how many recipes I’ve tried over the years, hoping to give him that little slice of bakery happiness…. but have yet to find THE ONE. 

Blondie  mis en place
Blondie mis en place

These are not them, but they are damn tasty.  They’re from Smitten Kitchen, with walnuts and (in honor of The City) Ghiradelli white and dark chocolate chips, some walnuts, and crystal sugar on top.

Alright – now that the photo’s up, it’s time to go make a pot of coffee to do these bad boys justice.

Blondies - a one-bowl wonder of chewy goodness
Yields 16
Brown sugar bar with dark and white chocolate chips, walnuts, and a sprinkle of sparkle sugar.
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Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
Prep Time
5 min
Cook Time
20 min
196 calories
24 g
28 g
10 g
2 g
5 g
42 g
22 g
17 g
0 g
5 g
Nutrition Facts
Serving Size
42g
Yields
16
Amount Per Serving
Calories 196
Calories from Fat 91
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 10g
16%
Saturated Fat 5g
26%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 3g
Cholesterol 28mg
9%
Sodium 22mg
1%
Total Carbohydrates 24g
8%
Dietary Fiber 1g
3%
Sugars 17g
Protein 2g
Vitamin A
4%
Vitamin C
0%
Calcium
3%
Iron
3%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your Daily Values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Ingredients
  1. 1/2 c. unsalted butter
  2. 1 c. dark brown sugar
  3. 1 egg
  4. 1 tsp. vanilla
  5. 1 c. AP flour
  6. Dash salt
  7. 1/4 c. white chocolate chips
  8. 1/4 c. dark chocolate chips
  9. 1/2 c. chopped toasted walnuts
  10. 1 Tbsp. sparkle sugar or raw sugar
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350*. Line an 8" square pan with parchment, spritz with non-stick spray.
  2. In a microwave-safe bowl, just barely melt the butter. Stir in the brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Stir in the egg, then the flour, then the chips and 1/2 the nuts.
  3. Smooth the batter in to the pan. Sprinkle with the rest of the nuts, and a sprinkling of big-grain sugar (sparkle sugar, raw sugar, etc.)
  4. Bake 20-25 mins. Test will come out clean, blondies will pull in slightly from the edge. Do.Not.Overbake.
  5. Slice and devour - warm or cold.
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
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calories
196
fat
10g
protein
2g
carbs
24g
more
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Bucket of Yum http://bucketofyum.com/

 

 

Pumpkin Spice Cake

Best.Coffecake.Ever. EVER. 

pumpkin crumb cake

Tried this out this week after seeing the White On Rice post featured on Tastespotting. The recipe’s here – it is exquisite. Try it.    I used buttermilk instead of sour cream, and an 8 inch pan with a parchment collar (I wanted  it taller), and went chiffon-style on the batter. But this is truly one of the best cakes I have ever had. Office mates LOVED it!

 Had to make one for work and one for home, or I’d never hear the end of it. 

pcake1

 One of the ladies at work made her own Sunday for a family breakfast, and it was huge hit there, too. YUM!!