December 22, 2009

I lava chocolate cake.

On the morning of what would turn out to be the first official snow day of my adult(ish) life, I woke up craving chocolate cake – the kind of chocolate cake that is dark, moist, and devilishly delicious. I love the idea of a chocolate cake that includes coffee, buttermilk, and yogurt, three flavor enhancers that promote moistness. The recipe below represents the closest I have come to making my version of a perfect chocolate cake. But beware – this is a recipe for chocoholics' eyes only. And yet I still consider it pretty tame...those who are really hardcore chocoholics will crave a dark chocolate ganache to top the whole thing off.

Deep, Dark Chocolate Cake
Dry ingredients:
1 3/4 c. flour
1 1/4 c. sugar
2/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
Wet ingredients:
2 eggs, beaten
1 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/4 c. yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
Last ingredients:
1 c. hot coffee
3/4 to 1 cup chocolate chips, 60% cacao if possible

Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease and flour a loaf pan or two 8-inch pans. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the wet ingredients in a smaller bowl, then incorporate into the dry ingredients until smooth. Add the hot coffee and mix until combined. Then fold in the chocolate chips and pour into the prepared pan. If using a loaf pan, it may rise and overflow while baking, so place the loaf pan on top of a large baking sheet to catch any excess batter. Bake for 50 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean.

December 12, 2009

1/4-Pound Cream Cheese Pound Cake

I think I speak for the minority when I say that I don't like cream cheese very much, not even in frosting or cheesecake. However, I have always been open-minded to the idea of a cream cheese pound cake, because it sounds like the butter would overpower the cream cheese flavor. I think tonight's cream cheese pound cake loaf proved that theory right. Hooray for pound cake! Plus, the magical thing about this cake is that it rises without the help of any leavening agents (e.g. baking powder/soda). I can only suspect that the rising action came from the elbow grease I put into creaming that butter, cream cheese, and sugar at the beginning. My arm was sore afterward, but not sore enough to keep me from picking up that fork.

1/4-Pound Cream Cheese Pound Cake
(adapted from a Martha Stewart Everyday Food recipe)
4 oz. cream cheese, room temp
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
1 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. light brown sugar
3 eggs
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
a few drops of almond extract
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a loaf pan.

Cream the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the sugars and cream until smooth and light. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Add the extracts and mix until incorporated. Add in the flour and salt. Combine until it forms a smooth, thick batter, then pour into your prepared pan and bake for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.

December 10, 2009

Ode to Oats

Nutella and oats are a thing of beauty. Some time ago, I had a fleeting idea to put together a book of oatmeal recipes called 50 Ways to Dote on Oats, or something along those cheesy lines. Maybe someday it will become a reality. I could even get it laminated at Kinko's and put it on my coffee table for some light reading. Maybe the neigh-bors would like it. Ha. Just when you think I couldn't possibly get any cheesier, I DO. I'll stop horsing around now (last one, I promise!) and get to it; what follows is a distantly related quotation from Ayn Rand's first novel:
"Darkness was coming, not from the gray, transparent sky, but from the corners of houses where shadows suddenly grew thicker, as if without reason. Slow whirls of smoke over chimneys were rusty in the rays of a cold, invisible sunset somewhere beyond the clouds. In store windows kerosene lamps stood on the sills, melting yellow circles on the huge, frozen panes, around little orange dots of trembling fire. It had snowed. Shipped into mud by horses' hoofs, the first snow looked like a pale coffee with thin, melting splinters of sugar. It hushed the city into a soft, padded silence. Hoofs thumped through the mud with a clear, wet sound, as if someone were clicking his tongue loudly, rhythmically, and the sound rolled, dying, down long, darkening streets."
--We the Living, Ayn Rand

December 2, 2009

3 eggs, 2 carrots, 1 yogurt cake.

Upon arriving home from work today, I opened the fridge to find a shocking sight: only one carton of extra large eggs in the refrigerator -- and just seven eggs inside! I cooked four for dinner, leaving three for the sake of my sister's sanity. Seeing those three eggs together reminded me of yogurt cake.

I love yogurt cake. I went through a phase where I made one every couple of weeks. Yogurt, like egg yolks and fat, is a magical agent that gives rise to a nice moist cake crumb. Yogurt loaves can be disappointingly plain, though, so you have to make sure to add lots of flavor. Ina Garten's famous lemon yogurt cake recipe is my old standby.

Today's recipe has been adapted from her version; the carrots were a last-minute addition, since I had two of them aging in my produce drawer anyway. I reduced the amount of oil because of the whole milk yogurt, and added some cinnamon and minced ginger for flavor. It turned out pretty darn moist and slightly tangy from the yogurt, with gingery undertones, and a wholesome texture from the carrots. The nice and crunchy top crust ain't bad either. The verdict is yum.

Carrot Yogurt Cake

1 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 c. whole milk yogurt
1 c. sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 c. oil
2 carrots, shredded (about 1 cup's worth)
1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a loaf pan and set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt, and cinnamon in a medium bowl. In a larger bowl, whisk yogurt and sugar together until smooth. Whisk in eggs one at a time, then add the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients, working out most of the lumps. Incorporate the oil; add the shredded carrots and ginger last. Bake for 55 minutes to an hour until a knife comes out clean. Enjoy!