Monday, August 31, 2009

Black and White Angel Food Cake

Black and white speckley goodness.

After wandering through Central Market the other day and sampling their angel food cake, I was starting to crave the stuff. When I came home that day, Ina Garten was making a black and white angel food cake, which was obviously a sign that I needed to make it.

I had a birthday coming up, but was told that I was not allowed to make my own birthday cake. Fortunately, we celebrated my birthday with some family friends, one of whom also happened to turn 29 again on the same day, so I made this cake for him. :) This cake might very well be my new favorite. In fact, I might run out to the store tomorrow to get more chocolate to make another. The ganache topping was a bit much for me, it was very in-your-face chocolately. However, the cake itself is incredibly light and just subtly chocolately. I found myself wandering back to the cake to nibble throughout the day.

Black and White Angel Food Cake

Source: Barefoot Contessa

* 2 cups sifted superfine sugar (about 1 pound)
* 1 1/3 cups sifted cake flour (not self-rising)
* 1 1/2 cups egg whites at room temperature (10 to 12 eggs)
* 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
* 1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
* 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1/2 cup coarsely grated semisweet chocolate

For the glaze:
* 1/2 pound semisweet chocolate chips
* 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine 1/2 cup of the sugar with the flour and sift them together 4 times. Set aside.

Place the egg whites, salt, and cream of tartar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and beat on high speed until the eggs form medium-firm peaks, about 1 minute. With the mixer on medium speed, add the remaining 1 1/2 cups of sugar by sprinkling it over the beaten egg whites. Beat on high speed for a few minutes until thick and shiny. Add the vanilla and continue to whisk until very thick, about 1 more minute. Scrape the beaten egg whites into a large bowl. Sift 1/4 of the flour mixture over the egg whites and fold it very carefully into the batter with a rubber spatula. Continue adding the flour in 3 equal additions, sifting and folding until it's all incorporated. Fold in the grated chocolate.

Pour the batter into an ungreased 10-inch tube pan, smooth the top, and bake it for 35 to 45 minutes, until it springs back to the touch. Remove the cake from the oven and invert the pan on a cooling rack. When cool, run a thin, flexible knife around the cake to remove it from the pan.

For the chocolate glaze, place the chocolate chips and the heavy cream in a heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water and stir until the chocolate melts. Pour the chocolate over the top of the cooled cake to cover the top completely and allow it to drizzle down the sides. If you have chocolate glaze left over, you can serve it on the side with the cake.

Friday, August 21, 2009

6800 calories

and worth every last calorie. I would advise you not to calculate the calorie content of baked goods, especially cheesecakes. Especially chocolate cheesecakes with Oreo crusts and chocolate truffles. This is not the cheesecake for the fainthearted.

I was lazy and made normal truffle-size truffles. That doesn't quite work that well for this recipe. The cheesecake cracked, and I suspect it was because the melted truffles couldn't support the weight of the cheesecake and it collapsed. Think small truffles. OR, swirl the ganache through the cheesecake filling. I bet that would be yummy and pretty. You should do that, and send me a piece.

Chocolate Truffle Cheesecake
Source: The Cheesecake Bible by George Geary, p 66.

1 1/2 cups cookie sandwich crumbs
1/4 cup melted unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

24 oz cream cheese (softened)
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
2 eggs
1 tbsp all purpose flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine cookie crumbs and melted butter. Press into springform pan and freeze.

In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a boil. Pour over chocolate and stir until smooth. Place in freezer to harden.

In a mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, beat cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until very smooth, for 3 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir in cocoa powder, flour, sour cream and vanilla. Using a spoon, scrape firm ganache into small pieces and fold into batter by hand. Pour over frozen crust.

Bake in preheated oven (350) until top is light brown and center has a slight jiggle to it, 40-50 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 2 hours. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 6 hours before decorating and serving.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Apparently I don't give my sweet puppyface enough credit.

Considering how many times she's run into the house, Coral's not exactly known for her intelligence. But apparently she's not quite as dumb as I thought. Last week, Duke learned a new trick.

Coral fell for it a few times over about 3 days, but then she realized what he was doing. The other day, Duke barked, and started jogging towards the bed (on the way to the door from where he was). Coral started to get up, but decided not to. As Duke passed the bed, he slowed down and looked at her like..."What, not getting up?" Since she didn't get off the bed, he just sat on her instead.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Peach Cake Tatin

Peaches just jumped into my cart as I was grocery shopping earlier in the week. After staring at them for a few days, I finally decided I should bake with them. After asking around for recipes, I couldn't stop staring at this Peach Cake Tatin.

I decided to peel the peaches first, since the last time I cooked peaches the skin was rubbery and didn't cut well. I blanched them for about 30 seconds in boiling water, then popped them into a ice water bath to cool. I scored a shallow X at the bottom, and the skin peeled right off. I had fairly large peaches and cut each peach into 12 slices. I only used 18 slices for the cake, and nibbled on the rest while baking.

As far as the caramel, I'm a slow learner and got distracted while cooking and started taking pictures of the peaches.

And then noticed the smell of burning. Oops. I did that the last time I made caramel too. You'd think I'd learn. Batch #2 turned out well, and I was fascinated watching it bubble furiously when poured over the peaches.

When I first put the peaches in the pan, I was positive it would overflow and make a giant mess. So I put the pan on a cookie sheet to prevent any spillage in the oven. As usual, when I anticipate problems, they never happen. The cake poofed a little, but didn't spill over. To make up for it though, I made a grand mess inverting the cake onto a plate.

The cake was warm and gooey and rich. The edges had just a little crunch to them, which I loved. The fresh peaches had a slight tartness to them that I really liked with the sweet, dense, caramely cake. It was actually a little too sweet for me, but half of the cake still disappeared in quick order. Between 2 people. Nom, nom!

Peach Cake Tatin

Source:, adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot in Paris

* 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing the dish
* 2-3 large fresh peaches, pitted and sliced into approx 1/2″ pieces
* 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar, divided
* 2 large eggs, at room temperature
* 1/3 cup sour cream
* 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon zest
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Generously butter a 9-inch glass pie dish and arrange the peaches in the dish.
2. Combine 1 cup of the granulated sugar and 1/3 cup water in a small saucepan and cook over high heat until it turns a warm amber color. Swirl the pan but don’t stir. Pour evenly over the peaches.
3. Meanwhile, cream the 6 tablespoons of butter and the remaining 3/4 cup of granulated sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, until light and fluffy. Lower the speed and beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the sour cream, zest, and vanilla and mix until combined. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt and, with the mixer on low speed, add it to the butter mixture. Mix only until combined.
4. Pour the cake batter evenly over the peaches and bake for 30 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes, then invert the cake onto a flat plate. If a peach sticks, ease it out and replace it in the design on top of the cake. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Duke has a new trick....

And Coral is less than impressed.

Coral is my alarm barker. I sort of discourage it, but not really because I'm home alone a lot and I don't mind door to door solicitors thinking my dogs are going to eat them.

Anyhow, Duke was sitting next to me when all of a sudden he barked once for no reason. Coral jumps up from her bed to check out what's going on at the door. Meanwhile, Duke calmly walks over to the bed and lays down. I'm pretty sure he just barked to get her up so he could steal the bed.

He did this twice today. But that's ok, Coral proceeded to lay on him, since he was on her bed.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Duke really does play frisbee, I swear!

In slow motion:

Proof that I'm insane:

Insanity from a different angle:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Reddish Velvet Cupcakes

Even after my previous red velvet fiasco, I was still curious about the hype. The fiasco cake tasted good, but was just really dry. After comparing it to other recipes, I noticed that most recipes with a similar amount of flour called for 1.5 cups of butter, oil, or shortening. Significantly more than the 0.5 cup in the recipe I tried.

So when I found a food blog that compared different recipes, I bookmarked it for future reference. Her favorite recipe was from Apple a Day, so who was I to argue? I made miniature cupcakes with about a tablespoon of batter in each liner and baked for 12-13 minutes. The cakes were light and fluffy, and the perfect size to pop in your mouth. I cut down the icing recipe because I only wanted to use 8 oz of cream cheese, but it was still more than enough to ice all the cupcakes. Especially since a few got eaten before the icing was made. After icing them, I stored them in the refrigerator, and the cupcakes seemed dry after that. So eat them quickly after baking.

I'm still weirded out about food coloring, but since I was sharing these cupcakes, I wanted them to be at least reddish, so I added a squirt of food coloring. Not a lot, just enough to make it reddish. And if you'd like to know why I don't care for food coloring, especially red food coloring, go here.

Red Velvet Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
Source: Apple a Day, who adapted it from a

Makes 1 8-inch 3-layer cake

For the cake:
2½ cups cake flour
1½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1½ cups vegetable oil
1 cup buttermilk
2 tablespoons (1 oz.) red food coloring
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar

For the frosting:
12 ounces cream cheese, softened
12 ounces butter, softened
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1½ cups chopped pecans (optional)

1. For the cake: Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, cocoa, and salt into a medium bowl.

3. Beat eggs, oil, buttermilk, food coloring, vanilla, and vinegar in a large bowl with an electric mixer until well combined. Add dry ingredients and beat until smooth, about 2 minutes.

4. Divide batter evenly between 3 greased and floured 8″ round cake pans.

5. Bake cakes, rotating halfway through, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 25-30 minutes. Let cakes cool 5 minutes, then invert each onto a plate, then invert again onto a cooling rack. Let cakes cool completely.

6. For the frosting: Beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla together in a large bowl with an electric mixer until combined. Add sugar and beat until frosting is light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes.

4. Put 1 cake layer on a cake plate, level off with a serrated knife, and spread one-quarter of the frosting on top. Set another layer on top, level, and repeat frosting. Set remaining layer on top, level, and frost top and sides with the remaining frosting. Press pecans into the sides of the cake, if desired. **Tip: after leveling cake, turn it upside down to reduce numbers of crumbs. I also did a crumb coat on the outside, let it set for ten minutes, then finished with remaining frosting.

5. Chill for 2 hours to set frosting.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Spectacular Slobber Contest

Those of you who follow dog blogs probably know Honey. She's a gorgeous freestyling Great Dane from New Zealand. One that's hosting a slobber competition right now. Duke may be small, but he makes up for it in drool. Those of you who've met him know what I'm talking about--the boy is known as "Drools" at my local dog park.

This is the face I see by the time I pull food out of the fridge and put it in front of him. Check out the drool bubbles. Not his finest, sometimes they're perfectly matched, but not bad for an impromptu drool performance.

Then there's this gem from the archives. Where's the drool you ask? Look closely at his face...

Yeah. He slimed himself. He drooled and flung it all over his face when he shook his head.

He's my dog and I love him. Drool and all.