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Posts Tagged ‘#fuelforwriters’

This is the latest version of my favorite chocolate cake recipe. It has been used (extensively) for layer cakes, sheet cakes, and cupcakes. Why a new recipe? With tweaks to the fat portion of the ingredients, this version has even more flavor (sorry, Canada, flavour), than the original, and is still simple, easy and quick to make. Oh, and if you happen to forget the butter and coconut oil in the microwave, this works as a fat-free recipe too. Ask me how I know;) I’ve also included an updated frosting recipe, because that’s what friends are for. It’s metric, because these days, that’s how I roll.

I like it. I hope you do too!

Truly Excellent Chocolate Cake, v. 2.0

Cake:
2 C. sugar (400g), half white, half brown
2 C. all-purpose flour (250g)
3/4 C. cocoa powder (88g)
2 t. (11.5g) baking soda
1 t. (4.3 g) baking powder
½+ t. (5g) kosher salt
2 eggs
1 C. buttermilk (or 1 scant cup milk, warmed with 1 T. white vinegar)*
1 C. coffee
2.8 oz. (80g) butter, melted
1.16 oz. (33g) coconut oil, melted
2 t. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare one 9″ x 13” pan, two 8/9” cake pans, or 24 standard muffin tins, with butter and flour/cocoa powder or line with parchment paper (a lot less trouble).
2. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, soda, powder and salt in a large bowl.
3. Add remaining ingredients, beat for 2 minutes.
4. Pour into baking pans and bake until tester comes out clean (30-35 minutes for cake pans, 35-40 minutes for large pan, or 22 minutes for cupcakes).
5. Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Frost when cool.

* Note: I usually make a cup of coffee in a 2C glass measuring beaker, then add the vinegar and fill up to the two-cup line with milk. Voila!

. . . . . .

Buttercreamcheese Frosting:
100g butter, softened
160g cream cheese, softened
560g powdered sugar
pinch of salt, to taste
~½ t. vanilla
2 T. lemon juice, or some combination of lemon, orange juice concentrate, milk, cream, and/or Grand Marnier; this is the flavoring portion so tweak at will!

1. Cream butter and cheese together until whipped smooth, fluffy and white (can take up to 5 minutes but it’s worth it).
2. Sift powdered sugar, add to butter mixture in two parts, blend.
3. Add flavorings and beat another ~3 minutes until smooth, light, and spreadable. Adjust liquid as necessary to reach desired thickness.

Works well for anywhere you need a mostly white frosting, and colors well. Just ask my friend Uni the Unicorn!

Uni the Unicorn was a present for a six-year old’s birthday: Six layers of chocolate cake with buttercreamcheese frosting, a little marshmallow fondant for the eyebrows, and magic!

 

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It’s like this: for the past couple of weeks I’ve spent a wee bit (ok, a lot) of time perfecting my chocolate chip cookie recipe.

(It also strikes me that I do a lot of recipe-related posts on Fridays. Food is definitely on my list of #ThingsILike:)

When I moved north of the border everything changed, including my usual butter, flour, chips, and oven. Mr. Man also likes his cookies with a bit more cakiness than I had with my previous recipe, so it was time to rethink, rewrite and retest.*

I know, I know, hard duty. How I sacrifice! But now Mr. Man (and you, fine readers!) have a new recipe to enjoy. Hope you like it!**

 

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/4 cups [280g] flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt [a pinch less if you use salted butter]
2 sticks [8 ounces or 228g] butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups [300g] brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, large
1 cup [175g] semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper if you hate stuck-on cookies.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt [I sift, some prefer a whisk or fork, use whatever works for you].
3. In a large bowl, mix butter and sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes.
4. Add vanilla and eggs, one at a time, mix until well combined.
5. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
6. Scoop ~1-inch balls onto cookie sheets.***
7. Bake for 11-13 minutes depending on dough temperature and preferred crunchiness factor. Let cool two minutes before transferring to rack.
…………
* I’m still playing with this a tiny bit (for the greater good, you understand, not because I want to bake more cookies… ok yeah, I just want to bake more cookies:). I’ll add any updates here.

** If you’re interested in how tweaking various ingredients and other factors influence cookie characteristics, Handle the Heat’s Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies (parts 1 through 4) is a good place to start.

*** At this point you can either bake immediately or chill to allow the flavors to develop. I’ll chill if I have time, but I don’t always have the patience:) My compromise strategy: bake a sheet right away, then make balls with the rest of the dough and freeze on a lined cookie sheet. When hard, store the dough in a plastic bag and voila, you’ve got almost instant cookies for the next couple of weeks days whatever:)

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It’s lunch time around these parts and I have a serious dumpling craving. I picked up this recipe when a grad school friend brought these dumplings to our weekly Friday afternoon get-together. I’ve always been a dumpling fan but I particularly enjoy the light, flavorful texture and warm tang of this version. Perhaps I’ll make a batch later as a reward for getting my work done.

Enjoy!

Jaouza, or Dai’s Chinese Dumplings
Dough:
2 1/2 cup flour
2/3 cup boiling water
1/3 cup cold water

1. Add boiling water to flour, then add cold. Knead well, then let stand 15 minutes, covered with a damp cloth.

Filling:
3/4 lb. ground beef or pork
2 small cans mushrooms (your choice, I usually use a healthy handful of fresh shiitake)
2 tsp. salt
1 scallion, chopped fine
2 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. sesame oil
10 oz. Chinese cabbage, chopped
1/8 tsp. ginger

2. Mix all filling ingredients together.
3. Flatten small blob of dough into a round circle. Place a spoonful of filling in center of dough and fold over. Pinch edges closed.
4. Repeat until all dough and filling have been used.
5. Steam and/or fry dumplings.
6. Dipping sauce: roughly equal amounts of soy sauce and rice vinegar or lime juice. Add sesame oil and chili sauce to taste.

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It’s a bit before lunch and I’m feeling snacky, so today’s edition of #ThingsILike is food related. (Let’s face it, a lot of the things I like are food related:)

In honor of the coming Pi Day (March 14th, for obvious reasons:) and my mother’s cooking, I give you one of my favorite fruit pie recipes. Thanks, Mom!

Blueberry Orange Pie

Crust:
2 cups flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup butter, shortening or a mix (I use butter for flavor)
1 tsp. grated orange rind
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
5 Tbs. ice water

Filling:
4 cups blueberries (frozen work fine)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
touch of vanilla, Grand Marnier, or lemon juice if the berries need a flavor boost
2 Tbs. butter
Powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
2. Mix flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter until it is no more than pea sized. Add orange rind and nuts. Add water, 1 Tbs. at a time, mixing after each addition. Form into a ball and refrigerate* one hour before using.
3. Roll out half of the dough and use to line a 9-inch pie pan. Mix berries, sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and any extras. Pour mixture into pie pan and dot with butter.
4. Roll out remaining pastry and cover pie. Seal edges with water and cut vents in the top for steam. Bake 1 hour, cool on rack and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Note: This pie will probably overflow. Use a cookie sheet or foil beneath the dish unless you like cleaning ovens;)
—–
* If you don’t have an hour I’ll note that I’ve skipped this step; the dough is harder to work and not quite as perfect, but the end result was still nommy. Since we’re fessing up about time-saving measures, I’ll admit that I’ve also used store-bought pie crusts, seasoned with the orange rind and walnuts. Desperate times, but in the end, pie:)

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I have recently discovered that stalwart of public television, The Great British Baking Show (known on the other side of the Pond as The Great British Bake Off). I don’t usually do reality programming but I was drawn in by the general aura of positivity, the educational content (so that’s how you cool angel food cake!), and of course, the food.

So I’m in a baking mood. This week I pulled out a classic recipe for Banana Bread.

For some reason teenaged me loved making banana bread. Maybe because it was easy and good, or because there always seemed to be over-ripe bananas in the house. I serve warm slices with Maple Cinnamon Butter (looking fine in a reusable Riviera Petit Pot with pretty new lid! I’d include a picture of the bread but, well, I ate it:).

Banana Bread

3 very ripe bananas, mashed, or 2 bananas and one apple, peeled and chopped fine or grated
2 eggs, well beaten
1/4 cup plain yogurt or 1/4 cup melted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup (150 grams) brown sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 cups (250 grams) flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Butter a standard loaf pan, or four mini loaf pans.
3. Mix the fruit and eggs together in a large bowl. Add yogurt or butter, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Sift the flour, salt, and baking soda together, then stir into the banana mixture. Add the walnuts (optional) and stir until combined.
4. Pour batter into pan. If you’re feeling decadent (and I usually am) top the batter with more cinnamon, nutmeg, and brown sugar, plus extra nuts or oatmeal if you like it crunchy. Bake for 55-60 minutes (35 minutes if you opt for the mini loaves) or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the pan to a rack to cool.

MapleCinnamonButter

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I’m in the mood for something positive. In that vein, here’s the start of what will probably be an irregular series of Things I Like. No sponsors, no kickbacks, just a sampling of things that I find useful or fun or funny or sweet.

As I’m writing this just after lunch, today’s Thing I Like is full-fat lemon yogurt from Riviera Petit Pots. I stumbled across this product at the grocery store while searching for a dessert that would nevertheless let me recover from a not-so-minor bout of holiday gluttony, and I’m glad I did.

This fine yogurt comes in the cutest glass bottles* (they even link recipes for foods to refill them with), and they sell reasonably-priced reusable lids to boot. The Laiterie Chalifoux company was established in 1920 and is based in Quebec (sorry, non-Canadians, I think they are a northern delight only, at least for now**). While they also make cheese and butters and creams, I’ve only found the yogurt so far. Eyes, stay on the lookout!

* I’ve liked glass bottles since the day my mother took us on a bottle hunting trip and I found a green glass medicine flask from the 1800s, miraculously still whole and wedged between the roots of a tree.

** Don’t have access to this or another really good yogurt? Don’t despair, make your own. It’s easy and more affordable than buying it from the store, and so much better. For the lactose-intolerant among us (yeah, that’s me), making your own lets you “cook” the lactose out of the final product. I find 18 hours or so does the trick.

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How do I not have this recipe up here already? This rich, moist chocolate cake is delicious and (in my *ahem* extensive experience) virtually foolproof. Not only would I hate to lose the recipe, I’m also baking this weekend, so here you go!

Truly Excellent Chocolate Cake

Cake:
2 C. sugar (400g)
2 C. flour (250g)
3/4 C. cocoa powder (88g)
2 t. baking soda
1 t. baking powder
1 t. kosher salt
2 eggs
1 C. buttermilk (or 1 scant cup milk, warmed with 2 t. white vinegar)
1 C. coffee
1/2 C. vegetable oil
2 t. vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare one 9″ x 13” pan, or two 8/9” cake pans, with butter and flour/cocoa powder or line with parchment paper.
2. Mix sugar, flour, cocoa, soda, powder and salt in a large bowl.
3. Add remaining ingredients, beat for 2 minutes.
4. Pour into baking pans and bake until tester comes out clean (30-35 minutes for smaller pans, 35-40 minutes for large pan).
5. Let cool 10 minutes and remove from pan. Frost when cool.

Frosting:
1/2 C. butter, softened (113g)
1/2 C. cream cheese, softened (116g)
3 1/2 C. powdered sugar (437g)
1/2 C. cocoa powder (59g)
1/2 t. salt (to taste, less if you use salted butter)
2 t. vanilla
2-4 T. milk or cream

1. Cream butter and cheese together until whipped smooth.
2. Sift sugar, cocoa powder, and salt onto butter mixture, blend.
3. Add vanilla and milk and beat for 3 minutes until smooth. Adjust milk as necessary to reach desired thickness.

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