Category Archives: chocolaterie

decadent cocoa cake

i haven’t baked a layer cake in such a long time, so long! that my family asked me, “what’s the occasion?!” when i set this plump and dark and fragrant cocoa cake in front of them. after a dinner of IKEA meatballs, roast fingerling potatoes and steamed broccoli…they were very perplexed.

eh. i said. just because. sometimes a chocolate cake is all you need to make things feel right.
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i only had a little bit of heavy cream: when whipped there was only enough for the in-between and the top of the layers. i also had it with a scoop of pistachio ice cream. i am so so bad.

alkalized "Dutch-processed" cocoa
this is our current favorite chocolate layer cake. yah i know, i always say that about the latest recipe–but this is just so moist and intensely cocoa-ey and if you’re a fan of alkalized cocoa, as we are, you’ll reel from the chocolate buzz and almost dizzy feeling. it must be love.

* make sure to use only Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa; i searched high and low, far and wide until i found this at the newly opened Wegman’s in Northborough, MA, but there are other brands like Droste, and Hershey’s used to make one.
* have ingredients at room temperature unless specified otherwise.

decadent cocoa cake
(adapted from the Rademayer Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa back-of-the-box)
3 cups flour
2 tsps. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa (with alkali)
1 cup vegetable oil
1 cup melted butter
2 & 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 cups warm water
1/ & 1/2 tsps. pure vanilla extract

preheat oven to 350°F. prepare two 9-inch round cake pans: butter the bottom and up the sides of the pans, line with parchment paper, then rub with butter and coat with flour. shake off excess flour.
sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. set aside.
in a large mixing bowl, combine oil, butter, sugar and eggs.
add water and vanilla extract.
slowly add flour and cocoa mixture. mix only until thoroughly combined. pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a wooden toothpick stuck into the center comes out clean.
allow to cool in pans.

chocolate cheesecake with almond coconut crust

chocolate cheesecake with "almond joy" crust
one-&-only daughter’s request for her 17th birthday: something chocolatey, something cheesecakey, Ma!
cheesecake! i breathed a sigh of relief. after a rich black forest cake from the fancy schmancy cake shop for the baby brother, #2son,
who turned 12, and oodles of cupcakes for their joint family birthday party, cheesecake is easy breezy. i flipped through a couple of favorite cookbooks but ended up choosing something different from an untested recipe. i made up the crust with what i had on hand, and ended up with “my” new invention of an almond-coconut-crust, what i call my Almond Joy inspiration–one of my favorite chocolate bars when i first arrived in the good old U.S. of A.
break down the steps to making a cheesecake and it becomes gosh-durn-it-easy-as-pie.
recipe! plus cook’s notes… Continue reading

beef in red wine sauce, and a classic dark chocolate layer cake

this is New England, the husband always reminds me. no matter what the calendar says, nor how the crocuses are forcing their way out of the frozen soil, it hasn’t felt very much like springtime yet.
so instead of munching on crispy greens and light meals, we’re still chowing down on hot hearty stews and saucy entrees.
the gentleman chef
this wonderful large coffee table size cookbook by Jacques Pepin is my current food bible–and no i am not being compensated, haha, i am doing this out of pure admiration and of my own “free” will. in “Chez Jacques” he has simplified some classic recipes for us amateurs so that the once-intimidating boeuf Bourguignon which i’ve been longing to make all winter, is now accessible and easy to put together on a cold dreary Sunday for supper.
beef in red wine sauce, Jacques Pepin's
and in keeping with the theme of seeking cozy comfort in rich dark food…a new Classic dark chocolate layer cake recipe from “a Passion for baking”, by Marcy Goldman:
…iced with mocha whipped cream.
forgotten cake March 2011
recipe for cake follows——> Continue reading

“chocolate cupcakes with crispy magic frosting”

he’s 11 today!
it's mah birthday
he waits for this day all year long, because he is showered with love and treats, more so than usual, all day long.
Dash Cupcakes
his birthday “cake” is actually in the fridge, which we’ll have tonight after dinner, before he opens his presents.
(it’s all planned out, we’re on a tight schedule! :dash-d-knight: ).
i didn’t have to make cupcakes for his class anymore (middle school rules), but the little boy finds it hard to break the habit so he asked me to make some anyway to give away to his favorite people.
we chose these little cakes that were just featured in this Wednesday’s Boston Globe Food section: adapted from Joanne Cheng’s new cookbook, a recipe in turn based on Amanda Hesser’s (of the New York Times) . what goes around comes around, ‘ey!

we’ve decided to declare the cupcakes glorious; the frosting, not so much. it was too cloyingly sweet for our taste. however just a little dab goes a long way in complementing the deep moist chocolate.
(i doubled the recipe for the cupcakes, and ended up with 3 dozen!)….recipe follows… Continue reading

chocolate layer cake

chocolate layer cake
i decided to shine the spotlight on the chocolate cake i mentioned in the previous post–it got overwhelmed by my being so chef-starstruck, and it really does deserve its own post.

this is currently The One, yes i have it on good authority: the cake we will bake for when we are chocolate-deprived.
plus, it’s got that Good Housekeeping seal of approval :thumbsup: (latest issue on newsstands).
cake layers:
2 c. all purpose flour
1c. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 tsp.baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 c. butter (1 & 1/2 sticks), softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 c. granulated sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. low-fat buttermilk

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa
1/3 c. boiling water
1 c. butter (2 sticks), softened
2 tbsp. confectioners’ sugar
12 oz. semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled

1. prepare cake layers: preheat oven to 350ºF, grease three8-inch round cake pans. line bottoms with waxed paper; grease paper. dust pans with flour.

2. on another sheet of waxed paper, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. in large bowl, with mixer at low speed, beat butter and brown and granulated sugars until blended. increase speed to high; beat 5 minutes or until pale and fluffy. occasionally scraping bowl with spatula. reduce speed to medium-low; add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. beat in vanilla until blended. add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture. beat just until batter is smooth, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.

3. spoon batter evenly among prepared pans. if necessary, stagger pans on 2 oven racks, placing 2 on upper rack and 1 on lower rack, so that top pans are not directly above bottom one. bake 22 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean. cool in pans on wire racks 10 minutes. with small knife loosen layers from sides of pans; invert onto wire racks. carefully remove and discard waxed paper; cool completely about 45 minutes.

prepare frosting:
in small bowl combine cocoa and boiling water, stirring until smooth. in large bowl with mixer at medium-high speed, beat butter and confectioners’ sugar 5 minutes or until fluffy. reduce speed to medium-low. add melted chocolate then cocoa mixture, beating until smooth and occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula. if frosting is too runny, refrigerate until just stiff enough to spread.

assemble cake:
place 1 cake layer bottom side up on cake plate; spread with 1/3 cup frosting. top with second layer, bottom side up; spread with another third cup of frosting. place remaining layer bottom side up on top. spread remaining frosting over sides and top of cake. (you may have to trim the tops off of the cake to make them even..i used a serrated knife.)

cheddar cheese fondue; brown butter pound cake

something sweet and something spicy to welcome to the new year.
every new year’s eve it seems now i’ve served fondue to the kids whether they like it or not. i don’t know why i love it so, maybe it’s the crackling little flame under the fondue pot? the interactivity and suspense of keeping your dipper in your fondue fork? but i got another electric one so we can have both cheese and chocolate fondue…i think the three had had enough rich food over Christmas dinners that they sort of groaned when i announced the fondue plans. i said, don’t worry, children, it will be a little bit different.
bread dippers
i chose a cheddar cheese mix with red bell peppers and jalapeno, for dipping with bread & ham cubes, tortilla chips,
fresh and cooked vegetables.
cheddar cheese fondue
i also made spiced beef so that the #1son could opt for tacos–he who seemed reluctant to partake of melted cheese.
as midnight approached i melted the chocolate and chopped up bananas, rinsed the strawberries and cubed the brown butter pound cake.
brown butter pound cake

ahhh! i suddenly remembered my ma’s “bruun cake(?)” that she used to prepare whenever she got a hold of this special canned butter, from Denmark maybe? the method of melting the butter until the milk solids turn dark brown, then freezing to congeal, then mixing with eggs and sugar, and flour, made the butter flavor so deep and profound and caramelly, just perfect with the dripping semisweet/bittersweet chocolates, and for eating for breakfast, this New Year’s Day.
fruit and sweets platter for chocolate fondue

i hope you had a loud and raucous Eve! did you remember to jump at the stroke of midnight?!
a very rosy New Year

for you

chocolate cake, Cook's
this slice is for you…
who’s all ears when friends pour their hearts out
yet somehow always alone when yours is shattering into pieces all around
who takes care of everybody when they’re sick, and buys them treats
and proffers hugs freely when they’re anxious and tired
yet is content with the flat pillow and the downy covers on cold nights
the crumb and the batter and the washing up
the sticky greasy pans
it’s there in the hot blast from the clunker oven
there in the singed edges of lashes and brows

the company of cake

chocolate cake, Cook's
recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. multiple steps, a sinkful of washing, at least three bowls, three kinds of chocolate, loads of butter, thick and lush icing.

hands down, the chocolate cake that lords it over all of them

i was about to wax nostalgic about the past summer, the cookouts! the road trips! the visiting cousins, nephews, sis’s-in-laws, sightseeing, restaurant meals!! in sharp contrast to the grey skies, the gloomy cold, the ungodly wake up hours, clock-watching :drive: ….
when i once again received the call for my favorite chocolate cake recipe, that’s easy and delicious and a snap to make. there are so many great ones out there but this is my ultimate fall-back all time fave…it tastes like a million bucks, and i promise you won’t have to worry about refrigerator real estate….this. won’t. last.
AND! they translate easily into cupcakes! (decrease heat by 25ºF, line muffin pans with cupcake liners, and start checking for doneness after 25 minutes.)
Rosie's chocolate-sour cream layers
this is my all-time go-to favorite chocolate cake recipe. moist, dense, dark, deep. as long as you have sour cream on hand, you’re all set.

Rosie’s fudge frosting (from Rosie’s Baking Book):
melt 6 ozs. unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler placed over simmering water. cool slightly.
blend 1 cup plus 2 tbsps. evaporated milk with 1 & 1/2 cups sugar in a blender on medium speed for 2 seconds (i used my stick blender).
add the melted chocolate to the sugar mixture in the blender and blend on high speed until the frosting is thick and shiny, 1 to 1&1/2 minutes. the blender’s sound will change as the frosting thickens.

spoon the frosting into a bowl and allow it to set at room temperature for 30 minutes. then cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow the frosting to set for 1 hour more before frosting.
do not refrigerate.

85th birthday cake

no, not mine! Julia Child’s, that is. i now declare myself officially “forever 25” years old. :grandma:
she would have been 97 years old this year, and her birthday is on August 15, but one bite of this cake and you’ll see why i had to make it.
this was concocted by Marcel Desaulniers–serious foodies will remember him, he’s one of the real chefs who truly deserved a cooking show, *sniff.
the description of the cake alone will convince you to try and make this cake. the combination of flavors truly honored the very essence of the woman to whom it was dedicated: butter. almonds. liqueurs. raspberries. chocolates. cream.
it took me two days to put it all together–due to time constraints, much to my children’s chagrin. i finally assembled the 4 9-inch cake layers with the mousse and ganache and served it to my favorite kids.
it only comes once a year (thank goodness) and though it’s alarming how aged we feel now, the joy of birthdays that the kids feel is quite contagious. the thrill of waiting for their birthdays makes my kids so ecstatically happy that it somehow makes up for the glaringly real ageing process their parents must go through now.
i’ll be the first to admit that it looks nothing like the photograph in the book–i think it suffered quite a lot from the very warm 90 degree days, so anomalous for spring, as much as from my amateurish baking skills, but here it is….mommy’s birthday cake, dedicated to the children i birthed.
Julia Child's 85th bday cake
4 layers of chocolate almond cake, filled with chocolate red raspberry mousse, and smothered with a combination of 12 ounces of dark chocolate and 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate ganache.
you want to make?
let me know and i’ll type in the recipe.
recipe follows: Continue reading

nostalgia sweets

i know for a fact that this friend of mine doesn’t read this blog. but said friend sent me this lovely box of Godiva milk chocolate assortment…
how’d you know dearie? that chocolate cures what ails my hormonal self lately?

go go Godiva
i think they’re too pricey, i can get them piece meal at bargain prices in my favorite salvage store. but i do concede, they are right up there in the fancy-chocolate- heaven-tier.
this is one of those things you have to bite and then close your eyes as you let the chocolate melt and spread out over your tongue to let the chocolate go to your head.
i haven’t had these since i worked in Manhattan, decades ago, when the marketing department bigwigs at the Book Club where i used to work, would pass around goodies, or ask me to buy them goodies for a meeting, a rah-rah-rah-sis-boom-bah get together…they served Dom Perignon champagne at my goodbye party.
i think they were happy to see me go?