Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Chocolate-Chestnut Tart with Chestnut-Vanilla Syrup

December 22, 2015 at 10:12 pm | Posted in BCM, groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 14 Comments
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chocolate-chestnut tart

I’ve unfortunately (or maybe not, since I was on vacation) missed the last two TWD postings but I’m hoping to come back strong with this Chocolate-Chestnut Tart.  Don’t let my terrible photo (boo to winter afternoon lighting!) fool you, this tart is darn delicious.  If I were in charge of cooking Christmas dinner, I’d be making it a second time this week.

We’ve used Dorie’s Sweet Tart Dough many times by now, and here it’s filled with candied chestnuts and a rich, truffle-like baked chocolate filling.  The chestnuts are candied during a long, slow poach in vanilla simple syrup.  I was able to easily find vacuum packed chestnuts in a neighborhood gourmet store (I think I’ve even seen them at Trader Joe’s recently).  I candied my entire package, which was more than the recipe called for.  In addition to the sliced chestnuts hiding under the chocolate filling, I decorated the top of the tart with some of the extras, brushed with gold dust for a little holiday bling.  Served with a scoop of ice cream and a drizzle of the awesome reduced chestnut poaching syrup, this was a fine way to end a meal.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.  And happy holidays!!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt

February 17, 2015 at 12:02 am | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, puddings & custards, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 21 Comments
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crème bruléed chocolate bundt

This Crème Bruléed Chocolate Bundt is the first, no second, no make that third Mary Bergin chiffon cake we’ve made.  I’ve liked them all…I think I just really like the spongy, fluffy softness of chiffon cakes.  And it also helps here that I love chocolate and Bundts.  And crème brulée, too…who am I kidding?  I knew this would be good.

If you watch the video of the BWJ episode, you’ll see that this chocolate chiffon Bundt gets its center stuffed with raspberries and then a big glug of vanilla crème brulée custard is poured over top of the whole shebang and torched.  I figured that as soon as the brulée was poured on, the cake pretty much needed to be eaten up…This would be very dramatic and impressive for a crowd, but since I was just making it for two of us, I had to both reduce the recipe and settle for adding the custard to order.  I made a half recipe of the cake (in my 6-cup Bundt pan) and a half recipe of the brulée cream, too.  I was convinced, even though I’d sprayed the heck out of my Bundt pan and coated it well in cocoa (which I prefer to use instead of flour for a dark chocolate cake), that the cake would stick like crazy and rip when I tried to unmold it.  It didn’t!  I made sure to kind of gently nudge it from the sides with a little offset as it started to cool and shrink in a bit, and it released perfectly– phew!

I used my darkest cocoa powder (Valrhona) and my Bundt had great flavor.  The chiffon was easy to make, too…in fact, I did the whole thing in my bathrobe (TMI??).  I’d happily make it again on its own, just to have with ice cream or whipped cream.  I liked the stovetop water bath method for thickening the crème brulée…that was new to me, and it came out nicely.  After the better part of a day in the fridge, the brulée had thickened up well and I was able to pour it over a single slice without it looking a mess.  All in all a winning dessert for Valentine’s Day weekend.

crème bruléed chocolate bundt

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also here, along with a video). Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!  (Update:  I see from the blogroll that some folks wound up with a thinner custard, in which case I’d just serve it as an anglaise sauce on the plate.)

Tuesdays with Dorie BCM: Marquise au Chocolat

February 10, 2015 at 12:01 am | Posted in BCM, groups, ice creams & frozen, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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marquise au chocolat

Valentine’s Day calls for something super-chocolatey, right?  Chocolate mousse, maybe?  Or perhaps frozen chocolate mousse?  Would it sound sexier if we said it in French?  Mais bien sûr…Marquise au Chocolat it is.

This is a delicious and decadent dessert.  Butter, dark chocolate, sugar, whipped cream– it’s all in there, baby.  Oh, and raw egg yolks, too.  This was a hot topic for our group, and if you’re concerned (I wasn’t really), some alternative ideas were floated around.  I thought about making a whole recipe in a loaf pan because it can keep for a month in the freezer, but decided to just make a few servings worth and set them up in the little molds I use for coeur à la crème.

I think the deep chocolate flavor and the creamy texture are best enjoyed after the marquise has had several minutes to temper outside of the freezer.  You’ll probably need to do that anyway to get your plastic wrap liner to easily release from the mold.  If you make a larger loaf, Dorie says dental floss or a warm knife is the way to cut nice slices.  This would be lovely with berries or crème anglaise or whipped cream.  I had a can of coconut cream that I tried unsuccessfully to whip…it wouldn’t get anymore volume than a foamy sauce, so I just went with it.

For the recipe, see Baking Chez Moi by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps

December 16, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 9 Comments
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chocolate-mint nightcaps

Every Christmas, I have visions and hopes of a cookie baking extravaganza.  And every Christmas, other things (work, visitors, forgetting to buy sugar, general laziness) seem to get in the way…not only is there no baking extravaganza going on in my kitchen, there is not a single cookie to be found.  I try my best not to poop out on TWD each week, and lucky for me these Chocolate-Mint Nightcaps from Marcel Desaulniers are, ya know, seasonally flavored. I think I’ve finally make a Christmas cookie– yay!

These are little cocoa sandwich cookies, filled and (night)capped off with a squiggle of dark chocolate and mint ganache (the recipe calls for steeping fresh mint, but a drop or two of peppermint extract is what I used in its place).  Before I had even read the recipe, I made the assumption that the cookies would have a fauxreo thing going on…I was a little surprised that I wound up with a cakey batter when I mixed the dough.  I made these late in the day and sandwiched a few as soon as they’d cooled.  They were so soft and crumbly…even though it was clear that they weren’t going to be crispy wafers, I was not expecting them to fall apart like they did.  Kind of of discouraging, but I decided to let the rest of my batch of cookies hang out unfilled overnight.  Actually, I decided to let them sleep in the freezer, thinking that would really help them set (whether or not that was necessary, I don’t know).  When I put them together with the ganache the next day, they’d firmed up and were like fudgy, minty brownie cookies.  Seriously good….I only made a quarter-batch, or I’d definitely leave a couple out for Santa.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Mocha Brownie Cake (or Baileys Brownie Cake!)

March 18, 2014 at 12:01 am | Posted in BWJ, cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 32 Comments
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brownie cake

For Saint Patrick’s Day, I turned the Mocha Brownie Cake from Marcel Desaulniers into a Baileys Brownie Cake.  Oh yeah!  It was as easy as just replacing the coffee in the ganache with Baileys…plus a swig more to taste.  I’m lucky I’m a fast baker, because I pushed the clock on this one.  All those resting and chilling times didn’t really register when I read through the recipe.  Thanks to my BFF, the freezer, I managed to get a photo while it was still light(ish) out.

I made a half recipe in six-inch form.  It only took about 35 minutes to bake (I watched it closely, cuz no one likes a dry brownie).  The cake is a cake-brownie hybrid.  It starts out with whipped eggs– sort of like those Best-Ever Brownies we made awhile back– and also has baking powder for lift.  I was kind of nervous to cut the cake into three layers, but it rose nicely in the oven and after it was chilled and firm, it was really no problem to slice…it helped that it was a small cake, I’m sure.

The filling and glaze is a dark chocolate ganache flavored with coffee (or Baileys for me, thanks).  Delicious!  I just realized after reading another blogger’s post that I completely forgot to add the extra sugar in the ganache. Oh well– it doesn’t need it, especially if you like your chocolate on the dark, bitter side (or you use sweet Baileys to make it). Even thought the recipe said to make sure the ganache was still pourable when filling the layers, mine was definitely spreadable– the consistency of thick custard.  I didn’t see any problem with using it that way, and in fact it set up nicely. I didn’t need to build the cake up in a springform pan and it was ready to glaze quickly.  I did reheat the remaining ganache so I’d have a shiny, pourable glaze for over the top.  And then I sprinkled the cake with green luster dust for extra shimmer.

I’m really impressed with this actually.  It looks great cut (use a hot knife) and it totally satisfies my ever-present chocolate craving.  Also, it’s a heck of a lot easier to put together than Marcel D’s “Death by Chocolate Cake,” which I made once and is waaaay more involved.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan. Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Double Chocolate Cookies

November 19, 2013 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 18 Comments
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double chocolate cookies

Rick Katz’s Double Chocolate Cookies came along at just the right time…I have been majorly craving chocolate lately.  I’ve hardly touched the stuff in the last six months, and that’s just plain unnatural!

I knew exactly what these cookies would be like.  I’ve worked in two places where we made cookies very similar to this, method and everything (just in way bigger batches).  In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if my two former chefs started with this recipe originally.  These are rich– a dark chocolate batter with extra chocolate bits mixed in (preferably a high percentage bittersweet)– and exactly the fix I was looking for.  The recipe intro calls them something like “half cookie, half brownie,” and that about sums it up.  You have to whip the heck out of the eggs and sugar when you make these, so they get that awesome brownie-like crackle shell, but they’re really soft inside.  As soon as they cool from baking, they’re pretty gooey.  But give them the better part of a day, or even overnight, and they become chewy.  So good.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan (it’s also all over the Interwebs) Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies

March 19, 2013 at 1:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 20 Comments
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mocha chocolate chip cookies

I don’t think Rick Katz’s Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies are meant to be a before bed treat.  These are zippy!  Two to three tablespoons of instant coffee and a pound of chocolate may just keep you wired.  Too be honest, you could back off a bit on either of those and you’d still have a delicious chocolate chip cookie.

My dough looks dark compared to some others I saw online.  Maybe it’s because I used instant espresso instead of coffee, or because I used Billington’s molasses sugar (which is a bit stronger than regular dark brown sugar).  Anyway, I liked these a lot.  Pre-scooping the dough and then baking them straight from the fridge or freezer helps keep the cookies from spreading too much.  While I left out the suggested apricots, I used a mix of dark, milk and white chocolates because I’m crazy like that.  Also, ice cream–well, you can see what I did there.

For the recipe, see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan or read Peggy’s Galettista Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll!

Rich Chocolate Cake with Salty Dulce de Leche

December 29, 2012 at 2:56 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 4 Comments
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rich chocolate cake with salty dulce de leche

So, Christmas came and went in a tinsel-strewn blur.  And now we are just about to say goodbye to 2012 and hang a new calendar on the wall…but first there’s one more party to throw.  New Year’s Eve is a night that calls for sparkle, like these Glitter Ball Cookies, or decadence, like this Rich Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche.

Here’s proof that decadence doesn’t have to be difficult.  This cake is easy to put together because it’s just a single layer.  It’s a dark devil’s food-style cake, so that’s really all you need.  And you can buy the dulce de leche, although I did make David Lebovitz’s homemade version (which, to be honest, is no  more difficult than opening a can). Some chopped nuts or crushed brittle add a little crunch, but even that isn’t totally necessary.  What is necessary, though, is sprinkling of salt– preferably a fancy coarse sea salt– so don’t skip it.  Salty and sweet, just like this year.

Happy New Year!  See you in 2013…

rich chocolate cake with salty dulce de leche

Rich Chocolate Cake with Salty Dulce de Leche– makes one 10-inch round cake
adapted from One Girl Cookies by Dawn Casale and David Crofton

Steph’s Notes:  A half recipe will yield an 8-inch round cake that bakes in 30-35 minutes.  The authors suggest decorating this cake with crushed nut brittle, but chopped salty peanuts or hazelnuts would be just as good (and easier). 

for the cake:
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
3/4  cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup plain whole-milk  yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
8 tablespoons  (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups  granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups all-purpose  flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table  salt

for the topping:
1/2 cup dulce de leche (homemade or store-bought)
a few pinches of kosher salt, fleur de sel or Maldon
about 1/2 cup of roughly chopped, salted nuts or crushed nut brittle for decoration (optional)

-Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Grease a 10-inch round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a parchment round.

-To make the cake, pour the hot coffee into a medium bowl and stir in the  cocoa powder until it dissolves.  Stir in the brown sugar, followed by the yogurt  and the vanilla.  Stir thoroughly to ensure that all of the ingredients are  incorporated.

-In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat  the butter and granulated sugar on medium speed until light-yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and mix for 2  minutes.

-In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.  With the mixer running on low speed, mix in a third of the flour mixture and half of  the coffee mixture.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add another third of the flour mixture and all the remaining coffee mixture.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and, using  \a rubber spatula, fold in the remaining flour mixture until all of the  ingredients are fully incorporated.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.

-Bake the cake for about 45 minutes, rotate the pan at the halfway point, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out  clean.  Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool in the pan for 20  minutes.  Run a knife around the edge, and then turn the cake out onto a clean plate, remove the parchment, and  turn the cake back over onto a wire rack.  Let the cake cool completely.

-Put the cooled cake on a serving dish.  In a microwave-safe dish, heat the  dulce de leche on high power for 30 seconds, or until it is just liquid.  Spoon the dulce de leche over the cake, and then sprinkle the salt over the  dulce de leche.  If using nuts or brittle, sprinkle about 1/2 cup around the outer edge of the cake as a delicious decoration.

Fudgy Chocolate Stout Cake

March 13, 2012 at 8:17 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 6 Comments
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fudgy chocolate stout cake

Apparently I think Saint Patrick’s Day is a good excuse to drench chocolate cake in booze.  OK, I would gladly do that any day of the year (as is evidenced by this and that), but last year I marked St. Paddy’s day with whiskey-soaked chocolate and now I’ve moved to stout.  Chocolate stout cakes are nothing new, but I am loving the ease of this one.  So easy, you can whisk this together while sipping the remainder of your can of Guinness or Murphy’s and be confident you won’t muck it up.

You may notice that this cake is vegan.  I’m not, but I can appreciate that the lack of eggs and dairy let the chocolate flavor of this cake shine.  The stout and espresso boost that taste and temper the sweetness. There’s so much liquid in this cake that it stays moist and fudgy…improves with time even.  Three days later and I think it’s better than the first.  I’ll raise a pint to that!

Fudgy Chocolate Stout Cake– makes an 8″ cake
from mrslarkin’s recipe on food52

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
 7 tablespoons natural cocoa powder (not dutched)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Guinness or other stout
1/2 cup espresso or strong coffee
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon apple cider or white vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Set oven rack to middle. Grease an 8” round cake pan with cooking spray, then line with parchment and lightly spray the parchment.

-Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

-In a measuring cup, mix together stout, coffee, water, vanilla and vinegar.  Stir into the flour mixture a few turns, then add your oil and combine until you have a smooth batter (you can use a whisk for this, just be gentle).

-Pour into prepared pan.  Place in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes.  Check with cake tester, which should come out very slightly moist.  Remove from oven and let cool on rack.

-Turn out onto cake plate.  Peel off the parchment. Dust cake with powdered sugar, or cover with frosting.

*Alternatively, this recipe makes 1 dozen cupcakes. Bake for 18 – 23 minutes. Cool cupcakes. Frost with your favorite frosting or dip tops into a simple icing made of confectioner’s sugar, cocoa powder and coffee. Decorate top with a fresh coffee bean while icing is still tacky.

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze

February 27, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Posted in bundt cakes, cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 17 Comments
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double-chocolate bundt cake with ganache glaze

I had wanted this post to be a recipe for a citrus loaf cake, but something went amiss in the preparation…namely, my brain when I tried to do some “cake math” to downsize the recipe.  I was a math major in college, too.  Seriously, Wellesley should revoke my degree for not being able to handle basic fractions.  Anyway, that greasy disaster used up all my blood oranges and a copious amount of olive oil, so that was that for that– time to get over it and move on with chocolate!

I’ve made this Double Chocolate Bundt Cake from Food & Wine twice, and R and I like it a lot.  It’s a homey, old-fashioned, easy peasy, hand-whisked thing.  It’s kind of cake I imagine making for my imaginary children.  Also, I have a particular fondess for chocolate cakes made with oil (I use grapeseed).  They have a dense/moist crumb that I’m really into and they keep for days.  The first time I baked this cake, used Dutch-processed cocoa, but the second time I decided to give natural a go, seeing as how baking soda is used as the leavener.  While I didn’t notice any difference in rise between the two, I think the one made with natural cocoa tasted better…a little more chocolatey, maybe, although that could just be a difference between the two particular brands.

The ganache glaze and sprinkles may be mandatory for me, but if you can do without, a simple sift of powdered sugar on top of the cake would look really great.  Don’t forget a little scoop of vanilla ice cream.

There’s a little Bundt cake trick I’ve learned at the shop where I work.  Sometimes even a well-greased and floured a Bundt can have trouble releasing from the pan and can get a bit torn up.  Right after you take the Bundt out of the oven, using potholders, give the bottom of the pan a good, swift rap on your counter (only if it’s heatsafe, though!).  This helps the cake to settle a bit and come away from the sides of the pan, especially around the tube area, where it can sometimes get caught.  I would not do this with most types of layer or loaf cakes, but a sturdy Bundt can take it– as long as it’s baked all the way, of course.

double-chocolate bundt cake with ganache glaze

Double-Chocolate Bundt Cake with Ganache Glaze– makes 10-12 servings 
adapted from Food & Wine (November 2006)

Steph’s Notes:  I made half a recipe in my 6-cup Bundt pan, but still used the full egg (I just chose the smallest egg in my carton).  Also, my smaller cake baked in about 35-40 minutes.

vegetable oil spray or softened butter for the Bundt pan
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
 3/4 cup canola or grapeseed oil
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong-brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup or golden syrup
1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

-Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Thouroughly grease a a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray or softened butter.  (I did not, but if you’d like added insurance, you can flour the pan as well.)

-In a small saucepan, melt 2 ounces of the chopped chocolate over low heat, stirring constantly. Scrape the chocolate into a medium bowl and let cool slightly. Whisk in the oil and sugar until smooth, then whisk in the egg.

-In a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Add half of the dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture along with 1/2 cup of the coffee and 1/2 cup of the buttermilk; whisk until smooth. Add the remaining dry ingredients, coffee and buttermilk and whisk until smooth.

-Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake in the lower third of the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs attached.  Swiftly rap the pan on the counter once or twice right after pulling it from the oven…this will help the cake settle and release.  Let the cake cool on a rack for 10-15 minutes, then turn it out and let cool completely.

-In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil. In a heatproof bowl, combine the remaining 3 ounces of chopped chocolate with the corn syrup (or golden syrup) and butter. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let stand until melted, about 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Let the ganache glaze cool until thick but still pourable, about 5 minutes.

-Pour the ganache over the cooled cake. Let the cake stand until the glaze is set, at least 30 minutes, before serving.

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