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.

Tuesdays with Dorie BWJ: Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

February 21, 2012 at 12:02 am | Posted in groups, pies & tarts, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 59 Comments
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chocolate truffle tartlets

It’s back to the sweets with this week’s Tuesdays with Dorie, which I am excited to be co-hosting along with Spike, Jaime and Jessica.  We’re doing David Ogonowski’s Chocolate Truffle Tartlets, and they are every bit as intense as the name sounds.  A chocolate crust is the vessel for a dark chocolate filling loaded with milk and white chocolate bits and pieces of crunchy cookie (I used amaretti, but biscotti are suggested, too).  The filling isn’t a straightforward ganache, but a baked chocolate filling made with whipped egg yolks.  The ribbony yolks give the filling some lift and structure.  They don’t bake up exactly cakey or moussey, but kind of somewhere in between.  Although the recipe says they are best enjoyed day of, I thought the tartlets were fantastic eaten chilled the next day, when they were like candy bars.

These tartlets may be small, but they pack a chocolate punch.  A tartlet may be uaually meant for one, but I think these are so rich that they are made for sharing.  A couple of notes about my personal experience here– I used a 60% chocolate in my filling base…I thought it was a tad too sweet when combined with the extra chocolate and cookie bits.  Next time I’d go with a 70-something% for a bit more balance.  Also, while the chocolate tart dough in this recipe is almost exactly the same as the one in BFMHTY,  that one (BFMHTY) uses powdered sugar instead of granulated, and I think it may be a bit easier to work with.

For the recipe, you should see Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan, but I also have it below.  My co-hosts Spike, Jaime and Jessica will have it as well.  Don’t forget to check out the rest of the TWD Blogroll.

Chocolate Truffle Tartlets
recipe by David Ogonowski in Baking with Julia
by Dorie Greenspan

Steph’s Notes: You can watch the PBS episode of David and Julia making this recipe by viewing these links: Part 1  Part 2.  I added a pinch of salt to my tart filling.

for the chocolate dough
1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 large egg yolk
1 tbsp ice water

for the truffle filling
5 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
8 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ cup sugar
2 oz white chocolate, cut into small dice
2 oz milk chocolate, cut into small dice
 4 biscotti, homemade or store-bought (you can use amaretti di Saronno), chopped

To make the dough in a food processor: Put the metal blade in the processor and add the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt. Pulse just to blend. Add the butter and pulse 8 to 10 times, until the pieces are about the size of small peas. With the machine running, add the yolk and ice water and pulse just until crumbly – don’t overwork it. Turn it out onto the work surface and, working with small portions, smear the dough across the surface with the heel of your hand.  Gather the dough together and shape it into a rough square. Pat it down to compress it slightly, and wrap it in plastic. Chill until firm, at least 30 minutes. The dough will hold in the refrigerator for 3 days, or it can be wrapped airtight and frozen for a month. Thaw the dough, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator before rolling it out.

To make the dough by hand: Put the flour, cocoa, sugar, and salt on a smooth work surface, preferably a cool surface such as marble. Toss the ingredients together lightly with your fingertips, then scatter the butter pieces across the dry ingredients. Use your fingertips to work the butter into the flour mixture until it forms pieces the size of small peas. Then use a combination of techniques to work the butter further into the flour: Break it up with your fingertips, rub it lightly between your palms, and chop it with the flat edge of a plastic or metal dough scraper. Gather the mixture into a mound, make a volcano-like well in the center, and pour in the yolk and ice water. Use your fingers to break up the yolk and start moistening the dry ingredients. Then, just as you did with the flour and butter, toss the ingredients with your fingers and use the dough scraper to chop and blend it. The dough will be crumbly and not really cohesive. Bring it together by smearing small portions of it across the work surface with the heel of your hand. Gather into a square and chill as directed above.

-Line a jelly-roll pan with parchment paper and keep at hand. Remove the bottoms from six 4 ½-inch fluted tartlet pans (or use pans with permanent bottoms and just plan to pop the tartlet out once they’re filled, baked, and cooled); spray the pans with vegetable oil or brush with melted butter.

-Cut the dough into 6 even pieces. Working with one piece at a time, shape the dough into a rough circle, then tamp it down with a rolling pin. Flour the work surface and the top of the dough and roll it into a circle about 1/8 to ¼- inch thick. As you roll, lift the dough with the help of a dough scraper to keep it from sticking. If the dough breaks (as it sometimes does), press it back together and keep going-it will be fine once it’s baked. Fit the dough into a tartlet ring, pressing it into the fluted edges and cutting the top level with the edges of the pan. Again, patch as you go. Use a pastry brush to dust off any excess flour and place the lined tartlet ring on the prepared baking pan.

-When all of the shells are rolled out and formed, chill them for at least 20 minutes.

-Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Prick the bottoms of the crusts all over with the tines of a fork and bake for 12 to 15 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until the crusts are dry, blistery, and firm. Transfer the baking pan to a rack so that the crusts can cool while you make the filling. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F.

-Bring an inch of water to the simmer in a saucepan. Put the butter and bittersweet chocolate in a large metal bowl and place the bowl over the saucepan-don’t let the metal bowl touch the water. Allow the chocolate and butter to melt slowly, stirring from time to time, as you work on the rest of the filling. Remove the chocolate from the heat when it is melted and allow it to cool until it is just slightly warmer than room temperature.

-Put the yolks and vanilla extract in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large mixing bowl. Using the whisk or a hand-held mixer, start beating the yolks at medium speed and them, when they are broken up, reduce the speed to low and gradually add the sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the yolks and sugar until the yolks thicken and form a slowly dissolving ribbon when the beater is lifted.

-Spoon about one third of the yolks onto the cooled chocolate mixture and fold them in with a rubber spatula. Don’t worry about being too thorough. Pour the chocolate into the beaten yolks and gently fold the two mixtures together until they are almost completely blended. Add the cubed chocolates and biscotti, folding to incorporate the chunky pieces.

– Using an ice cream scoop or ¼ cup measure, divide the filling evenly among the cooled shells. Smooth the filling with a small offset spatula, working it into the nooks and crannies as you circle the tops of the tarts. Bake the tarts for 10 to 12 minutes, until the tops look dry and the filling is just set. Remove to a rack to cool for about 20 minutes before serving.

-Best the day they’re made, these are still terrific after they’ve been refrigerated—they lose their textual finesse, but the taste is still very much there. For longer keeping, wrap the tartlets airtight and freeze them for up to a month. Thaw, still wrapped, at room temperature.

TWD Rewind: Chocolate Biscotti

January 31, 2012 at 6:20 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 11 Comments
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chocolate biscotti

Today was a warm and beautiful day (what a strange winter we’ve been having over here).  Too bad I was mostly unaware of it because I work in a basement, but at least I had a nice walk home.  And now that the sun is about to set, I think I’ll plop on the couch next to an open window and watch Downton Abbey (oh, please tell me you love it, too!) while drinking tea and eating crunchy biscuits.  I’m quite certain that Mrs. Patmore didn’t make Chocolate Biscotti for the Crawleys, but I bet these are tastier than the whatever dry cookies went into the biscuit jar in those days.  These are full of flavor.  I contrasted the dark cocoa and espresso base with chunks of white chocolate and macadamia nuts.  Mmmm…they sliced and baked nicely and are good keepers, too.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Daisy Lane Cakes, as it was Jacque’s pick back in June.

TWD Rewind: Bittersweet Brownies (with Peppermint)

December 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 2 Comments
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bittersweet brownies with peppermint

I’ve been doing a lot of holiday baking…but it’s all for work…all for strangers. Home baking will largely have to wait until our customers resolve not to eat another slice of almond cake or pint of gelato or whoopie pie until Valentine’s day.  (I kind of like the holiday rush, but I love the post-holiday slow-down.) I can’t possibly miss out on the last couple weeks of TWD, though, and this week the group is giving us a chance to make up a recipe we missed.  I chose these Bittersweet Brownies specifically because I thought they might lend themselves to a little bit of Christmassy doctoring up…maybe my husband won’t feel so neglected.  Instead of espresso powder, I added a few drops of mint extract to the brownies.  And I actually do use a dropper for mint extract because things can go from a hint-of-mint to mouthwash pretty easily.

Everything came out right with these brownies. Since it’s the last brownie recipe in the book, maybe that means I’ve learned something.  The texture was perfect…rich and fudgy.  And of course they were choco-minty. I liked them best right out of the fridge. I’m going to leave one for Santa and see if I get a good present.

bittersweet brownies with peppermint

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Lethally Delicious, as Leslie chose this recipe last month.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll and see what everyone else chose to rewind this week!

TWD Rewind: Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake

November 25, 2011 at 12:15 am | Posted in cakes & tortes, groups, layer cakes, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 8 Comments
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cocoa-buttermilk birthday cake

This week, we are having a rare rewind week for TWD, a chance to make-up something we missed.  There was a time when I was making (and eating) layer cakes left and right.  Despite the last couple of weeks, they are kind of a rarity around here now (although I wish they weren’t).  In fact, I really made this cake months ago..for Easter…in case the pastel Robin Eggs didn’t give that away.  Chocolate cake with a chocolate-malt buttercream…I can see why this would be a good birthday cake.  Maybe my husband will make it for me next year?  Yeah, probably not….I’ll have to make it for his instead.

I made a half recipe of this cake and baked it in my six-inch pans.  Any time I have a cake recipe, I pay close attention to it as it bakes.  Sometimes it takes just as long as the full recipe, and sometimes it takes ten minutes less….you just never know.  I happened to pull this cake out of the oven at the perfect sweet spot.  The cake was so moist and velvety…I wish I remembered how long it was in there for!  Hopefully I can repeat that success next time.  This cake recipe is really just a scaled-up version of Dorie’s Chocolate-Chocolate Cupcakes.  It’s the same thing, but for some reason I liked it much, much more as a layer cake.  I think it baked nicer in “real” cake form, but maybe it was really the pairing with the chocolate-malt buttercream that I liked so much.  There were some reported troubles with the frosting, but I thought it came out just right, and it was easy to work with.  I like when I can get the frosting on a cake without too much mucking about. 

cocoa-buttermilk birthday cake

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or look at The Splendid Table’s website (not sure that we had an “official” TWD host/recipe poster that particular week, as it was a recipe for the group’s second anniversary).  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll to see what everyone picked to catch up on this week!

Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake

November 6, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Posted in cakes & tortes, simple cakes, sweet things | 9 Comments
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upside-down pear chocolate cake

When did weekends become all about errands and housekeeping?  This weekend, in addition to the usual vacuuming, laundry and trips to the market and bank, I did some grout touch-ups to the bathroom (how do I even know how to do that??), removed and cleaned up the couple of A/C units we still had dangling out the windows and did a rather ghetto weatherproofing job to the hatch that leads from our backyard into the basement (it involved a blue tarp and some bricks).  Carving out a little baking time on the weekends is a must.  For me, even though there are always dishes to wash afterward, it’s pure fun.

While I’ve never been one for most fruit and chocolate combos, I can do pears and chocolate together…Poire Belle Hélène is good stuff, afterall.  While I was flipping through the very sweet little book Rustic Fruit Desserts, this recipe for Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cake caught my eye as a good and unusual way to use up the last of my CSA pears.  Making an upside-down cake is always exciting.  There’s the big revel– what’s going to happen when you turn it out of the pan??  Here’s what I got with this one: a perfectly moist and caramel-soaked chocolate cake with pears that turned a translucent, shimmering gold.  I must say though, that just from tasting the raw cake batter, I knew we were in for a treat.  I love the way the pears glisten in the light…this one might show up again for Christmas dinner.

upside-down pear chocolate cake

Upside-Down Pear Chocolate Cakemakes a 9-inch cake
adapted from Rustic Fruit Desserts by Cory Schreiber and Julie Richardson

Steph’s Note:  Regarding the caramel for the fruit topping– if you have another method of making caramel that you prefer (a dry caramel, for example), feel free to use it here, keeping the amount of sugar the same.  This one worked perfectly for me, but do what you are comfortable with.

for the fruit topping:
1 cup (7 ounces) granulated sugar
1/4 cup (4 oz) water
3 firm but ripe pears, peeled, cored, and each cut into  12 slices (1 pound prepped)

for the cake:
1/4 cup (2 ounces) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 cup (5 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup (1 ounce) unsweetened Dutch-processed cocoa  powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) granulated sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup whole milk

-Preheat the oven to 350° F and butter a 9-inch round cake pan (preferably not a springform one).

-To make the fruit topping, put the sugar and water in a heavy saucepan (one with a tight-fitting lid) and stir until the sugar  dissolves. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium heat, then cover and cook for  2 minutes. (Covering in this way allows the steam to wash down the sides of pan,  which will prevent any sugar crystals from forming.) Uncover the saucepan and  continue to boil the sugar, gently and slowly swirling the pan as needed to cook  the caramel evenly, until it becomes a dark amber color. Occasionally wash down  the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in cold water, if necessary. Carefully pour  the caramel into the prepared pan and allow it to harden. The pan will be very  hot from the sugar, so take care in moving it if you need to. Fan the pear  slices on top of the caramel in a circle around the perimeter, filling in the  center with the remaining slices.

-To make the cake, place  the butter and chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and melt, stirring  occasionally. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl.  Transfer the melted chocolate to a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and  add the sugar. Using a handheld mixer with beaters or a stand mixer with the  paddle attachment, beat on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until light and  fluffy. Add the eggs one at time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each  addition. Stir in the vanilla. Stir in the flour mixture in three additions  alternating with the milk in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour  and scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally.

-Tip the batter into the prepared pan and use a spatula to move it to the edges and cover the fruit. Bake in the middle of the oven for 40 to 45 minutes, or until  the cake bounces back slightly when touched. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a knife or small offset around the edge of the pan and invert the cake onto a plate, leaving the pan on top of the cake for 5 minutes before you remove it.  If any pear slices stick to the pan, just lift them out and place them on top of the cake.  Serve the cake warm or room temperature.

-Wrapped in plastic wrap, this cake will keep at room temperature for 2 to 3 days.

Tuesdays with Dorie: Ginger-Jazzed Brownies

October 18, 2011 at 12:01 am | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 9 Comments
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ginger-jazzed brownies

Chocolate and ginger together?  Yes, please!  This is a combo I like a lot when the weather gets cool, and it makes for a brownie with some heat.  The mixing method was kind of unusual for brownies– creaming rather than melting the butter– and my Ginger-Jazzed Brownies were more on the cakey side than the fudgy side (but not fluffy cake, like this delicious chocolate gingerbread).  Perhaps that’s because while I made a half recipe, I used two eggs instead of the 1.5 I technically should have.  Or maybe it’s because instead of the corn syrup called for (for chewiness, I guess?), I used golden syrup, but I usually make this swap and it doesn’t seem to affect other recipes.  Or maybe that’s just how they’re supposed to be…I’m curious to see results from the other TWDers to compare.  With ground and grated fresh ginger, these were good, and even better with a little frosting and candied ginger bling.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Bubie’s Little Baker.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

Tuesdays with Dorie: Salt and Pepper Cocoa Shortbreads

September 20, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Posted in cookies & bars, groups, sweet things, tuesdays with dorie | 8 Comments
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salt and pepper cocoa shortbreads

Chocolate shortbread with a little hit of salt and pepper?  Sounds exotic, but the s&p doesn’t overpower (even though I added 50% more of each than the recipe called for).  It just gives the slightest tickle on your tongue.  I used a little of my precious Aussie pink salt here…love that stuff.  After I baked off what you see here, I put the other half of my dough log into my freezer cookie stash.  I’ve built a good selection in there at this point, and while I must admit that this one may not bring about world peace, it’ll be a nice addition to that massive cookie platter I’ll one day make from all the leftover dough hunks.

For the recipe, see Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan or read Buttercream Barbie, as it was Tia’s turn to pick again.  Don’t forget to check out the TWD Blogroll!

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