Monday, October 31, 2011

Mocha Chocolate Cake

Ok, here's the recipe that I've been dying to share with you for a totally delicious, can't-wait-to-eat-another-bite chocolate cake.  This is an Ina Garten recipe called 'Beatty's Cake,' but I wanted to title this post with a better descriptive title for the cake.  I made it a few weeks ago when we were celebrating multiple birthdays for coffee lovers and I didn't realize how much I would love it. 

I've found that this cake (as is the case for all cakes) is very sensitive to cooking.  I made it the first time and it was perfectly cooked, moist and I even thought a little underdone until I tasted it.  I made it into cupcakes earlier this week and I way overcooked them!  So sad, but the frosting made up for it and not one was left in the teacher's lounge.  I made the round cake again last night and it came out moist and delicious!  I'm definitely better at timing the round cake pans than the cupcakes.  ;o)

Beatty's Cake  (adapted from Ina Garten)

  • Butter, for greasing the pans
  • 1 3/4 cups white whole wheat flour (or AP) plus more for pans
  • 2 cups sugar (1 cup brown sugar and 1 cup white)
  • 3/4 cups good cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, shaken (as a substitute, I use whole milk with 1 tsp. of vinegar and let it sit 10 minutes)
  • 1/4 cup oil (olive, vegetable or whatever you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
  • Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugars, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, applesauce, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean.

Cool in the pans for 30 minutes (mind your oven as mine are done right around 24 minutes), then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Frosting:

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate (I prefer dark chocolate)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee powder
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (I'm a lazy cook and will always use the microwave for this).  Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Week 31

Another rough week around here for menu planning since we've had guests strolling in and out of our home, but I'm back to my menu this week!  We had a wonderful time visiting with family.  My BIL came to visit from Oregon and brought a whole suitcase full of Oregon beer!  It was amazing to watch him open all of the carefully wrapped beer bottles in bubble wrap and his half gallon growler.  The beer world is a bit of a mystery to me (since I really don't prefer drinking it), but I find that I'm learning a lot just by listening to the "science" of creating and enjoying beer. 

One of our neighbors invited us over for a Pumpkin Carving party yesterday and it was a blast.  Here's a cute photo of one of our 'star' pumpkins!

I made this really delicious cake this week as we celebrated birthdays for those who came to visit this past week.  There are a lot of Fall birthdays in my family!  I'll try to make it again soon so I can post a photo of it, but it's an Ina Garten recipe called "Beatty's Cake."  It is chocolate coffee heaven and it's seriously the moistest (I know it's not a word, but I'm at a loss for a more appropriate word) cake I've ever made!  Can't wait to share it with you all!

Here's the menu for this week:
Sunday - Thai basil shrimp with red peppers and cabbage, white rice
Monday - Beef Stroganoff, egg noodles, broccoli
Tuesday - Baked marinated salmon with roasted Normandy veggies (super easy - salmon comes marinated from Costco and veggies are a frozen mix)
Wednesday - Grilled chicken legs, roasted potatoes (sweet & white), pan-seared asparagus
Thursday - Chicken Mole, roasted cauliflower and carrots, rice
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Out to dinner

Happy Cooking to everyone!  Post your menus!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Outrageous Brownies

This is a recipe from Ina Garten.  I love, love, love these brownies, but I actually got this recipe from a cookbook my mom gave me in Middle School, Called 'Country Desserts,' by Lee Bailey.  Most recipe blogs I've found have this listed this recipe as a basis for the definition of a brownie.  Not all agree, but I find that they are rich with a delicate texture.  If you add the espresso powder it really sends them over the edge, but I haven't had any of that in my pantry for a few months now.  The teachers at Annabelle and Emilie's school request these for special events.  Be prepared that this batter makes a huge amount of brownies!  I hope that you enjoy!

Outrageous Brownies by Ina Garten

1 pound butter (4 sticks)
1 pound plus 3 cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips
6 oz. unsweetened chocolate
6 large eggs
2 tbls. plus 1 1/2 tsp. powdered instant espresso powder
2 tbls. vanilla extract
2 cups sugar
1 cup sifted all-purpose flour (I use white whole wheat and it tastes great)
1 tbls. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
3 cups chopped (or ground) walnut pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 12 x 18-inch jelly roll pan.  Set aside.

Melt together the butter, pound of chocolate chips, and unsweetened chocolate until smooth in the top of a double boiler.  Cool to room temperature.

Combine, but do not whisk, the eggs, powdered espresso, vanilla, and sugar.  Stir in the cooled chocolate mixture.  Set aside.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Mix into the batter.  Finally, fold in the remaining chocolate chips and the walnuts.  Pour into the greased pan.

Bake about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester just comes out clean.  Do not over bake.  Cool thoroughly and cut into squares.

Makes 20.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Week 30

Hello Everyone!

It's taken me awhile to get focused and recover after the consignment sale fundraiser!  We made lot of money for MOPS and it was a really great week.  So, now I am back to planning meals again. . .

I had the most wonderful morning!  Alain had the day off since he is a government contractor and Zach had school today, so the hubby and I took advantage of the morning without any kids and had ourselves a breakfast date!  We went to one of my favorite french bakeries in Atlanta, Douceur de France.  I ate the most amazing eggs benedict on top of french bread and followed it with a decadent almond croissant.  The photo below is Alain's decadent dessert, Hazelnut something. . .

I guess I should get onto the menu planning, so here's what my week looks like.  I can't wait to see your menus!

Sunday - Fajita burgers, roasted potatoes and sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli
Monday - Thai basil shrimp, white rice, cabbage, red peppers, green beans
Tuesday - Thai coconut chicken soup (we'll see how the kids like this), roasted cauliflower and carrots
Wednesday - Salad nicoise, potatoes, asparagus, and whatever else I can find to add. . .
Thursday - Leftovers
Friday - Steak with sauteed onions, black beans, white rice, artichokes with vinaigrette
Saturday - Out to dinner

Happy cooking to everyone!  Have a great week!  :)