Whole Foods' Flourless Chocolate Cake With Dark Chocolate Glaze

There isn't much I love more than spending $30 on a chocolate cake at Whole Foods.

Oh wait, yes there is: having chocolate cake and not spending $30.

The problem is that the Whole Foods near me makes a really, really tasty chocolate cake.

SOLUTION: use a Whole Foods recipe to make my own flourless chocolate cake! This thing came out beautifully, and since I saved myself a bunch of money, to say thanks, I shelled out (at Whole Foods, natch) some of my savings for the fancier chocolate, thus making my cake even better. 

Just look at that hunk of chocolate I used:

To say I'm feeling smug right now would be an understatement. 

But the cake backs up all of my overconfidence and more. Taking a bite of this thing is like taking a bite of the very soul of what chocolate is and should be. It's deep, it's dark, it's rich. It sticks to your teeth. Dieters will take one look and run away to the nearest treadmill (good riddance). Yeah, it's that good. 

And to cap it all off, it's topped with a sort of honey-chocolate ganache. 

I added a bonus to mine by adding candied nuts. Let me tell you, I don't regret doing this one bit.

Please, would you make this cake right now? You will not regret it. 

Save $30 Awesome Chocolate Cake

Adapted from Whole Foods - printable version here 
Serves 12

Ingredients: 

  • 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped, divided 
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) plus 3 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

For the glaze 

  • 6 ounces chopped chocolate
  • 6 ounces cup half and half 
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 9-inch springform pan, then line the bottom with a circle of parchment. Grease the parchment on top. Set pan to the side. 

Place the chocolate and 2 sticks of butter in a medium saucepan over medium low heat.

This is your brain on chocolate and butter.

This is your brain on chocolate and butter.

Stir often, until the mixture melts and blends. Stir in the sugar until completely incorporated. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until no streaks remain. 

Sift the cocoa into bowl and stir just until blended.



Pour batter into prepared pan and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cake has risen and top has formed a thin crust. A little jiggle in the center is OK. 

inspringformpa.jpg

Let the cake cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes, then remove the springform sides and invert on to a wire rack. Remove the parchment circle, and let the cake cool completely.



Meanwhile, make the chocolate glaze. Set the chocolate in a heatproof bowl, and drizzle the honey on top. 

In a saucepan, heat the half and half until it comes to a simmer. Once it simmers, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate and honey. Whisk until the mixture becomes smooth and cohesive. Stir in the vanilla, and mix until smooth. Let the mixture set for 15 minutes or until it has achieved a thick, honey-like consistency: you want to pour it over the cake, but not so liquid that it will run over the sides of the cake immediately. 

Pour the glaze on top of the cake. Using a spatula, smooth it along the top and sides of the cake. 

cake22.jpg

Regard its beauty.

cake20.jpg

If you wanna, top it with nuts or something.

cakefinish.jpg

Put the cake in the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes so that it can set, and the cake will slice cleaner. 

Have you ever tried any Whole Foods recipes?

Alarmingly Adorable: Baby Cake Designs by Whipped Bakeshop

I don't want you to die. BUT. The photos that follow are basically heart attack-inducing cute, so consider yourself warned.

These cakes are part of the new baby cake collection by Philadelphia bakery Whipped Bakeshop. I consider them worth their own post just to showcase their adorableness.

If you're in Philadelphia, you should go buy one, whether there's a baby in your life or not.

If you're not in Philadelphia, either go there, right now...

or just enjoy and coo at the photos and send a link to someone you know in the Philadelphia area.

Seriously - how freaking cute are these?? And there are more designs coming.  

Check out all of Whipped Bakeshop's designs here

Feel Good Friday: The Penny Project

Do you pick up heads-up pennies when you come across them?

I do. It's a small moment that makes me feel lucky, like yes, I am where I am supposed to be at that moment. I put the penny in my pocket and continue walking with a spring in my step. This small surge of happiness makes me more likely to hold the door for the next person I see, or to say hello, or to compliment someone's shoes. I even take it one step further: if I come across a penny that is heads-down, I will not keep it, but I will flip it over so that it is heads up for the next person, so that they might get that little surge. 

And who knows where those happiness ripples might go.

They might be small: maybe the person whose shoes I complimented had been feeling awkward that day and it just made them feel a little more at ease. They might be big, in the long run: maybe the person who I held the door for is more likely to be kind to a trainee bank teller, thus giving that teller the confidence to go on, rise up the ranks, and manage the bank one day.

All because of a penny. 

So, I found myself thinking: what if I did a little feel-good project where I placed pennies throughout the city, in order to engineer a slightly better day for people? The math seemed on my side: for a small investment...

I had the potential to make 50 days a little better. 

Some might dismiss this project as "throwing away money", but I really don't look at it that way. Think again about that meager investment of 50 cents. For the two hours that this project took me, I had a fantastic walk, and got some great exercise. In terms of exercise, it was far cheaper than a yoga class. I also had some great entertainment. If I had gone to a movie for entertainment, it would have cost way more than 50 cents, and the potential for that experience to brighten anyone else's day would be limited (though yes, I believe in going to movies to brighten my own day, too). 

So for a few hours, I walked around downtown Santa Fe and placed pennies here and there. Some highlights:

Placing my last penny, I felt exhausted, and my hands smelled metallic, but I felt exhilarated. The sun was setting and all felt right with the world.

 

Maybe not everyone would be thrilled to find a penny. Maybe some of them would be knocked over and end up heads down. But maybe, just maybe, some of these placed pennies would present a superpower. Maybe they would brighten someone's day just a little bit. And they would never know it, but that penny had been placed there just for them. 

I don't know what will happen to all of the pennies that I left around town. But the project is already a success, because of the potential to delight others, and the definite delight that it gave me to complete. 

There is magic and delight everywhere in the world, and it's waiting for you. 

What made you happy today? 

Win at Summer: Cassata Ice Cream Pops

Cassata is one of my favorite cakes. Not only is it fun to say, but it's delicious to eat: a traditional Sicilian cake involving marzipan, cannoli-like cream, and more goodness (you can read about a really good one I ate in New Orleans, here).

And guess what? Cassata translates well in popsicle form. Hooray! 

This delicious popsicle comes from the book Ice Pops! by Nadia and Cesar Roden. Somehow this book manages to combine a sophisticated adult palate with enough whimsy and summer fun to make this book a true pleasure, page after page. Viva la popsicle!

Here's the recipe from the book.

Cassata

We’ve managed to put Italy on a stick here, with this traditional Sicilian dessert converted to an ice pop. Creamy ricotta is mixed with chopped nuts like almonds and pistachios, chopped candied fruits, and tiny pieces of chocolate.

8‐10

  • 2 cups ricotta
  • 1 3⁄4 cups heavy cream
  • scant 3⁄4 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 1⁄2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 4–6 tablespoons milk, depending on the thickness of the ricotta 1 ounce candied orange peel
  • 1 ounce candied lemon peel
  • scant 1⁄4 cup shelled pistachios
  • scant 1⁄4 cup blanched almonds
  • 1 1⁄2 ounces dark chocolate
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange or lemon zest (optional) 

Procedure

  1. Put the ricotta, cream, sugar, and vanilla in a food processor and blend very briefly until smooth. (The mix will thicken slightly.) Pour into a bowl and stir in the milk to thin the mixture, but not too much, as the chopped ingredients need to float in the mixture.
  2. Chop the candied peels, nuts, and chocolate into small pieces and stir into the ricotta mixture. Mix in the zest, if using.
  3. Spoon the mixture into your ice pop molds, and bang the molds hard on the table so there are no big air bubbles. Leave 1⁄4‐inch at the top to let the mixture expand when it freezes. Insert the ice pop sticks and freeze. If you like, save a little chopped chocolate or candied fruit to sprinkle onto the frozen ice pops. 

Reprinted with permission from Ice Pops published in 2015 by Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. © Cesar and Nadia Roden. Photography by Adam Slama

What is your favorite popsicle flavor?

Rainbow Bombe

Sorry, every other food blog in the world. But today, I WIN. 

Clearly, it's amazing, but if you're uncertain about what this majestic feat of rainbow actually is, let me enlighten you. It's a bombe, which is a kind of molded frozen dessert which gets its name from its resemblance to, well, a bomb. Since the French coined the term, it's bombe with an E, in your best French accent, please. 

So, this particular bombe is composed of an ice cream and rainbow buttercream-swirled interior, which is then covered all over with mini cake roll slices. Assembled jelly-roll style, these little spiral cake slices are filled with rainbow buttercream instead of stupid health-food jelly, which not only makes them superior in deliciousness, but also far prettier. 

And in case you didn't already guess, this food is officially...

Now, because I am still feeling pretty self congratulatory about the whole thing, indulge me while I talk about how I got the idea.

Well, you know that I love rainbows. And you know that I love ice cream. But a few things have happened recently that made this cake possible.

The first is that I recently made some delicious chocolate bombes for Colavita. Here's a sneak peek.

The recipe will be featured on their blog soon. The main thing you should take away here though is that I became obsessed with bombes. They are really not so hard to make, but they impress people so much that you'll feel like a domestic goddess. I like showing off, so this was a great thing for me.

The second is that I received a review copy of The Cake Therapist by Judith Fertig. In the book, there is a fictional bakery called Rainbow Cake (yes, I love this book). I wish this bakery existed in real life. In the book, she references making a bombe with little jelly rolls all over the surface.

So, I'm thinking: bombes. Rainbow cake. Cake with jelly rolls all over. Hmm. 

And then it came to me: I had to make a rainbow bombe with jelly roll style cake slices all over it. So I abandoned every single thing I was supposed to be doing for the rest of the day and made this cake. 

The recipe might seem kind of complicated, but really, this wasn't hard to make. It was just sort of involved. But I think when I detail the steps below with pictures, you'll see that it's really not that intimidating. 

It's totally worth the time it takes, because just look at it!

And once you cut into it, it's magical inside, too! Because in addition to the ice cream, I swirled in all of the extra buttercream that I had leftover (a little of each color). 

You can't tell me this isn't happy food.


Approved by unicorns, but suitable for children and adults. Say hello to the happiest ice cream cake you have ever met. 

Rainbow bombe 

Printable version here
For the cake 
1 cup cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar


Jelly roll pan
parchment paper 


For the buttercream
2 sticks butter
6-8 cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch of salt
cream or milk, to thin, if needed 


Food coloring in the colors of the rainbow 
6 separate bowls or ramekins


Other things you'll need: 

1 half gallon ice cream, your favorite flavor
A freezer-proof bowl (I used a 6-cup capacity pyrex bowl)
plastic wrap 


First, go ahead and make the buttercream (it's easiest this way). In a stand mixer, cream the butter for 2 minutes on high. Add the confectioners' sugar, 1 cup at a time, until you've reached your desired spreading consistency. Stir in the vanilla and salt. Add a little more sugar if it's too thin, a little milk or cream if it's too thick. Divide the buttercream into 6 equal amounts in separate dishes. Tint each one the different colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet. Cover with plastic and set to the side.


Next, make the cake. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 10x15 inch jelly roll pan with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set to the side.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the eggs and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes, or until light. Add in the vanilla and milk, and stir to combine.


Stir the dry ingredients in, incrementally, mixing on low speed and scraping with a spatula after each addition. 


Spread the batter on the prepared baking sheet--it will barely make it to the edges, but make sure that it is a solid layer with no translucent portions (you might not spread all the way to the edges), and bake for 5 to 10 minutes--you're not looking for golden here, but just for the cake to spring back slightly when you touch it. Too browned and it will crack when you try to roll it.
Generously (very generously) dust a clean tows with confectioners' sugar. Turn the cake on to the towel and roll it up. The recipe I used asked that I remove the parchment, but I kept it on because I forgot and it was fine. Choose your adventure. Let the cake cool for about 10 minutes. 


Now, it's time to make some magic. 
Unroll the cake. If it gives you any resistance put it in the fridge for a few minutes and try again--that should help. Cut the cake into six strips: first into long thirds (going with the "grain" of the rolling) and then cut in half horizontally.
Spread icing on each one of the strips. You will have a little extra buttercream, and this is a good thing. Set it to the side. 


Roll each portion, jelly roll style. I lovingly thought of these as my little "rainbow-rritos". A few small cracks, no problem (perhaps this attitude is why I am not a professional pastry chef?)


Let the little rolled portions cool in the freezer for 30 minutes so that they can firm up. 

Slice the rolls thinly--I sliced mine about 1/4 inch thick. 

 Line a bowl with plastic wrap (I used a 6-cup capacity pyrex bowl). Press it deeply into the bowl to mold to its shape.

Place the little spirals at irregular color points all over the surface. I kind of mashed some into place, trying to fill every space on the surface. If you have pieces that look "ugly" on one side, like the slices from the end, face the pretty side down, as it is the one that will show. 


Place the bowl in the freezer for 15 minutes or so, so that they can firm up again.
Scoop ice cream into the bowl, filling it nearly to the top. Add the leftover buttercream between scoops so that it will be swirled throughout. 

 Use the leftover cake swirls to press into the bottom of the bowl. Wrap the plastic around it, and freeze for several hours. 


When ready to serve, remove from the freezer, turn out from the bowl, and pull of the plastic wrap.

To cut, run a knife under hot water then dry it off before cutting to make clean cuts. Serve immediately after cutting, and keep any un-served portions in the freezer. 

bombe18.jpg


Enjoy, and for crying out loud, have someone else do the dishes.

Yay for you!

Have you ever made a bombe?

Breakfast and a Snack All at Once: Cereal Milk Popsicles

Do you want breakfast, or do you want a sweet treat? Why decide, when you can have both in one deliciously summery form: cereal milk popsicles!

These delightful treats are featured in the fantastic new book Ice Pops! by Cesar and Nadia Roden. This fantastic book features some truly creative popsicle recipes, and beautiful, simple photography that lets the finished product shine. 

This is one of my favorite recipes in the book, for creamy popsicles that have the inimitable flavor of delicious leftover cereal milk. Here's the headnote from the book:

 

Cereal milk Popsicles

Inspired by the famous cereal‐milk soft serve that created a frenzy in New York City, we’ve created our own version by freezing Lily’s morning cereal onto a stick and it was quite a hit! You can experiment with your favorite cereal. We know you’ll agree it will taste even better in this frozen form.

8‐10

  • 1 1⁄4 cups whole milk
  • generous 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup your favorite breakfast cereal (we like Cheerios), plus extra to drop into the molds
  • 1 ripe banana, cut into 3⁄4‐inch slices 5–6 tablespoons honey or maple syrup

Procedure

  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight to let the liquid take on that unmistakably delicious cereal taste.
  2. The next day, put the steeped mixture in a food processor and blend until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into your ice pop molds, and drop in some extra pieces of cereal. Leave 1⁄4‐inch at the top to let the mixture expand when it freezes. Insert the ice pop sticks and freeze.

Reprinted with permission from Ice Pops published in 2015 by Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc. © Cesar and Nadia Roden. Photography by Adam Slama  

What is the most creative popsicle flavor you've ever tried?

Vegan Fudgesicles With a Surprise Ingredient

SPOILER: It's avocado. Don't be scared. Just look, they're magnificent. Keep reading. 

These vegan fudgesicles are not only beautiful, they're also gluten-free, and (most importantly), delicious. It's a guest recipe from my friend Lauren @ alovelysideproject. I did a guest post on her site, too. I think you'll like it.

In case you've never seen her site, it's a fantastic healthy living and lifestyle website. There recipes are mainly vegan and gluten-free foods, but with a strong emphasis on deliciousness, which I can appreciate. Even gluten-free vegans should have dessert, too. 

I'll let Lauren take it from here. Enjoy her recipe!

A note from Lauren


Hi Cakespy-ers! I'm Lauren from alovelysideproject.com, a healthy-living lifestyle site focused on gluten-free, plant-based foods and fun fashion. I'm excited to be collaborating with Jessie on this summer treat post, as I am a huge fan of her ridiculous talent and delicious recipes. 

Lauren's food story

Before we get into the yummy vegan chocolate goodness, I’d like to talk a little bit about my relationship with healthy eating. Discussing this topic is tricky for me and I know it is for many others due to the personal relationship we all have with food. I applaud Jessie for speaking so openly and honestly about her relationship with food and the bravery and guts it takes to do this .

The first time I remember taking notice to what I was eating was when I attended the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I was in a new city, surrounded by ambitious beautiful girls. Coming from a small town but being a perfectionist, I wasn’t sure how I was going to keep up but knew I would try my hardest to do so. New York was a place where stick thin models were revered. Yearning for the same thigh gap and protruding collarbone that seemed like every successful girl in the city had led to an increased interest in how much I eat, what I ate and when I ate it. Food groups were avoided and a fear of unhealthy fats lead me to dismiss most of what FIT’s kitchen had to offer. This translated into a dorm meal plan diet that consisted of dry cereal, bananas, and fat free frozen yogurt. This strict diet allowed me to feel like I had some sort of control in my life during a first somewhat-stressful year of school. (Realizing that the dream you focused on for so long may not be your actual dream can throw you for a loop.) This majorly increased awareness of what I was putting into my body also lead to hair falling out and brittle nails. Glamorous, I know.

Due to many reasons, including unavailable housing and a general lack of direction, I then transferred schools to work on a Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition. My course curriculum focused on the ideal American diet, Body Mass Indexes, and how each calorie is digested in the body. Counting calories became a common theme in my life which then led to a somewhat unhealthy obsession with maintaining the “perfect” amount of caloric intake on a day to day basis. I stayed true to my college course-focused ADA food pyramid and avoided fats like the plague. Enter fat free potato chips laced with Olestra, artificial sweeteners, and genetically modified veggie burgers. Healthy, right?

Over the next few years post-college, I started to develop a much healthier relationship with myself. I became kinder and less harsh on myself and the negative self-talk started to diminish. Around the same time, I became interested in learning about what foods actually nourished and fueled my body. I now (happily) no longer count calories or have my thoughts consumed by what I just ate and what my next meal will be. I’m interested in eating foods that nurture my body and make me feel the best I possibly can, which is why I stick to a plant-based diet. Days of feeling exhausted, bloated, but still hungry are long gone. My daily diet now leaves me feeling energized, happy, and healthy, and I continue to learn more about myself each day. The relationship you have with yourself is a precious one, so remember to be kind.

If you have any questions or comments on this topic, or would like to discuss more, you can find me atalovelysideproject.com or alovelysideproject@gmail.com.

And now onto that yummy gluten-free vegan recipe…..


Since converting to a gluten-free plant-based diet, I am frequently experimenting with how I can adapt old junk-food favorites to fit my current eating habits. These Vegan Fudgsicles are the perfect example of how eating clean, whole-foods does not mean saying goodbye to your favorite foods. The popsicles are made of avocado (trust me, they're delicious) and cacao powder (cacao beans milled at low temps to preserve nutrients) and are just as creamy and delicious as the childhood favorite. 


Vegan Fudgsicles


serves 6

  • 2 avocados, pitted and peeled
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (can sub coconut milk)
  • 6 tbsp cacao powder (can sub cocoa powder)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • sprinkle of sea salt
  • a few drops liquid stevia to sweeten (optional)

1. Combine avocados, milk, cacao powder, vanilla extract, and sea salt in a high-speed blender and puree until completely mixed. Add stevia to taste.
2. Pour mixture into popsicle molds or dixie cups, add sticks. 
3. Freeze overnight. 
4. To serve, run popsicle mold under hot water for 30 seconds to ease removal (or let sit at room temperature for 5-10 minutes). 
 

Would you try fudgesicles made with avocado?

Cakey Brownies Are Not Useless: 10 Tasty Ideas, Plus a Recipe

In spite of what you might think, cakey brownies are not completely useless.

Listen, I don't think that cakey brownies are any real prize all by themselves. Give me a fudgy brownie any day, with chewy taking second place.

Cakey brownies? Not too much use for them. So why, why, why do they continue existing? 

Well, as you know, I am very into yoga and part of all that om-ing is cultivating acceptance and understanding. And after much thought, I have come to see the light on cakey brownies. I have realized that they are far from useless. No, I'm not going to be reaching for them as a stand-alone dessert course, probably ever, but they are a fantastic component in more involved desserts. 

This is not an insult: rather, it's an epiphany about the role that cakey brownies can play in my dessert-loving life. The cakey brownie has a unique texture, more dense than a spongey cake, but not so dense that it is hard to handle; this makes it a great player when constructing more complex desserts. 

10 Ways to Use Cakey Brownies

Don't just eat that cakey brownie: amp it up in one of these creative ways!

As the base for Baked Alaska

Cakey brownies are actually a great base for Baked Alaska: absorbent enough for the ice cream on top, but not too heavy. Perfect. 

As the base for bombes

Ditto with bombes, which are basically the wider category including Baked Alaska but also non-meringue coated frozen desserts; cakey brownies make a great base. I made some bombes recently with a cakey brownie as the base, and they came out splendidly. A thick, fudgy brownie would not have worked quite as well with the mousse; the cakey brownie acted like a sponge, sopping up flavor yet acting as a sturdy base. 

As part of a trifle

Cakey brownies are a great component in a trifle. Since they are spongier, they're a better medium for sopping up the flavor of the cream and fruit in trifle. 

As a creamy dessert accessory

I think that a great fudgy brownie should be enjoyed all by itself, perhaps with a glass of milk, but otherwise unadorned. The cakey brownie, however, is a different thing. It's a great canvas to pair with pudding, mousse, ice cream, or custard. 

As cake layers

Listen up: instead of chocolate cake, bake a couple pans' worth of cakey brownies and use them as cake layers. They're more substantial than many chocolate layer cake recipes, and are firm enough to hold their shape when frosted. 

As the inside of petits fours

Spongey yet firm, cakey brownies are an ideal midsection for petits-fours: easy to cut and shape and stack, yet absorbent enough to take on the flavors of the fillings you add. 

Poke brownies!

You know poke cakes. Why not try the same method with cakey brownies? I can only imagine how delicious cakey brownies would be if poked all over and doused with a sweetened condensed milk mixture like in this poke cake recipe

As pancake batter 

Instead of whipping up pancake batter, use the cakey brownie batter for your next short stack. It's guaranteed to make pleasant morning memories for all. 

For sculpting cakes 

If you are making a cake that requires sculpting, cakey brownies might be just the ticket. They are fairly malleable and don't flake too incredibly much, so you can cut and shape them for dimensional cake creations. 

 

For cake pops 

Brownies are slightly denser than a typical yellow or chocolate cake, so they are ideal for cake pops. Cake pops are so small that they can afford a little extra decadence, and the brownies will deliver. Simply swap cakey brownies for the cake called for in cake pop recipes.


Easy Cakey Brownies

This cakey brownie recipe is an ideal base. It is made with olive oil, which gives it an interesting taste. Makes one 8x8-inch tray. Printable recipe here.

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup sifted flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Generously grease an 8x8-inch baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the oil, cocoa, sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Not the prettiest part of the process. More like modern art.

Add the flour and salt. Mix gently at this point, only until you see no more white streaks of flour. 

Pour into your prepared pan, and bake for 30 minutes. 

Remove from the oven, and let cool to room temperature. You can invert the brownies out of the pan or cut them right in the pan. 

Do you like cakey brownies? 

Cold-Risen Rhubarb and Vanilla Buns

Recently, I received a review copy of the new book The Summer Table by Lisa Lemke. Summer is my favorite season, so I was pretty jazzed about the book.

unnamed-10.jpg

So, let me tell you, I was even more jazzed once I started perusing the recipes. This cookbook is like a fresh bite of summer, with recipes ranging from summer risotto with asparagus and basil to "beach buffet" dishes like warm potato salad with pork belly and cherries or summer salad with shrimp and "fall over backward good" dijon dressing. It is like the summer you would be living if your life were slightly more glamorous than it is now, and with a beach nearby. I say this as a compliment: it is aspirational. 

But the desserts are what really spoke to me. They're creative and summery: strawberry semifreddo cones with biscotti streusel; pane caramel with flake salt; panna cotta pie with summer berries. Like, yum.

And then there were the cold-risen rhubarb and vanilla buns. This was by far the recipe that interested me the most, because rhubarb and sweets are like bread and butter in my book. Plus, rhubarb is fruit (or is it vegetable?)--either way, HEALTH FOOD!

Here's the recipe as printed in the book, reprinted with permission from The Summer Table published in 2015 by Sterling Epicure. Text © Lisa Lemke. Photography by Asa Dahlgren

 

Author headnote for the recipe:

I learned just about everything I know about baking from my grandmother. In this recipe, I use her method of “cold rising”—and plenty of butter, which has always been her recommendation when it comes to making buns.

Cold-Risen Rhubarb and Vanilla Buns

30 buns ✦ 30 minutes + 1 1/4 hours

1 vanilla bean
7 ounces rhubarb (about 2 stalks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 1/2 ounces grated almond paste
2 tablespoons room temperature butter Water
Granulated sugar

Dough

1 1/2 sticks butter
4–4 1/4 cups all‐purpose flour 1 3/4 ounces fresh yeast
1 cup cold whole milk
1 large egg
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon salt

To make the filling, split the vanilla bean lengthwise, scrape out the seeds, and place the seeds and the bean in a non‐reactive saucepan. Thinly slice the rhubarb and place it in the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil and add the sugar when the rhubarb begins to release its juices. Lower the heat and continue to simmer the
rhubarb uncovered for about 15 minutes. Remove the rhubarb mixture from the heat and let it cool down. Take out the vanilla bean and stir in the almond paste along with the butter. Blend the mixture carefully and set it aside.

To make the dough, work the butter into the flour, either in a food processor or on a work surface, using a knife or fork, until you get peasized clumps of dough.

Crumble the yeast in a bowl and stir it together with the milk. Add the egg, corn syrup, and salt to the bowl and stir it all together.

Gradually work the flour mixture into the liquid until it is smooth, using a food processor for about 5 minutes, or by hand in a bowl for about 10 minutes.

Transfer the dough onto a floured work surface and divide into two portions. Knead one portion for a few minutes and then thinly roll it into the shape of a rectangle, 12 × 20 inches, and about ‐inch thick. Cut the rectangle into 4 × 4 inch squares and place a heaping tablespoon of filling in the middle of every square. Fold the dough edges over the filling and carefully pinch them together so that the filling won’t run out. Turn the filled

bun over, seam side down, and form into a round ball. Repeat with the remaining dough and filling.

Arrange the buns so they are nearly touching on a parchment‐lined baking sheet.
Let the buns rise at room temperature under a clean dishtowel until they double in size, after about 1 1/2 hours. Then preheat the oven to 425°F.

Bake the buns in the middle of the oven for about 8 minutes and let them cool on a rack under the towel. Brush the buns with a little water and dip them in granulated sugar while they are still a little warm. 

What is your favorite summer recipe?

Can You Make Ganache With Half and Half Instead of Cream?

I won't keep you in suspense: ultimately, the answer is yes. It is possible to make ganache with half and half instead of heavy cream or whipping cream. But there's more to it than just that, so why don't you quit pretending to work for a minute and read on?

In my household, cream is an only sometimes thing, whereas half and half is an all the time thing, given my sweetie's penchant for generously lacing his coffee with the stuff. It's not that going to the store to buy cream is difficult or not worth it, but sometimes, when I'm mid-recipe, I can't be bothered. So recently, finding myself with some cakes to frost and no cream to make the ganache I needed, I found myself wondering:

Is it possible to make ganache with half and half instead of cream?

Well, there's only one way to find out.

So I measured out my ingredients: equal weights of half and half and chopped chocolate. I used four ounces of each (half a cup of half and half; 4 ounces of dark chocolate), a fairly small batch but I didn't want to waste a bunch of ingredients if it didn't work out. 

I placed the chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. 

I poured the half and half in a saucepan and heated it until it began to simmer.

I poured the hot half and half over the chocolate.

Now for my favorite part of making ganache. At first, the dairy and chocolate are distinct and separate. Then the chocolate begins to soften and swirl into the dairy. Then, magically, two become one (yes, please sing that in your best Spice Girls voice). Beautiful. 

I stirred until smooth. So, my immediate reaction was that this ganache seemed more liquid than its cream counterpart. 

 

I let it sit for about 15 minutes, then tried it out on some desserts. I drizzled a bit on top of some shortbread bars...

then I spooned the rest into a little cup. This might be the naughtiest thing ever but I ate some with a spoon, right from the little bowl.

The drizzled ganache set firm but not hard, and seemed pretty comparable to a cream ganache, actually. It was opaque and didn't spread too much after being drizzled. I think that you could probably use it for coating or filling desserts, but be sure to let it cool before using because it is not as thick as the cream version when applying. 

The cup'o ganache was just as delicious as your naughtiest chocolate fantasies would have you think.

Overall, a success. I say that if you find yourself in a pinch and do have half and half, you can definitely feel satisfied with a ganache made with it. If you feel like it, give it a try skewing the ratio a bit, so it has slightly more chocolate. I bet that would remedy the thinness issue.

Here's how you do it.

How to make ganache with half and half instead of cream

  • 4 ounces chopped chocolate
  • 4 ounces half and half
  • (quantities can be doubled, etc; just maintain the same ratio of equal weights)

Procedure

  1. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl.
  2. In a saucepan, bring the half and half to the simmering point. Remove from heat, and pour over the chocolate.
  3. Stir with a whisk. At first the chocolate won't seem like it's going to ever incorporate, but as you stir, the mixture will become smooth. 
  4. Once smooth, let the ganache rest for 15-20 minutes before using, so that it can attain a pourable but thickened consistency.
  5. Enjoy!

BTW, you might also enjoy these posts:

How to make beer ganache

How to make ganache with cocoa powder 

Have you ever tried a creative ganache variation? 

 

 

No Knead Pizza Dough

I know what you're thinking. It's probably something along the lines of "what the #*&% is CakeSpy thinking? This is a website for sweets, not savories."

My response is this: people, you need to pre-funk for cake somehow. And pizza is the way

I love pizza--growing up in New Jersey, and spending my formative years in Brooklyn and Manhattan, I think my blood runs part tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. 

I'm not the only one: everyone loves pizza. And so, as a service to the pizza-loving masses, I want to share this recipe for no knead pizza dough. Foodies, it's nothing you haven't seen: the no knead method is famous. However, now I personally have a recipe to bookmark for myself on my own website, and you do too.

This recipe is simple as can be but gives you a great sense of accomplishment. Plus, it yields four balls of dough, which means PIZZA MOST OF THE REST OF THE WEEK!

Enjoy.

 

No Knead Pizza Dough

Adapted from Baking Steel, who adapted from Jim Lahey - Printable version here

Ingredients 

500 grams (17 1/2 ounces) bread flour, plus more for shaping
1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) active dry yeast
16 grams (2 teaspoons) fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon honey 
350 grams (1 1/2 cup) lukewarm water

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, yeast, and salt until well combined.

Add the honey and water, and mix again, using a wooden spoon. 

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a moistened but not wet kitchen towel. Allow it to rise at room temperature (about 72 degrees F) until it has more than doubled in volume. This time may vary depending on the temperature and humidity of the room. 

Turn the dough out on to a floured work surface. Divide it into four equal parts. 

Gather the dough so that you have four little seams. Bring them together. Align the seam down. This is not kneading - it's making your dough a perfect little circle.

You can use the dough immediately, or wrap in plastic or in plastic containers for up to three days in the refrigerator. Return the dough to room temperature by leaving it on the counter for 2-3 hours before you want to make pizza.


Have you ever made no knead dough?