18 August 2012

Modesty Chocolate Cake

Pin It You know that sinking feeling you get when you get jealous over people's lives on the internet?  I hate that.  I never know whose life is real and whose life is contrived.  I know...  people have a right to sing their own praises.  I know I am not exempt from doing this myself either.  I get caught in the trap and get excited... seems innocent enough, as I'm sure almost all of the internet bragging is.

The question is, however, how do you take this sinking feeling and turn it into something good?  Inspiration?  Reflection?  Gratitude for all of those many things that you yourself have accomplished?  Something that should be so easy isn't really easy at all.

I guess the best you can do sometimes is to step away.  Step away from the status updates, the pinterest boards, the twitter feeds.  Cut yourself a break, because no one else is going to cut one for you.

Make a cake, but don't worry about icing it.  Dust it with powdered sugar instead.  Serve it with homemade buttermilk ice cream to balance out your emotions.  Take a picture, but don't mess with editing and instagram filters. Be yourself completely, even if it is just in front of the dogs.

Recipe for Chocolate Cake via food & wine
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract, or vanilla paste
2 large eggs
1 large egg white
3-4 tsp confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350F. Spray 9inch cake pan with nonstick spray and line with parchment paper.  In a bowl, sift the cake flour, baking soda, and cocoa powder together.  In a small saucepan, combine granulated sugar, unsweetened chocolate, and 1/2 cup water.  Heat on medium until chocolate is melted and sugar is dissolved.  Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in butter until melted. Stir in buttermilk and vanilla.  Beat in eggs and egg white one at a time and finish by folding in flour mixture.

Pour into pan and bake 30 minutes, or until tester comes clean.  Remove and wait 20 minutes before inverting onto plate and dusting with powdered sugar.

12 August 2012

raspberry and fig tea cake

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I know it's probably just for a minute, but the air feels so amazingly cool today I can't stop taking big deep breaths.  I'm sure hot and humid will be back soon enough, but tonight we can hang with the windows open and get adequately sleepy on the sofa.

This time of year always gets me: the wind down of summer that promises more structured days and cozy sweaters are not to far away.  The only thing that could top it all off is an office max haul.  I can almost smell the school supplies and actually have to hold myself back from buying notebooks and pens at the grocery store.  I sincerely hope my future children share my love for graph paper so I can make up a semi-legitimate reason to buy it again.

Even more importantly, it's my good old dad's 60th birthday tomorrow.  I'm so incredibly proud of him and everything that he is.  He's taught me so much and it kills me that I can't see him tomorrow.  Only plus?  We get to properly celebrate two weeks from now in our own special way (good possibility this will include a few cans of busch light from the garage fridge).

He would totally be into this cake once I convinced him to give figs a try.  He'd like the breakfast appeal.  The coffee cake relatedness.  He might even comment on it's sophistication.  So, here dad.  Even though you we can't have a slice of this together on your birthday, you can rest assured that I am somewhere in the world eating cake in your honor.

Recipe for Raspberry and Fig Tea Cake adapted from Food & Wine
Cornmeal, for dusting
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 limes, zested
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
juice of 1 lime
1/2 pint raspberries
4 figs, cut into eighths

Preheat oven to 350F.  Butter and dust 9inch springform pan with cornmeal.  In large bowl, beat eggs and sugar until fluffy, about two minutes.  Add two thirds of the lime zest and all of the butter and beat until smooth.  At low speed, beat in flour and lime juice until just barely incorporated.  Pour into prepared pan and press in raspberries and figs evenly throughout your cake.

Bake cake for 40 minutes in the lower part of your oven.  Move to top third of oven and bake for an additional 30 minutes.  Remove when tester comes clean.  Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and the rest of your lime zest.

03 August 2012

perfect & chewy chocolate chip cookies

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Some things that should be easy are actually way too hard.  Remembering to bring re-usable bags to the grocery store?  Should be easy, but it's actually impossible.  Going to bed early when you're dog tired?  Seems like the easiest, most pleasurable idea ALL DAY, until it's midnight and your watching Charade on Netflix. Again.  

Listen.  Chocolate Chip Cookies aren't all that easy either.  Well, they are... but making them totally perfect isn't.  You want them chewy, but with a little crunch.  Sweet, but also a little salty.  And don't forget about the perfect chip-to-cookie ratio.  

So, here's a tried and true recipe.  It's simple and delicious and relies on chilling your dough for an hour before baking.  Oh, and it makes TWO dozen... because somehow the first dozen always seems to disappear with no trouble at all.

Recipe for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together until smooth.  Add vanilla, egg, and yolk and beat until light and creamy.  Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in separate bowl. Add flour mixture to butter mixture and mix until barely incorporated.  Fold in chocolate chips by hand.  Cover bowl and chill for one hour.

Preheat oven at 325F.  Bake chilled cookies for 20 minutes, or until edges are golden brown.

Now, that wasn't all that hard... was it?