Saturday, December 17, 2011

Chocolate Whiskey Rum Bundt Cake

So I just watched the movie High Fidelity for the first time. It's fabulous
My favorite part of the film is this concept about The Top Five. In the film, your Top Five is a crucial part of your identity, a musical litmus test of your hipness, snobbishness and finally, personality. I've been thinking about my Top Five: 

Joni Mitchell     

Amy Winehouse
Bob Schneider

And then I'm stuck. I like all these whiny singer-songwriters, and I feel like I need a real BAND to complete my list. The thing is, I love so much, and picking my fifth... It's too hard. Maybe Louie Armstrong, but he's not a band. I kind of have this serious thing for The Rolling Stones. I'm actually reading this book right now: 

It's really interesting. It's also very, very long. He did a lot of drugs.

Anyways, I'm just not sure about who my fifth is.

On a similar musical note, since winter break began, I've rediscovered my adoration of Earth Wind & Fire:

It's kind of embarrassing. 
I love it.

I don't think that Earth Wind & Fire is exactly Top Five material for me. Maybe Top Ten, but no one cares about your Top Ten. I don't think my love of Earth Wind & Fire would impress the music snobs in High Fidelity. Actually I doubt that any of my Top Four + One I Haven't Figured Out Yet will impress anyone, music snob or not. 


Anyways, I started wondering what's in my Top Five of Favorite Things to Cook/Bake:

Scrambled Eggs
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Homemade Spinach Pasta
Desserts With Rum and Whiskey

Desserts with Rum and Whiskey are undoubtably The Best. There is something about the boozy, luscious quality of the liquor, that when paired with sugar and flour and butter, simply equals perfection. 

This Chocolate Whiskey Rum Bundt Cake is no exception. 

I mean, this cake is basically the reason to have a Top Five of Favorite Things to Cook. 

This recipe calls for American Whiskey, and forgive me, but I am not really a snob about liquor and figured no one would never be able to taste any difference, so I used what was left of our Irish Whiskey and then some Rum, because I really like Rum, and because I couldn't find any American Whiskey in our kitchen.  Anyways, as soon as I had combined this inventive duo with the rest of the batter, my brother informed me that we had a massive handle of Maker's Mark in the pantry. C'est la vie. 

Also, I added frosting, because obviously, a Chocolate Whiskey Rum Cake is not decadent enough. 

Also, did you know you can spell Whiskey two ways? Whiskey with and 'e' and Whisky without an 'e'. 

Who and what are in your Top Fives? 


Chocolate Whiskey Rum Bundt Cake
barely adapted from Gourmet Today by Ruth Reichl 

1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process), plus 3 tablespoons for dusting pan
1 1/2 cups brewed coffee
1/2 cup American whiskey (Or Irish Whiskey or Rum or a combination of them all or whatever)
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, left at room temperature for 30 minutes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Put a rack in middle of oven and preheat oven to 325 F. Butter Bundt pan well, then dust with 3 tablespoons of cocoa powder; knocking out excess.
Combine coffee, whiskey, butter, and remaining 1 cup cocoa powder in a 3-quart heavy saucepan and heat over moderate heat, whisking, until butter is melted. Remove from heat, add sugar, and whisk until dissolved, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a large bowl and cool for 5 minutes. 
Meanwhile, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl.
Whisk together eggs and vanilla in a small bowl, then whisk into warm chocolate mixture until well combined. Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined (batter will be thin and bubbly). 
Pour batter into Bundt pan. Bake until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool cake completely in pan on a rack. 
Run a thin knife around sides of pan, then invert cake onto a rack. Sift confectioners' sugar over cake OR frost with My Favorite Chocolate Frosting. 

My Favorite Chocolate Frosting


Adding this frosting unfortunately makes this cake look like a large chocolate doughnut. Which is okay. Only, massive doughnuts however delicious they actually are, are not photogenic or attractive looking. Also, sprinkles are always nice. 

1 cup butter, softened
4 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/4 cups baking cocoa
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter. Gradually beat in confectioners sugar, cocoa and vanilla. Add enough milk until frosting reaches spreading consistency. Frost and sprinklelify. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Swedish Visiting Cake

There is so much in world to be a snob about:

Basically Anything You Can Imbibe
Language i.e. usage of certain swear words as well as the words "like," "dude," "y'all" and "guys"

and in my case


I am a cake snob. The worst kind of snob.

Here is how you know if you are a cake snob:
You are at someone's party, usually a birthday party, usually for someone you don't know to well, because all of your friends are hopefully cake snobs as well. Anyways, the party is kind of boring, and the entire time you look forward to the cake, because cake should always be the high point of any party. Anyways, you wait and wait and wait until finally someone gets it together and lights some candles and stuff and you sing happy birthday and you see the cake and literally your mouth falls open in disappointment. Because it is from the supermarket there are strange technicolor frosting flowers all over it and too much frosting and no class and over-decoration and then the actual cake itself is too sweet and flavorless bland stale stale stale sweetness.

And life feels completely meaningless.

You will never have this problem with this cake.

I promise.
I suggest you defriend your non-cake-snob friends on facebook and hope they don't invite you to any more lame ass parties with lame ass cake. Alternatively, you could just offer to make it for your non-cake-snob friend's parties and then they will love you and your cake snob friends will love you. And it will just be lots of love + cake.
Which is an infinitely good thing.


Swedish Visiting Cake 
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan
Makes 8 to 10 servings

This is simple and glorious. I added cranberries, for pizzazz and holiday festivity. Also there is no frosting, which is always a plus, and it is dense and moist and sweet and takes no time to make or bake and between the two of us my mother and I managed to eat more than half of it, basically in one sitting. Which is kind of embarrassing and awesome at the same time. Mostly awesome. 

1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
About 1/4 cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

Cranberries (optional)

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a seasoned 9-inch cast-iron skillet or other heavy ovenproof skillet, a 9-inch cake pan or even a pie pan.
Pour the sugar into a medium bowl.  Add the zest and blend the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the sugar is moist and aromatic.  Whisk in the eggs one at a time until well blended.  Whisk in the salt and the extracts.  Switch to a rubber spatula and stir in the flour.  Finally, fold in the melted butter.
Scrape the batter into the pan and smooth the top with a rubber spatula.  Scatter the sliced almonds over the top and sprinkle with a little sugar.  If you're using a cake or pie pan, place the pan on a baking sheet.
Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until it is golden and a little crisp on the outside; the inside will remain moist.  Remove the pan from the oven and let the cake cool for 5 minutes, then run a thin knife around the sides and bottom of the cake to loosen it.  You can serve the cake warm or cooled, directly from the skillet or turned out onto a serving plate.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I am procrastination goddess.

I am becoming a goddess of procrastination.
I just thought you should know.

I trawl the internet and find gems like this:

I don't know why, but the above makes me genuinely happy.
Just thought you should know.
Also, I have been listening to Bob Dylan's "I Am a Man of Constant Sorrow" and the Rolling Stones Let It Bleed,
partly because that album is my roommates favorite, and also because the music feels so RIGHT.
I've never been a huge Dylan fan, but his songs suddenly DO IT for me. Also, no one EVER told me about the Dylan song "Hurricane." It's the shit. For real:

There's this line from a song by Alejandro Escovedo where he says "Everybody's gotta dance with the blues sometimes." And I just love that, because it's so so true. I'm not dancing with the blues, but let me tell you, that listening to the blues just feels so RIGHT. Who knows why.

What does this have to do with food?

Like I said, I'm now a goddess of procrastination.
Just thought you should know.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Chocolate Pecan Pie

From now on, when ever anyone asks me how I am doing, I am not going to say,
"I'm great."
"I'm good."
"I'm fine."
I am going to say:

"I am loving life." 

Because being alive is actually really spectacular. And it's inspirational to affirm the wonder of the world to other people, as well as yourself.
So there you go. 

Also it is Thanksgiving. And I am so grateful. My father likes to tell me that Gratitude and Forgiveness are the Most Important Thing.

And he's right.

I'm grateful for my family, what they have done for me and the love I have for them... There are not words for my gratitude it goes --beyond. I am especially grateful for my brother Michael, because he lets me call him and say everything that is in my head and he listens and we laugh, and that is good.

And I am grateful for friends, old and new, for laughter and good times and talking about everything and nothing. I am grateful for hugs and smiling and laughter. I am grateful for meals. I am grateful for books and blogs and the newspaper and long walks. I am grateful for music and lyrics and poetry. I am grateful for sitting on blankets and looking at the sky. I am grateful for clouds. I am grateful for professors and university. I am grateful for lipstick and cvs and dancing. I am grateful for yogurt and granola and bananas. I am grateful for sunlight. I am grateful for the cold. I am grateful for waking up. I am grateful for singing and pie.
And I am grateful for myself. And I'm grateful that I can forgive myself-- for being awkward and weird sometimes, and knowing that it is okay.

I am also grateful for my ability to rationalize eating tremendous quantities of pie.

Speaking of which:

Chocolate Pecan Pie. My mother wished it had bourbon in it. I agree. Add a splash of something boozy while you bake.

Endless love. I am so grateful you're here.

also, i just realized that all of my posts lately have been about how gorgeous life is. how magnificent is that?

Chocolate Pecan Pie
from Baking: From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

This is really, really good. NB: Dorie specifies a partially baked crust, which frankly, I rarely have time for. Partially/blind baking crusts always exhausts me as it requires too much hovering around the oven. Anyways, I baked this in an unbaked crust and it all worked out fine. Though the crust on the bottom COULD stand to be a little crisper, who cares? Regardless, I wanted to leave that decision up to you, so I left the recipe as is.

1 9-inch single pie crust, partially baked and cooled
3/4 cup light corn syrup
1/2 cup (packed) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 large eggs, preferably at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup (about 7 ounces) pecan halves or pieces
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
A splash of something boozy

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat oven to 425 F. Put the pie plate on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat blah blah blah.
In a large bowl, whisk the corn syrup and brown sugar together until smooth.
Whisk in the melted butter, then add the eggs one at a time, beating until you have a smooth, foamy mixture. Add the espresso powder, vanilla, cinnamon and salt and give the batter a good mix. Rap the bowl against the counter a couple of times to pop any bubbles that might have formed, then stir in the pecans and chocolate.
Turn the filling into the crust.
Bake the pie for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make a foil shield for the crust by butting a 9-inch circle out of the center of an 11- or 12-inch square of aluminum foil.
Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Place the foil shield on top of the piecrust, the filling will be exposed, the crust covered by the foil. Bake the pie for another 15 to 20 minutes (total baking time should be 30 to 35 minutes), or until it has puffed (the middle and the edges should be fairly evenly puffed), is beautifully browed and no longer jiggles when tapped. Transfer the pie plate to a rack, remove the shield and cool to room temperature. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

eggs and salmon

This funny thing happens to me on Saturdays: I always feel homeless.
I work in the mornings at the dance school. And then I am free. Normally I wake up around 7:30 (early) and then I drink as much coffee as I can and ride my bike to work. And then by 10:30 I'm done, and it's really just the strangest feeling, I always feel at a loss. I always used to spend Saturdays at home. Reading the newspaper and playing piano and reading books or going to dance classes or baking. Now I just feel empty. I go to the farmer's market and buy an egg and potato breakfast taco, because I am always famished, and then I ride my bike. I am gaining an increasing appreciation for aimlessness. I ride around the lake, and go to my favorite spots. I ride over to the east side. I ride to the bakery. I ride back. I never go anywhere. I just wander.
Anyways, I went home on last Saturday, to make lunch for my family because my mum was out of town. I cooked some salmon and some vegetables.
The vegetables were decidedly mediocre, but the salmon was gorgeous. I roasted it in the oven. I have no idea how you really cook salmon. I just put it in a hot oven with a drizzle of olive oil and some salt and pepper and waited and checked on it until it was a lighter shade of pink.

Have you ever looked at a fish? I mean, really looked? It's a deep coral color. Beautiful. Crazy.
Anyways, I was craving eggs. I crave eggs all the time. Gently scrambled eggs and salmon sounded exquisite and divine. So I made a taco with a fresh wheat tortilla and torn basil leaves and salmon and eggs and some really fine cheese whose name I can't remember. And oh my.
I was right. Exquisite and divine.

The other day I informed my father that I am saying yes to life.
He laughed.
I just thought you should know.
I am also saying yes to egg and salmon tacos. 


also, these pictures were taken with my phone. and they are really, really gross. so i apologize. 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Marie-Helene's Apple Rum Cake

So I was talking to my dear friend the other day about this new life of mine and she said, "So what have you been up to?"

And after a long pause I said, "I have no idea." 

And it's true.
I spend a lot of time wandering around. 
I sleep and I eat. I haven't accomplished anything major. I write papers sometimes. I talk to strangers who might become friends. And I sit on a blanket at night and look at clouds, and pretend to work. But mostly I just sit and think and dream.

I have discovered something about myself. I'm not really afraid of people. I mean, sometimes I am of course. And everyone has those moments. But in general, I'm way more outgoing than I ever thought I was. Which is really, really great. I feel like I'm finally growing into myself. Which is glorious. 

Other things. 
This cake. 
I mean,

I think it's the rum. 

Marie-Helene's Apple Cake
from Around My French Table: More than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

This is so simple it's really a crime not to make it right this second. 

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
4 large apples
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons dark rum
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted and cooled

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Generously butter an 8-inch springform pan. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper or nothing if you're lazy like me.
Whisky the flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl. 
Peel the apples, cut them in half, and remove the cores. Cut the apples into 1-to-2-inch chunks. 
In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until they're foamy. Pour in the sugar and whisk for a minute or so to blend. Whisk in the rum and vanilla. Whisk in half the flour and the remaining butter, mixing gently after each addition so that you have a smooth, rather thick batter. Switch to a rubber spatula and fold in the apples, turning the fruit so that it's coated with batter. Scrape the mix into the pan and poke it around a little with the spatula so it's evenish. 
Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and a knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean; the cake may pull away from the sides of the pan. Transfer to a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
Carefully run a blunt knife around the edges of the cake and remove the sides of the springform pan. (Open the springform slowly, and before it's fully opened, make sure there aren't any apples stuck to it.) Allow the cake to cool until it is just slightly warm or at room temperature. If you want to remove the cake from the bottom of the springform pan, wait until the cake is almost cooled, then run a long spatula between the cake and the pan, cover the top of the cake with a piece of parchment or wax paper and invert it onto the rack. Carefully remove the bottom of the pan and turn the cake over onto a serving dish.