Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Best Chocolate Bundt Cake

The world is such a harsh place sometimes. 
People disappoint. You do foolish things. Say too much or not enough. Expectations are underwhelmed. Hopes are crushed. You wear heels that hurt your feet. You have shitty hormones that make you feel like a fat blob. 
You feel lost. 

These are not nice things. 

You know what you do when these emotions hit?

Go to your room, and shut the door, and dance to "Friday I'm In Love" by The Cure. 

It is my favorite song of the moment. Because I am waiting for Friday. Who among us isn't waiting for Friday? 

I am not kidding. 
Do this right away. 
Dance the boredom away. 
Dance the hurt away.
Dance for glee.
Dance for the stupidity of everything. 
Dance for love. 
Dance for sheer joy. 
Dance till you can't breathe. 
Dance till you are happy. 

I mean it.

I totally mean it.

After all, there are so many nice things to think about: 

favorite people at work
real talk
fresh eggs
staying up late
waking up late
waking up early and actually being awake
skinny dipping
twinkle lights

and this chocolate bundt cake. It's incredible: dense and chocolatey and perfect with a cup of coffee. It's the best way to regain all the calories you burn while dancing. So make this cake and dance like crazy while it bakes. 
Dance till you're alight. 
Dance for glory. 
Dance for Friday. 


The Best Chocolate Bundt Cake 
makes one 10-inch bundt cake

I got lazy and did not make the frosting. However. It looks divine. So please make it. xoxo

from The Big Sur Bakery Cookbook via JoytheBaker.com
For the Cake:
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon brewed coffee
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 whole eggs
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups plus 1 Tablespoon buttermilk
1 cup plus 2 Tablespoon canola oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups, plus 2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
For the Glaze:
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate
3/4 cup unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup brewed coffee, cooled
Place an oven rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
Grease and flour a 10-inch Bundt pan and set aside.
To make the cake batter:  Put brewed coffee and cocoa powder in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Remove from the heat and let come to room temperature.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with a whisk attachment, mix together sugar, salt, baking soda, eggs and egg yolk on low speed for about 1 minute.  Add the buttermilk, oil and vanilla extract and mix on low again for another minute.
Add the flour and mix on medium speed for 2 minutes.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture and mix on medium speed for 3 minutes.  The batter will be very loose.  Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake for 1 hour, or until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely in the pan and then invert onto a cooling rack.
To make the icing:  Chop the chocolate into small pieces, put them in a heatproof bowl (or a double boiler), and set the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water.  Be sure that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the boiling water.  Remove the bowl from the heat when all of the chocolate bits have melted.
Melt the butter in a separate pan or in the microwave.  Whisk the melted butter into the melted chocolate until thoroughly incorporated.  Sift in half of the powdered sugar.  Add the sour cream and whisk to combine.  Sift in the remaining powdered sugar and whisk until smooth.  The glaze should be thick and shiny.  Lastly, add the coffee and whisk to create a glossy glaze.
Pour the glaze over the Bundt cake, covering it completely.  Leave at room temperature until ready to serve.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Embarrassment and Yellow Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lemon Curd and Blueberries

All my efforts at social suavity tend to fail. 
I'm fine if I don't work at it and if I don't think about it.
But if I do...

Oh Lord Help Me.

What else can you do but laugh? 

Embarrassment is the strangest emotion. You want to die. But you want to laugh as you crawl into the hole you've dug for yourself. 

There are two kinds of awkward people, those who keep their episodes to themselves, and people who tell everyone about said episodes because somehow they believe that this will alleviate the embarrassment. Which it never does. 
Obviously, I'm in the latter category. 

In the past several months, my brain-t0-mouth-filter has been incapacitated. No. That's wrong. 
It's like my brain has been incapacitated. 
To say this is deeply unfortunate would be putting it mildly. 

Awkward Things

1. When you invite yourself along to other people's events,  and then they get annoyed because obviously they didn't invite you for a reason, and then you feel bad because you (wrongly) thought they wouldn't mind.
2. Facebook chat.
3. When you are so surprised by what someone else has said that literally you cannot get words out. I mean, you literally forget how to talk. 
4. Vibrams 
5. Not remembering people's names when they remember yours. 
6. When you accidentally drop the f-bomb as you give a wedding toast, in front of your entire extended family.

The list goes on for a long time but I don't really want to talk about this anymore.

Despite these unfortunate circumstances, I firmly believe that if you offer people cookies they will generally forgive you for all of your lack of social grace. 
Unless of course, you're awkward when you try to force the cookies on them.

Believe me, it's happened. 

More than twice. 

Anyways, the point of this is to say, DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT OFFERING PEOPLE CAKE . Because that's even more awkward than offering them cookies. Just, do not even think about it. Cake is messy. Cake has LAYERS. Cake can fall over. Cake has frosting. Just... don't even go there. 
Unless of course, you want to give cake to me, in which case I will be SO forgiving of your awkward flaws, because I like cake more than I like you. 

Or maybe I shouldn't say that.


Yellow Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting and Lemon Curd and Blueberries 

This is really fine. The cake itself is awesome, dense, light, filling, flavorful. If you're really ambitious you can make lemon curd yourself. I have done this before but it takes a lot of time. I simply used lemon curd from a jar. I am such a cheater.

For Cake
from SmittenKitchen.com

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers, and, in theory, 22 to 24 cupcakes, two 8-inch squares or a 9×13 single-layer cake (I have yet to audition the cupcakes, shame on me)

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (480 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just Incorporated.
Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

Cream Cheese Frosting
from SmittenKitchen.com

Makes 6 cups
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter room temperature
3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Place cream cheese and butter in a medium bowl. With a handheld electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and vanilla. Beat, on low speed to combine. If too soft, chill until slightly stiff, about 10 minutes, before using.

Make or Buy Your Own Lemon Curd


To Assemble Cake
Place first layer of cake on serving plate. Spread on a thick layer of lemon curd. Stack on second layer of cake. Frost the entire outside of cake with cream cheese frosting. You will perhaps have some leftover. Decorate creatively with blueberries. CONSUME. 

Monday, July 9, 2012

Beans and Rice

In the end, I always return to beans and rice. 
There is no food in the fridge. 
Except beans and rice. 
I don’t know what to eat. 
Eat Beans and rice. 
I am too tired to think. 
Beans and rice. 

I have eaten lots of beans and rice lately. I eat them in tacos, I eat them with omelets, I eat them in fat bowls filled with lettuce and homemade salsa and rich avocado and a grind of pepper. Beans and rice bring me home. Beans and rice are home. 
I keep trying to bring myself home. Home to myself. I tell me the stories I’ve accumulated over the past year, the stories of  where I’ve been and what I’ve done and how I felt. And people have told me so many stories.  I’ve told these stories to myself, and to so many others. I have told these stories too many times, until now, I almost feel like the meaning that they originally had for me has perhaps begun to fade. 

This summer has been so strange. 
I have had the blues. Too much feeling. Too much thinking. 

I am lucky in my friends, lucky in my family, but there are some times and some days where growing up feels so impossibly difficult. 
Right now it is raining, a dreary, humid summer rain, and I can hear the dripping though my window, over the hum of the air conditioner. 
I eat beans and rice. 

I’ve spent this summer writing endless letters I don’t send, to myself and to the people I love. My friend once told me that the “only letters she had ever sent were love letters” and I think that is just excruciatingly beautiful. 
Because it is true. 
Every letter I have ever written has been a love letter. 
So this is a love letter to beans and rice. 
This is a love letter to growing up.
This is a love letter to summer, no matter how strange, no matter how blue. 
This is a love letter to myself, a fierce reminder that I will always be worthy of love letters, even if I have to send them to myself. 
This is a love letter to my mother, who listens, who made the beans and rice. 
This is a love letter to the people I work with at the restaurant, from whom I am learning so much. 
This is a love letter to the beautiful friends I have, to the friends I have yet to make, to the friends who have disappointed me, whom I will love anyways. 
This is a love letter to the kind strangers. 
This is a love letter to all the stories I've been told. 
This is a love letter to real talk. 
To air conditioning. 
To the internet.  
To walking. 
To Joni Mitchell. 
To shopping. 
To the future. 
To coffee. 
To sleeping. 
To hope. 
To writing. 
To the radio. 
To summer rain. 

But mostly, it’s a love letter to beans and rice. 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Baked Brownies

Something I have decided:

I need to chill the fuck out.

Really. Frankly. Honestly. Lately I have been so intense. About everything. Notably the future, which is scary and big. 

And this just 


It is summer baby. 

You are not supposed to worry about things like:

-who you are going to be when you are thirty
-some people have children by the age of thirty
-my god someday i will be thirty

I am getting so ahead of myself. 

Deep breaths all around. 

I tell myself to just appreciate the sky. 

Only lately, I do this and then I am wondering about infinity and thinking about how small and insignificant I am and that is also scary as fuck because I am going to be dead eventually and then the particles that make up my soul are just going to be space, 

which actually isn't even that scary, it's just cool. But that is also more thinking than I need to be doing right now.

Also, I need to take more naps. 

The point is. 

I should just eat some brownies and calm down. 

The chocolate helps with anxiety. 

It's science.

Or whatever. 

I have always had really mixed feelings about brownies. Mainly because I feel like they are the ultimate copout dessert. Everyone can make brownies. And everyone does make brownies. Brownies are not original, thoughtful, or even particularly interesting. They're just- brownies. 
On the other hand, a beautiful brownie is just... heavenly. 

These are heavenly brownies. 

With five eggs, a cup of butter and 12 ounces of dark chocolate chips, eaten with a bowl of vanilla ice cream, how could they not be heavenly? 

This is real talk. 

Anyways, I eat these and get progressively fatter, but also progressively happier. And that is a very good thing. 

My mother was telling me how many small happinesses can rest in simple routines and habits. And that I should work to order and routine and habit things in my head and life as a way to get rid of the anxiousness I feel about the future. Because lately, everything I have done has been disordered and out of habit and routine. 
Perhaps she is right. 

But for the time being, I really just want to eat more brownies. 


Baked Brownies
from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito

These are really really really outrageously good. I mean it. SO GOOD. Best Brownies EVAH. Trust me. 

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons dark unsweetened cocoa powder
11 ounces dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacoa) coarsely chopped
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch pieces
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
5 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the sides and bottom of a 9 by 13 inch glass or light colored metal baking pan. 
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt and cocoa powder together. 
Put the chocolate, butter and instant espresso powder in a large bowl and set it over a sauce pan of simmering water, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Turn off the heat, but keep the bowl over the water and add the sugars. Whisk until completely combined, the remove the bowl from the pan. The mixture should be room temperature. 
Add 3 eggs to the chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Add the remaining eggs and whisk until combined. Add the vanilla and stir until combined. Do not overbeat the batter at this stage or your brownies will be cakey. 
Sprinkle the flour mixture over the chocolate mixture. Using a spatula (NOT a whisk), fold the flour mixture into the chocolate until just a bit of the flour mixture is visible. 
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake in the center of the oven for 30 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with a few moist crumbs sticking to it. Let the brownies cool completely, then cut them into squares and serve. 
Yeah baby.