Category Archives: Dessert

Simple Chocolate Cake with Strawberries, Whipped Cream, and Chocolate Drizzle

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The ultimate simple dessert. Not every occasion calls for a triple decker German chocolate cake or rich decadent Paula Deen-esque work of sweet buttah. No, today we’re celebrating simplicity. A flick of your magic cooking wand and a swish of the spatula, and bibidi-bobodi-boo, a one layer chocolate cake.

I made this for a special dinner with my cousins and aunt and uncle, and let’s be real, the dessert I brought was a reflection of how I felt at the time. I had buttermilk on hand and could have made the amazing buttermilk skillet cake that you saw a few months ago with the praline topping. But I felt that kind of happiness that required no cherry on top to commemorate a celebration. I wanted to look at vibrant natural colors (enter: sliced strawberries), hang out with my cousin (assembling the cake at the dinner), and feel satisfied not stuffed after the meal (one layer not two layer cake). Made a good choice!

Here we have a half recipe of Ina Garten’s Beatty’s Chocolate Cake topped with my favorite whipped cream concoction, sliced strawberries, and my fave chocolate ganache. I am a total fanatic for chocolate cakes with coffee in them as it always adds richness without too much sweet.

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Ok so the strategy for simple dinner-at-family’s-house cake goes as follows…start with your simple chocolate cake. Use half of Ina’s, like me, or just make a devil’s food cake from a box and it’ll get all fancy with the toppings! The timing is favorable. You have time to clean up all that chocolate mess, lick the spoon and wait for the cake to come out until you prep the toppings. If I were you, I’d just go ahead and get the ganache out of the way, sometimes it can be messy.

So let’s melt some chocolate drizzle. Chop up 4 oz whatever bar chocolate you’ve got on hand (I had some bittersweet chips and a dark chocolate bar) and place in a heatproof bowl. Meanwhile warm 1/2 cup heavy cream in a sauce pan until bubbles start to form all around the edges (the cream is simmering) and pour half of it over the chopped chocolate. Let the chocolate melt for about 30 seconds then start to stir together. After it’s partly smooth add in the rest of the cream and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool and transfer to a small container.

Is your cake sitting invitingly on your counter now? Time to assemble the rest and get ready to go. Whip up some of your favorite whipped cream and slice up the strawberries. Store each separately in containers. Flip your cake (fingers crossed, seamlessly) onto a plate and cover with aluminum foil. At your friend’s house, store the whipped cream in the fridge and let your cake continue to cool. You don’t want to top the cake with the whipped cream and have it melt! When dessert time rolls around, ask your cousin to help you assemble, topping it with as much whipped cream, strawberries and ganache drizzle as you like. There’s no way to have too much or too little of either. Well, there’s always a way to have too little chocolate.

Can’t wait to try this with raspberries and maybe slivered almonds. It’d also be great to add a little kahlua to the whipped cream or dark rum! Bon appetit, chocolatiers. Tell me how it goes!

 

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Creating a BFF for your coffee: Chocolate Almond Biscotti

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Coffee is coffee is coffee. Or is it? I must say that I was NOT in the biscott-lovers boat as of even a few months ago, but once I changed my mind, coffee hasn’t been the same since. We can all agree that unless you are eating toast, dry is a terrible thing for bready foods. And that’s how I have judged you all these years, biscotti. A few weeks ago, I visited my fabulous artist grandma in Florida and spent way too long hanging out next to the biscotti tin. Maybe I’ve only tried boxed biscotti all these years, but my first taste of homemade chocolate-dipped biscotti changed my mind!

They ended up being fantastic on their own but seriously are they better with coffee or is coffee better with them?!?! I CANNOT tell. Sometimes I feel that way about my best friends. Do we become better people from knowing the other person or is it the friendship that makes us better people? All I know is I’m never looking back. While I was stuck inside during Atlanta’s 1inchsnowstormofthedecade, biscotti got me through! I started from the Cooks Illustrated Almond Orange Biscotti, a version of this recipe but hello, almonds are always better with chocolate chips!!

Chocolate chip Almond Biscotti

makes around 35 little biscotti cookies

1 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

4 TBS softened butter

1 cup sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1 cup toasted whole almonds

3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

1. Whisk together dry ingredients. Set oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

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2. Cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Then add eggs one at a time, adding both extracts. This is the best part, it smells so yummy!

DSCF45453. Chop up those almonds after toasting them for a few minutes either in a dry saute pan or the toaster oven.

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4. Add the dry into the wet and mix until a cookie-like batter forms. Dump in your almonds and choco-chips until evenly distributed. Skilled at Play-dough formations? It’s your time to shine next.

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5. Cut the dough in half and starting with the first, shape it into a 13 by 2 inch loaf. This recipe is sort of mini biscotti so if you wanted to make those really long ones, I would use the whole batch to make one large loaf. If the dough gets a bit too sticky, add some flour and continue shaping. Do the same with the second half of batter, and bake for 35 minutes or until golden brown and crackly.

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6. After the first lil bake sesh is over, slide the logs over to a cutting board and slice on a bias with a serrated knife. Then place the biscotti cut side down on the baking sheet and bake for another 15 minutes, flipping them over halfway through baking.

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Serve with a hot cup of coffee and never break up this friendship!!!

Holiday Cookie Decorating

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I think this was my first time actually making and decorating quintessential sugar cookies. In reality, I crashed a roomie cookie decorating Sunday afternoon, so all the cuteness is NONE of my doing. Last Sunday was the dreariest of Sundays, cold and rainy, aka cookie and hot cocoa weather. After a delicious brunch at West Egg, we got to work on these sugar cookies!!! I was a bit concerned at first because the recipe didn’t have any salt, but we can all verify these were good decorating cookies! For once, my cookies came out completely flat and in perfect circles, and I’d say go with a flat 8 minutes here.

While I baked, the style gurus decorated their tree, set the room for Sound-of-Music-watching, and prepped the icing. Easy icing here, 1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp vanilla extract, 2-3 tablespoons milk and how every many drops of food coloring it takes to get to the desired Christmas colors. Warning…don’t get the icing on your countertop it could stain :/ Thanks Care, Liz, and Whit for having me over!!

Also, I’ve made a few delisshhhh recipes lately that I’ve not be photographing, so here’s some good links to recipes you should try!

chai snickerdoodles – a good batch for the office or the fellow intern’s birthday…

Maple cinnamon applesauce via cookie and kate

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2013-12-08 13.17.28-1Noms, ready to decorate! How did you guys turn out so well?!

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Note: Try to use your icing right away after you make it, it can harden quickly

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Thanksgiving Deep-dish Apple Pie

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Give thanks with a grateful heart,

Give thanks to the Holy One!

As we gave thanks this year, we also celebrated the birthday of my beautiful and joyous grandmother, Winnie. To accompany the roast beast (turkey), taters, squash salad (amazing), dressing, green beans, and cranberry sauce, we topped off the meal with a birthday-candle-lit deep dish apple pie from the Smitten Kitchen cookbook. We usually have pumpkin or pecan pie, but new visitors called for new traditions.

My family hosted this year and we were blessed with the presence of one of my closest friend’s family. The chaos that ensued this year was all the product of a failed oven installation! But in our usual fashion, we made it work, and being together made it totally worth the whole mess. Without a proper oven, we had to roast our turkey at our neighbor’s house in their new oven and shuffle back and forth to get dinner on the table!!

As you’ll see from these pictures, the substitute oven laughed in our faces and effused a beautiful smoky essence throughout our neighbor’s entire house. I believe this was God’s way of telling us we don’t spend enough time with our favorite neighbors anymore, because it encouraged us to stay our welcome longer and catch up with each other.

This deep-dish pie is absolutely incredible. Deb is right, it’s best made the night before, so all the flavors have time to meld and marry. I have never made an apple pie before, so I wanted to make sure I found a recipe that wasn’t too soupy but one that had enough liquid to cook the apples. Found it! We served 9 generously with this pie, and had 2 large pieces left over. As can be expected, the pie crust was an ordeal, as all pie crusts are in my opinion. I would suggest making your pie crust two days before eating the pie, then baking it one day before you want to eat it! Here’s a snapshot of another family baking adventure!

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Mom’s an expert peeler,  so I take over the slicing. I sliced them exxttraa thin. Two pounds of Golden Delicious, and three pounds of Gala and Fiji apples

2013-11-27 18.46.39Smoothing the apples, layer by layer

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2013-11-27 18.47.08See, we managed to get all that crust in a springform pan!

2013-11-27 18.32.48Sistah sistah

2013-11-27 19.40.02Well, the pie starts to bake and the kitchen fills with smoke a la neighbors house. So our first instinct is to open the windows and use a fan to blow the cold air out? Suggestion: don’t try that, the logic doesn’t work out…

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2013-11-27 19.16.52My sister made elegant leaves out of leftover pie crust to place on top of the streusel..brilliant!

2013-11-27 20.40.32In the end, it all works out because everyone loves pie 🙂

Eat this with a cup of hot coffee mixed with Kahlua and whipped cream!! Happy Thanksgiving ❤

Buttermilk Walnut Praline Skillet Cake with an Almond Twist

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My friend Claire is back in ATL for the year!! Besides updating our old blog “la chanson du soleil” and other best-friendsy things, this means amping up the baking big-time. If there’s one person who appreciates big-fat-dinner-parties and fancy aprons, it’s Claire.

Which is why my friend and co-worker Blake hit the nail on the head in suggesting we bake her something to welcome her home! And this cake was perfection. I’m always about JoyTheBaker but on this particular day, I was in desperate need of a little sugar. I don’t even know if it was the taste of the cake or the fact that I was having a rough day and needed something warm that paired well with a nightcap (And by that I mean glass of milk).

The almond twist here is adding a bit of almond extract instead of the full amount of vanilla extract which made it a little fancier tasting if you ask me. Almond tastes so sophisticated in desserts for some reason, right? I think it comes from the word marzipan. Don’t you imagine some exotic prince fanned by banana leaves eating some exotic and fancy almond pasty dessert called MAHHHZAPANNN? Well, I do.

We are still in the years of the toaster oven, which is why I couldn’t really bake this in a skillet. Used a 9 inch cake pan and as you can see here, it came out in the first flip!!!

When I delivered this to her in the oh-so-elegant Mall parking lot, half eaten by my family and other friends mind you, we instantly became addicted to the praline. It’s dangerous. I’m serious.

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