Posted: January 24th, 2010 | Filed under: Cake | Tags: Cake, Chocolate, Easy, Fudge, One bowl | 3 Comments »
Chocolate cake is a tricky little thing. It is no good if it is too dry (as is most cake), too moist (then it should just be a pudding), or just not very full of that delicious chocolate flavor (and we all know it can also go too far the other way). I remember very distinctly going to a birthday party for a friend a few years ago… she is a big chocolate lover, and chocolate cake was served at her party. It was bought from a grocery store bakery, decorated with scrolling letters, exclaiming the excitement of my friend turning another year older. She blew out the candles, licked the bottom of the pink one, and started cutting and passing. With my plastic fork I put a bite into my mouth… and slowly, but regretfully chewed and swallowed. Needless to say… I did not finish my piece of the cake. It was waxy, dry, with gritty icing, and no flavor. I think the plastic fork and the cake had plenty in common.
Two years ago Ryan bought me a cake from a grocery store bakery. Now this was not just your regular run of the mill grocery store… this was an all natural, organic foods, gourmet foods grocery store. A bakery we thought would be trusted and tasty. Now Ryan is an amazing man.. he knows that chocolate makes his little wife (me) happy. Very happy. But there is a such thing as overwhelmingly sweet and rich cake. And that is NOT a good thing. Not at all. This dark chocolate cake with ganache filling and chocolate butter cream icing looked very rich. Too rich. And it was. It was too sweet, it was too rich, it was too much chocolate flavor… it was an uncomfortable amount of chocolate. So much so that I couldn’t really enjoy the chocolate at all. All in all, that cake was a bust. (Sorry Ryan.) **I admit… I have made similar cakes before… and I apologize for that.
And then there are those cakes that I’ve made from complicated recipes, towering high with layers of icing, stacked and beautiful.. hours spent slaving away melting and stirring and whipping and measuring and checking to make sure that there is not a second of over cooking. But this cake… this cake is not that way. Thankfully. This cake is a new staple. One to keep on hand for the impromptu party or dessert (or chocolate craving). This recipe doesn’t call for fancy milks or fancy chocolate or fancy anything really. But its moist, its fluffy, its light enough. It does not beat you over the brow with chocolate. It introduces chocolate in a friendly “Hi, I’m Chocolate… nice to meet you again…” kind of way. And its easy. It is so easy. And this frosting… this is a new favorite. Not too milky, not too dark, nothing hard. Not gritty, not oily, not greasy, not too sweet, just perfect. This cake does not require a stand mixer, a hand mixer, or any fancy schmancy kitchen device and could be doubled or tripled, and baked in different pans and stacked or iced as a sheet or made into cute tiny cupcakes or bundts. But its pretty good this way. In fact, I suggest you try it this way first… let yourself be reintroduced to friendly chocolate first, before you get all crazy on it.
Chocolate Stack Loaf
From Better Homes and Gardens
1 c unbleached all purpose flour
1 c brown sugar
1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c hot water
Preheat to 350 F and lightly grease a 13×9 inch pan. Line pan with wax paper and set aside.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt cocoa powder and brown sugar. Add butter, vanilla and eggs-mix. The mix will evolve into a thick paste.
Add hot water and carry on whisking. Pour into pan and bake for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Invert cake and cool for about an hour. Cut the loaf into three equal rectangles. Frost the cakes and stack, and frost the sides and top. Dust with cocoa powder if you so choose.
6 tbsp butter unsalted
1 c sugar
1 c unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
1 c heavy whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
Place all ingredients short of whipping cream and vanilla into a saucepan on the stove. Heat on low. Gradually add whipping cream while stirring. Do not boil… Remove from heat when smooth. Add vanilla and allow to cool completely before using. Fudge frosting will need an hour or two to cool before usage.
Posted: January 13th, 2010 | Filed under: Chicken, Vegetables | Tags: Chicken, Easy, herb potatoes, lemon chicken, Potatoes, quick, Red potatoes, Roasted chicken, Roasted potatoes | 3 Comments »
There are a few dishes I would like to work on perfecting this spring… one of those things is a roasted chicken. Simple, unassuming, unpretentious, and just right. Full of flavor, even with only a few ingredients, a really good roasted chicken is an almost intimidating dish. I don’t want fancy rubs or sauces. I don’t want fruity glazes or spicy gravies to go on my dinner plate. I wanted something that was just surprisingly simplistic and delicious. And so I did. I roasted chicken. It was inexpensive. It was easy. It was moist. It was a little comforting, especially with the cold still here. It was a great meal for the middle of the week.
To keep things easy and roasted I paired the chicken with a side of roasted red potatoes… a favorite of mine, and if you’ve known me long enough… chances are you’ve had them once or twice.
Incredibly easy, and always a crowd pleaser, try these for your next pot luck or dinner gathering. Who’s ready for dinner now?
1 3-4 lb whole chicken (neck and giblets removed, chicken rinsed and pated dry)
5-10 cloves of garlic (depending on how much you like garlic) peeled
Fresh ground pepper
2 tbs Olive oil
2 tbs dried rosemary
1 tbs dried basil
1 tbs dried thyme
2 lemons (1 cut in half, 1 cut in quarters)
3/4 c chicken stock
Preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Place the chicken on a roasting pan, rack, or in a dutch oven. Coat the exterior of the chicken with the olive oil. Sprinkle with the dried herbs and a good amount of salt and pepper. Squeeze the juice of the halved lemon over the chicken. Place the garlic and the quartered lemon around the chicken. Place in the oven and roast for 3o min uncovered. After 30 min, take out of the oven and pour chicken stock over the chicken. Continue roasting the chicken uncovered and basting with its own juices every 15 min for another 45 min. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest with foil lightly draped over it for 15-20 min. Carve and enjoy.
2 lbs red potatoes washed and quartered
2 tbs olive oil
Fresh ground pepper
1 tbs dried rosemary
(I usually roast these at 400 degrees F, but since the chicken is already in the oven… you can just shorten the time)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. On a baking sheet lined with parchment paper toss your potatoes in the olive oil, salt, pepper, and rosemary. Roast for 15 min, flip the potatoes and continue roasting for another 15 min.