Tuesdays With Dorie: Boca Negra

Boca Negra. A black mouth. This recipe for chocolate cake promised to be deep, dark and delicious. The recipe, found on page 253 in the book, is from pastry chef, Lora Brody.
My friend Mendy celebrated her 40th birthday earlier this month. We spent the weekend at the Vinoy Hotel in Downtown St. Petersburg. We ate dinner at the Parkshore Grill and I called earlier in the week to ask if it would be okay if I brought a birthday cake for us. I don’t know if it was because I spoke to a friend there, or that they had so many large parties all at one time, or if they normally allow it…but I was pleasantly surprised when they said I could.
On Thursday I baked this fantastic cake. First I made the white chocolate-bourbon cream. I only made half of it, which was more than enough. I chopped the white chocolate in the food processor and then poured in the hot cream. I poured that mixture into a container and gently stirred in the bourbon. When I put it into the fridge it was thin and soupy, and I was seriously concerned. By that evening it thickened into something seriously delicious, with a heavy hit of bourbon.
Then I made the cake. Chopped dark chocolate was combined with a bourbon-sugar syrup. I should have been a little more careful while making the syrup on my gas stove. I accidentally flambéd it. Whoops. That was a scary kitchen moment
There was enough heat in the syrup to melt the chocolate, but not enough to melt the butter. No big deal–I set up a double boiler and stirred the butter in that way. Two sticks of butter was A LOT of butter. I might cut out a few tablespoons the next time I make it. I incorporated the eggs and a tiny amount of flour.20130213-181625.jpg
I poured the cake batter into a prepared pan and it went into the oven. It wasn’t quite done after 30 minutes, but after another 5 minutes it was perfectly cooked.
Of course, the most stressful part of this whole operation was getting it out of the pan. It worked out perfectly!
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I delivered the cake to Parkshore in the afternoon, so all I had to do was pack myself up for a fun weekend with some great friends

Mendy was surprised that she wasn’t given the opportunity to order dessert when this plate was placed in front of her, but when she realized that I made it, she was pretty excited. Parkshore plated the cake with the white chocolate cream, some raspberries and mint. They made it look beautiful!
Mendy's cake
Our waitress even asked if I had made the cake, I told her that she should have some, and she couldn’t believe that it was homemade.
I’ve eaten, and produced more than a few flourless chocolate cakes in my time, but this particular cake was definitely the best. I plan on making it again for my mom’s birthday tonight (2/19). I know that she and my dad will love it, along with Dorothy. And Reid will be in heaven!


Tuesdays With Dorie: Best Ever Brownies

This weeks assignment was to make brownies. The recipe can be found on page 331 of Baking With Julia

When I make brownies I like them to be easy, and maybe only use one bowl. I never bake from a mix, but when it comes to brownies, I like them easy. And dense. And incredibly chocolately. These were not easy, nor dense.

This recipe used no less than 3 bowls plus a fine-mesh strainer that I use for sifting. One bowl for the flour, one bowl to melt the chocolate in, and one bowl to mix up the eggs and sugar.

I melted the chocolate and butter in a bowl set atop a pot with some water in it.
It melted and then I added some sugar and took it off the heat
Then I whisked together the eggs and sugar and whisked half of that into the chocolate
Then I whisked the remaining eggs and sugar until they doubled in volume and folded them into the chocolate
And then I folded in the flour. I licked the bowl
And finally they went into the oven
And I brought them to my bunco group on Monday night. Nobody complained, but everybody knew that I’ve done better

I probably won’t be making these again any time soon. But, check out our host for the week, a Beautiful Mess, it looks like she got the beautiful, fudgy brownies I was looking for, she’s got the recipe posted on her site. Also, take a look at our leave your link page to see how other people did it.


Birthday Baking: Flourless Chocolate Cake

Yesterday was David’s birthday.

Its tough to decide on a birthday cake around here, especially for the grownups. You want to make all the children happy, but still have a cake you want to eat yourself. I was going to make the French Strawberry Cake, which is my next Tuesdays with Dorie/Baking with Julia assignment, but Dorothy informed me that she doesn’t like whipped cream. Foolish child. So, we decided on this, a flourless chocolate cake. I think everyone would have eaten the strawberry cake, and only 2/3 of the children will eat this. Reid is my resident chocoholic, and Dorothy likes chocolate too; but, Adam does not enjoy chocolate at all. So, he’ll get a bowl of strawberry sorbet. Can’t please everyone, I guess.

This cake is not complicated to bake. It does require a little fearless-ness, especially if you’re new to the world of separating eggs and whipping egg whites to stiff peaks. I use a hand mixer for this and two bowls–one for the whites, and one for the yolks. Separate the eggs using a third bowl so if you break one yolk, you haven’t lost all the whites–just that one. Whip the whites first, that way you don’t have to wash your beaters, just go right over to the yolks and get to work on them.
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This was my sous-chef’s first time beating egg whites. Dorothy did just fine. She was very serious.
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Don’t get excited when you take it out of the oven. The top is very dry and crackly, and perhaps some of it did crack and collapse. This is supposed to happen. Just put some damp paper towels on it and gently press down.
I don’t know where this recipe came from. Its in the ‘cookbook’ that my mother compiled about 15 years ago, but she didn’t give credit to anyone. No matter. Its a damn good cake.

Flourless – Good for Passover. This extremely rich cake would be delicious with whipped cream or a small scoop of vanilla ice cream. Or even a glass of ice cold milk

Flour (I use unsweetened cocoa)

10 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
1/2 cup lightly salted butter, cut into 8 pieces
6 large eggs, separated at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar (divided)
2 tsp. crème de cacao, Kailua or dark rum (I used rum)
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups whipping cream well chilled (optional)
2 1/2 to 3 Tbs. powdered sugar (optional, but makes the cake look prettier)

Place oven rack in lower third of oven; heat oven to 375. Butter and flour (or cocoa) and sides of an 8 inch spring form pan; reserve.

Melt chocolate with 1/2 cup butter (in a double boiler, over, not in the water). Or, use a microwave in short bursts so you can stir the chocolate in between. If using a microwave, be careful not to burn the chocolate.

Beat egg whites in medium mixer bowl at high speed until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1/4 cup granulated sugar into whites; continue beating until stiff but not dry peaks form.

Beat egg yolks in large mixer bowl at high speed. Gradually add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Beat until yolk mixture is pale yellow and thick, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chocolate mixture to the yolk mixture, beat until complete smooth. Add crème de cacao and vanilla and beat until blended.

Fold whites gently but thoroughly into chocolate mixture. Pour batter evenly into reserved pan; smooth top.Beat egg yolks in large mixer bowl at high speed. Gradually add 3/4 cup of the granulated sugar. Beat until yolk mixture is pale yellow and thick, 4 to 6 minutes. Add chocolate mixture to the yolk mixture, beat until complete smooth. Add crème de cacao and vanilla and beat until blended.Bake 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350, bake another 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 250, bake 30 minutes longer. (Total baking time is 1 hour.) Turn off oven, prop open oven door and allow cake to remain in oven for 30 minutes. Remove cake from oven and cover top with damp paper toweling; let stand 5 minutes.

Remove toweling and cool cake completely. Dome of cake will crack and collapse; this is normal–press top of cake down lightly to smooth top. Remove spring form and transfer cake to serving platter.

Whip cream in chilled mixer bowl on high speed until soft peaks form. Continue beating, gradually adding 1 ½ Tbs. of the powdered sugar, until stiff peaks form. Dust top of cake with remaining powdered sugar just before serving. Serve cake at room temperature with whipped cream.

Baking for the teachers: Triple Chocolate Espresso Brownies

Sometime last week I volunteered to make dessert for the faculty and staff at Dorothy’s school. It is teacher appreciation week and someone is bringing in lunch, and I thought, “Dessert! They must have dessert!” And then I asked how many people I’ve been baking for. 55. Fifty five people. Gulp.

I spent one evening brainstorming. And then I started baking–or rather, mixing.) I have already made several slice and bake cookies. Lemon Poppyseed CookiesWorld Peace Cookies, and Margarita Cookies (yes, they taste like a margarita. I swear.) Those are all in the freezer waiting to be sliced and baked on Monday. I have also built a small stash of eggwhites in the freezer, so I’ll be making merengues, and today I’m baking brownies. And they’ll live quite happily in the fridge until tuesday.
When I was home for Passover, I stole my mother’s copy of Baking Illustrated. Its an encyclopedia of baking, by the Cooks Illustrated people, so you know you can trust the recipes.

This brownie recipe is super easy. You melt some chocolate and butter over a double boiler. Whisk up some eggs, sugar and vanilla. Add the chocolate. Then stir in the flour. That’s it. Two bowls.
Chewy, Fudgy Triple-Chocolate Brownies (with espresso)
From Baking Illustrated. Makes 64 1-inch brownies

5 oz bitersweet chocolate, chopped
2 oz unsweetend chocolate, chopped
8 oz unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 Tablespoons cocoa powder
1 1/2 Tablespoons instant espresso powder (optional)
3 eggs
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup all purpose flour

Preheat the oven to 350. Line an 8 inch baking pan with aluminum foil. spray with cooking spray

Place the chopped chocolates and butter into a glass bowl and set that over a pot of simmering water. Stir occassionally. when melted, whisk in the cocoa and espresso, if using. Let cool.

Whisk together the eggs, sugar, vanilla and salt, and then whisk in the chocolate

Stir in the flour with a wooden spoon until just combined. Pour into prepared baking dish

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until puffed slightly and a toothpick comes out with some crumbs on it. Cool on a wire rack (still in pan). Cut into 1-inch squares.

Can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated up to 5 days. Do not cut brownies until ready to serve

better late than never: Kosher for Passover Brownies

It never ceases to amaze me that my friends love this recipe enough that they want me to make it even when its not Passover. I always think of Passover foods as reasonable facsimiles of the foods they are copying. But everyone, and I mean EVERYONE who tastes these brownies loves them. This year I made a batch and brought them to my cousin’s house in NJ for the 1st seder, and then made another for the 2nd seder. They always get gobbled up. They’re rich, fudgy and chocolatey–exactly what you want out of a (passover) brownie, I guess!
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So, even though Passover ended a few weeks ago, I made them for this weekend. A friend opened up her house for a craft night, and we crafted, ate and talked….all night long.

Kosher For Passover Brownies
Good for Passover…..and all year round.

1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter or unsalted Passover margarine, melted and cooled
3 eggs
1 tablespoon brewed coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt (Omit if using salted butter)
1 scant cup matzoh cake meal
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts (optional)
approx 3/4 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, you could butter the foil….but I always forget.

I’ve gotten this down to a one bowl recipe: melt the butter in the microwave in the bowl you indend to use, let it cool slightly

Add the sugars, coffee, cocoa, eggs and cake meal. Stir until combined, then add the chocolate chips and/or the walnuts.

Pour into the baking pan, smooth out the top and bake for about 25-30 minutes. Don’t overbake!

Chocolate Truffle Tartlets–Baking with Julia

This weeks assignment was to bake Chocolate Truffle Tartlets from ‘the book.’ They sound amazing. A chocolate crust and a bittersweet chocolate filling studded with bits of ameretti cookies, milk and white chocolate pieces. How bad could it be? I made my dough on Sunday and the rest of the dessert on Monday so I could serve it on Monday evening to my bunco group. Instead of making several small tartlets, I made one big tart–I don’t own tartlet pans, and I don’t see myself making tartlets very often, so I didn’t buy any.

The recipe for the dough can be found on page 372, and the tart filling on page 382. none of it is particularly difficult, but there are several steps. I also made ‘chocolate waves’ (though they came out flat) and you can find the directions for that on page 450

I wanted to take pictures of making the dough, but I ended up completely covered in the cocoa and butter mixture, and even though its a waterproof camera, I decided not to.

I rolled out the dough using a technique that I learned in a one day cooking class at Peter Kump’s cooking school in NY a long time ago. you roll the dough between two pieces of saran wrap and then it NEVER sticks to the counter! yippee!

the technique worked perfectly. There is nothing I enjoy less than picking pieces of pie crust off my counter.

here’s the crust all baked and ready for the filling

it didn’t shrink, or fall down the sides (too much). I had some extra dough because I rolled it too big, so I just tapped it into the bottom of the crust. Waste not, want not, right?

Melting the butter and bittersweet chocolate was easy:


and even though I had it completely melted when I realized I’d never get the thing baked and out of the oven before picking up dorothy, it worked out fine. I popped it in the fridge and re-melted it when we got home.


those are the ‘chunks’ for the filling. I had never tasted an Ameretti cookie before. they’re pretty tasty.

and cute:


here it is, all baked up and ready for my friends to devour it!

This is what our plates looked like:

if you want to see other peoples tarts, go to the Tuesdays with Dorie page and check out all the beautiful tarts and tartlets. This recipe has several hosts Steph, Spike, Jaime, and Jessica

I’ve run 25 miles since my last post