A Passion for Chocolate

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Heart’s Desire Cake

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by Heather Harris-Brady

Once upon a time I read a short story about a young career woman who received a package in the mail from her grandmother. It had a cake recipe, a heart-shaped cake pan and a note that she was to bake the cake on Valentine’s Day because it would bring her true love. With reservations she made the cake as instructed. It was raining really hard and since she was convinced no one would show up she cut a piece of cake. You can guess what happens here – there’s a knock at the door, a handsome stranger who needs to use her phone and he just happens to end up her true love.

Now I can’t guarantee that if you are looking for true love this cake will call them to your door. But even if it doesn’t you’re home with a chocolate cake, so either way – win, win!

Heart’s Desire Cake¬†Recipe, Makes one 9″ cake (about 12 servings)

Mix in a bowl:

1-3/4 c. flour

3/4 c. dark cocoa (It’s a lot, I know)

1 c. sugar

1 t. baking soda

1/4 t. salt

Optional:

1 T. instant coffee

1/3 c. ground almonds

1/3 c. ground hazelnuts

truffle cake little house dunes

Add 1 c. buttermilk, 1/2 c. olive oil and 2 t. vanilla.

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Pour into a greased 9″ pan and bake – 20-25 minutes if you want a soft center, 30 minutes if you want a cakey center.

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You can serve it as is, with raspberries and whipped cream or drizzle it with kahlua. But, because every now and then one should pull out all the stops – I covered it in chocolate ganache.

truffle cake little house dunes

 

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Irish Hostess Cupcakes, Part I: Guinness Cake

Irish Hostess Cupcakes, Little House by the Dunes

So everyone has been talking about the whole Hostess bankruptcy thing lately, and feeling a little sad that at some point soon they’ll be buying their zingers on the black market. In the name of research, I bought one of the last packages of Ding-Dongs I could find to see if they were as good as I remembered. Sadly, they weren’t. The cake was dry and the filling was tasteless. The chocolate on the outside was the best part. Since so many people already have recipes to mimic the Hostess snacks, I challenged myself to go one better.

I created a light, soft chocolately cupcake made with Guinness Extra Stout. I should hedge this by saying I’m not a beer lover myself, but if you share your house with one as I do – you’ll both love this recipe. The stout keeps the cake from being overly sweet and adds an extra level of depth. Then for the filling I made a marshmallow fluff based on honey, to round out the stout flavor. I finished them off with a quick, dark ganache that pulls everything together. So rather than mourn the loss of dry cupcakes filled with preservatives and half your day’s allotment of saturated fats, bake these and celebrate having something even better! The stout will be noticeable the first day, but after that it will all mellow into a happy blend.

Guinness Cake Recipe (Makes 18 cupcakes)

1 stick butter

1-1/3 c. sugar

2 eggs

1 t. vanilla

2 c. unbleached all-purpose flour

1/3 c. Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa

1/2 t. baking soda

1 t. baking powder

3/4 c. Guinness Extra Stout

Preheat the oven to 350. Cream the butter and sugar together until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until well-combined. Beat in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and baking powder.

Beat half of it into the creamed mixture until well-combined. Beat in 1/2 of the stout. Repeat with the remaining flour and stout.

Divide the batter between cupcake tins and bake 15-20 minutes, until the center springs back lightly. Cool on a rack. Stay tuned this week for the rest of the recipe!


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Basic Chocolate Ganache

Chocolate Ganache, Little House by the Dunes

I’m starting this blog off right with one of the secrets of the Universe.¬† At lukewarm, this ganache makes terrific hot fudge. Cooled to spreadable, it’s a beautiful frosting. Once it’s hardened, truffle centers.

Chocolate Ganache, Basic Recipe

12 oz. chopped chocolate (any kind, obvs, the better the chocolate the better the ganache)

1/2 pint heavy cream

1 T. butter

1 t. vanilla

Put everything but the vanilla in a pan and slowly warm it, whisking as the chocolate melts. At first it will look like a disaster, but keep going.

Keep going, and you will end up here:

Whisk in the vanilla. You can speed up the cooling by sticking it in the fridge but keep an eye on it. If it’s too cold it will get too hard to spread.

I iced 30 regular size cupcakes and 42 mini cupcakes with this recipe. I have used everything from Hershey’s (for class parties) to Valrhona (for weddings) and it comes out perfect every time.