Simple Chocolate Cake with Ganache

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So, I know this should probably be a post about pie, which I love, or pumpkin pie…which I HATE. I know…I’m a jerk. I like pumpkin things, but never pumpkin pie.

I’m not sorry.

Anyway, let’s talk cake.

This cake is super simple in both assembly and flavor–the batter takes minutes to make and there’s zero special equipment required. Don’t get it twisted though, because even if this is just a chocolate-on-chocolate situation, it is so, so good in it’s simplicity. The cake is dark and rich, but not so much that it doesn’t benefit from a glazing of glossy ganache. The crumb is fine and very moist, my favorite. And, I know ganache sounds fancy, but it’s so not…two ingredients, mixed together. DONE. I’m pretty sure this is my new go-to cake. It’s so easy, a little rustic, but pretty. It’s a gem.

 

Simple Chocolate Cake with Ganache

Makes 1, 8-inch, round cake.

Adapted from Martha Stewart

Use your favorite cocoa powder for this cake. I prefer Valrhona because it is rich and dark with intense chocolate flavor.  

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 cup cocoa powder

1 cup sugar

2/3 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup milk

1 tablespoon white vinegar

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 350˚F and spray an 8-inch, round cake pan with cooking spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda, and salt.

In a measuring cup whisk together the milk and vinegar, whisk the eggs, oil, and vanilla into the milk and vinegar mixture and pour into the flour mixture. Mix gently with a spatula until just combined. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake in the center of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Remove the cake from the oven and place on a rack to cool for about 10 minutes before turning out. Cool completely before glazing with ganache.

Ganache

1/2 cup heavy cream

4 ounces chopped, semisweet chocolate (or chips)

Heat the cream until scalded, when little bubbles form around the edges, add the chocolate, remove from the heat, and cover. Let the chocolate and cream rest for about 5 minutes, until the cream has melted the chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour warm ganache over the top of the cake. Let the ganache set 10 minutes before serving.

Strawberry Ripple Bombe Alaska

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Baked Alaska always reminds me of forgettable hotel or catered desserts. You know the type I’m thinking of…I’ve only ever had the sort that includes freezer burned ice cream and too-foamy meringue.

I have long loved the idea of a Baked Alaska, and I loved it even more when I learned people in the world often call it Bombe Alaska. So fancy! I just love the way “bombe” feels and sounds. In an effort to make this dessert everything I have dreamed it would be, I wanted there to be a jewel-toned surprise. So, I went with a vanilla custard ice cream with a sweet, jammy, white balsamic + strawberry ripple, on top of a olive oil + pistachio sponge cake. I covered the whole thing in glossy swiss meringue with lots of swirls to ensure a pretty toast.

I made the cake and the ripple using Colavita Olive Oil and Chardonnay Balsamic. The olive oil lends it’s fruity nature to the cake and keeps it more tender while frozen than butter would. Balsamic is a natural pair with strawberries and I like the white variety because it doesn’t muddy the vibrant color of the berries like a traditional balsamic might. Plus it lends a sweet tang that is so irresistible. Seriously, I had a spoonful (or 4) of the ripple straight from the pan.

Since I liked these products so much and because you are all da bombe (had to!), in association with Colavita and Fine Cooking*, we are doing a giveaway of some of Colavita’s Olive Oil and Balsamic as well as a 1-year subscription to Fine Cooking Magazine. Enter below! Leave a comment telling me what your favorite ice cream flavor is.**

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*Just a note, this is a sponsored giveaway. However, I was not paid for this post, all opinions expressed are my own.

**This giveaway is only open to US residents with non-PO box addresses. Apologies to international and PO box holding readers! You can enter my favorites giveaway here, however. Cheers! 

Strawberry Ripple Bombe Alaska

This makes 5, 3 1/2 inch bombe’s. Use the cake scraps and leftover syrup to make a parfait! There may seem to be more sugar than needed for the strawberry ripple, but it encourages jamminess and keeps the ripple from becoming icy when frozen. 

Pistachio Cake (adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams):

3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla

2 eggs

2 yolks

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup cake flour

1/4 cup coarsely ground pistachios

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line or grease the bottom of an 8×8 baking pan–do not grease the sides. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and vanilla. Set aside.

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the sugar, eggs, yolks, and salt. Using the whisk attatchement beat the mixture for about 8 minutes until trippled in volume and pale in color. Fold in the flour and pistachios. Fold in the olive oil and vanilla. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for about 20 minutes until the top is golden brown and the cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan. Cool on a rack for 10 minutes before turning out to cool completely.

Using a 3 1/2 inch round cutter, cut out 5 circles from the cake. Place the scrapes in a bag and freeze for parfait making. Place the cake circles on a parchment lined tray in the freezer. Freeze until ready to assemble the bombes.

Strawberry Ripple Ice Cream:

1 lb. strawberries, hulled and stemmed

1 cup sugar

1 Tablespoon honey

2 Tablespoons lemon juice

2 Tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups milk

3 teaspoons cornstarch

3 egg yolks

2/3 sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chop the strawberries and add to a saucepan with the 1 cup of sugar, honey, and lemon. Cook until the mixture begins to boil, turn down the heat slightly to achieve a low, steady boil and continue to cook, stirring so the bottom of the pan does not burn, until the mixture becomes thick and syrupy and coats the back of a spoon. Stir in the white balsamic. Press the mixture through a fine mesh sieve and set aside to cool completely  Can be made a day or two in advance, store in a jar in the refrigerator.

Whisk 1/4 cup of the milk with the cornstarch and set the slurry aside.

In a bowl whisk the egg yolks with the 2/3 cup of sugar and vanilla until combined and just beginning to turn pale yellow. Set aside.

In a saucepan heat the cream and remaining milk until just before it comes to a boil. Whisk about 1/2 of the hot cream mixture into the egg yolk mixture, 1 ladle full at a time, to temper. Add the tempered egg mixture to the saucepan of remaining hot cream. Whisk in the cornstarch slurry. Over medium low heat, cook the mixture, stirring constantly, until it thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and pour into a gallon, zip top, freezer bag and place in an ice bath to cool completely. Process in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions.

Scrape about 1/3 of the ice cream into an 8×8 baking pan, layer in liberal drizzles of the strawberry ripple, and repeat. Freeze, covered, until solid at least 6 hours. Cut out 5 rounds using the same cutter you used for the cake rounds (3 1/2 inches). Place the ice cream rounds on top of the cake rounds and return to the freezer while you make the meringue.

Swiss Meringue

3 egg white

3/4 cup sugar

pinch of salt

In a heat proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, whisk the egg whites with the sugar and salt to combine. Continue to whisk until the egg white mixture is warm, not too hot, and the sugar is dissolved. You can test this by dipping a finger into the warm egg white and rubbing it–if there are no longer any sugar granules, it is done. Using a stand (whisk attachment) or hand mixer, whip the egg whites until they become voluminous  bright white, glossy, and hold a medium-stiff peak. Ice the bombes with the swiss meringue. Toast just before serving.

 

Blueberry Doughnuts with Lemon and Cream Cheese Glaze

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Guys, it’s still winter.

There’s a slush-fest of snow outside my door and the furnace is still roaring…but, my mind is on spring and sunshine and vibrant berries. And, while I’m a weirdo who actually likes cool temps and a winter wonderland…I can’t help but get anxious for the next season while the current one wanes away. It’s just my nature.

Since I’ve had berries on my brain and lemons are currently in season, I whipped up these blueberry-studded, baked cake doughnuts. These donuts appeal to both late winter and springtime produce—bright lemon and juicy blueberries. I’m always a little heavy-handed with lemon, I like it tart and intense. There’s a good bit of zest in the batter and glaze, as well as lemon juice for extra tang. The berries turn into juicy, purple gems once baked and their sweet nature pairs perfectly with the bracing lemon. Both are folded into a just-sweet, vanilla batter.  The baked doughnuts are cakey, tender, and only benefit from a generous slathering of creamy-tart glaze. Cream cheese glaze just makes sense when we’re talking berries and lemon.

Blueberry Doughnuts with Lemon + Cream Cheese Glaze

Makes about 8 doughnuts.

Adapted from Doughnuts: Simple and Delicious Recipes to Make at Home by Lara Ferroni

These are baked doughnuts. I use a standard, easy to find doughnut pan for this recipe (this one). If you don’t have/want a doughnut pan, go ahead and make these into doughnut muffins. They will be a different shape, but just as delicious. The recipe makes about 8 doughnuts, though I yielded 10 as I filled the pan a bit less than I should have. Don’t be like me.

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup sugar

2 teaspoons lemon zest

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature

1/2 cup milk

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 egg, beaten

1/2 cup (be generous) blueberries (washed and dried well) + 1 tablespoon flour

Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Lightly spray a doughnut pan with cooking spray or grease with butter. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. In a separate, small bowl rub the lemon zest into the sugar until fragrant. Whisk the lemon-sugar into the flour mixture. Rub the butter into the flour mixture—like you would for making pastry dough—until it resembles a coarse meal.

In a large measuring cup, whisk together the milk and lemon juice and allow to sit for a minute or two—introducing acid to the milk will make it curdle and thicken, that’s okay! (if a recipe calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any, acidulated  milk will work in a pinch). Whisk in the vanilla and the egg, to combine well. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and fold to until just combined. Toss the washed and dried blueberries with the 1 tablespoon of flour, shaking off excess, and fold into the batter.

Using either a plastic zip-top bag or a piping bag, fill the bag with the batter, cut a hole at the tip (or corner), large enough to allow a blueberry through, and pipe batter into the prepared pan, about halfway up each doughnut-well. Bake in the center of the oven for 8-10 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a doughnut comes out clean and the edges are lightly golden. Allow to cool a few minutes in the pan before turning out. Repeat with remaining batter. Allow to cool to room temperature before glazing.

Lemon Cream Cheese Glaze

2 ounces cream cheese, softened (cut from an 8 ounce block)

1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 teaspoon lemon zest

1-3 tablespoons lemon juice

Using a wooden spoon, beat the cream cheese until creamy (if it’s already soft, this will be a breeze), stir in the confectioner’s sugar until combined, stir in the lemon zest, and begin thinning out the glaze with the lemon juice—beginning with 1 tablespoon and adding more until you reach your desired consistency.