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.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

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. [/recipe]

Soft Pumpkin Sandwich Buns

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So, originally this post was supposed to be a pie…but it turned into a swamp of sour cherries and melted crumble topping, despite the perfect, flaky crust. I mean, we still ate it…but, I couldn’t bring myself to share that fugly mess.

So, I made these tender buns (haha, tender buns…I’m 5). Soft, little buns perfect for post-Thanksgiving sandwicher-y and flavored with Autumn’s ever-present flavor, pumpkin. I made these buns in advance for next Thursday’s turkey burger-ing. I think I may have mentioned before that we are not doing it up Thanksgiving-style this year, but instead making an abbreviated turkey-full dinner and then going to see Catching Fire because I REALLY want to (even though I suspect Sean is lukewarm about it, he’s also nice).

Anyway, I’m going to build these burgers, that taste like thanksgiving in a few bites, on these here buns. I’m excited about it.

Back-to-back bread posts must mean it’s a CARB-PARTY.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Soft Pumpkin Sandwich Buns

Makes about 12, 2.5 ounce buns

These bun can be made in advance (weeks!) and popped into the freezer. It takes an hour or two for them to defrost at room temperature and they are still delicious. I like to split them, spread with a little butter, and toast ‘em up before building burgers or sandwiches. 

3/4 cup warm milk (about 100˚F)

1 tablespoon honey

2 teaspoons yeast

1 large egg

1/2 cup pumpkin puree (not pie mix)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

3 1/4 cups flour, plus more for dusting

1 teaspoon salt

egg wash: 1 egg plus 1 tablespoon cream

black sesame seeds for sprinkling

Stir together the warm milk, honey, and yeast. Set aside until foamy.

Whisk the egg with the pumpkin and cooled, melted butter in a small bowl.

In a mixer fitted with the dough hook, combine the flour with the yeast + milk mixture, and the pumkin mixture. Turn the mixture on medium and mix for 8 minutes. The dough will be very sticky, we want it this way.

On a well-floured surface turn out the dough and knead it about 5-10 times, adding flour as needed to handle. The less flour you add the more tender and soft the buns will be. Place the dough ball in a greased bowl and cover with greased plastic. Allow to rise until doubled in size, at least 1 hour.

Prep two baking sheets by lining with parchment.

Punch down the dough and divide it into equal pieces—I use a scale for this and go for 2.5 ounce buns. Roll each dough piece into a ball and set on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover the buns with greased plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size. Brush the tops of the buns with egg wash and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Preheat the oven to 400˚F and bake 1 pan at a time for about 15 minutes, or until the buns sound hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving or freezing. [/recipe]

Kale, Apple, & Pork Potstickers

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I don’t know about you, but when i get a craving for Asian foods it hits me HARD. Like a ton of dumpling-shaped bricks and my appetite for those flavors becomes insatiable. Last week the craving hit and I high tailed it over to East Lansing to hit up my favorite Asian markets for essentials…I have two, one pan-Asian market and one Korean market, and they are conveniently located within a few blocks of each other. WIN! I like to buy round dumpling wrappers from the freezer section of the Asian market, though you could use the refrigerated wonton wrappers from the grocery store. I go for whatever brand has the shortest ingredient list. This is also where I find my favorite, crepe-like, spring/egg roll wrappers.

So when I decide to make a batch of dumplings or spring rolls or kimchi…I make A LOT. This batch of kale, apple, and pork filled potstickers were no exception. These tasty little dumplings are filled with lots of savory vegetables, apple for a little sweetness, and lots of fragrant garlic and ginger. The vegetables and apple get sauteed and sweated, which both deepens and marries the flavors, the garlic and ginger just get a few moments on the heat to retain their punchy aroma and flavor, and the pork helps to bind the filling and bring it’s delicious pork-y flavor that goes so well with the kale and apple, while the dumpling skins are the perfect chewy envelope. All of the ingredients combined make for dumplings that are basically addictive, little flavor bombs. To get the pretty pleats, just watch videos after searching “how-to pleat dumplings”. There are a ton out there, but this one is pretty simple and straight forward. Though, I never do that many pleats because I’m just not that skilled…or dedicated…the faster dumplings get in my face, the better.

So, make these for yourself (and freeze the rest), or make them to share…your friends will appreciate your dumpling skills, promise.

[recipe]

Print Recipe

Pork, Kale, and Apple Potstickers

Makes about 50 dumplings.

There’s a lot of chopping happening here and if you don’t want to spend all that time honing your knife skills like a weirdo (ahem, me…), go ahead and pulse up the filling ingredients in a food processor. Also, I like my dumplings a little on the onion-y side…feel free to switch up the filling ratios…follow your heart! This recipe makes a large batch of dumplings, which are great for freezing. It’s tough to say exactly how many dumplings you will yield…depending on how much you fill them and what size your wrappers are, but you will get a lot with this recipe.

1 cup finely chopped onion

2 cups finely chopped cabbage

1/4 cup shredded carrot

1 cup shredded apple (I used a honeycrisp)

4 cups finely chopped kale

1/2 cup sliced green onions

2 cloves finely minced garlic

2-4 teaspoons grated ginger root

1/2 pound ground pork

1 egg white

salt

40-60 round dumpling skins

water for sealing

In a large skillet over medium high heat sauté the onion, cabbage, carrot, and apple with a pinch of salt until softened and any liquid has evaporated. Add in the kale, in batches if necessary, and cook until wilted and any additional liquid evaporates. Stir in the green onions, garlic, and ginger (however much you’d like) and cook an additional minute. Taste the mixture for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Remove the vegetable mixture to a large bowl and set aside to cool completely.

Once the vegetables are completely cooled stir in the ground pork and the egg white to combine. I like to use my (clean) hands to do this. I call it the “claw-method” and I stir the mixture rapidly with my scary-claw hand in one direction until all of the ingredients are evenly distributed. I find this method also helps with keeping the filling from getting crumbly.

Pour some water into a small dish and set out your dumpling skins. You may want to cover the dumplings with a slightly damp tea towel to keep them from drying out while you form and pleat. Scoop small spoonfuls of  the vegetable-pork mixture into the center of the dumpling wrapper, lightly wet the edges with water, fold into a half moon and pleat (or just press to seal, whatever works). Repeat with remaining dumpling skins and filling.

To cook dumplings, add about 1 tablespoon of oil (or butter, melted) to a large nonstick skillet with a lid and arrange dumplings in an even layer. Add a scant 1/4 cup of water to the skillet and cook over medium-high heat with the lid on until the dumpling skins become a bit translucent, the water has evaporated, and the bottoms of the dumplings are golden. Remove from the heat and place a plate over the pan and flip out the dumplings in one fell swoop…or just remove them from the pan individually and set on a plate. I like to serve these simply with sriracha.

To freeze, place the uncooked dumplings onto a parchment-lined sheet pan in an even layer and freeze until frozen solid—a few hours. Remove the frozen dumplings from the freezer and place in a gallon-size freezer bag and place back in the freezer. Cook the same way as you would fresh dumplings with just a bit more water few more minutes of cooking time. [/recipe]