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Easy Chocolate “Wartime” Cake

4 Mar

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Raise your hand if you don’t like mayo?! There’s always someone who has a weird, jiggly story to kill the mayo buzz. When you think about it though, mayo is just egg yolk, oil and vinegar. No bigs.

Over the years, I have learned to get along with mayo (especially when you add garlic and call it aioli). If you are still not ready to commit to slathering your sandwich with mayo, maybe a taste of this awesome chocolate cake will get you past your fear…

Mayonnaise is the secret weapon in this cake. It replaces the butter and all but one egg.

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This recipe hails from Cooks Illustrated’s The Science of Good Cooking cookbook. It is a “wartime” cake because ingredients like butter and fresh eggs were scarce during World War II, so cooks came up with cakes that worked without them–often using mayonnaise.

Ready for some science?! Mayonnaise contains lecithin, an emulsifier that helps keep the oil in the mayonnaise suspended in micro-droplets. These small droplets aid the oil’s ability to coat the flour’s protein particles, leading to a supremely tender cake. The test kitchen even tried replacing the mayonnaise with butter and an egg, and oil and an egg, but those cakes were less moist and the crumb less velvety than the mayo cake. The final recipe calls for an extra egg paired with the mayonnaise to give the cake an even richer flavor and springier texture. Now thats my kind of science.

Just a little more tasty science: To deepen the chocolate flavor of the cake, the recipe calls for “blooming” the cocoa powder and a touch of chocolate in hot coffee. Cocoa powder contains solid particles of fat and protein with tiny flavor molecules (!) trapped inside. Dissolving the cocoa in hot water causes these flavor molecules, which would otherwise remain imprisoned, to burst forth, amplifying overall flavor. The roasted notes of the coffee reinforce the nutty, roasted notes in the chocolate.

Are you on board yet?

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If you get bogged down with the science, just remember that this is an “Easy Chocolate Cake.” It’s one of those dump-and-stir cakes: mix the dry, mix the wet, dump and stir.

Whether it’s the mayo, the coffee, the cocoa or the science, this is the darn best chocolate cake I have had in a long time, if ever. There’s a magical top layer that forms after baking that I just wanted to cut off and call my own.

If you have any birthdays, occasions, celebrations or cravings, this is the cake you should make. And by gosh, get over your fear of mayo!

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Dust the cake with confectioner’s sugar, dollop it with whipped cream, or drizzle it with yogurt (Greek vanilla works nicely!). My new favorite crunch-tastic topping? Rainbow sprinkles!

Easy Chocolate Cake

from The Science of Good Cooking cookbook

Serves 8

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 cup (7 ounces) sugar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 1/2 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa

2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped fine

1 cup brewed coffee, hot

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1 large egg, room temperature

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

confectioners’ sugar or whipped cream or yogurt (optional)

1. Heat the oven to 350. Grease 8-inch square baking pan, line with parchment paper, grease parchment, and flour pan.

2. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt together in large bowl. In separate bowl, combine cocoa and chocolate. Pour hot coffee over cocoa mixture and let sit, covered, for 5 minutes. Gently whisk mixture until smooth, let cool slightly, then whisk in mayonnaise, egg, and vanilla. Stir mayonnaise mixture into flour mixture until combined.

3. Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth top with rubber spatula. Bake cake until toothpick inserted in center comes out with few crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

4. Let cake cool in pan on wire rack, 1 to 2 hours. Cut into squares or rectangles and serve either straight from the pan or out of a serving plate. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, dollop with whipped cream or yogurt, or enjoy as is.

Delicious Northern California…

14 Aug

Lip-smacking, finger-licking, shirt-staining delicious.

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This was my backyard for a week. Deep in the Sierra Mountains, along the Yuba River.

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There were swimming holes and waterfalls…

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…and “Mountain Men.”

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We went swimming everyday. So many delicious (and freezing cold!) rivers and lakes.

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Check out this tiny baby snake found mid-hike. Woah nature!

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I also spent a few days in Sonoma County, and checked out 2 fairs: the Sonoma County Fair and the Gravenstein Apple Fair.

I saw lots of livestock (including alpacas and miniature horses), but these baby pigs were my favorite. Floppy ears get me every time.

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Whenever I am in the area, I must grab a few scones and a hunk of cheesy bread from Wild Flour Bread Bakery in Freestone. The Gravenstein apple cheddar scone hit the spot for me this trip. And the fougasse bread is always packed with a few cheeses and some aromatic vegetables. The loaf is best warmed and gooey.

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I didn’t know a latte this big could exist. The lavender latte from Taylor Maid was a real treat. Ooo tummy.

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Food was growing everywhere I turned–there were sunflowers and grapevines, bushes of wild blackberries and strawberries, apple trees and pear trees, even some avocados and figs. But nothing screamed mid-August to me like the fresh basil from the yard, with plump, juicy tomatoes. Gosh, good tomatoes are SO good.

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Summer is almost over. Do something delicious.

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La Colombe, NYC

5 Feb

Strong coffee. Pretty dishes, people-watching, chit-chats. Start your day. Take a break. Treat yourself.

http://lacolombe.com/

>More NY Eats

15 Jan

>So I have done a LOT of eating in the last few weeks. I knocked off quite a few hot spots from my self-made restaurant list. There are still so many more places I have yet to eat in New York City, but, oh, I’ll be back. Oh, and I’ve done a smidge of cooking/baking too…Spicy Chili, Browned Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies

Ippudo is currently at the top of my list for dinner in New York City. Ramen. Pork buns–gorgeous pillows filled with perfectly cooked and seasoned pork. Cute furniture made for those dining in two’s. This place is busy its loud its soooooo good. They will tell you that you have to wait 2 hours on a Wednesday night, but just go around the corner for a beer and come back in 30 min. Stick it out, it won’t take a whole 2 hours. I got in after 40 minutes. And it is sooo worth the wait. Just don’t make the mistake of attempting to come here with 6 people. Stick to 2 people. Or come for lunch. But yes, Ippudo is my new favorite New York City dinner spot.


Let’s talk coffee. Stumptown Coffee Roasters. Inside the Ace Hotel. Very trendy, extremely good coffee. There is a lobby inside the hotel where a slew of trendy New Yorkers sip their coffee (or at night their cocktails) and type away at their laptops, stick their nose into a good book, or chat with an old friend. Stumptown is originally from Portland, Oregon. Who’s up for a road-trip to Portland?


Shake Shack.
I have no photo because I gobbled this thing up. Yes I ate a burger, a fast-food burger, outside in the snow after a yoga class. Fast food and yoga. Oh yes, I did it. And there was hardly a line, which is a rare occurrence at any Shake Shack location. This burger was good but nothing to rave about. The bun was indeed soft and buttery (compared to the toasty crisper In-N-Out bun). They have yummy shakes, too. My friend ordered a cold shake in the cold weather. And then this friend ordered a hot chocolate from Stumptown right after he finished his chocolate shake. This boy knows how to live right.

Speaking of burgers, have you been to 5 Napkin Burger yet? 10 oz of burger. 10 freaking ounces! Caramelized onions. Gruyere cheese. Absolutely no lettuce, no tomato, no pickle. This is a good place to go after seeing a matinee showing of Memphis.


‘Wich Craft. Nice little spot for a sandwich. Grilled cheddar with smoked ham, pear, & mustard on cranberry-pecan bread.


Rue 57. I’m not crazy about Midtown/Times Square. It is too touristy, too crowded, and too corporate. But let’s say you have a brother who works as a lawyer in Midtown. You meet him for dinner. Rue 57 is a fine place to dine. It is kind of funny in that it has Parisian cuisine, American classics, and sushi, but somehow it works. Below you will see a few of the many menu options at Rue 57.

Beet Salad: frisee, baby greens, sliced bosc pear, baked goat cheese, orange vinaigrette

Special: Baked clams with sun-dried tomatoes (I enjoyed the clams however my brother thought they were too rubbery; he’s had better, he says)

Miso Glazed Chilean Sea Bass with Baby Spinach

E.A.T. Oh, the Upper East Side. You really are something. E.A.T. is a gourmet deli/restaurant and if you are itching to see a NYC celeb, I recommend going here for some good eats and good sees.

Abraco Espresso

12 Jan

Of course I am halfway across the country and I find myself indulging in the familiar…

I will first let you read the little sum up of this tiny East Village espresso bar by the New York Times:

There are three things you need to know about the…cafe Abraço Espresso: it’s tiny, it brews excellent coffee, and the little food that it serves is way beyond coffee-shop caliber.

(Also, it’s named for the Gilberto Gil song “Aquele Abraço,” which means “that hug.” That helps to explain why it has a record player and a sheaf of ’70s jazz and Tropicalia on vinyl.)

The coffee duties are split between two of the partners: Jamie McCormick, who moved back to New York after a decade-plus trip to the San Francisco area spent mostly at the restaurant Oliveto and partly at Blue Bottle Coffee, and Amy Linton, a barista formerly at Ninth Street Espresso.

Both fashion espresso drinks that rank the shop among the city’s finest. More distinctive still is the drip coffee, ground and prepared in a Melitta filter to order ($2.50). The extra few minutes the process takes produce a full-bodied cup with a distinctly fruity character and refreshing acidity.

 Oliveto restaurant? Blue Bottle Coffee? These Bay Area spots are all too familiar with my leisure and work lives back home. I have to go to this New York espresso bar to check it out.

I went. I ordered an Americano and it was indeed “full-bodied…distinctly fruity…and [had] refreshing acidity.” I stood at the tiny counter, sipping away whilst people-watching: Two young 20-something women, the artsy type, chatting away about books and bars all the while flirting with the barista. A man with his young daughter stop in for a mid-morning snack–pain perdu, a French-toast dolloped with pastry cream and chocolate spread, wrapped in paper to eat on-the-go. Couples, parents, friends, and soloists like myself all trickled in to Abraco for a little perk to their day.

 

Abraco Espresso

86 East 7th Street (right around the corner from Yoga to the People at St. Mark’s Pl)

Closed Mondays

Post-caffeine, I headed around the corner to take a class at Yoga to the People. YTTP is a go-to yoga spot for me in the Bay Area. The original studio is right in the heart of New York City’s Lower East Side. I shan’t pass up the opportunity to attend a class and compare. Well folks, the New York class is exactly the same as the ones in the Bay Area, with a lot more people. Crowded. Get there early.

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