Tag Archives: chocolate

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.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

19 Jan

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My gnarly sick-brain is telling me that cake for breakfast is okay, especially if I throw in some orange segments and raw almonds.

The cake has white flour and sugar, it has chocolate chips, it has butter (a pretty small amount of butter, actually, compared to other cake recipes). But there are oats for good measure, and I mashed up a random half banana that was sitting on my counter and added it into the batter. Note the almonds and orange segments, please!

Oranges add so much color to the plate! These were navel oranges, but I have been plowing through the beautiful pink cara caras and the deep purple blood oranges, too. It’s so unfair that I’ve been eating orange segments up the wazoo all week and I’m still a snotty congested mess! For some reason, though, I can still smell and taste things, so I am spending my quarantined time at home playing in the kitchen.

My favorite step of this cake recipe, as Tracy Shutterbean also notes in her blog post, is pouring boiling water over the oats and butter (I added in a little mashed banana, too) to melt the better and partially cook the oats. So clever! I like the idea of cooking the oats slightly so that they are not totally dormant. I also like that the chocolate chips get splashed with a teeny tiny bit of bourbon (you could always use water or juice) and coated in a little flour to keep them from settling to the bottom of the pan during baking.

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As I was gathering my ingredients for the recipe, I realized that I should probably go through my pantry staples for baking. I couldn’t remember how old my baking soda was, probably at least two or three years old. My brown sugar was hard as a rock, and I had to sprinkle some water over it and whack it to un-clump. I should probably store my baking soda in the fridge, and empty brown sugar into an air-tight container instead of it’s original bag. This was all a big reminder to clean out and re-stock the pantry.

Even though I may have used some old ingredients, the cake still came out tasting great! Phew.

I almost omitted the frosting because I rarely have cream cheese laying around and I thought I could be “healthy” by just slathering it in nut butter. But who am I kidding?! Cream cheese frosting is delicious; it’s just a thin layer, and it really finishes the cake nicely. Do it.

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The measurements for some of the ingredients may seem nit-picky because I halved the original recipe. The original recipe calls for a 9″x13″ baking pan, and I just wanted to make enough cake for an 8″x8″ pan. Mostly because I only had one egg left and was too lazy to run to the store to buy another carton.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

adapted from Shutterbean; originally from Baked

serves 6-8

  • 4 oz. or 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 teaspoon bourbon
  • 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 oz. or 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cubed-at room temperature
  • 1/2 banana, mashed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon of cinnamon

for the frosting:

  • 2 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 3 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375°. Butter the sides and bottom of an 8″x 8″ baking pan.

Toss chocolate chips with bourbon in a small bowl. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the chips and toss until coated. Set aside.

Heat 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons water to boiling. Place the oats, mashed 1/2 banana, and butter in a large bowl. Pour boiling water over oat mixture. Wait 30 seconds, then stir to moisten oats and and banana, and to melt the butter. Set aside for 25-30 minutes.

Whisk egg, sugars, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and cinnamon. Fold in oatmeal, stirring until well combined. Fold in remaining flour, and then stir in chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared pan.

Bake 30-40 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 30 minutes.

To make the frosting:

Beat butter until smooth. Add cream cheese and beat until combined. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla extract until smooth (about 1 minute). If the frosting gets too soft, you may need to cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Spread a thin layer of frosting over cake. Chill for 15 minutes before serving.

Store covered cake in refrigerator for up to 3 days.

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Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding (Vegan)

4 Jan

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I’m on winter break. My last winter break as a graduate student. Nuts! It is always a strange feeling to go from being super insanely busy to having a bunch of time on my hands.

So far, I’ve spent an embarrassing number of hours watching the videos on Catherine McCord’s website, Weelicious. McCord’s recipes were developed with the intention of educating kids and involving them in the cooking process. Kids love food that looks cute, but so do adults, right?!

I’m smitten by McCord’s emphasis on short ingredient lists and easy prep methods.

While this vegan pudding is not as cute-looking as rice crispy treat balls or banana dog bites, the rich, creamy taste makes up for it. I added peanut butter to the recipe because there’s nothing like a good ol’ pb + chocolate combo to make my heart melt out of my body.

It is so fun to woo non-vegans into enjoying vegan foods. I tend to say this a lot: “You would never know it was vegan if I didn’t tell you…” But really, it’s true. Silken tofu acts as the custard in the recipe, and the flavor and punch come from good-quality cocoa powder, vanilla, peanut butter, agave and salt. I’m serious, you would never know there was tofu in the pudding…if I didn’t tell you.

Six ingredients in a blender create a quick and healthy dessert. No stove required (this would be a great dorm-room recipe!). You can even eat it right out of the blender if you want to. I won’t tell. 

Brownie points: protein from the tofu, sweetness (and possibly antioxidants, depending who you talk to…) from the cocoa, and healthy fat/fiber/protein from the peanut butter. 

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Salted Chocolate Peanut Butter Pudding (Vegan)

adapted from Weelicious

1 package of silken tofu

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/3 cup agave nectar or maple syrup

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter

1 big pinch of salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and blend until combined. Scrape down the sides and blend again to make sure everything is smooth. Sprinkle with an extra few flakes of salt and serve immediately or chilled.

Black Bean Brownies

30 Aug

I am always amazed when a brownie or cookie recipe calls for anything less than a stick of butter. Usually you see a shocking 2 sticks of butter!

As a pastry professional, I’ve learned to get over my fear of using generous amounts of butter. That’s just how the cookie crumbles in that world. But at home, I try to only use butter when I can really make it count. Less is more. I want to treat myself, but still look good, ya dig my flow?

Black beans are the new applesauce when it comes to baking. Their dark color blends in perfectly with the chocolate, and they’ve got protein and fiber that are not only good for you, but help retain the whole rich-dense brownie thing.

I live with 3 dudes who dove head first into these fudgy squares. Dudes are into black bean brownies. It especially helps to put walnut studs, extra chocolate chips, and some coarse salt on top.

I don’t have a food processor. I hope you have one because it makes life easier. If you have one, just give the beans a whir. If you are like me and do not have one, you can smash your beans with a fork or your fingers, or pour your beans into the melted chocolate/butter mixture and then use an immersion blender and get it as smooth as you can. It’s ok if there’s a little texture. It all gets baked up and masked by the chocolate anyway.

Note that I first tried to blend my beans in my blender, but the blender was too large for the small amount of beans and nothing was happening. Moral of the story, buy a food processor. I just like to take the hard way, mostly because I have no room for another kitchen gadget in my apartment.

Black Bean Brownies

makes 9-12 brownies

adapted from Joy the Baker

1/4 cup (half a stick/2 oz) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan

3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped

2 oz of the darkest dark chocolate you can find (think 72% and up), chopped

2 large eggs + 1 egg white

1/4 cup black beans, rinsed, drained, and pureed in the food processor

1 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 cup (155 g) all purpose flour

1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

walnut chunks, chocolate chips, and coarse salt for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch (9-inch is ok, too) square baking pan and line it with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang on all sides. Butter and flour the parchment paper as well.

In a small bowl, sift together all of the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Set aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Fill a medium saucepan with 2 inches of water. Bring the water to a simmer. Place the butter and chocolates in a heat-proof bowl. Place the bowl over the simmering water and stir until the chocolates and butter are melted and combined. Carefully remove the bowl from the saucepan and let it cool for a minute or two.

Whisk the eggs and white into the chocolate/butter mixture, one at a time. Next whisk in the pureed beans, sugar, and vanilla extract.

Dump the sifted dry ingredients into the mix all at once and fold and incorporate everything together with a spatula. Once thoroughly combined, pour the batter into the prepared pan. Sprinkle with walnuts, chocolate chips, and coarse salt, if using.

Bake the brownies for about 25-28 minutes. Note that brownies are better slightly underdone than overdone. Right? Right. Let the brownies cool on a wire rack for 10-20 minutes, then lift them out of the pan using the parchment overhang. Slice and enjoy.