5 weeks ago
Oct 29, 2010
I'm a sucker for food porn. Oh, wipe that prudish scowl off your face. I know you've stood at the shadowy end of the cookbook isle many a time, perving over glossy spreads that sent lustful messages to your tummy and those traitorous salivary glands, and you thought, "I must have that!" Do not be ashamed of your desires, let your inner food-slut out.
One of my Pasadena blogger friends linked a chocolate cake recipe online. It was intriguing, and came with an absolutely smutty photo of the cake itself. Unfortunately, the recipe contained some gluten-free fussiness. I'm from the old country; I like my gluten, thankyouverymuch. However, the use of banana, molasses, and ground almonds in a chocolate cake tickled my fancy, so I ventured forth to create my own, simplified version.
Baking lies at the crossroads of art, alchemy and butter. It's all about the balance of flavors, wet and dry ingredients, temperature and timing. It gets more complicated when you take only certain components of an existing recipe, and decide to experiment. Add the element of metric conversions, and the outcome is unpredictable; you may discover gunpowder.
1 stick (4 oz) butter (softened at room temperature)
1 cup all purpose flour
4 oz dark chocolate (60% cacao or higher)
3/4 cup dark molasses*
3 tbs ground almonds (or hazelnut flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1 ripe banana (mashed)
pinch of salt
some brown sugar
Preheat over to 325º F
Butter a loaf pan and dust it with brown sugar.** Set Aside.
In a large mixing bowl mix together flour, ground almonds, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Set aside.
In a bowl mix butter and molasses till smooth and creamy. (Keep a scraper handy, so you can scrape down the sides of the bowl.)
Add the eggs one by one, fully incorporating them in-between.
Mix in the melted chocolate.
Mix in the banana.
Add the flour mix, and blend well.
Pour into the loaf pan and bake 30-40 minutes, until a toothpick or skewer inserted comes out dry. (Some use knives, but skewers leave smaller holes.) Let it cool.
It's my first time making this, and if there's anything to complain about is that it hasn't risen as much as I thought it would. Perhaps more baking powder is in order? Otherwise it's good - moist, chocolaty, and has just the right amount of sweetness. It goes well naked or with jam.
I'm thinking, one could add chopped walnuts or pecan to the cake.
*Molasses usually come in a thick liquid form, but I use Billington's Natural Dark Brown Molasses, and it comes in a sticky, but granulated mass - like brown sugar. I found this product on the shelves of the local supermarket, and it sent me on a molasses-themed self-discovery. I was surprised to learn that it's made by a UK company. They are organic and fair trade, so even better. In the US their products are available in some supermarkets, and on Amazon.
**It's a common practice to dust a greased pan with flour when baking, to help the baked goods separate from the pan. However, when it's something sweet, one can use sugar instead of flour. You'd think it would make the cake stick, but not so. The sugar caramelizes during baking, adding an extra dimension of flavor to your dessert. Regular brown sugar is too clumpy for this, so I use the crystallized kind - it's commonly available in the US these days. If you don't have it, regular sugar will do.
PS. I have none of the skill, equipment, and light to shoot professional food porn. You have to live with my amateur dirty pictures.
Oct 27, 2010
It is, from now, till the end of December, and even beyond, the season of pumpkin. Time to try some new twists on the old favorites. This recipe is loosely based on Paula Deen's Gooey Pumpkin Butter Cake, that itself is a take on Gooey Butter Cake. Now, I've eaten Gooey Butter Cake before, and it's so sweet that it'll make your teeth fall out on the spot. A whole box (16 oz) of powdered sugar in the filling will do that. I've also seen Paula Deen and TV, and she's the kind of person who'd deep-fry a stick of butter and serve it with gravy. So I made some changes.
I used brown sugar, because it has nice flavor. To enhance it further I added some molasses. I believe that the dark, deep richness of molasses go exceptionally well with pumpkin. I also changed the crust (yellow cake mix, really?) to one made out of cinnamon graham crackers. It could, of course, be regular graham crackers with cinnamon added.
Gooey Pumpkin Cake
16 oz cinnamon graham crackers, ground (it can actually be slightly less)
8 tbs (4 oz) butter, melted
8 oz cream cheese, softened
15 oz can of pumpkin
8 tbs butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses
1 tbs cinnamon
1 tbs nutmeg
Preaheat oven to 350ºF
Combine the ground graham cracker and butter. Pat the mix into the bottom of a lightly buttered 13x9" baking pan.
In a large bowl beat the cream cheese and the pumpkin till smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Add sugar, cinnamon, molasses, nutmeg, and mix well.
Spread the pumpkin mix over the cake and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. It should still be jiggly in the middle when you take it out of the oven.