Chocolate Bread with Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone

For me, recipes are not necessarily my own unique creations.

I read something, I saw a picture, I ate something at a restaurant or at someone's home. Someone mentioned something they had. Or, I wanted something and used what I had on hand because I was too lazy to go to the store.

The ideas comes from somewhere and I spin them.

The Chocolate Bread is a case in point. In one of my daily emails from La Cucina Italiana - in Italian - was a recipe for Pagnotta al cioccolato - Chocolate Loaf. I liked the concept, but it wasn't quite there, for me. I've had chocolate breads before and have found them to often be a bit bitter or flat. Chocolate bread should be dessert-like, not sandwich-like, in my not so humble opinion... Time to play!

And play, I did. My first loaf came out pretty good, but I thought it still could be a bit better. It was for Easter Brunch at my niece's house and I did want it to be at least as good as what everyone else was bringing... I come from a long line of great cooks and the next generation definitely ain't no slouches - and may even have a leg up on creativity! They're cooking, I'm in line with my plate! Need to up the ante...

I also think a good Chocolate Bread needs reasonably good chocolate. so I used a 78% Lindt Dark Chocolate Bar and a Cadbury Milk Chocolate Bar - and Hershey's Cocoa Powder, because I like Hershey's Cocoa. I've bought ridiculously-priced cocoa powders over the years and have found that they're generally just not worth the money. (I like Guittard Chocolate, as well - especially their Dutch Process Cocoa Powder.) I didn't want to go higher than 78% - but feel free to if you like a more bitter chocolate flavor.

Here's the first loaf before the tweaks... Right out of the oven...



This picture is what's left after three days...



Still tender with lots of nice, chocolate chunks.

Chocolate Bread

  • 450 g AP flour
  • 50 g cocoa powder
  • 25 gr sugar
  • 100 g milk
  • 220 g brewed coffee
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 100 g dark chocolate, chopped into chunks
  • 100 g milk chocolate shaved into fine pieces
  • 12 g salt
  • 12 g instant yeast
  • 1 egg white mixed with a bit of water
  • coarse sugar

Knead the flour, cocoa, salt, sugar, and yeast with the milk, vanilla, and the coffee for at least 10 minutes.

Add the two chocolates and mix well. The milk chocolate will kinda melt into the dough while the dark chocolate remains in chunks.

Place the dough in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours - or overnight.

Form into a round loaf and place it on a floured parchment-lined sheet pan. Cover and let rise for 1 hour at room temperature and then for 2 hours back in the 'fridge.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Remove loaf from 'fridge and let rest at room temperature for about 20 minutes.

Brush with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.

Make a slash down the center and bake at 425°F for 15 minutes, then lower the heat to 400°F for another 20 or so minutes.


Look-wise, they were pretty much similar - except for the flour on the first - I over-did it, a bit. But the second was a bit richer by swapping out water for coffee. It's that old coffee make chocolate chocolatier phenomenon.

If you do a lot of bread baking, you'll find the dough to be a bit different. A different feel. Just go with it - it's what it's like.



Water or coffee - they'll both work - but you definitely want chunks of good chocolate to bite into now and again.

Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone

  • 1 8oz container Mascarpone
  • 2 tbsp cocoa powder
  • 2 tbsp raspberry jam (I used seedless)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Mix and enjoy!

And don't do as I did...  I forget to bring the Chocolate Raspberry Mascarpone!

It was really good. Sorry, guys...


Chocolate Almond Torte

Making Substitutions

The other day, Sam Sifton, the NY Times Food Editor, wrote a great article on cooking with confidence.

We’re all looking for the delicious, and recipes are a good way to find it. But the idea that you have to follow an ingredients list closely to do so is bunk and always has been, unless you’re working a restaurant line. And I say that as a recipe merchant! They’re just sheet music. You can play them in all sorts of ways.

Have confidence at this strange, sheltered time!

That has been my mantra for as many years as I can remember. Well... actually, it's been "Go for it. The worst thing that can happen is you throw it all out and call for pizza."

But you get the idea... Recipes are guidelines.

It's particularly true right now, with grocery stores out of key ingredients - I find myself buying what's there, simply because what I want, isn't.

Baking is a bit more particular, but it's still a simple ratio - if a bread recipe calls for 500gr of flour, you can mix and match those flours. You may need to increase or decrease your liquid by a fraction, but... it's going to work.

Last night we caught an episode of Milk Street and they made a flourless chocolate cake with sliced almonds. Victor looked at it and said it was one we had to make. This morning, I headed into the kitchen.

The recipe called for:

  • sliced almonds - we had whole
  • semi-sweet chocolate - we had baking chocolate and milk chocolate
  • brown sugar - we had demerara

Did that stop me?!? Of course not!

Chocolate Almond Torte

I have no idea what the original was supposed to be like, but this came out stellar! Rich, moist, nutty - just a ton of flavor. The original recipe called for topping the torte with sliced almonds before baking. I didn't bother - powdered sugar worked just fine.

It's definitely worth making!

Flourless Chocolate Almond Torte

adapted from Milk Street

  • 2 1/3 cups almonds (original recipe calls for sliced)
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 4 oz baking chocolate
  • 4 oz milk chocolate (original recipe calls for 8 oz bittersweet)
  • 1 cup demerara sugar (original recipe calls for 1 cup packed brown sugar)
  • pinch salt (original recipe calls for 1 tsp)

Heat the oven to 300°F with a rack in the middle position.

Grease 9-inch round cake pan with cooking spray, line the bottom with kitchen parchment, then mist the parchment.

Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and add the vanilla; set aside.

In a food processor, process 2 cups of the almonds until finely ground, 20 to 30 seconds. Add the chocolate and pulse until the chocolate is finely ground, 10 to 15 pulses. Add the sugar and salt, then process until well combined, about 30 seconds, scraping the bowl as needed. With the machine running, gradually pour in the egg mixture. Continue processing until the batter is smooth and homogeneous, about another 15 to 20 seconds. Remove the blade and scrape the bowl.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until the center feels firm when gently pressed and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out with moist, fudgey crumbs attached, 30 to 35 minutes.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Run a knife around the sides of the cake, then invert onto a rack. Peel off the parchment and reinvert the cake onto a platter. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Gotta say... it came out great.

Sunday in the Kitchen

I've been working on a loaf of sourdough raisin walnut bread for a few days, now... The original recipe I used called for it being baked in a bread tin. The first time I made it, I made it free-form and really liked it. I thought I'd give the bread tin a shot this time.

It wasn't a good idea.

There are several areas where I could have screwed this one up, but I think the main one was having it spend the night in the refrigerator. In the grand scheme of things that shouldn't have made a huge difference since it was out for 24 hours after, but... after forming - cold - I should have let it warm up - it just didn't rise as I thought it should. I baked it off, anyway, and while it was baking decided I needed to make a real loaf of bread.

Our friend, Lori, in Cairo, had posted a recipe for milk bread I had made a while back. Feeling dejected by what I knew was going to be a bum loaf of bread, I started making it while the other was still in the oven. I wanted a loaf of bread!

I ended up with two of them! The raisin walnut - that was actually fig walnut because I had figs but no raisins - actually came out pretty good. Not the stellar loaf I was looking for, but it had a great crust and a great flavor. It's a bit dense, but not in a bad way. It's gonna make some awesome toast in the morning! I think this one will always be free-form. Or... It may never be made, again. I just realized I tossed the printed recipe and have no idea where the original is... Oh, well... There's lots of bread recipes out there!

The Milk Bread, on the other hand, came out perfect. At least it looks perfect. I didn't cut into it, yet, but I have that feeling...

I've made this recipe as rolls a few times but never as a loaf. The recipe calls for cutting the dough into six portions and running them three in a row on either side of the pan. Being the rebel that I am - and not learning from not following the last recipe - I lined them up across.

It's a really pretty loaf.

Since the first loaf came out so well, we had it with dinner - a throw-together ground beef stroganoffy sorta concoction served over mashed potatoes.

It came out pretty good. Nonna had a fried egg.

And then... It's Oscar Night, so I needed a new dessert.

This time it was cookies. Something we haven't had in a while. I chopped up semi-sweet and milk chocolates for the chips - I had some left from Christmas. They came out excellent!

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies


  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup milk-chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips


Heat oven to 350°F. Cream the butter and sugars in a large bowl. Add the egg and vanilla. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. On low speed, add the dry mixture to the butter mixture. Beat until fully incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Form the dough into approximately 1 1/2-inch balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart.

Bake until the centers are just set, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks.

We're rooting for Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri for Best Picture, and Frances McDormand for Best Actress. I really, really like Woody Harrelson, and if he won Best Supporting Actor I would be fine with it, but Sam Rockwell was super excellent. I think he has it. That's also okay!


Jacques Pepin's Individual Chocolate Nut Pies

The newest cook book to come into the house is Essential Pepin. To say that I am enamoured of Jacques Pepin would be an understatement. I love his cooking, his take on food - and his take on life. The book is something like 6 years old, now, but it's new to me - and something that's never going to go out of style.

I especially like how he has evolved and how all of his various cooking positions have had an impact on what he does, today. We catch his show on PBS and after seeing a few of the things he was making, I knew I needed to get the book.

Recipes run from basic and simple to more complex -but with a bit of practice, there's nothing that can't be made by anyone who really wants to make it. As in all things, you get out of it what you put in.

Today, I decided to put in chocolate.

Victor is making dinner, tonight, so I needed something to do to dirty up the kitchen while he was trying to get dinner together - using up counter space, equipment, the oven, sink... We work well in the kitchen together...

Since it's raining outside, Blanche was in there, as well - laying right in the middle of the floor - moving only to get in the way somewhere else. Meanwhile, Nonna was in looking for a fresh water bottle and  half-dozen coconut cookies.

The kitchen is the heart of the home, right?!? There are times when I think ours is having a coronary.

But here we go. I'm copying the recipe here because I found it on numerous sites on the web. I made the recipe as written, but I used walnuts in place of pecans and pistachios in place of the pine nuts. It's what I had in the house and cooking is more about using what you have than buying more things.

Individual Chocolate Nut Pies

Jacques Pepin

Serves 4


  • 5 graham crackers (3 1/2 ounces)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar


  • 1/2 cup mixed nuts (pecans, almonds) - I used walnuts and almonds
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts - I used pistachios
  • 3 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into pieces
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup light corn syrup
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


Process the graham crackers, butter, canola oil, and sugar in a food processor for 1 minute, until the mixture is finely chopped, mealy, and starting to come together.

Divide the mixture among four 1-cup ramekins or aluminum muffin cups and press it evenly over the bottom and up the sides of each ramekin.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.


Process the pecans and almonds in the food processor for a few seconds to coarsely chop them. Mix with the pine nuts and divide among the lined ramekins.

Melt the chocolate with the butter in a bowl in a microwave oven or in a double boiler. Add the cornstarch and mix well, then add the corn syrup and mix well. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.

Divide the mixture among the ramekins.

Arrange the ramekins on a cookie sheet, and bake in the middle of the oven for about 20 minutes, until the filling is set but still somewhat soft in the middle. Let cool to lukewarm or room temperature on a rack.

At serving time, invert each of the pies onto a dessert plate. Carefully turn the pies right side up and serve.

Copyright © 2011 by Jacques Pépin. 


Okay... these are ridiculously good. As in ridiculously good. The combination of the rich, fudgy chocolate and the crunchy nuts, held together with the graham crackers is unbelievably good. And it was ridiculously easy to put together!

This could be made with ingredients already found in many kitchens. While I get the mixed nuts - and I want to use pine nuts next time because I really like their taste and texture - 3/4 cup of any nuts at all would work.

So... make this one soon. You'll be glad you did!




Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

I just love that Victor is retired.

Little things like walking into the house after work and having the house smell like fresh-baked cookies just can't be beat.

Seriously can't be beat.

And it works on so many levels... the way the house smells, the fact that there's absolutely no mess, anywhere, the huge plate of inviting cookies just waiting for someone to start devouring them... It's a rough life I'm forced to live. But I'll do it.

Cookies really are fun - to make and to eat. While I haven't met too many I haven't liked, my preference for a drop cookie usually is a softer cookie. Not an underbaked cookie - but a naturally softer interior achieved by the perfect sugar/butter/egg/flour ratio.

These achieve this.

The recipe is pretty much the basic Better Homes and Garden's Peanut Butter Cookie recipe - from our tattered and worn BH&G Cook Book. He added the chocolate chips and pecans because we had them in the house.

When thinking about cookies, don't overlook the classics. Those old recipes usually used just a few quality ingredients that you probably already have in the house and always come out great.

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • Granulated sugar

In a large mixing bowl beat butter and peanut butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour, chocolate chips, and pecans. Cover and chill dough about 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll balls in additional granulated sugar to coat. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Using the tines of a fork, flatten balls by making crisscross marks on top. Bake for 7 to 9 minutes or until bottoms are light brown. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

Quick and easy - and sure to put a smile on your face!

Guinness, Whiskey, and Bailey's Cupcakes

I went into work this morning just as the snow was beginning to fall. 30 minutes after punching in, I was punching out - no need to hang around on a snow-day.

8:30 in the morning found me in the kitchen with a recipe for cupcakes that a coworker had mentioned - made with Guinness, Irish Whiskey, and Bailey's Irish Cream.

8:30 ayem - definitely time to break out the booze and start baking, right?!? Especially this booze - Readbreast is some seriously good Irish Whiskey. Seriously good. I've always liked my Jameson, but this really takes it up a couple of notches.

I got out all the necessary ingredients and realized I didn't have a bottle of Guinness! I did have a bottle of Sierra Nevada stout, however, so that had to suffice. I wasn't going to head out into the Blizzard of '17 for a bottle of beer when I had something at home that would work.

The recipe comes from the Browneyed Baker. It's her most-requested recipe, so I'm not going to reprint it, here. Head over there and grab the recipe. Suffice to say, it is worth making.

First thing is making the batter. Guinness, cocoa powder, and butter are all melted and mixed together. It's a thinner batter than many cake recipes you may be used to. I dripped it everywhere and made a mess filling the cupcake holders. Messes R Us.

After the cupcakes cool, you make a ganache with more chocolate and Irish Whiskey. I used the Readbreast, today, just because I wanted to show it off. I have Jameson's in the cabinet, as well - and next time I make them I'll use it.

Then it's cut a little hole in the cupcake and fill with the ganache.


And then top with the Bailey's Irish Cream frosting.

The recipe makes 2 dozen cupcakes - more or less. I got 21, today, but may have been a bit too generous with the first few... I did use a scoop, but I think the first ones were a bit fuller. No harm.

And what do those yummy cupcakes look like inside?!?

The cupcake is chocolatey, moist, and just a tad boozey. You taste the stout but it's not overpowering. It's nice. Different. The whiskey ganache is pure decadence. As in pure decadence. It is really rich and a little goes a long way. And the icing really is the icing on the cake. The Bailey's really comes through in it - all the frosting is is butter, powdered sugar, and the liqueur, so there's nothing to mask it.

I really do suggest you stop what you're doing and head right over to Browneyed Baker and make a batch, today!


Chocolate and Sour Cherry Torta

Easter treat that deserved a post of its own!


  • 1¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces plus more for greasing pan


  • 3 large eggs
  • 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate (70%), finely chopped
  • ½ cup blanched almonds
  • ⅓ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 1½ cups sour cherries in syrup, drained (from 24-ounce jar)
  • 1 bittersweet chocolate bar for shaving

For Crust: Place flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor; process for a few seconds to combine. Add butter, and process until mixture resembles coarse meal, about 10 seconds. With machine running, add 3 tablespoons ice water in a slow, steady stream through the feed tube, just until the dough holds together. Do not process for more than 30 seconds. Turn out dough onto a work surface; flatten to form a disc. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or up to 1 day before using.

Heat oven to 350º with rack in middle. Grease the 9-inch springform pan with butter, then dust with flour. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to a 12-inch round. Fit crust into pan. Chill in refrigerator until ready to fill.


For Filling: Separate eggs, placing 3 yolks in one bowl and 2 whites in another (save remaining white for another use). In a heatproof bowl in a microwave oven, heat chopped chocolate at medium power at 15-second intervals, stirring between intervals, until melted, about 1½ minutes; set aside to cool. In the bowl of a food processor, combine almonds, flour and salt; pulse until mixture resembles fine flour.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat together butter and 7 tablespoons sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. With machine running, add egg yolks one at a time, incorporating between additions. In a slow and steady stream, add melted chocolate. Reduce speed to low, then add almond flour, mixing just until incorporated.


Fold in half the cherries. In a large, clean bowl, beat together egg whites and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar until shiny, soft peaks form.


Gently but thoroughly fold whites into chocolate mixture. Spread remaining cherries in bottom of prepared crust, then pour in batter.


Bake until filling is puffed and just set, 50 to 55 minutes. Let cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes, then run a thin, sharp knife around edge of pan to loosen. Remove pan sides. Let cake cool completely.

Just before serving cake, hold chocolate bar with a paper towel. Pass a vegetable peeler over the side of the bar to create shavings. Pile shavings on top of cake. Dust with cocoa.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

I got a text at work on Saturday to bring home some whipping cream. Victor said I wouldn't be sorry.

Once again, the boy was right. I wasn't sorry. I was thrilled. Flourless Chocolate Cake was awaiting me!

Victor found the recipe years ago from Tyler Florence and has tweaked it over the years - and every time he makes it it is better than the time before. It is truly one of my most favorite desserts. It is dense and fudgy with a wicked good chocolate flavor. It calls for a full pound of chocolate - and the better the quality, the better the cake.

Flourless Chocolate Cake

  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 9 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1 tablespoon
  • 1/4 cup strong black coffee
  • 2 cups heavy cream, cold
  • Powdered sugar, for dusting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan.

Put the chocolate and butter into the top of a double boiler (or in a heatproof bowl) and heat over (but not touching) about 1-inch of simmering water until melted. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar in a mixing bowl until light yellow in color. Whisk a little of the chocolate mixture into the egg yolk mixture to temper the eggs – this will keep the eggs from scrambling from the heat of the chocolate; then whisk in the rest of the chocolate mixture.  Add the coffee and mix well.

Beat the egg whites in a mixing bowl until stiff peaks form and fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the cake is set, the top starts to crack and a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out with moist crumbs clinging to it, 25 to 30 minutes. Let stand 10 minutes, then remove sides of pan.

Serve at room temperature dusted with powdered sugar and the whipped cream.

Make one. You won't be sorry.



Guinness Brownies

Guinness and Chocolate. Talk about a flavor match made in Gastronomic Heaven!

I had a recipe for a Guinness Chocolate Cake years ago that I have sadly lost, but here's something that can ease the pain a bit - Guinness Brownies!

I found a brownie recipe online quite a while ago that had potential but wasn't quite it, so I put a note in my calendar to revisit it for St Paddy's Day. I thought it would be something fun to bring into work...

It was something fun to bring into work!

Since I was baking for more than a few, I made this in an 11 x 17 half-sheet pan, but you will probably want to make it in a standard 9x13 pan...

Guinness Brownies

The Brownies

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 8 oz semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 12 oz bottle Guinness
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Caramel Topping

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cane syrup (or corn syrup)
  • pinch salt
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips

To make brownies:

Preheat oven to 350°.

Grease 9x13 pan and set aside.

In a medium bowl, slowly melt chocolate and butter over simmering water or microwave. Blend together until smooth. Add both sugars and mix until fully incorporated. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well before adding the next.

Sift together flour, chocolate, and salt. Add in three additions alternating with the Guinness.

Stir in the chocolate chips and spread evenly into pan.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until pick comes out clean.

Let cool slightly while making topping.

To make topping:

Mix butter, brown sugar, cane/corn syrup, and salt in a small saucepan until all is melted. Stir in sweetened condensed milk and heat to just below boil. Remove from g=heat and stir in white chocolate chips until melted and everything is combined.

Pour over warm brownies and allow to set for about an hour. For best results, refrigerate overnight.

**To make in a sheet pan, follow the above instructions but spread batter into pan and bake about 15 minutes.

These really did come out good. You definitely taste the Guinness, but it's a pleasing compliment to the chocolate. I see a tradition in the making...

Chocolate from Modica


Okay... It's 10:50am and I just did something I never do at this time of day. I went into the kitchen and cut myself a piece of cake.

I had to. Really.

Last night I made a simple yellow cake and then made a chocolate frosting. The cake is my go-to yellow from Better Homes and Gardens. Been making it for years. The icing?!? Chocolate-with-a-twist.

I opened the cupboard to get down the cocoa powder when I saw the little chocolate discs we brought back from Sicily.  An icing was born.

An O.M.G. Icing!

Yeah... this one may just be the best one I've ever made. Ridiculously good.


Rich and creamy and just screaming with intense chocolate flavor. It's flippin' awesome.

I creamed 1 stick of butter with about 5 cups of powdered sugar. I added 2 tbsp vanilla and 125 grams - a tad less than 4 1/2 ounces - melted 100% Modica chocolate. I then drizzled in maybe a quarter-cup of heavy cream to thin.

Total awesomeness.

The cake itself is no-fail and holds up to layer-splitting and any number of fillings or frostings. Today, it's the perfect vehicle for getting that frosting into my mouth.

Yellow Cake

  • 3 cups cake flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350°. Butter and flour two 8″ pans.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Place butter in mixer bowl. Beat for 3 minutes until the butter is light and creamy.

Add the sugar, 1/4 cup at a time, beating 1 minute after each addition, scraping the bowl occasionally. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well before adding the next.

Add vanilla. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the buttermilk. Mix just until blended.

Spoon the batter into pans. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

I know I rant and rave about the quality of foods here in the USofA all the time. We have a few really good things, but damn - the small manufacturers in Europe do such a better job of making quality foods. While we're so focused on market share and mass-production and how to make something even cheaper, they're slugging along making food that sings quality and perfection. Modica chocolate is a perfect example. Made in small batches by small companies and unsurpassed in excellence.

Search out some Chocolate of Modica, if you can. It's worth it.


Chocolate Chocolate Cookies



After yesterday's Coca-Cola Cake Disaster, I had to come up with something new. My first thought was to make a peach pie with the frozen peaches from last summer - but cookies were quicker. Sometimes speed trumps desire. (I may be making that pie this weekend, though. I want the freezer space back!)

I've been making variations of this cookie for a long time and started mixing in mini peanut butter cups about 5 years ago. What I keep forgetting is that mixing the mini peanut better cups in with the mixer tends to break them up - they really should be mixed in by hand.

I'll probably forget next time, too.

This recipe calls for regular cocoa powder - not Dutch-processed.  Cocoa that is Dutched is treated with alkali to neutralize the cocoa acid, so baking soda doesn't react properly with it. Dutch-processing makes for a darker and more complex cocoa while natural cocoa powders like Hershey's, Ghirardelli, and most other American brands are lighter in color and fruitier in flavor.

Most single-origin and other top-shelf cocoa powders are generally natural. In most cases, it's just a personal preference, but remember that if the recipe calls for baking soda - you need to use natural cocoa.

If you only have Dutch-process, the workaround is to add 1/4 tsp of vinegar with the vanilla to add the acid back into the recipe.

Chocolate Chocolate Cookies

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp espresso powder
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cubes (1 cup) butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 12 oz mini peanut butter cups
  • 1 cup chocolate chunks

Preheat oven to 350°.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder, and salt. Beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and mix well.

Mix in flour mixture until just combined. Stir in mini peanut butter cups and chocolate chunks.

Use a heaping #30 scoop (a good 2 tablespoons) and place about 2 inches apart onto ungreased baking sheets.

Bake about about 16 minutes.

The recipe made 24 over-sized cookies. That will get us through to the weekend. I do think a peach pie is in order...


Coca-Cola Cake FAIL



I just threw out a cake. A homemade cake. That I made.

I have to admit that I have not thrown out too many cakes in my life. I'm a cake-eater and - for better or worse - can eat just about any of them out there. But I met my match, tonight.

I don't drink soda as a rule, but a couple times a year I can go for an ice-cold Coke. Real Coke. The stuff made in every country but the USofA. - with sugar - and not high fructose corn syrup. At $1.25 a bottle, it's pricey enough that I'm not downing six-packs of the stuff, but eminently affordable to have around. There's been a bottle in the cupboard for a couple of months that I first thought I'd use to make a BBQ sauce. Today, out of the blue, I decided to make a Coca-Cola cake.

I should have made the BBQ sauce.

I got the recipe from the Coca-Cola website. I had done a bit of searching and just about every recipe out there was identical. I thought I'd go with the pro. It was horrible. The cake was moist and all - but it just had no flavor.  And the icing was nothing but sugar-flavored sugar.

Victor summed it up perfectly: "All I can taste is sweet. There is no flavor, at all - just cloying sweet."

What a disappointment.

I went back and read comments on the Coke site and while a couple of folks didn't like it, either, we're in the minority. Most folks who have made it love it.

I have to admit I didn't know what to expect because I had never had one, before, but the ingredient list should have given me a bit of an alert - 2 cups of sugar and a cup of Coke is going to make a sweet cake no matter what else goes in it. And the icing was just more sugar and more Coke.

I guess it would have been nice if there had been a hint of Coke flavor - but it was buried under all the sugar.

Oh well... Live and learn.