Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Chocolate Coffee Stout Cake

The other day I picked up the new, small version of the beautiful NordicWare heritage bundt cake pan at Williams-Sonoma. Just the right size for a cake for a few girlfriends coming for the afternoon, or a cake for the weekend.

So, which cake to make? A local microbrewery makes really good beer, and that says someone who would always prefer red wine to beer, but they changed my me. My favorites are the stouts, and when I brought home a growler with coffee stout, more than drinking it ... a cake came to mind I had made a few years ago that featured chocolate stout beer. With a few tweaks, this came out really well.

stout_cake

Chocolate Coffee Stout Cake.

(makes 2 small bundt cakes or 1 regular size)
Cake:

  • 2 cups coffee or chocolate stout beer
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, plus more for the pan
  • 3/4 cup natural cocoa powder 
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 TB black strap molasses
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Chocolate glaze:
  • 1 cup chocolate couverture (or chocolate chips)
  • 1 TB creme fraiche
  • 1 TB butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 350F, with a rack in the center. 
  2. Spray 2 x 6 cup or a 11 or 12-cup capacity bundt pan with baking spray. Make sure to only fill any bundt cake  2/3 - 3/4 full. 
  3. In a saucepan, simmer the stout down to 1 1/4 cup. Remove from heat, cut the butter into small pads and to the hot beer, use a whisk and stir. Now, add in the cocoa powder, and also whisk in. Pour the mix into a metal prep bowl, and place into ice water to cool it down (if you add it too hot, it will curdle the eggs).
  4. In a separate prep bowl, mix together the flours, sugar, baking soda, and salt and set aside. 
  5. In a the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, combine the eggs, Greek yogurt, maple syrup, molasses and vanilla. Whisk well, until nicely blended and uniform in appearance. 
  6. Gradually add the (cooled) stout mixture, while stirring on a slow speed. 
  7. Spoon in the flour mixture, folding until just blended, using as few strokes as possible.
  8. The dough will be quite liquidity, don't worry.
  9. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan(s).
  10. Bake for 40 minutes if using a small bundt pan, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean (45min for a large one). You don't want to over bake this cake - err on the slightly moist side. 
  11. Remove from the oven, and turn out onto a cooling rack after seven minutes.
  12. Cool completely.
  13. In a double boiler, mix the chocolate couverture chips with the butter and the vanilla extract until the chocolate is melted. Now, stir in the creme fraiche.
  14. Keep stirring and glaze the cake with a small silicone brush. 


Saturday, April 18, 2015

Boston Strong

It is a bit eerie and sad to walk around the Boston Marathon finish in 2015. The sidelines and audience benches are all up, it is another 2 days, the runners’ expo tents are busy, the tourists pouring into town, many people obviously runners, the European ones clad in adidas gear, and there is a great excitement in the air. I never knew what a big deal the Boston marathon for Boston really is. Still, the nerves are raw from 2 years ago, the memories too vivid. Special, make-shift memorials are erected where the bomb exploded, but in true Boston strong fashion (similar to the NYC tenacity), the show (and life) does go on.

Each store along Newbury Street and Boylston Street had these Boston Strong potted Daffodils.

Good luck for the runners! Unfortunately, it looks like it will rain on Monday.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Light and warmth infused humans

Sometimes I feel humans are not much different from plants. When do the plants in the garden know that it is time and safe to grow those precious leaves and flowers? They don’t have a calendar. It must be sensing based --- sensing that it is warm and that there is plenty of sunshine. Humans are similar --- as soon as we ‘feel’ (sense) that the temperatures rise to a certain degree, the sun shines long hours and it is warm consistently for a few days it seems like we are infused by some life nectar, too, which provides energy to run long distances and want to go places.

At least that is what happens to me and what brought me to Boston.

In Boston, a lot more people seem to feel it.

While the nature here at Boston Commons is on the cusp of blooming, the people are more than ready to get in the streets and eat outside again.

The city gets ready for more long distance roamers…

Yes, that is the final of the Boston marathon.

It feels a bit eery,sad and raw to walk by all those stores and places where just 2 years ago this terrible tragedy happened. But then, Boston is boston strong, and everyone does their best to put it behind them.

The Apple watches are in store, but not ready for sale yet. I once had an ipod nano I could strap to an armband. It turned me off this idea because it was rather large and clunky and I was afraid I would smash it into something. But the Apple watches seem to be able to connect to an Iphone via bluetooth to get messages?! Or do they have wifi? That would make them interesting.

Spring is here, at least for a few days because we get spring showers. But the snow seems to be done for the season. Halleluja!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Kale, cherry tomato, chickpea and feta salad

A step in the right direction, finally making my own lunch salad again.

I need a new day routine. Maybe, it comes with spring? The winter has been so long, and the days were too much the same with too cold, too short, and a routine set itself up, and I am burnt out on it. Making my own lunch I pushed to the side. Not sure how to get my motivation back on track....

This salad was good: black chickpeas from the India store cooked in the rice cooker, romaine with a layer of lacinato kale, cherry tomatoes from Trader Joes, the last leftover feta from the farmers market and sprinkles of Thyme and home-made balsamic vinaigrette.

Maybe, it is just a salad at a time.