Posts Tagged ‘chocolate cake’

The Classics: Chocolate Cake

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This, my pretties, is not a new recipe.  It may even be familiar to you A & O faithful.  But because I use it at least once a month and because my last photo was heinous and failed to showcase the pools of fudgy frosting I adore, I’m sharing this with you once again.  It makes 48 mini cupcakes, 24 regular-sized and 1 9-inch round cake with batter left over (or 1 9-inch plus a 6-inch round cake for a two-layer chocolate cakeaganza).  It goes gluten free without a hitch.  Flexibility is part of its charm.

Our pal Beth photographed my last batch with blue sprinkles.  Tonight I’m topping them with orange sprinkles and little white ghosts for a Halloween-themed progressive dinner.  I’ll also be serving some of Ina’s blood-red velvet minis.  The recipe’s in her new cookbook.

You need this and one good flourless chocolate cake recipe and you’re good-to-go chocolate-wise for life.

xoxosl

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake

Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Droste or Green & Black)

1 cup water

2 cups AP flour (or gluten-free equivalent)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (for the gluten-free version, I use 2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a tablespoon of espresso to cover the chickpea flavor of the gluten-free flour.  You can add espresso to the traditional recipe as well)

Frosting

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Droste or Green & Black)

3 tablespoons buttermilk

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

you can also add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts to the frosting if desired.

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter and flour the cake pan of your choice or line your cupcake tins.

2. Make the cake.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and water.  Bring to a boil them remove from the heat.  Let cool.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.   Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Blend well using a hand held mixer or a strong hand and whisk.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture, stirring until just combined. The batter will be thinner than regular cake batters, but this only means you are on your way to making a great cake.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, about 20-25 minutes for large cakes, about 12-15 for cupcakes and 8-10 for minis.  Let cool completely  before frosting.

4.  Make the frosting.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and buttermilk.  Bring to a boil then remove from the heat and let cool.  Pour into a large mixing bowl.

5.  Using a handheld mixer, beat the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and walnuts into the cocoa mixer.  Mix until thoroughly combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Pour or spread over cooled cake.  The frosting will set into a shiny glaze that crackles like thin ice when you cut into it.  Beautiful.

6. The secret step.  Wrap the cooled and frosted cake loosely in cling wrap and refrigerate it, even if only for an hour or so before serving.   Whereas refrigerating tends to dry out baked goods, it dampens this cake so that it’s amazingly dark, dense and moist, just how I envisioned mud pies when I was little.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cupcakes

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By Sarah Lagrotteria

This New Year’s Eve I want to share with you one of my favorite recipes from times gone past: my mom’s chocolate cake with buttermilk frosting.  Actually, it’s my mom’s friend Fern’s recipe and I’m sure Fern (don’t you love her name?) got it from a friend who probably got it from a classic cookbook, but to me it’s my mom’s cake and simply the best, most versatile chocolate cake recipe. My mom used it to make our birthday cakes and I used it just a few weeks ago to make Lydia’s birthday cupcakes.  It’s also the last recipe featured in this cookbook under the name “Recipe 66.”

You can use the recipe below to make one 9-inch round cake, a square 8×8, a rectangular 8×13 (for a very thin but rich cake) or to fill 2 cupcake or mini-cupcake tins.  It is equally delicious gluten-free, which is how I make it for Lydia’s FIANCEE (!!), dear Drew.

What you’re looking at are the cupcakes from Lydia’s birthday which I gilded and silvered because it was fun and unlike how I normally handle foodstuffs.  I usually like my food to look like food, not mini spaceships.  Lydia’s birthday had a chic Mad Men theme and so I decided to turn these cupcakes into homemade Hostess Cupcakes, complete with a mascarpone cream stuffed center.  I got the idea from Sarah Magid’s charming Organic and Chic.  Her baked goodies are beautiful and whimsical and fun and her voice is thoughtful and loving and kind.  And she likes to use paints, such as these.  So I went for it and the cakes sparkled and shone and tasted extra special.

Had I remembered to take a shot before I began painting, you’d see the a shiny, crackly buttermilk frosting that is, quite simply, the bomb, and a definite upgrade from the original Hostess Cupcake glaze.

Buttermilk Chocolate Cake with Buttermilk Frosting from Sarah’s Mom’s friend Fern*

Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Droste or Green & Black)

1 cup water

2 cups AP flour (or gluten-free equivalent)

2 cups granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 large eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 cup buttermilk

1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract (for the gluten-free version, I use 2 teaspoon vanilla extract and a tablespoon of espresso to cover the chickpea flavor of the gluten-free flour.  You can add espresso to the traditional recipe as well)

Frosting

1/2 stick unsalted butter

1/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder (I like Droste or Green & Black)

3 tablespoons buttermilk

2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

you can also add 1/2 cup chopped walnuts or other nuts to the frosting if desired.

1.  Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Butter and flour the cake pan of your choice or line your cupcake tins.

2. Make the cake.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and water.  Bring to a boil them remove from the heat.  Let cool.

3. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt.   Add the eggs, buttermilk and vanilla.  Blend well using a hand held mixer or a strong hand and whisk.  Add the cooled cocoa mixture, stirring until just combined. The batter will be thinner than regular cake batters, but this only means you are on your way to making a great cake.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out almost clean, about 20-25 minutes for large cakes, about 12-15 for cupcakes and 8-10 for minis.  Let cool completely  before frosting.

4.  Make the frosting.  Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in the cocoa powder and buttermilk.  Bring to a boil then remove from the heat and let cool.  Pour into a large mixing bowl.

5.  Using a handheld mixer, beat the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla and walnuts into the cocoa mixer.  Mix until thoroughly combined and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Pour or spread over cooled cake.  The frosting will set into a shiny glaze that crackles like thin ice when you cut into it.  Beautiful.

6. The secret step.  Wrap the cooled and frosted cake loosely in cling wrap and refrigerate it, even if only for an hour or so before serving.   Whereas refrigerating tends to dry out baked goods, it dampens this cake so that it’s amazingly dark, dense and moist, just how I envisioned mud pies when I was little.

Enjoy and best wishes for a happy, healthy 2010.

xoxosl

* Fern gave Angus and I a beautiful pewter cake server as a wedding present-little does she know how perfectly appropriate a gift it was.

Wedding Decor

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By Sarah Lagrotteria

It’s good to be back!  I’ve been waiting months to share with you some of the décor decisions we made for my wedding last week.  All photos courtesy of Gina DeConti of Imaginative Studios in Chicago and our very own Lydia Ellison.

The ceremony and reception took place at my parents’ home, with guests progressing from the front yard for the ceremony to the house for the cocktail hour then out to the backyard for dinner and dancing.  It was important to me that refreshments be available at all times, so my friends and family were greeted with Mason Jars glasses filled with sparkling water and lemonade.

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Our tent was clear on all sides so I based the wedding colors on what my dad’s yard would look like at the time.  As Lydia mentioned, I went with white, greens, pale pale pinks and midnight blue (for the night sky and just because it’s Angus’ fave color).  We echoed the surrounds by using natural materials, like a natural washed flax for the tablecloths, hemstitched linen for the napkins, sequoia wood for the flatware and bamboo for the chairs.  Water goblets in clear green glass reflected the tall trees that encircled the tent.  It all felt very intimate and midsummer night’s dreamish…

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For our salad and dessert plates, we picked up on the stonefruit and berries in our centerpieces.  We chose the Sèvres China pattern which features delicate berries on the vine.  We used four different colors—green, blue, lavender (which looks more like a silvery pale pink) and pink.  Each table had a different color for the salad course (see below for the blue, right and lavender, left) and everyone had the blue pattern for dessert.

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For dessert, we had 12 different white buttercream cakes from Three Tarts Bakery.  Each table received its own cake for cutting. Mine was coconut with a luscious layer of lemon curd and Lydia’s was lemon curd with fresh strawberries.  Others had variations on white cake with fresh berries, chocolate fudge cake with white mousse or banana cake with chocolate ganache. The best part was that once a table finished tasting their cake, they sent envoys to gather slices of from the next table over so that everyone could taste more than once kind.  Evidently things got a little heated over the banana cake!

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I wish I had some of that coconut cake now….xoxo sl