Flourless Chocolate Cake

Can emailing yourself links to recipes be considered a hobby? If so then I am an enthusiast. There is something magical about making a recipe for the first time. My heart beats a little faster and my mind narrows to a point of intense focus.  When I saw an online cookbook club, I knew it would be the perfect fit. A new cookbook every month? New recipe challenges? Count me in. The cookbook club is hosted by Deborah Balint (@rainydaybites) and this month’s cookbook is Diana Henry’s new book “Simple“. The recipe we were to make is the Bitter Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coffee Cream. Being that February is basically the month of chocolate, I was excited to give it a try. Like the cookbook’s name, this cake is simple. Melt, whip, whisk and bake.

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The original recipe calls for an 8 inch springform cake pan, but since I don’t own one of those, I used an 8×3 pan and lined it with parchment on the bottom and sides. I was surprised when the recipe said to bake for 35 minutes. Usually recipes give a 5-10 minute range with some indication of what to look for when done. Nonetheless, the timing seemed perfect and I did appreciate the simplicity of the instructions. The result is a silky, smooth and deeply flavored cake.

img_1610This cake was perfect for Valentine’s Day : simple, classic and perfectly decadent.  I hope you give it a try!

Bitter Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coffee Cream

Take your time with the details of this cake. Buy the best chocolate and cream you can afford. Let your egg whites come to room temperature and stop mixing when your egg whites look like this. I have changed the wording a bit but the recipe is from “Simple” by Diana Henry.

Cake

  • 13 oz unsalted butter, cubed
  • 11 1/2 oz dark chocolate, 70% is the best (I used Theo’s)
  • 3/4 cup superfine sugar (I whirled granulated in my food processor instead of buying)
  • 5 large eggs, separated and brought to room temperature
  • 1/2 cup almond flour

Cream

  • 1 1/4 cup heavy cream (I use non homogenized because I think it tastes better)
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

Optional add-ins: I was kind enough to share this cake with the kiddos, so I only used half of this amount and kept the other half plain.

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso dissolved in equal amounts boiling water (you could also use part of a shot of espresso if so desired. I would just let it cool slightly before using)
  • 2 tablespoons whiskey

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Fill a small pan with water and bring it to a simmer. Prepare your cake pan by covering with parchment on the bottom, as well as the sides (or use a springform pan). Here is a link if you need a visual guide. Put butter, sugar and chocolate in a heatproof bowl and set on top of pan with simmering water. I like to use my Kitchenaid metal mixing bowl for this since the sides are high, I don’t have to worry about water accidentally getting into the pan. Melt the mixture together and stir with a heatproof spatula. Once melted, let mixture cool for a few minutes (original recipe states 4 minutes) and then add the egg yolks one at a time. Incorporating each before adding the next.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites to form medium firm peaks. Stir almond flour into chocolate mixture and add half of the egg white mixture as well. Once this is incorporated, fold in the rest of the egg whites. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 35 minutes. Cool completely. If using the regular cake pan, place a cutting board on top of the pan and hold tightly in place and then flip it over so that the cake comes out. Repeat so that the cake is face up. If using the springform pan, release the sides by unsnapping them and remove.

To make the cream use a hand mixer to whip the heavy cream. Add the powdered sugar and continue to mix until the cream is airy and holds a bit of shape. Incorporate bourbon and espresso and serve on top of the cake.

This cake is best at room temp and can be made ahead. It holds up well for a few days. Refrigerate any leftovers.

Strawberry Lemon Pancakes

I started working when I was 12 or 13 years old. I remember rolling up newspapers for my paper route, rubber banding them and riding my pink, banana seat bike all around the neighborhood, tossing newspapers at each front porch.

At 15, I started working at a  pizza place and I worked there all through high school. I worked every summer. I worked and worked and worked some more.

After having both children, I worked full time without a second thought. I was used to working and juggling life around it. Then six years ago, we decided to move cities and knew it would be the perfect time to take a step back and be home with the children. These years are short (or so I hear) and we both wanted a simpler life for ourselves and our children.

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Now, fast forward six years and the kids are older and are both in school. Whew – free and clear! I was offered a part-time job as a baker and snatched it up. I couldn’t wait to get back into the working world. Co-workers! Paychecks! I was also looking forward to the ability to easily answer the question “so what do you do?” Stay-at-home mom always seemed to fall so flat. It sounds boring. It sounds like under-achieving. It sounds so privileged.

But then we were back to the daily juggling. Our simpler life went out the window. After working for a year, my body was telling me no, it was time to say good-bye to the baker position and return to the stay-at-home mom one.

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That brings me back to here.

Raising humans is a monumental task, yet it is made up of a million smaller ones. Packing lunches, laundry, homework, bedtime stories and play dates – all add up to what we hope are responsible adults who are ready to take on the challenges of this world. Yet, sometimes its hard to see the forest for the trees. The mundane tasks seems so – mundane.

I hadn’t realized how much my self worth was attached to my employment until I stopped working. It is hard for me to remember that in fact, self worth comes from me just being me.

In light of this, I’m trying to remember that me just being me is enough. I don’t have to earn my keep, so to speak. I do plenty. I can plan coffee dates with friends and indulge in hobbies. I can spend part of my child free time on things that enrich my life as an individual. Volunteer, read, and of course, bake.

 

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Now, with this extra lease on life, I decided it was time to work on some tasty new pancakes. Blueberry pancakes have never really been a family favorite. A couple years ago, our youngest was watching Daniel Tiger on PBS and they made strawberry pancakes on the episode. He immediately asked to make them and so we did. This time around, I embellished them with a zing of lemon and a powdered sugar for the topping.

Strawberry Lemon Pancakes

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (half of a large lemon)
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup diced strawberries, about 4 large fresh or frozen that have been thawed and drained

Instructions:

Whisk together the flours, sugar, baking powder, salt and lemon zest in a medium bowl. In another bowl (I use a large measuring cup) combine the milk, butter and vanilla. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and combine with a spatula until just combined. Gently mix in strawberries. Pre-heat a griddle to 350 degrees. Spray griddle with cooking spray and ladle 1/4 cup mixture unto griddle. Cook until lightly golden on the bottom (1-2 minutes) and then flip. Press the pancake down gently. Cook for another 1-2 minutes or until both sides are golden brown and the middle is cooked through.

I test the middle of the pancake by gently pressing the side of the spatula into the pancake and if it comes out clean, then I know the middle is cooked. Serve with a bit of butter and powdered sugar.

Enjoy!