Tuesday, February 13, 2018

ChezCindy: Chocolate Cake for Your Sweetie

If your sweetie is sweet on chocolate, this is the cake to make for Valentines day, a birthday, or just any day to say I love you.  Normally when baking, most recipes use unsalted butter.  However, using salt is relevant in baking as it elevates the sweetness of the baked good.  When I saw this recipe using salted butter, it caught my interest.  Once I tasted the cake, I discovered that the salted butter and the full teaspoon of salt used in this recipe, brightened the chocolate flavor, with a mysterious subtle undertone that lingered on the tongue.  Uniquely good.

The cake batter comes together quickly and bakes in about 30 minutes.  The center of the cake will be slightly loose, just a bit under-baked, but that is part of the charm.  You will be tempted to bake it longer than called for as the center will not look fully set.  If you do, that's okay.  But trust on the time specified.  The result is a gooey, rich goodness.  The cake does need to cool for at least 1 hour before removing it from the pan.  So, plan ahead.  It is worth the wait.    

The finished cake needs little adornment, just a dusting of powdered sugar or a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream if you are feeling decadent.  At Chez Cindy, this cake has become a favorite for my favorite chocolate sweetie.

Salted Butter Chocolate Cake*
7 tablespoons salted butter
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  Prepare a 9-inch round cake pan by greasing it thoroughly with butter and lining the bottom with parchment paper.

Working with a double boiler pan, combine the butter and chopped chocolate into the top pan, set over the pan with the simmering water.  Stir until the butter and chocolate are combined.  Set aside to cool for 10 minutes.

In the mixing bowl of a stand mixer, whisk together the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  In a small separate bowl, sift together the flour and salt.

Stir the melted chocolate mixture into the egg mixture.  Add in the vanilla.  Fold in the flour/salt until just combined.  Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven.  Set the cake pan onto a baking rack to cool for a minimum of 1 hour.  Invert the cake onto a cake plate, peel off the parchment paper.  Dust the top with powdered sugar or serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream.

*Recipe adapted from French Country Cooking by Mimi Thorisson

Sunday, February 11, 2018

ChezCindy: Orange Almond Tea Cakes

I have recently discovered baking with almond flour and I am quite captivated by it.  It began with a recipe for tea cakes which are simply upside-down cupcakes.  The crumb on the baked cake is very tender and moist, but somewhat dense from the almond flour.  By the way, almond flour's only ingredient is blanched almonds that have been finely ground into a powder.  It is also referred to as almond meal.  The fat content is quite high because it is purely nuts, but provides a good amount of protein, not something you think about with a baked good.  I like the health benefit of moving away from all-purpose flour, but more than that, it results in a glorious cake.

The initial recipe I made was from a cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh.  Mr. Ottolenghi is a well known chef with restaurants in London, England and has authored numerous cookbooks.  Ms. Goh is a successful pastry chef from Melbourne, Australia.  The two collaborated on the cookbook titled Sweet.  The book provides tempting recipes with gorgeous pictures that draw the reader into the recipe, leaving them with the quandary of which recipe to make first.  My recipe below is a modification of one from their book, Lemon Blueberry Almond Teacakes.  Their recipe is one I will make again and again for as long as I am able.  Mine below is a humble acknowledgment to theirs.

Orange Almond Tea Cakes
13 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon orange zest, finely grated
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup all-purpose flour*
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup orange juice

Powdered sugar for dusting
~ or ~
Orange Glaze for icing
    1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
    3 tablespoons orange juice
    1 teaspoon orange zest, finely grated

Toasted sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a standard muffin pan by greasing the 12 cups with butter, dust lightly with flour.  Tap out excess flour and set aside.

Place the room temperature butter, sugar and orange zest into the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment in place.  Beat until combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Measure out the almond flour.  Lightly beat the 4 eggs in a separate bowl.  Add the flour and eggs to the mixing bowl, alternating between the almond flour and eggs, adding each in three batches.  Mix until just combined; scrape down the sides of the bowl.  In a separate small bowl, add the flour, baking powder, and salt, whisking to combine.  Add to the mixing bowl, mixing on low speed.  Add in the orange juice, mixing until combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin pan, dividing equally between the 12 cups.  Bake in the preheated oven for 28 minutes until the edges are golden brown and a toothpick comes out clean when tested from the center of the cake.  Remove from the oven, cool for 5 minutes in the muffin pan.  Place a baking rack over the top of the baking pan.  Holding the rack against the muffin pan, flip over so that the cakes are now inverted onto the rack.  Remove the muffin pan, keeping the cakes "upside-down" to cool completely on the baking rack with the flat side up.

Prepare the glaze, if using, by whisking the orange juice with the powdered sugar and the orange zest, until the mixture is a thick pouring consistency.  Drizzle over the flat side of the cakes, allowing some to dribble down the sides. 

Or, dust generously with powdered sugar.

Top with toasted sliced almonds.

* Substitute the all-purpose flour with a gluten free flour if desiring a gluten free cake.  I use Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend which is a 1-1 substitution for all-purpose flour.