Very Chocolate Cake

Our friend G celebrated his birthday this past weekend and IMHO birthdays require cake. He requested a cake of the red velvet variety. After a bit of research I came up with the following recipe. When finished I frosted it with cream cheese frosting for a delicious result.

Sadly, despite a whole bottle of gel paste food coloring, this cake did not turn out red. It was, however, a very delicious chocolate cake and I’m pretty sure part of deep chocolate color came from all the red dye. So I updated the name of the recipe and kept the food coloring.

Very Chocolate Cake
Servings: 12+
Prep time: 30 minutes
Total time: 1 hour 10 minutes plus cooling time

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/4 cups cake flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, sifted
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 oz. red food color
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vinegar
  • baking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a 13″x9″ with baking spray and then use a sheet of parchment paper to create a sling inside the pan.
  2. Combine flour, cocoa, soda and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Set aside.
  3. Place the sugar and butter in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat on medium-high until fluffy. While butter beats beat the eggs and food coloring together. Add the egg mixture to the butter/sugar and beat until combined.
  4. Combine the buttermilk, vinegar and vanilla. Add a third of flour mixture to the butter/sugar followed by half the buttermilk mixture. Beat on low until just combined then repeat with another third of the flour and the remaining buttermilk. Beat again until just combined and add the remaining flour. Scrap the beater and give the batter a final stir by hand.
  5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and distribute evenly. Bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan 180° half way through cooking. Cake is done when a toothpick inserts in the middle comes out clean.
  6. Cool for at least 30 minutes before cutting. Cool for 2 hours before frosting.

Notes:
I used gel food coloring paste in place of liquid food coloring. With a white or yellow cake batter the coloring paste produces a very vibrant hue. Red velvet being a chocolate based cake came out more murky red-brown.

I took inspiration from a couple of recipes I found online, which you can view here, here, and here.

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Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cake

We celebrated a birthday at a recent Saturday night gathering and, for me, birthdays need cake. The birthday boy’s mom mentioned chocolate chip pancakes as something the 8 year old was asking for so I set out to make a cake that might, in some small way, match the flavor of the griddle cooked treats.

I leveraged this recipe from Jen’s Favorite Cookies and then ended up improvising after I realized I had doubled the butter.

The birthday boy liked the cake well enough that I hastily scribbled down some notes in the hopes of being able to produce something similar in the future.

Buttermilk Chocolate Chip Cake
Servings: 12
Prep time: 15-20 minutes
Total time: 1 hour plus time for the cake to cool (for 2 round pans)

Ingredients:

  • 405 grams (3 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter (that’s 2 sticks), softened
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 12 oz. dark chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Greased the bottom and sides of 2 9″ cake pans. If you have parchment you can also place a parchment round in the bottom of the pan.
  2. Whisk together the flour, salt, soda, powder, and cinnamon in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Crack the eggs into a bowl, add the vanilla and whisk until the eggs and vanilla are well combined.
  4. Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Start out on low until the sugar is mushed into the butter then increase the speed to medium-high for 3 minutes until the butter has lightened in color.
  5. Add the egg/vanilla mixture to the creamed butter/sugar and mix well.
  6. Add a third of the dry ingredients to the mix followed by a third of the buttermilk. Mix on medium-low until combined then add the next third of both flour and buttermilk. Mix again and add the last of the flour and buttermilk.
  7. Remove the bowl from the mixer, scrape the paddle and set aside. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, add the chocolate chips and mix to combine.
  8. Split the batter between the prepared pans (a scale help). Use your spatula to spread the batter evenly across each pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes, rotating the pans half way through cooking.
  9. Before removing the pan make sure it is cooked through by either checking the temp. (it should be 210°F in the center) or, if you lack an instant read thermometer, the toothpick method (a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean).
  10. Move cake pans to a rack and cool for 10 minutes. Run a knife between the pan and the cake, remove each cake from it’s pan and return the cake to the rack until completely cool.
  11. Frost with your choice of frosting, icing or whipped topping. I made a chocolate version of my regular buttercream frosting.

Notes:
I finally had a chance to make this in a 13″x9″ pan. Bake time was between 65-70 minutes. My plan is to skip frosting, serve it in the pan and dust it with a couple of tablespoons powdered sugar after it cools.

Drop biscuits

[drop biscuits]Sometimes I feel the need for something a little extra to go with your meal and nothing beats a freshly made biscuit in my book. It takes longer for the oven preheat than it does to prepare this recipe, including the time to melt and cool the butter. No rolling pin required; if you don’t have disher then a couple of spoons will work just fine.
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Buttermilk Ice Cream

This ice cream was an excellent foil to the sweetness of the Cranberry-Pistachio Crumble we served on Christmas Eve. It has a lovely tang and rich taste.

Buttermilk Ice Cream
Servings: 1 quart
Prep time: 15 minutes plus 8 hours cooling
Total time: 24 hours

Ingredients:

  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup demerara or turbinado sugar
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. Whisk yolks in a medium bowl until slightly lightened in color.
  2. In a small saucepan, warm the cream over low heat with the sugar, honey and salt until the sugar is completely dissolved. Do not let cream reach a boil; the sugar should be dissolved well before that. Remove pan from heat.
  3. Vigorously whisk the yolks while adding a ladle of hot cream in a slow stream. Repeat until about half of the cream has been mixed in. Return egg/cream mixture to sauce pan and combine. Return to low heat and cook for another 3-4 minutes; stirring regularly. The mixture should thicken slightly.
  4. Remove from heat, strain and cool for 20 minutes. Add the buttermilk, stir until fully incorporated. Cool to room temperature then refrigerate until cold, at least 8 hours, preferably overnight.
  5. When you are ready to churn the ice cream add the extract into the chilled sweetened cream.  Freeze according to your manufacturer’s ice cream maker instructions.  For me that is ~25 minutes. Transfer ice cream to a freezer-safe container and freeze overnight.

Notes:
Step 3 is very important. You need to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs otherwise they will scramble. Slowly adding the hot cream while whisking the eggs will allow you to do this. Don’t trust the TV show host who pours a cup of hot liquid into their eggs and then picks up a whisk. Two good examples are Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode The Proof Is In The Pudding or any episode of America’s Test Kitchen that deals with ice cream or pudding.

Demerara, or turbinado sugar, is also referred to as raw sugar. At one time it was only available from higher end grocery emporiums or natural food stores. I found it next to the agave and sweeteners in the baking aisle at our local mega-mart.

You can substitute a tablespoon of bourbon, whiskey, etc. for the vanilla extract if you wish. You add it after the mixture is cool so that the heat of the liquid doesn’t dissipate the aromatic components.

I referred to several recipes when coming up with my version including ones from Joy the Baker, Smitten Kitchen and Bon Appétit.

Cheese Bread with Caramelized Shallots

Ted made this to go with slow cooker chicken & mushrooms. It was very good. More than very good. As with many quick breads it is dense and great for sopping up gravy. We served it with some red pepper jelly we bought; that combination was very tasty.

Cheese Bread with Caramelized Shallots

We’re going to try making Welsh Rabbit with the leftover bread. I suspect it will be amazing.

Cheese Bread with Caramelized Shallots
Servings: 1 loaf
Prep time: 45 minutes
Total time: 90 minutes plus time to fully cool

Ingredients:

  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
  • 15 oz. all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, cold
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, cold
  • 1 egg, cold
  • 4 oz. smoked cheddar, grated on large side of a grater
  • 4 oz. smoked Havarti, cut into 1/4″-1/2″ cubes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Prep pan with cooking spray. Place 1/2 the grated cheddar in the bottom of the pan.
  2. Over lowest heat in small pan slowly caramelize shallots in olive oil & paprika (mixed together). ~30 minutes. Strain the shallots, retaining the olive oil. Set aside the shallots to cool. Add the butter to the olive oil, allow it to melt and then cool for approx. 5 minutes.
  3. Whisk together the dry ingredients. Add cubes of Havarti and cooled shallots, breaking shallots into flour with fingers so they are evenly distributed.
  4. Combine buttermilk, sour cream and egg and mix well. Pour the butter and olive oil into the wet ingredients. The butter will solidify into small bits.
  5. Plunge wet ingredients into dry. Stir only until combined with spatula.
  6. Transfer batter into the pan; distribute evenly. Sprinkle remaining cheddar over the top of the bread.
  7. Bake for 45 minutes. Check for doneness with an instant-read thermometer; the bread should reach 195°F when it is fully baked. Cool 5 minutes and depan. Allow to cool completely before slicing.

Notes:
Ted used a cheese quick bread from The New Best Recipe: All-New Edition as inspiration for this recipe.