All apologies, as the BF and I have been under the weather this week. Somehow, in over a quarter century of knowing each other, this is the first time we have been sick at the same time. [Ed. note: It's not like we were trying to set a record or anything.] We are slowly coming out of our funk.
A more pleasant subject: strawberries! While fresh strawberries are not quite in season yet—soon!—this dessert actually uses the freeze-dried variety, which pack a supremely flavorful punch. So easy to make, we're talking roughly a half hour, this made a perfect little housewarming gift for a friend and her hubs.
Adapted from: Leelalicious
Number of servings: 2 small servings
On this Valentine's Day, are you aiming for someone's heart through their stomach? Don't let the ingredients and directions of this recipe scare you, this is actually way less daunting than it appears. [Ed. Note: But you don't have to disclose that information if you're truly looking to impress.]
The key to the torte's simplicity is that it's made from just three ingredients: chocolate, butter, and eggs—and it only bakes for 15 minutes. I made this for the BF, myself and a few friends in a 6-inch springform pan, but am giving the recipe as originally presented (in an 8-inch springform pan) from the brilliant Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible. I happen to love flourless tortes and have made so many different kinds, and this is certainly one of my favorites. Not to mention gluten free!
Beranbaum says this is her favorite way to eat chocolate, "It's the purest form of chocolate—when you just have a chocolate bar, you can't taste the chocolate until it starts melting in your mouth. But this is just the right texture so that the minute you put it in your mouth, the flavors start exploding. It's like the creamiest truffle wedded to the purest chocolate mousse. It's the right consistency and there's nothing to interfere. There's no flour. Egg gives it texture, but it also enriches it further—it gives it a fuller flavor. And then of course butter doesn't do any harm either!"
It's creamy. moussey, and sinfully decadent. And seriously, who cares about clichés, nothing's beating chocolate on Valentine's Day.
NOTES: It's very important to have the eggs and butter at room temperature. Since there are only three ingredients, use the best chocolate and butter that you can (Scharffen Berger chocolate and Plugra European butter were used here). Finally, be sure to serve the torte at room temperature, not chilled. Read through the entire recipe before starting; while it is deceptively easy to make, there are lots of side notes that are important to its success.
Adapted from: Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible and Food 52
Number of servings: makes one 8-inch torte, serves approx 16 (depending on slice size)
I baked my own birthday cake.
What? You don't do that? It's not that my BF didn't offer to buy me the best dessert in town. [Ed. Note: Save your letters! Jeez.] It's just that I was feeling exceptionally specific, and wanted it to taste deep, dark, intensely chocolatey and extra-extra moist. We don't partake in rich desserts very often, so when we do, it needs to be amazing or it's not worth it. Many times we've found ourselves drooling over beautiful confections, only to be nonplussed by the taste. [Ed. Note: Breathtakingly meh™.]
The reason this cake is my go-to is that it has a creamy chocolate bite, and the sour cream frosting has an impressive tang that really sets it off. Also noteworthy, the frosting has neither butter nor whipped eggs (only a smidge of added sugar), making for easier preparation.
The cake itself is adapted from Ina Garten (the recipe is cut in half), the frosting from Smitten Kitchen.
Bit of a side note, but I had a perfect birthday yesterday. Our inital dinner plans in San Francisco were thwarted (there's a dog flu ripping through our area, so we couldn't find a proper sitter, and we don't take chances with our Marlowe), but we ended up having an even better day and evening sticking closer to home. The BF took me to the movies (Winchester, not our cup of tea) and then to a terrific local restaurant called Timber & Salt. The meal: an appetizer of crispy brussels sprouts with apple gastrique and whipped goat cheese, cheeseburger with horseradish mayo and bacon jam (oh yes), and a bavette steak over sauteed greens and maitake mushrooms in a red wine reduction sauce.
Once home we chilled to the far superior movie A Futile And Stupid Gesture (about Doug Kenney and the rise and fall of National Lampoon), cracked open a bottle of prosecco we'd been saving, made a cocktail with Aperol (my favorite), and tucked into this cake.
Folks, this is my absolute favorite cake. Excuse me while I have another slice.
Adapted from: Ina Garten and Smitten Kitchen
Number of Servings: makes a one layer 8-inch cake (round or 8x8 square)
Chocolate Sour Cream Frosting
NOTE: Be sure that your sour cream is at room temperature before you make the frosting.
Scotcheroos. Rice Krispies treats. Never appealed to me. Never had one as a kid or adult. We did not have them in our house growing up, and honestly (if you've read the Chocolate Pavlova post www.moveablefeast.me/blog/chocolate-pavlova-with-berries), you'd know that if I'd been offered one, I would have politely declined. I detested crunch, cereal, peanut butter, butterscotch, marshmallows, nuts, and cloyingly sweet treats. Just wasn't into desserts, and no, my mother did not know how this happened.
That said, am not sure of the exact date, but at some point in my mid-forties I developed a slight sweet tooth. And this Rice-Krispies-treat variant is quite addicting.
What makes this variant different from traditional Rice Krispies treats? For starters, I used Whole Foods 365 brand Everyday Value Organic Brown Rice Crisps Cereal (Kellog's makes one too), making this gluten free. Also, there's no marshmallows, butter, corn syrup (brown rice syrup was used instead), or granulated/refined sugar (maple syrup filled that role). This does not make these healthy by any stretch, sugar is sugar–but I happen to think they taste better, a little less sweet and slightly nuttier.
They make a great alternative to cupcakes for back-to-school activities, as well as adult tail-gaters and date-day matinees (they hold up well in the movie purse). Oh, and did I mention they took five minutes to make, no bake, and my BF has asked, "When are you making these again?"
[Ed. note: The BF would like to thank Mike Cosgrove and the rest of Alien Ant Farm for being such gracious hosts to me in my previous life as a writer interviewing musicians. Dig the press-advance copy of ANThology. To this day I wonder if Annie is okay.]
Adapted from: Pinch of Yum
Number of servings: 12-20 squares (depending on how small/large you cut the bars)
My BF has a thing for caramely, butterscotchy tidbits and chocolate chip cookies. [Ed. Note: C is for cookie, and after proper advisement from my attorney, I submit that it is, indeed, good enough for me.] I mixed the two together and added liquor and dare I say this is the cookie, at least in our house. The butterscotch schnapps put it over the top with a toasted caramel note without it tasting boozy. Have tried this same recipe with bourbon, and it's good, real good. [Ed. Note: Hiccup.]
There are rules in our house for homemade chocolate chip cookies 1) not flat and crispy 2) not cake like 3) must be cold from the fridge 4) must be soft and chewy in the center and crispy around the edges. Some people like warm cookies out of the oven, but we like our cookies cold from the fridge.
You can eat these cookies with milk, but bourbon also works. Please designate a driver if you go this route.
Inspired by: Baked – New Frontiers In Baking
Serving size: Makes 1 dozen cookies
Mamala. This is how I affectionately referred to my beloved mother. Mamala. She passed away six years ago, and every year I still bake a cake on her birthday (Aug 4) in her honor.
As far back as I can remember, I made her birthday cakes. She was the ultimate chocoholic and I loved when her eyes rolled back in her head as she took the first bite of any dessert. Her two most favorite flavors were anything chocolate and anything malt, and here we get both.
I have made hundreds of chocolate cakes, but this is The One. The go-to. Ina Garten (Barefoot Contessa) never lets me down, and the addition of malt powder to the frosting gives it an extra kick. This cake is lush, never dry, super chocolatey with a superior texture. Definitely a dessert for chocoholics beyond recovery.
Adapted from: Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa at Home
Number of Servings: 8-10
Chocolate Malt Frosting
Chocolate Malt Frosting
I'm Jacquie, personal chef & recipe developer in the bay area. Living life with my wildly funny boyfriend and dog Marlowe. Lover of books, bourbon, chocolate and movies.