Yum Peaceful Cooking: May 2013

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Strawberry Chocolate Torte

It's National Strawberry month and strawberry season is at it's peak. Farmers markets and stands are boasting sweet berries by the pint, half flat or full flat. If you were to drive through Ventura County, CA...you'd probably see a road side fruit and vegetable stand on every corner. As a matter of fact, the yearly Strawberry Festival is going on this weekend in Oxnard. A mere 45 minute drive (without traffic) from my house and I've never been. I don't understand how that's happening. I mean, strawberries are my favorite fruit...I've lived here all my life.....how do I keep missing the most fabulous festival of the year?

I'm so disappointed in myself. I've let my berry love down. This must be remedied!

In the meantime, lets console my strawberry craving with a delightful torte.

This recipe was inspired by a couple of recipes I ran into. As much as I love raspberries (they are a very close second to strawberries...but are fighting for that position with blackberries) I just had to stay true to my first love.

Chocolate Cake with Strawberries
Raspberry Chocolate Torte

Strawberry Chocolate Torte
Printable Version

8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup butter, diced
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp instant coffee granules
3 1/2 oz toasted almonds
2 heaped TB flour
1/2 tsp salt
5 eggs
3/4 cup granulated sugar (if you have bakers or caster sugar, that would be best)
8 fresh strawberries, plus more for garnish
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature

8 oz dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 325' F. Line the bottoms of 2 round cake pans with parchment paper (you can spray the bottom with cooking spray before placing the parchment paper inside, to keep the paper in place).

Put the 8 oz of chocolate and the butter in a medium sized, microwave safe bowl.

Melt the chocolate and butter in a the microwave (or use a double boiler) in 30 second increments, stirring in between until nearly all the chocolate is melted. Complete the process by stirring until fully melted.

Set aside to cool. Once cool, stir in vanilla and coffee granules.

In a food process, finely grind the almonds. Add in the flour and salt and transfer to a small bowl. Set aside.

With an electric mixer, beat the eggs in a large bowl until they double in volume (about 5 minutes). Slowly add the sugar and beat for 1 more minute. Fold in the cooled melted chocolate until just combined. Sprinkle in half of the almond/flour mixture and fold until just combine then sprinkle in the other half, folding until just combined.

Divide the batter between the two cake pans. Bake for 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs.

Allow to cool in the pans.

Meanwhile, make the filling by smashing the strawberries and combining with the cream cheese.

Carefully remove the cakes from the pans. Place one of a plate. Spread the filling over it. Place the other cake on top.

Thats where I ran into some problems. My cake crumbled....(I think I may have slightly over cooked them)

I pieced it together...hoping the filling would help keep it in place, acting like glue...which it did. But...it wasn't a pretty site.

Thank God for glaze!!!

Lets hurry up and make that glaze so I don't have to see this mess any more...

Bring the cream to a boil. Place the chocolate into a medium bowl. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir until melted.

Spread the glaze over the cake...

The glaze will thicken as it sets. 

Garnish with strawberries and a bit of powdered sugar if desired.

And there you have it. A delicious, seemingly beautiful dessert (who can see the crumbled section, right? No one has to know...trust me) that is bound to satisfy.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Rustic Olive Oil Cake with Honey Syrup

Here's a delicious, adult kind of cake that's sweet but not too sweet. The complexity of the flavor surprised me. Sweet, slightly tangy, almost savory. The flavors come in layers, starting with the gooey, sticky sweet honey glaze....slightly citrus in the middle, ending with the subtle savory-sweet taste of olive oil.

I discovered this recipe in a newly acquired cookbook titled The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook. What a find! Full of dozens of wonderful recipes I'm anxious to try and taste and savor.

One note that was made for this cake is to do everything by hand. No electric mixers. Your arm might get a good workout, but the end result is worth it.

Rustic Olive Oil Cake with Honey Syrup
Printable Version

Vegetable Oil Spray for the pan.
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/4 cups whole milk, room temperature
1/4 cup Grand Marnier
1/4 up fresh orange juice
Zest from one lemon (about 1 heaping TB spoon)
3 large eggs
2 cups sugar
1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Honey Syrup
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1 clove
1 strip of orange or lemon zest (1/2" x 4")

Preheat the oven to 375' F. Spray a 9" round cake pan with cooking spray. Cut a 9" round of parchment paper and place it on the bottom of the cake pan. Spray the paper with cooking oil then coat the pan with flour, shaking off the excess.

In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, and baking soda. Add the salt, stir and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the milk, Grand Marnier, orange juice and lemon zest. Set aside.

In a large bowl, and whisk the eggs by hand until well combined and smooth.

Gradually add in the olive oil in a steady stream and continue whisking the egg mixture until emulsified.

Add in 1/3 of the dry ingredients, whisking by hand until smooth. Add 1/2 of the wet ingredients, whisking by hand until smooth....add another 1/3 of the dry ingredients, the last 1/2 of the wet ingredients and then the final 1/3 of the dry ingredients, making sure you continue whisking in between each addition. Scrape down the sides as needed. Don't over whisk (I don't think your arm will allow this to happen).

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan....tapping to release any air bubbles.

(This made me soooo very nervous. I mean...that batter was right up to the rim! I placed it on a baking sheet in case the cake spilled over the sides during baking. I also did the sideways crab walk as I inched my way to the oven. I'm happy to announce that not a drop spilled! Not during transporting nor during baking. Whew)

Bake until golden brown, a little domed and most likely cracked. This should take about 70 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean (a few moist crumbs is ok).

Allow to cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Run a knife around the edge. Place a plate over the cake, turn over to release the can from the pan. Peal off the parchment paper. Place another plate over the cake, turn over and there you have it....right side up.

To make the honey syrup (while the cake is baking):
Combine the honey, sugar, water, clove and orange zest in a small saucepan. Over medium-high heat, bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Adjust the heat to keep it at a simmer. Continue simmering until it has reduced by about half (you should have about 3/4 cup of syrup). This will take about 10 to 12 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow to cool to room temperature.

Remove the clove and orange zest. Pour over individual slices as you serve the cake.

Or...poke the cake with holes, using a toothpick and pour the syrup over the whole thing, allowing all that gooey goodness to seep inside.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Ginger Peach Tea Sangria and a WINNER!

Let me start off by congratulating Mary from Midnite Baker for winning the Tate's Bake Shop Gift Basket Giveaway...WOOO HOOO!!! Congrats Mary! I hope you enjoy it :)

Just so you know, I love their first cookbook, Tate's Bake Shop Cookbook so much that I personally ordered the Baking with Friends Cookbook, using the 20% discount code: mom13 which is good through 5/12/13

Don't hesitate to use the discount code yourself, on any purchases made between now and 5/12/13. Mother's day is coming up fast.

You know what else is coming up fast? Summer. Its just around the corner. Gardens are happening. Which leads us to food. Some of you may not know, but I plant a small city garden just about every spring. I'd love to have a winter garden too but when I leave for work, it's dark. When I get home from work, it's dark. We don't get much rain in Los Angeles. Do you know how hard it is to water a garden in the dark? Me neither. Cuz I've never done it. Which is why I've never had a winter garden. I'd have to water the damn thing in the dark.

Which brings me to my other issue. During the winter, I get a lot of weeds in my garden area. It's a lot of work pulling those weeds and getting the dirt ready for precious little baby plants that will feed us throughout the summer season and often times into the fall (and early winter).

Not long ago, it was time to tackle those weeds. It's hard work. Back breaking. Neck sweating. Arm fatiguing. Thirst inducing. Hard work.

Ice tea is a great thirst quencher.

If you happen to have a really good, special ice tea waiting for you...it could be very motivating.

Or it could be very distracting....

On this particularly warm day, I had big plans.

But silly me threw together a nice batch of Ginger Peach Tea Sangria with some very soothing, cooling, enticing flavors. As I sat in my little corner of the backyard, sipping this refreshing drink....I contemplated those weeds....and figured...well, whether the glass is half empty or half full...the weeds are still there.

And can wait as I plan my attack for another day.

Eventually I got to those weeds pulled. But not that day.

I was too busy enjoying my drink.

Ginger Peach Tea Sangria

5 cups strong tea (I used Ginger Peach Tea, 6 cups of water to 12 tea bags...heated and steeped)
1 750ml bottle dry Riesling (save the bottle)
1 750ml bottle Pinot Grigio (save the bottle)
1 cup simple syrup (heat 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar until sugar dissolves)
1/2 cup orange liquor
1/2 cup brandy
2 cups club soda
Lime size chunk of fresh, peeled ginger

Combine all of the ingredients and allow to sit, refrigerated, over night. Spoon out the ginger and pour the sangria into the saved bottles (plus one or 2 more) using a funnel.

If you really like ginger....take that chunk of sangria soaked ginger and squeeze the liquid right into the bottles...and see what happens.....

Shall I say.....

This Sangria is Wicked Good!