Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Dark Chocolate Cake

I thought this cake was just a touch dry for my taste, but everyone else eating it swore I was smoking crack and that it was deliciously moist, so I guess, what do I know? It didn't dry out at all over the week we took to eat it all, so that was nice. Also, it's not too dense or cloyingly sweet that you can't eat a whole piece in one sitting, which is great. All in all, it's an excellent chocolate cake. Make it for your lover today!

Two sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
Half a cup of Dutch-process cocoa*
Two cups all-purpose flour
Half a teaspoon baking powder
Half a teaspoon baking soda
Half a teaspoon salt
One and a half cups packed brown sugar
Two large eggs, room temperature
Two large egg yolks, room temperature
Six ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
One teaspoon vanilla
One cup buttermilk

Coat two 8-inch round cake pans in non-stick spray and dust with flour (or get the non-stick spray WITH flour, which is amazing). In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy.
Add eggs and yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Beat in melted chocolate and vanilla. Preheat oven to 350F.
With mixer on low, alternately add in flour mixture and buttermilk in three and two parts--flour, milk, flour, milk, flour.

Divide batter between pans and smooth tops with a spatula.
Bake 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in pans for 15 minutes, then invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely. Frost with your choice of frosting. Enjoy!

*I couldn't find Dutch-processed cocoa in my grocery store. The closest they had was a mixture of Dutched and regular cocoa, so I used that. I'm not convinced that any particular kind of cocoa makes a difference. Many reputable sources swear there's no difference, other reputable sources say you should never used anything but Dutched. I say, do whatever you want. But if it turns out icky, don't blame me!

Takes about half an hour, plus bake time.
Difficulty: 2

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Sandwich Buns

I stumbled across this recipe on the internet a couple weeks ago and couldn't wait for an excuse to make it. While they didn't turn out as well as I'd hoped for, they're pretty delicious and they served my BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches well.

Three-quarters of a cup of lukewarm water*
Four tablespoons butter, melted
One egg
Three and a half cups of all-purpose flour*
Two tablespoons sugar
Three-quarters of a cup of finely grated cheese**
One and a quarter teaspoons salt
One teaspoon onion powder, optional
Two and a half teaspoons (one packet) yeast
Melted butter, for brushing the tops

Combine all the ingredients in a mixer to make a sticky, tacky dough. Cover and let rise until the dough has doubled, about an hour. (My dough never doubled, and I gave it three hours in a warm, moist environment.) Divide into eight equal pieces and shape into smooth balls.
Place on a parchment-lined baking sheet and let rise another hour. Brush the tops with melted butter and bake at 350F till light golden brown, about 18 minutes.
Brush the tops with butter again and remove to a wire rack to cool.
*Depending on the weather where you live, you may need more flour or water to reach the desired sticky consistency. I ended up using about a cup and a half of water and three and three-quarters cups of flour.

**I used the powdered kind of parmesan.

Takes half an hour of hands-on time, plus rising and baking time.
Difficulty: 2
Makes 8 buns.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Over-night Crock Pot BBQ Pulled Pork

Lordy. Here's an amazingly delicious recipe. Look, Timmy is showing you how delightfully tasty my cooking is! Because I started all the prep at midnight, I forgot to take pictures. But it's so easy that you don't need picture instructions!

One or two large onions
Four pounds pork shoulder, boneless or bone-in, doesn't matter
One bottle of your favorite BBQ sauce
Eight ounces ginger ale
BBQ dry rub:
Two tablespoons sweet paprika
One tablespoon chili powder
One tablespoon ground cumin
One tablespoon firmly packed brown sugar
One tablespoon salt, kosher if you've got it
One teaspoon dried oregano
One teaspoon black pepper
One teaspoon white pepper
One teaspoon sugar
One teaspoon cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients for the dry rub and mix together with a fork. Chop the onions. Place half the chopped onion in the bottom of the crock pot. Coat the pork in half the dry rub and place it on top of the onions. Scatter the rest of the onions on top of the pork. Dump in the ginger ale and cook on low for 12 hours.

Once that time is up, remove the pork from the crock pot and shred it using two forks. Sprinkle with the rest of the dry rub and return to the pot. Pour in the bottle of BBQ sauce and cook on low for another 6 hours. Because the juices will start to evaporate, give the pork a good stir every half hour or so, especially near the end.

Remove from heat a good ten minutes before you serve. It's been heating for 18 hours, and it's exceptionally hot. Enjoy!

Takes about 20 minutes of prep, plus 18 hours cooking.
Difficulty: 1
Feeds 12.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Butterscotch Caramel Brownies

Four cups butterscotch chips (this ended up being two bags for me)
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
Four ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
Three cups packed brown sugar
Six eggs
Two teaspoons vanilla extract
Three cups flour
Two teaspoons salt
Two teaspoons baking POWDER
One cup caramel sauce

Melt the butter, chocolate, and butterscotch chips in a medium heatproof bowl, either in the microwave in 15-second bursts, or over a pan of simmering water. I used the water method and it took forever! Next time I'll definitely do it in the microwave.

Stir until completely melted and smooth. Set aside and let it cool until the bowl is no longer hot to the touch.

In a mixer (or by hand), mix the brown sugar and the chocolate mixture until smooth. This took me about three minutes on the lowest setting in my mixer.

Add the eggs one at a time and beat for about 20 seconds after each addition. Beat in vanilla.

Add the salt and baking powder and flour, one cup at a time. Beat until incorporated. Use a wooden spoon to finish off the mixing and scrape the bottom of the bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a pan with foil, coat with non-stick spray, and line with parchment paper. Spread the batter in the pan and bake until a toothpick comes out mostly clean, with a couple crumbs, about 30 minutes. (It took me 32 minutes to get the desired done-ness.)

Let the brownies cool completely in the pan before cutting, and spread a cup of caramel sauce over the top.

Makes one 9x13 pan of brownies
Difficulty: 2
Takes about a hour, less if you melt everything in the microwave.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


I've been waiting to make this recipe for months. But Tim's never around in the mornings and then we were moving and I wasn't going to make pancakes for just myself because I don't like pancakes that much. But now I have a roommate and he has a girlfriend and all the stars aligned and I had a breakfast audience this morning, so I made pancakes!

Three cups plus two tablespoons cake flour
Half a teaspoon of salt
Three tablespoons baking POWDER
Two tablespoons sugar
Two cups milk
Two eggs
Three teaspoons vanilla
Four tablespoons butter

Mix together the dry ingredients in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the milk, eggs, and sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir gently until combined. Melt the butter and stir in gently. Pour onto a medium-hot griddle and cook until golden brown on each side, about two minutes per side.

Makes about 20 pancakes
Difficulty: 2
Takes about 20 minutes.