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Tag Archives: chocolate

Homemade Fudge Pops

25 Apr

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The weather this week has been marvelous. In fact, this entire spring has been marvelous so far. Not only did we get to experience the rare treat known as a sunny Easter weekend, but this week alone has boasted three gloriously warm and sunny days wherein we actually got to eat our dinner outside. Not wearing coats. I know, right? Due to the consistently gray and sorrowful weather we in the Pacific Northwest put up with most of the year, the early appearance of sunlight and warmth tends to excite us more than most people in other parts of the country are able to understand. As soon as we’re gifted a few spring days with no rain, we put away our winter boots. When the clouds part and the sun emerges, we ditch our coats. And when the temperature spikes above 70 degrees? Forget about it. It’s t-shirts, sundresses, picnics, and cold treats all day long.

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Naturally, due to our current spell of 70-plus degree days, it seemed like a good time to make some homemade popsicles. To up the ante, since it seems a little like cheating to claim that you’ve “made” homemade popsicles when, in reality, all you’ve done is pour a bit of juice into some popsicle molds and then waited for the freezer to work its magic, I set aside regular popsicle making in favor of something a bit more special: fudge popsicles.

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It’s actually rather puzzling to me that I initially chose to make fudge popsicles in lieu of fruit popsicles, since I don’t really care for fudge, but I can’t think of any scenario wherein I would turn down an invitation to eat some fruit. But, really, a fudge popsicle (or fudgesicle) is a closer relative to ice cream than proper fudge, and lord knows there is pretty much no situation during which I would turn down an offer to eat some ice cream. These fudge pops offer a nice in between, for those of you who are fans of both ice cream and simpler popsicles. While not as rich as chocolate ice cream, there is certainly more going on here than what one finds in a standard popsicle. Creamy and rich, yet also light and refreshing, I think I have found my new favorite warm weather treat.

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Last Year: Two of my favorites, Lemon, Almond, and Cornmeal Cake and How to Make Homemade Crunchy Herb and Chèvre Croutons

Homemade Fudge Pops (Fudgesicles)

Adapted from On a Stick, by Matt Armendariz

Using the best semi-sweet dark chocolate you can find definitely makes a difference (I used 54% Belgian chocolate with a nice smoky aftertaste).

2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) chopped semi-sweet dark chocolate

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

1 1/2 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa powder

1 1/4 cups milk
(I used 1%, and I suspect that a heavier fat milk, or even a mix of milk and heavy cream, would be great here as well)

pinch of salt

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan set over very low heat, gently melt the chopped chocolate, stirring constantly until smooth. Stir in sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, milk and salt. Increase heat to medium and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon or spatula (my mixture took about 5 minutes to thicken up nicely).

Remove from heat, add vanilla, and stir gently until combined.

Set aside to cool slightly (the mixture will thicken even more as it cools) then pour into popsicle molds of your choosing. Freeze for at least 8 hours, but preferably overnight in order to obtain the best texture.

Note: After a bit of trial and error, I have found that the best way to release these things from their molds is to run the popsicle molds under a bit of warm water, then gently wiggle the fudge pops free. Trying to pull them out without first warming the molds will result in you most likely just yanking the handles free from the fudge pops themselves, which is just sad.

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Orange Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache

26 Dec

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Sometimes the best part of making a cake is not actually knowing what cake I am going to make. When I offer to make someone a cake, I always leave the door open in regards to what sort of cake I should be making. Sometimes people immediately know what type of cake they want. Chocolate cake with coffee frosting. Spice cake. But sometimes—and, secretly, this is the type of thing I really, really love—my question is answered with just a list of elements that one might envision in a cake. Orange. Chocolate. Whipped Cream.

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And so, it began. When my husband’s cousin (does that make her my cousin as well? I am never quite sure how that works) celebrated her 30th birthday, this is the cake she wanted: something with orange, chocolate, and whipped cream. You’d think that I would take some time to mull that request over before I dove into preparing a cake, but, truthfully, I knew immediately what I wanted to do.

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Featuring my favorite butter cake as the building block, this is a celebratory stack of orange-scented cake and deeply creamy, chocolaty ganache. Though I was, sadly, not able to get a photo of the final iteration of the cake (all of my daylight was gone, and my kitchen’s lighting is not at all suitable for taking pictures at night), just try and picture this cake with a towering tophat of snowy whipped cream, and you’ll get an idea of its official presentation. The birthday lady (she is 30, after all) was thrilled to receive the cake, and I was honored to be trusted with making such a special cake for such a special birthday for such a special person. Welcome to your 30s, Ms. W. It is so much fun being semi-related to you.

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Last Year: Smoked Salmon Canapés on Potato Crisps

This cake is part of my Go Mighty goal of making 50 cakes for 50 people. You can read more about it here.

Orange Butter Cake with Chocolate Ganache

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ cups sugar

4 eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

¼ cup finely grated orange zest

¾ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon baking powder

3 cups cake flour

1 cup half-and-half or whole milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 9-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper.

Place the butter and sugar in a large bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat together on high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl often, until the butter and sugar are light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl and mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and orange zest and mix well, again scraping down the sides of the bowl.

Sift together the salt, baking powder, and cake flour.

Add about one half of the dry ingredients to the butter mixture, then beat on low speed until well blended. Add about one half of the milk and beat well. Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until mixed well. Add the rest of the milk and continue to beat well until the mixture is completely combined.

Divide the batter between the prepared pans and bake until the cakes spring back when touched lightly in the center, and a cake tested inserted in the middle of the cakes emerges with just a few moist crumbs attached, 25 to 35 minutes. Allow cakes to cool in pans for 10 minutes before inverting onto cooling racks to continue to cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

½ cup heavy whipping cream

In a double boiler or large, heat-safe bowl set over a pan of simmering water, slowly melt the chocolate, stirring frequently, until it is just melted. Remove double boiler from heat, then whisk in the heavy cream until the mixture is smooth, thick, and shiny.

When cakes have cooled completely, set one cake on a serving plate. Slowly pour half of the ganache over the cake, concentrating the ganache in the middle of the cake. The ganache will pool out towards the edges of the cake on its own, but, if you want, you can help coax it to the edges by gently spreading it with a spoon or an offset spatula until it just reaches the tipping point. Place the second layer of cake over the ganache, very gently pushing it in place, just to secure it a bit. Pour the rest of the ganache over the top of the cake, again gently spreading the ganache towards the edges.

You can serve the cake as is, or you can top the whole affair with a mountain of freshly whipped cream.

Chocolate Orange Cake Bread

24 Oct

The logistics of how it happened are almost irrelevant. Maybe there were no logistics. Maybe it was just pure luck, or happenstance, or, on the other side of the coin, the other guys’ back luck coming into play at the worst possible time. Like I said, it doesn’t matter, really. What matters is that the San Francisco Giants are in the World Series, and now, because who knows how they managed to come back from a seemingly insurmountable deficit many, many times over, I can’t stop making black and orange foods because What If. What if the black and orange foods were the missing piece of the puzzle? Do you see what I am getting at here? I can’t stop now.

And so I continue. Today’s installment in the veritable cornucopia of evidence that I’ve compiled for the case against my sanity is a dense, intensely chocolaty little number that is flecked with orange zest and plumped up with orange juice. It’s a meet-up of those friendly flavors, chocolate and orange, and, once again, an entry into that familiar category of bread-or-cake. Not that it matters what you call it, of course. I mean, aside from delicious.

You can, of course, make this bread as depraved as you want. Depending on how rich and aggressive you like your chocolate treats, there is nothing stopping you from adding a handful of chopped bittersweet chocolate to the batter. If you are truly batty for the combination of chocolate and orange, you could also hunt down the ubiquitous holiday chocolate orange, chop it up, and throw in some bits for an even stronger kick of chocolate plus orange. However, I think this bread/cake is just perfect as it stands, with a deep chocolate flavor that is merely highlighted by the brightness of zesty orange. As for whether or not it can supply the same good fortune as black and orange foods of past? Well, we’ll find out in just a few short hours.

Last Year: Creamy Tomatillo and Avocado Salsa (seriously–I have dreams about this salsa, it’s so good)

Chocolate Orange Cake Bread Recipe

1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup lightly packed dark brown sugar

¾ cup Dutch process cocoa

1 tablespoon espresso powder

½ teaspoon baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

¾ teaspoon salt

¼ cup vegetable oil

1 cup buttermilk

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

2 teaspoons finely grated orange zest

Glaze:

1/3 cup powdered sugar

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9” by 5” loaf pan.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Whisk in the vegetable oil until ingredients are uniformly coated by the oil. The mixture will look quite pebbly, but that is all right.

In a large measuring cup or a medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, orange juice, eggs, vanilla, and orange zest. Slowly pour the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture, whisking slowly until the mixture is just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan. Bake in center of oven for 65 to 75 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out with just a few moist crumbs attached. Place pan on a wire rack to cool for 15 to 20 minutes, then run a small knife around the perimeter of the cake to help release it from the pan. Turn pan over and gently invert cake out onto a wire rack, then turn cake upright and leave on wire rack to cool completely.

When cake has cooled, prepare glaze by combining ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until smooth. Pour or brush glaze over the top of the cooled cake.

Makes 1 9″ by 5″ loaf. Serves 8 to 10.

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