Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Coconut chocolate tart

Sunday I had some time to bake again – a dense coconut cake with a thick dark chocolate glaze. The texture of the cake reminds me of a bounty bar, just less sweet. This tart is rich and decadent. And very easy to make. There is not even butter or flour in this cake. Note the time that the coconut flakes and the egg and sugar base mixture need to rest so that the coconut flakes can absorb the mixture. I did not wait long enough, just 10min instead of 30min. The cake is supposed to rise more.

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Coconut Chocolate Cake

(for a 9-10 inch spring form)

  • 3 large eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 1/2 ts vanilla extract
  • pinch of salt
  • 85ml unsweetened condensed milk (almost a small can)
  • 100ml heavy cream
  • 200g coconut flakes (I used unsweetened)
  • 1 TB baking powder

Glaze:

  • 1 cup semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used Lindt couverture, a bulk product for pastry chefs, often found at Lindt Stores)
  • 1 TB butter

Preparation:

In a kitchen standmixer with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract on medium-high for at least 5min (best 5-10min) until the mixture is really thick and creamy, and changes its color to a buttery white (from a initially more yellowish color). Mix in the salt, cream and the condensed milk until well-combined, and now gentle mix in the coconut flakes. Let the mixture rest for 30 min (don’t omit this step!). The cake dough changes from a more liquid texture (photo below) to a soaked up texture.

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Preheat the oven to 360F and spray the springform with a baking spray.

Once the dough is ready, pour it into the springform and bake for 60min. If the top gets too dark, cover with alu foil for the remaining baking time. Remove from oven and cool.

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Pour the chocolate chips (or couverture) in a microwave-safe dish and microwave for 30sec on high. Stir, and microwave for 30sec, and stir. Repeat until the chocolate is melted (if you don’t do it in step, and stir, the chocolate will burn).

Pour the melted chocolate on the cake, distributed with the backside of a spoon evenly. Let cool until firm. Serve!

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Friday, January 25, 2013

Easy roasted pumpkin seeds

Yes, it is still very cold, but I try to ignore it as much as possible. Because the more you complain the more annoyed you get. So, it is better to not give it too much attention. The cold is a good reason, though, to turn on the oven and bake off the few leftover squashes from fall. Recently, I found a simple trick to save the seeds without much a-do. I simply scoop them out and place them next to the roasting squash slices, no clean up, just a sprinkle of salt and a dash of olive oil. The hot oven roasts off the fuzzy material that ties the seeds together and crunchy seeds are leftover.

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Saturday, January 12, 2013

First 2013 trip to the coast

It is unusually mild and it was an overcast day but it was also the last hurray before the semester starts on Monday, so I headed to the coast, Belfast as my favorite Maine hippie town as destination. I made it time for lunch at Chase’s Daily. Since they make meals mostly from produce on their farm I wondered what would be on the seasonal menu, because there is not much left seasonally this time of the year. There was an awesome chickpea and roasted cauliflower soup, and a cabbage and lentil salad. In one of my favorite stores, Brambles, I brought home a little piece of Florida --- a blooming and wonderfully fragrant Meyer Lemon tree with already a tiny green lemon. Good day, allaround.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Winter, oh winter

We are already approaching the middle of January. It’s been sunny, and unusually mild for this time of the year in Maine, which is typically still ‘real winter’, sub-zero temperatures and a few feet of snow. I’ve been crosscountry skiing whenever I got a chance but this week the temperatures rose into the 40s, slight rain, and the skiing quality is perdu. I don’t think the winter is quite over yet, I don’t have my hopes up, and I expect another dump of snow at some time, restoring the skiing conditions. This is also the time when work sends around ‘influenza outbreak’ emails reminding us to wash hands and don’t get within 6 feet of coughing and sneezing people. Fortunately, this is almost doable in a state like Maine where there are just a handful of people in the winter. Nevertheless, I up my orange intake and that emergency-C guzzling. It’s almost the weekend!

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Chocolate Amaretto Cake

This is one of the first cakes that I ever made when I taught myself cooking (by my wonderful teacher, Giada Di Laurentiis on food network TV), and it is still one of my go-to cakes when I need a cake for a potluck (or any other cake) fast. Giada originally discovered it in a cafe in Venice, and ‘reengineered’ it. I love the simplicity of crushed amaretti cookies, melted chocolate, grated orange peel and then just a bit of sugar, butter and eggs, and that’s it. I typically make the entire dough right in the food processor and it does not take more than 10 min to prepare. It has the texture of a dense brownie but with an exotic, surprising taste of amaretto. It is simply elegant – like made in Italy by an Italian…. Best eaten with some strong Italian coffee.

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Chocolate Amaretto Cake:

  • Butter-flavored nonstick cooking spray  
  • 3/4 cup bittersweet chocolate or semisweet chocoate chips  
  • 1 cup whole almonds
  • 1 cup baby amaretti cookies (about 2 ounces)
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh grated orange peel
  • 4 large eggs
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, for sifting

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Spray a 9-inch springform pan the nonstick spray. Refrigerate. Microwave the chocolate in 20 second intervals, and stir, repeat until melted (might take up to 5-6 repeats but if you don’t stir it it will burn).

Add the almonds to a large food processor. Pulse until the almonds are a fine meal, and add the amaretto cookies, pulse until they are finely ground, too. Place the butter stick from the fridge with the wrapping paper into the microwave and microwave for 20 sec. This will make it almost liquid and very good to add to the almond/cookie mix. Also add the sugar to the processor and blend until creamy and smooth. Add the grated orange peel and pulse briefly, until incorporated. Add the eggs 1 at a time. Blend until the eggs are incorporated. Clean the sides of the mixing bowl and blend again. Add the melted chocolate. Pulse until blended. Clean the sides of the bowl. Blend again.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until the center puffs and a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes.

Transfer the cake to a platter. Sift the cocoa powder over and serve.

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Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Winter. Yes, winter.

How was your New Year celebration? Are you full of resolutions and starting with a clean slate?  These days Maine is as we know it – it is deep winter. Tons of snow, bone chilling temperatures and a woodstove oven that never goes out. Fortunately, by mid February hopefully the worst is over, and the days get longer and the snow melts away. But for now, I better enjoy it.

I headed out skiing today, and had a hot and spicy thai soup right after, I was so cold.

Happy New Year!

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