Chocolate Stout Cake

Seattle has seen one of the most dreary winters since I moved here, but Spring is coming – slowly but surely. In the mean time, gotta keep our spirits up with some sweet, rich chocolate cake. 33775845846_fb0dedf912_k

I have not baked since the Holidays last year, trying to be “healthier”, but for St. Patty’s Day – I wanted to flex my baking muscles again and get to some new recipes. I reviewed a bunch of chocolate stout recipes and decided to use Smitten Kitchen’s Chocolate Stout Cake as a guide. 33686952111_0d09917646_kI could have used good ol’ Guinness, but living in Seattle means having a lot of unique beers at hand. Because I’m such a coffee addict, I was super excited to use this Elysian Espresso Stout.  33775851426_4ddace117c_kWhisked the butter (sooooooo much butteerrrrrrrr!) with the stout and cocoa powder. This makes your kitchen smell amazaballs. 33686951321_0bc727cae5_kSeparately mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt) into the mixed liquids (egg and sour cream). 33660272562_e34de53fc5_kThen lastly, mix the stout mixture (after cooling a bit) into the batter. Fold gently with a spatula. For my recipe, I poured it into a 9 in. springform pan. Smitten Kitchen uses a bundt cake pan, but mine was too small and I wanted to make more of a simple round cake. 33431605210_696783f270_k

I’ve made the recipe twice now and for some reason 35 minutes from the original blog is not enough, I would recommend an additional 10-15 minutes. It came out super dense, rich, and deeply chocolatey. The stout gives it a nutty and creamy taste, unlike the traditional sweet light chocolate cake.
33003329843_39dd54025a_kPart 2! As the cake cools on the rack, it’s time to make the ganache! I’m excited, but nervous because I don’t have a lot of experience making this. 33003330723_ca280103c0_kI had to carefully improvise since I do not have a double boiler, I used a heatproof bowl over a pot of boiling water….eekkks! I stirred everything very carefully until it became a smooth chocolate sauce. 33686947831_44244c1b77_k

33686944441_10aeaba0d1_kWith the cake on a cooling rack, place a sheet or large plate underneath to catch the excess ganache. Take the ganache and pour it on to the middle of the cake, using a flat knife/spatula – spread the ganache over the sides and let it drip off the sides.

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The ganache cools and starts to solidify pretty quickly, so work without hesitation (even if you’ve never done this before). Smooth out the sides and the top with your knife while the ganache is still malleable, this will ensure a lovely smooth finish on the cake.

As you can see, I still need some practice and I found out there were still some chocolate chunks in the ganache. Hey, this just means I need to make more chocolate cakes huh?  33003326613_09bf4b7a06_k

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French Apple Cake

 

This French Apple Cake, or “Gateau aux Pommes“, from Food Network is simple to make but like anything French- feels kinda fancy. This cake is dense without feeling heavy, delicately sweet without frosting or cream, and has a nice rustic look to it. I imagine packing this on a picnic!

I bought too many apples and found this delicious way of getting rid of some.

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Pre-heat your oven to 400ºF.

For the cake you’ll need:

  • 9 inch springform cake pan, buttered
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup whole milk (needs whole if you want that rich luxurious cake texture)
  • 4 baking apples (about 2 lbs) – peeled and cut into small wedges or squares
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Take a large mixing bowl and combine your dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, salt.

Add your wet ingredients one-by-one: vanilla, beaten eggs, oil, whole milk- blend.
2014-12-13 20.34.48While not crucial, I would recommend dicing your apples AFTER you mix your ingredients so they don’t start browning. I personally added about 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon and coated the apples.

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Add the apples to the batter and make sure it’s well-mixed and coated. Then pour the mixture into the prepared springform pan. Bake for about 25 minutes or until the the cake looks firm and the top is golden. 2014-12-13 20.56.14

Not done yet! To create an awesome sweet crispy, creme-brulee-like top mix in a small bowl:

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 3 tablespoons of melted unsalted butter

2014-12-13 21.17.46Take out the cake from the oven and immediately pour the topping mixture gently and evenly over the cake.

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Return to the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the top has a medium golden brown color like creme brûlée. Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a rack until it’s room temperature (it will be very tempting to try a piece earlier!). 2014-12-13 21.59.04

Run a knife around the sides of the pan and release and remove the springform side. Serve and enjoy with a side of freshly whipped cream! 2014-12-14 09.16.26

Japanese-style Cheesecake in a Rice Cooker!

This is going to be my last post of 2014! I had this recipe bookmarked for a long time and just kept putting it off until the end of the year! It’s a perfect light dessert to end the year with (before we start on all those resolutions…).

When I was a kid, I used to love love New York-style cheesecake- with its crunchy sweet crust and dense, rich creamy cheese layer- I would eat it every chance I got. Over the years I started thinking the regular cheesecakes were too sweet, too rich, and too unhealthy. I did continue to love the Japanese-style “sponge” cheesecakes that you can find pre-packaged at Asian supermarkets for $2-3. They were crustless, super fluffy and light, with a hint of sweetness and cheese. Japanese cheesecakes are also usually made steamed or baked.

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This was one of those rare occasions I set out to find a recipe for something specific I wanted to make. I found Namekkoseijin’s Ultra-Easy Cheesecake in a Rice Cooker Recipe from Cookpad Japan.

IMG_0466You will need:

  • 2 eggs
  • 40 g (for light sweetness), 60-80 g (normal sweetness), or 100 g (sweet!)
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 200 g of cream cheese
  • 200 ml of heavy cream (or milk)
  • 40 g of pancake mix (or cake flour)

IMG_0465There’s no easy way to convert the measurements so I busted out my trusty kitchen scale. This is 100 g of sugar shown here (I have a sweet tooth!).

IMG_0467My cat, Tenshi, makes here first appearance on Sweet Therapy. I know having a cat in the kitchen is not too sanitary, but she was super curious about my Kitchen Aid mixer. I had forgotten to thaw the cream cheese so I microwaved the block for about 30 seconds in 10 second intervals and stirring. I added the eggs, lemon juice and sugar and blended until it looked smooth with no chunks.

IMG_0468I added the pancake flour and the cream, spoonfuls at a time and switching between the ingredients. Mix until it is well blended and smooth, if you have a sieve- it is recommended to run it through for a smooth texture. The mixture should still be very thin and watery.

IMG_0471Pour the mixture into a rice cooker (no need to butter or grease the bowl) and hit the cook button! I don’t have a fancy Asian rice cooker, I’m still using the one I used in college that I’m pretty sure I bought in a drug store. I found my rice cooker going to “warm” when clearly the cake was not even solid yet. I had to hit the “cook” button for about 10 times until the cake was solid enough. Stick a toothpick or wooden chopstick in to make sure it comes out clean. 

IMG_0473In the Cookpad recipe, you are suppose to remove the rice cooker bowl, cover it with plastic wrap and cool until room temperature. When it’s cool, place a plate (or use your hand) into the container and flip the whole thing right side up onto the plate.

Well…I got too excited and tried to flip the cake early while it was still pretty warm and I was distracted talking so my cake literally fell apart! It’s a very soft, delicate cake so please wait! I managed to salvage a few pieces for pictures. IMG_0475My cheesecake was still a bit undercooked, but a perfect taste of sweetness and has much more cheese flavor than the store bought cakes. It’s a perfect post-dinner dessert that won’t fill you up but will satisfy your sweet tooth.

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Have a happy and safe New Year’s Eve! 

May your new year be filled with love, joy, good people and good food! ~ Sweet Therapy

2 (okay more like 4) Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

I’ve been wanting to try these “mug recipes” that pop up on my Facebook newsfeed- amazing meals and treats that you cook and eat in your friggin’ mug!! Good news for those college students in dorms! No excuses- all you have to do is mix and let your chef microwave do the work!

Plus- keeps the clean up to a minimum.

I borrowed this super-easy recipe from I Am a Food Blog: 2 Minute Chocolate Mug Cake Recipe. Doubling the recipe because I have a feeling I won’t be sharing!

2014-06-16 21.18.37First find a slightly larger microwavable mug (you want a bigger mug because the batter does rise and could spill over a little.)

Stir together 1 egg, 3 tablespoons of milk, 3 tablespoons of oil (coconut, vegetable, canola, etc.)

2014-06-16 21.28.39Mix in 3 tablespoons of flour, 1/4 cup sugar (I know it’s a LOT of sugar proportionally- so I’d say you can use less), 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder. Stir until well mixed. Lastly, add a splash of vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons of chocolate chips. Give it a few good stirs.

2014-06-16 21.28.49Depending on your microwave’s power-you’ll “bake” it in there for 2-4 minutes. I had to do 4 minutes because I have a dinky cheap microwave (that I need to clean…..I know I know.) At 2 minutes it still looked really softed, so I left it in longer. It was pretty firm, so maybe next time 3- 3 1/2 minutes would have been good too. Place a plate underneath to ensure no messy spillage in the microwave.

2014-06-16 21.36.31There it is, my first mug cake! It’s hot, definitely use mitts and let it cool for 5 minutes.

2014-06-16 21.52.48Enjoy it any way you like, this is a very basic chocolate cake you can eat straight from the mug with a spoon. Or you can jazz it up in all sorts of ways. Consider adding:

  • sprinkles (can’t go wrong with sprinkles)
  • whip cream
  • a scoop of ice cream
  • caramel sauce
  • banana slices/ fruit
  • nutella
  • walnuts
  • bacon bits
  • sea salt
  • All of the above.

2014-06-16 21.51.49It falls out pretty easily from the mug if you want to put it on a plate. It’s almost like an upside-down cake with the melted chocolate chips that fell to the bottom giving the top an extra creamy sweetness. The cake is very dense and fudgy. I’m so intrigued by the idea baking with oven-alternatives!

2014-06-16 21.53.11-1All good things come to those who wait, but no need to wait long for chocolate cake!

Wilton Course 2: Flower and Cake Design (Day 3 & 4)

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Week 3 of the Wilton Course 2 was pretty much more practice of making flowers, that week: bright sunny daffodils and delicate little violets – both great for the upcoming spring season!

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One the last class, we got to bring what we learned in the past few weeks all together. At home we designed and planned what cake design we wanted (well at least we were supposed to, I wasn’t a very good prepared student). We practiced and made more flowers at home and let them harden to bring to class. I decided to make a simple violet cake.

I over mixed my cake batter and it came out with a giant dome that I had to even out with a knife, unfortunately I realized I should really invest in a cake leveler. Thankfully most flaws were hidden by layers upon layers of icing! We started off learning to do a basket weave design to cover the cake up, it was surprisingly easy and creates a complex-looking design on the cake. The picture of the cake slice below will reveal the ridiculous amount of icing used.

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I started by adding the large violets in a bunch as the center piece of the cake. Then I started “sticking” the little violets to the sides as “randomly-even” as possible all around the cake.

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After making sure the flowers were where I wanted them to be, I piped little leaves and foliage to give it some color. Makes a big difference!

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This was a cake to look at not to eat, it definitely was a super-sweet cake and I sadly ended up tossing most of it. I know I still have a long way to go, but even practicing this takes real dedicated time, effort and lots of money buy supplies (and a lot of dish washing!)

First of 2014: Cranberry Bundt Cake

Seems like as I get older time flies by faster, felt like just yesterday when I was waiting for 2013 fireworks at the Ferry Building! So I didn’t make resolutions this year, but if I did it would probably be to post more often! The holiday season is slowly melting away, but who says you can’t have Cranberry Bundt Cake in January?

Better yet, this Eating Well version will help you stick to you resolutions.

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Got these fresh shiny cranberries from the famous Berkeley Bowl. Started off cooking the cranberry filling with cranberry juice, allspice and brown sugar. Watch the cranberries burst one by one as it cooks!

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While the cranberry filling cooked, I popped 3/4 cup of chopped walnuts on the oven to toast it. 2013-12-15 19.55.56

To keep the recipe healthy but delicious, add creamy plain greek yogurt and mix in vanilla extract. 2013-12-15 20.13.12

Mix all the dry ingredients together in a medium bowl. This was the first time I bought whole wheat flour. Combine the butter, oil, and sugar in a large bowl. Then alternate between adding the yogurt mix and the dry flour mix. Start and end with dry ingredients and beat on low speed just until it’s incorporated, stop to scrap the sides as necessary. Fold in the shredded apple/pear and freshly toasted walnuts.

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Grease the bundt pan well to make sure it does not stick. Fill a little less than half of the pan with the cake mixture. 2013-12-15 20.39.27

Carefully spoon the cranberry filling in a circle around the bundt pan, making sure it there is a border of batter on both sides. Looks like a festive wreath!

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Bake the cake for about 1 hour at 350 degrees. Let it cool for at least 15 mins and try to separate it from the pan gently. It should fall out naturally if the pan was well greased and it’s cool enough. Leave on a wire rack for 2 hours until completely cooled.

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Last but not least mix a simple glaze with a 1/2 cup of confectioner’s sugar and 1-2 tablespoons of water or milk. I was a little disappointed that I put too much batter on the bottom and not enough on top so the filling oozes out of the bottom.
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Hope you all had a wonderful holiday season and looking forward to a new year of new recipes and kitchen adventures! 

Wilton Cake Decorating Class- Lesson 4

All good things must come to an end…and my classmates and I couldn’t believe that we were already on our last lesson!

These classes totally made my Mondays, but I’ve been so busy with 2 jobs and other obligations that the end was bittersweet. The preparation for the classes takes quite a good amount of my Sunday nights. At times it did become stressful. But I have absolutely no regrets taking these classes, they were good therapy for a stressful month.

So this course had 4 lessons and totaled 8 hours, in those 8 hours we learned everything from baking cake to making roses, this last day we put all those new skills to use!

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I gave in and bought Tip #789 aka “The Cake Icer” and it made such a difference! Hate to admit it but I definitely needed this. Tip #789 helps create the right thickness of the icing to cover the cake and not pull crumbs when smoothing it with a spatula.

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This last class was the hardest for me, I could not for the life of me get the darn “ribbon rose” right! The instructor had to practically hold my hand through the steps and my roses still came out all funky. Believe me everyone else’s did not look like mine.

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When decorating a cake, writing goes first so you ensure yourself to have enough space. Not really knowing what I was going to do with this cake and who I was going to give this to, I wrote a very vague message.

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Next we learned to transfer our flowers on to the cake with clean scissors. It was pretty exciting to see this cake come together, step by step.

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Then you add the leaves and the border. I decided to use the same light teal color as the lettering for my border with my favorite designs: rosettes. Doing the border takes a lot of patience and a steady hand- let me tell ya!

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Lastly I just added some “vines” so that the roses look like they are bordering the message. I had plenty of icing to do more but I do like the simplicity of this cake.

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Ohhh….so official!

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4 weeks ago I never would have thought that I could do this! I can’t wait for someone’s birthday to come up so I can practice more!