one bowl chocolate fudge cake

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you know that line that’s been around for a while now – you eat cake because it’s somebody’s birthday somewhere. now that could become a perfectly legitimate excuse for baking and eating cake when that someone is your mother and when you’re home away from home. so, homesick, as i’ve been all these years with not having been in town to celebrate my mum’s birthday with her, the closest i could feel to being home with her was to bake her a cake. i wanted a cake that screamed celebratory yet contrary to the effort. something i could whip up after long work hours with precisely one whisk and one bowl. and not having to mention, melted butter considering i always refrigerate. should you carry unrealistic expectations and specifications such as mine, you’d be happy to know they could be fulfilled; with this recipe from Alice Medrich that makes the perfect chocolate fudge cake from basic pantry ingredients all with one bowl and one whisk.

i cannot express how simple this is to put together! and with the results obtained, you would think you worked real hard to get it to taste the way it does. intensely rich from the cocoa and a moist tender crumb from the butter and light muscovado sugar, this cake reigns supreme in all departments. it is now my go-to recipe for when i’m low on time and energy. it is my just-because cake.

this recipe comes from ‘sinfully easy delicious desserts’ by Alice Medrich and though i have had the book for the longest time now, i happened to first spot it here. i must say this has reinforced my belief in Alice Medrich after having tasted many success with her signature cocoa brownies. i look forward to trying more of her recipes.


ingredients

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutchprocessed, i used Hershey’s)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and warm
  • 1-1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • ganache
    • 8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
    • 1 cup heavy cream; more as needed
    • granulated sugar (optional)

instructions

position a rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 180 degC. grease the bottom of an 8×2- or 9×2-inch round cake pan or line it with parchment.

in a small bowl, whisk the flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. in a large bowl, combine the melted butter and brown sugar with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula. add the eggs and vanilla; stir until well blended. add the flour mixture all at once and stir just until all combined. pour the hot water over the batter; stir just until it’s incorporated and the batter is smooth. scrape the batter into the prepared pan. bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes for a 9-inch pan; 35 to 40 min. for an 8-inch pan. let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 min. run a thin knife around the edge and invert the cake (peel off the parchment if necessary). invert it again onto the rack and let cool completely.

put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. in a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.  pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  (if using a 70% bittersweet chocolate, the ganache may get thick; add more cream, a tablespoon at a time, to thin it). you might also want to add a couple of teaspoons of sugar when you add the hot cream. the ganache will keep for a week in the refrigerator, covered – rewarm gently before using.

once cool, set the rack over a baking sheet or foil. pour the warm ganache over the cake and use an icing spatula to spread it over the top of the cake and down the sides. let set for about an hour before serving. i had some leftover ganache from a cake i baked a week ago and used it instead.


after baking well late into the night, i was left with no time for frosting so i let the cake cool overnight in the pan. come morning, in between breakfast, lunch and dinner meal prep i had just about enough time to warm the ganache off the refrigerator and frost the cake that had been sitting plain yet pretty on my kitchen countertop. i regret not having had the time to shoot a few pictures in between the ceremonial cutting of wedges (you get 8 generous portions or 16 measly ones) to take with me to work and some siphoned for snacking later in the day. so you just have to believe this makes a pretty cake when frosted. make sure the ganache is relatively thick so you get to swirl it around forming those soft luscious peaks. between work and home, this cake was gone in a day. try it, you’ll see. happy birthday mom. 

dark necessities

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i loved nutella before the internet made it ubercool. i remember being introduced to it as a child on a summer holiday to Dubai. i remember not quite comprehending how a jar of molten chocolate could possibly have been an acceptable accompaniment to toasted bread at the breakfast table. i remember waiting until told it was acceptable and the rest is history. the only legit way i’d known of devouring nutella was with buttered toast/flatbreads and on days when i’d have that horrendous craving, straight off the jar. it was only much later that i discovered a whole following out there leveraging nutella in more ways than one. in brownies to cakes to smoothies to cheesecake, that i had to dedicate an exclusive board to nutella on pinterest.

http://pin.it/soN8Qam

i’d been eyeing this recipe for too long now – Nigella Lawson’s nutella cake. i finally got around to baking it and boy, the result is rewarding. this recipe makes a rather decadent moist hazelnut torte – flourless with nothing but nutella, butter, eggs, ground hazelnut and dark chocolate. it’s like eating one giant ferrero rocher. except you made it at home.


adapted from Nigella Lawson 

ingredients

FOR THE CAKE

  • 6 large eggs (separated)
  • 125 grams soft unsalted butter
  • 400 grams nutella (1 large jar)
  • 1 tablespoon frangelico (or rum or water) – i used water
  • 100 grams ground hazelnuts
  • 100 grams dark chocolate (melted) – i used 60% dark chocolate

FOR THE ICING

  • 100 grams hazelnuts (peeled weight)
  • 125 ml cream
  • 1 tablespoon frangelico (or rum or water) – i used water
  • 125 grams dark chocolate – i used 60% dark chocolate

instructions

  1. preheat the oven to 180ºC. in a large bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff but not dry. in a separate bowl, beat the butter and nutella together, and then add the frangelico (or whatever you’re using), egg yolks and ground hazelnuts.
  2. fold in the cooled, melted chocolate, then lighten the mixture with a large dollop of egg white, which you can beat in as roughly as you want, before gently folding the rest of them in a third at a time.
  3. pour into a 23cm/9 inch round greased and lined springform tin and bake for 40 minutes or until the cake’s beginning to come away at the sides, then let cool on a rack.
  4. dry toast the hazelnuts in a frying pan until the aroma wafts upwards and the nuts are golden-brown in parts: keep shaking the pan so that they don’t burn on one side and stay too pallid on others. transfer to a plate and let cool.
  5. in a heavy-bottomed saucepan, add the cream, liqueur or water and chopped chocolate, and heat gently. once the chocolate’s melted, take the pan off the heat and whisk until it reaches the right consistency to frost the top of the cake. unmould the cooled cake carefully, leaving it on the base as it will be too difficult to get such a damp cake off in one piece.
  6. frost the top with the chocolate icing, and dot thickly with the whole, toasted hazelnuts.


one-bowl-chocolate cake

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i have a chocolate fixation. anything in chocolate, dark preferred. and when it comes to a quick fix, i always look for something that can be made out of a single bowl with simple pantry cupboard ingredients. saves on time and without having to do the many otherwise dishes. i found this recipe from Donald Skehan and decided to give it a go. it is a simple moist chocolate cake, though not as chocolate-y as i would have wanted it to be. you could tweak the proportion of cocoa and sugar if you have the same findings as mine. nevertheless, it most definitely makes an easy one bowl chocolate cake – purpose served!


ingredients

100g butter, plus extra for greasing
200g caster sugar
2 large eggs
70g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
3 tbsp cocoa powder (or more for a more intense chocolate flavour)
1 tsp vanilla extract
icing sugar, to dust

instructions

preheat the oven to 180°C.
grease a 20cm cake tin with a removable base, grease the tin and line with parchment paper.
melt the butter in a saucepan. remove from the heat, add the sugar and eggs and mix well.
add the flour, cocoa and vanilla and mix until combined.
pour into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven for 20 minutes.
the cake won’t rise dramatically but you should be left with a set top and gooey middle.
serve in slices, with a dusting of icing sugar. you can also add a little whipped cream to top it off.


comfort reading and everyday brownies

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when i joined Instagram way back in 2011, it introduced me to a world of food, and with it, food bloggers, stylists, photographers and recipe developers. and following one led to another. i had with time compiled my list of chosen handles, of which the talented prodigy Kamran Siddiqi (@kamrantsg) was one. so it is little wonder when he was out with his first cookbook, i knew i had to bag myself a copy, which i also have to say at first was met with a lot of resistance from having to add to my stockpile of cookbooks, most of which i hadn’t even looked at in a while, leave alone the many recipes in my ever-increasing to-do list. now i know you must not judge a book by its cover but i think exceptions can be made with a cover that looks like this! before i knew it, i had ordered myself one.

when it finally reached me from the long shipping wait-time, it took me all of two nights to read/ogle my way through each recipe/picture trying so hard not to lick each page clean (how does he on earth get his bakes to look so good in print?).

  

  

if that wasn’t enough i ran through his blog sophisticatedgourmet only to find most (which at one point felt like all) of the recipes from the book already listed on his blog. *sigh*? well, no. because in a world where nearly everything has come to be digital, i still like my books. don’t get me wrong – i’m no bibliophile or bibliomaniac. but i still like taking a good book to bed. i like how the pages of a newly bound book smell. i like to feel each page, turn them over and insert a paper bookmark from where to take over next. the sensory experience of reading a paperback or a hardbound cover book is much too much to forego for an artificial light emitting e-reader.

i have to confess i don’t get around to trying recipes off cookbooks that easily. sometimes i’m short on time, sometimes on ingredients (in which case i would just give the recipe a miss ‘coz if it’s not made off simple pantry ingredients, i don’t even want to bother) but most of the times, it has to do with a case of extreme procrastination. today, i wanted to make an honest sincere attempt at overcoming that with these everyday brownies from the amazing cookbook i just babbled about at length. although i have only two definitive brownie recipes that in all honesty i swear by namely the baked brownie recipe and these cocoa brownies by alice medrich, i must say these ones by Kamran are unique for two reasons – one, they call for a small measure of dark brown sugar and two, they recommend using eggs straight off your refrigerator! now who wouldn’t prefer a recipe that does not have you preparing in advance getting all of your baking ingredients to meet strict room temperature standards?! moreover Kamran actually advocates the use of cold eggs for fudge-y brownies and room temperature eggs for cake-y brownies – a well guarded secret by some of the most renowned world test kitchens i say! and i must confirm it to have worked with these brownies turning out to be insanely chocolatey and fudgy while still holding their shape. everyday brownies, everyday exotic!


ingredients

  • 1 cup / 225 g unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups / 300 g castor sugar
  • 1/3 cup / 65 g packed dark brown sugar (i used dark muscovado sugar)
  • 1 1/2 cup / 130 g unsweetened cocoa powder (i used dark cocoa from carrefours)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs, cold
  • 3/4 cup / 90 g flour
  • 1 cup walnuts (optional, i left these out)
  • 150 g roughly chopped dark chocolate (optional, i left these out)

instructions 

line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper. melt the butter in a microwave oven on low power in bursts of 20-30 secs depending on how cold/solidified it is. with a whisk or wooden ladle, mix in both the sugars and cocoa. the mixture would look gritty at this point. stir in the eggs and the vanilla extract. whisk until a smooth batter is formed. fold in the flour gently just until it is incorporated, do not overmix. stir in the chopped chocolate and nuts if using. pour into the lined pan and bake in a preheated 165 degC oven for 40-45 mins or until a skewer reveals moist crumbs. let the pan cool for about 10 min. transfer the brownie square onto a wire rack to cool completely. i baked these in the night and left them wrapped in foil overnight to be cut the morning after. these will keep well in an airtight container for upto a week.


devil’s food cake

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Rachel Allen
Donna Hay
Jamie Oliver
Nigel Slater…

just some of the legendary chefs whose culinary shows i’ve watched with rapture and complete bewilderment. but if there’s one i had to single out, the only true domestic goddess, it has to be Nigella Lawson. there was nothing i did not hold in awe of her shows (nigella feasts, nigella express, nigellissima). be it her flawless ease of cooking, her engaging and entertaining narrative, her decadent bakes, her loaded pantry (complete with fairy lights!) or her fully functional kitchen, it was poetry and romance all the way! read what Nigella has to say about her kitchen here.

cake baking has to be, however innocently, one of the great culinary scams. it implies effort, it implies domestic prowess, but believe me, it’s easy. – Nigella Lawson

long after i’d watched all of her episodes plus reruns, i thought the time had come to overcome my fears and replicate the culinary genius. my first attempt (and success) was met with this dense chocolate loaf cake. i think it was here that i discovered my love for muscovado sugar – dark to be precise. though i’d pinned her devil’s food cake recipe one just too many times, i was waiting on a special occasion, to bake this, and my first-ever-layer-cake-to-be. and when came a dear birthday around the corner, i decided to give this a shot. and i’m so glad i did!


ingredients
FOR THE CAKE
50 grams best-quality cocoa powder (sifted)
100 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
250 millilitres boiling water
125 grams soft unsalted butter (plus some for greasing)
150 grams caster sugar
225 grams plain flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
FOR THE FROSTING
125 millilitres water
30 grams dark brown muscovado sugar
175 grams unsalted butter (cubed)
300 grams best-quality dark chocolate (finely chopped)

instructions
Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F.

Line the bottoms of two 20cm / 8inch round sandwich tins with baking parchment and butter the sides.

Put the cocoa and 100g / half cup dark muscovado sugar into a bowl with a bit of space to spare, and pour in the boiling water. Whisk to mix, then set aside.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together, beating well until pale and fluffy.

While this is going on – or as soon as you stop if you’re mixing by hand – stir the flour, baking powder and bicarb together in another bowl, and set aside for a moment.

Dribble the vanilla extract into the creamed butter and sugar – mixing all the while – then drop in 1 egg, quickly followed by a scoopful of flour mixture, then the second egg.

Keep mixing and incorporate the rest of the dried ingredients for the cake, then finally mix and fold in the cocoa mixture, scraping its bowl well with a spatula.

Divide this fabulously chocolatey batter between the 2 prepared tins and put in the oven for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Take the tins out and leave them on a wire rack for 5–10 minutes, before turning the cakes out to cool.

But as soon as the cakes are in the oven, get started on your frosting: put the water, 30g / 2 tablespoons muscovado sugar and 175g / 1 1/2 sticks butter in a pan over a low heat to melt.

When this mixture begins to bubble, take the pan off the heat and add the chopped chocolate, swirling the pan so that all the chocolate is hit with heat, then leave for a minute to melt before whisking till smooth and glossy.

Leave for about 1 hour, whisking now and again – when you’re passing the pan – by which time the cakes will be cooled, and ready for the frosting.

Set one of the cooled cakes, with its top side down, on a cake stand or plate, and spread with about a third of the frosting, then top that with the second cake, regular way up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides, swirling away with your spatula.


this was the best birthday cake ever! moist, with a tender divine crumb and a luscious decadent frosting. forget the name, this cake is heavenly! make it. now!

chocolate pound cake

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after having baked several versions of a simple pound cake, i craved for something more. and what better than chocolate? i’d been on the lookout for a good chocolate pound recipe for long, but most of them came with either buttermilk or sour cream, which for me are sure recipe turnoffs. ya, i know you could make your own buttermilk but somehow that hasn’t gone down quite well with me. and then sour cream. that’s not easy to come by either. i wanted something that could be whipped up with simple ingredients from my pantry, as always.

your hand and your mouth agreed many years ago that, as far as chocolate is concerned, there is no need to involve your brain. ― Dave Barry

this recipe from cook’s country makes the perfect chocolate pound cake. with no buttermilk, and no sour cream, hallelujah anyone?! it is now my go-to recipe for a chocolate pound cake that’s moist and decadent, with a tender crumb. try it, you’ll see!

adapted from Tracey’s culinary adventures


ingredients
1 cup or 150g all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (i used Hershey’s unsweetened cocoa)
60g milk chocolate, finely chopped (i used Nestle’s smooth milk chocolate)
1/3 cup boiling water
1 cup or 225g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup castor sugar
1/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature

instructions
Preheat oven to 325 F with a rack in the lower third. Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray with flour or line with parchment paper.
Whisk the flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the cocoa powder and chocolate to a heatproof bowl, then pour the boiling water over them and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is well combined and smooth. Set aside to cool for 5 minutes.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a stand mixer, combine the butter, cooled chocolate mixture, both sugars, and the vanilla. Beat on medium to medium-high speed until very fluffy, about 2-3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until completely incorporated. With the mixer on low, add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, mixing just until combined. The batter might look curdled at this point, but that’s ok.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan, smoothing the top into an even layer (the batter will almost completely fill the pan). Gently tap the pan on your work surface a few times to get rid of any air bubbles. Bake for 65-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for 10 minutes, then turn it out of the pan and allow to cool completely.


i did not make the chocolate glaze as called for in the recipe. i thought it was great by itself. but if you must, a simple chocolate ganache would do. makes for a great trifle base too!

some shots from my Instagram account!

update april 9, 2016 :

i happened to bake this with carrefour’s 100% cacao and the result was a rich dark chocolate flavour. Hershey’s has taken a backseat for now.