le macaron

six months ago we read in a magazine that the new it dessert, post cupcake, was the macaron.  I don’t think that cupcakes have really fallen that far from grace.  Orlando, which I feel is terrifically behind the times, even sports a food truck selling cupcakes and food trucks, according the Cooking Channel, are IT.  But, I digress.  The macaron, french and hardly humble is the piece de resistance at a small bakery in Sarasota called Le Marcaron – since I hadn’t tried one before we popped in while shopping and purchased two.
What do macarons have going for them?  Cachet I think.  They are the darlings of Laduree in Paris and food bloggers everywhere.  A macaron is a baked treat that is composed of two outwardly crunchy, inwardly chewy meringue type cookies attached with a bit of frosting or jam type filling.  They are pastel and very pretty.  I tried two, a black Madagascar vanilla and a salted caramel.  They were interesting although very expensive for being a small confection.  I wasn’t prepared for the chewiness and kind of found that faulty although it extends the flavor.  The filling was nice too, a hit of creaminess contrasting the cookie.
Macarons are unique, in general, encompassing flavors from basil to chocolate.  I enjoyed the cookies but haven’t fallen in love or, for the matter, out of love, with cupcakes.

double dark chocolate banana loaf

we saw this loaf (well, not this one but a nice looking one at the market.)  We wanted to get it but I said, ‘well, we have frozen bananas in the freezer at home.’ Z said, ‘I’ll just make it at home then.’  Z made this chocolate banana loaf with dark chocolate chips on Sunday.  There are several great things about this.

  • people in his office think I made it
  • it has the word loaf in the name
  • he bakes
  • chocolate
  • he is an awesome baker
  • it is a good way to use random bananas I throw in the freezer when they get squashy

There is one bad thing.

  • this photo 🙂

1 stick butter, softened to room temp
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
2 large overripe bananas (mashed)
1 t. vanilla
1 cup flour
2 T baking soda
2 T cocoa powder
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup of chocolate chips (we used dark)

preheat oven to 350.  Lightly grease a 9 X 5 loaf pan (we used three mini’s).  In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Stir in egg, squashy banana, sour cream, and vanilla until well mixed.  Add baking soda, cocoa and flour and mix a couple of minutes with mixer (kitchenaid or hand blender). Add chcocolate chips and give a quick stir.
Pour bater into pans and bake for 45-50 minutes.  I don’t know what sea vs mtns does to this but ours took 45 minutes.  We checked at 30 and 40 minutes with a bamboo skewer for gooey ness.  Remove from oven and cool on a rack for 10 or 15 minutes before turning out.   Share.

Z found the original recipe on savorysweetlife.com

chocolate nutella cake

my friend Jessica has been on a now running into years long hunt for a chocolate Guinness cake that she once had and treasures in her memory.    I would suppose the malty chocolate flavor of the Guinness runs toward enhancing the flavor that already sits within the chocolate, kind of like adding a tablespoon or so of brewed coffee into chocolate cake batter just makes it more ‘chocolatey.’
If I had a dream of chocolate cake I think it would be filled with Nutella.  Nutella is that hazelnut and chocolate spread prized in countries where they make and buy fresh bread and croissants daily and I could spoon it in my mouth directly from the jar like peanut butter.

I came upon this recipe by way of my blog reader and it is attributed originally to Nigella Lawson, which makes sense when you consider she is a proponent of lush big flavor.  It looks and tastes gorgeous.  Being naturally gluten free it is dense and sensuous and delivers a hit of decadence.  I would probably substitute brewed coffee for the rum on the next go.

Nutella Cake with Chocolate Hazelnut Ganache
Adapted from Nigella Lawson Cake:
6 large eggs, separated
pinch salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 13-ounce container Nutellla
1 tablespoon rum
1/2 cup finely ground hazelnuts
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted and
cooled

Ganache:
4 ounces whole hazelnuts
1/2 cup half and half
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; butter a 9-inch cake pan. In a large bowl (preferably metal),
whisk the egg whites and salt until stiff. In another bowl, cream the butter and Nutella, then add
the rum, egg yolks, and ground hazelnuts. Fold in melted chocolate.
Add a blob of beaten egg whites to the chocolate batter, and mix gently until well-combined. Fold in the remaining whites, one-third at a time, very gently but thoroughly. Pour into cake pan and bake for 40 minutes. Test for doneness by inserting tester, which should come out mostly clean; lightly pressing finger into top to check for a slight bouncing-back; and observing edges beginning to separate from pan. Let cool completely, in pan, on a rack.
Toast the hazelnuts in a dry skillet, or toaster oven shaking them around frequently. Do it for about 4 minutes, or until they are lightly browned, then let cool completely. If hazelnuts came with skins on, put them in a towel after toasting and rub around; this will remove most of the skins.
Chop chocolate, and add to sauce pan with half and half and rum over medium-low heat. Once chocolate is melted and components are combined, whisk until mixture reaches desired thickness, then cool. Turn cake out onto your serving plate and pour cooled ganache over, spreading lightly to create a smooth, shiny surface, and apply hazelnuts all over.

Cakespy’s Cranberry Bliss Bars

>

this is a riff on the starbucks cranberry bliss bar and I found it on the website of cakespy. I have claimed I cannot bake for a long time. My co-worker Claire says this proves I am lying. That either means it is a great recipe, or I can, in fact, bake.

Ingredients for cake base

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup white chocolate, coarsely chopped (I used Ghiradelli)
1/4 cup candied ginger, finely chopped (I left this out)

Ingredients for frosting

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest (optional)
dash of salt

Ingredients for garnish

1/3 cup white chocolate (either chips, or coarsely chopped bar chocolate)
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Procedure

1. Preheat oven to 350°F and lightly grease a 9×13 pan.

2. Make the cake. Beat butter and sugar together until fluffy; add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Sift together flour, ground ginger, nutmeg, and salt and then add to the butter and sugar mixture, beating until fully incorporated. This will be a very thick batter. Fold in the cranberries, chocolate and ginger. Spread the batter in the pan and bake for about 30 minutes or until light golden. Let the cake cool before adding the frosting.

3. Make the frosting. Using the paddle attachment on an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese together until fluffy; add the lemon zest, vanilla, and salt; add the confectioners’ sugar bit by bit until the frosting has reached your desired consistency (you may need less than the suggested amount). Spread the frosting evenly over the cake, and scatter the cranberries on top of the frosting immediately.

4. Make the drizzle. In a double boiler, melt white chocolate; once it is smooth, use a spoon and drizzle across the top of the frosted and cranberry-festooned cake.

5. Slice the bars immediately after applying the white chocolate drizzle. Slice in half lengthwise, and then slice into four equal parts horizontally. Slice each rectangle in half diagonally, and you will end up with 16 triangle-shaped bars.