The Sensitive Kitchen

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Be Thankful

Be thankful that you don't already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don't know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.

Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.

Be thankful for your mistakes. They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you're tired and weary,
because it means you've made a difference.

It's easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles,
and they can become your blessings.

--Author Unknown

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Janis's Half Naked Birthday Cake

A spin on traditional German chocolate cake, this dark chocolate version features a nut-free coconut filling and a whipped chocolate ganache. Adapted from the Cupcake Bakeshop.

Why half-naked? Sadly, I didn't get time to complete it with the whipped ganache frosting. It was still rich and tasty, if a bit sweet. I think if I make this cake again, I'll cut back on the sugar in the coconut filling, or even look for a new recipe entirely. Or perhaps I'll just make the cake itself and serve it in wedges all alone!

Dark Chocolate Cake:

300g bittersweet chocolate (I used Scharffen Berger 70%)
2 1/4 c butter
3 1/3 c sugar
12 eggs
2 c unbleached flour
6 Tbsp cocoa
2 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp good quality salt (I use RealSalt)

Preheat oven to 350. Prepare 3 9" round pans with cooking spray; line with parchment at the bottoms.

Chop chocolate; transfer into the bowl of a standing mixer. Add butter to chocolate; place bowl over a pan of simmering water. Stir until chocolate melts and butter is combined. Remove from heat; stir in sugar. Let mixture cool for 10 minutes.

Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.

Beat mixture for 3 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing for 30 seconds between each. Add dry ingredients; mix until blended.

Spoon batter into pans; batter will be thick. Bake 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn out of pans; cool completely on racks.

Coconut Cream Filling:

2 c unsweetened dried coconut
3/4 c coconut milk
3/4 c butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

Combine coconut and coconut milk. Stir; coconut will appear just coated. Let stand at room temperature to soften (I did this several hours ahead).

Beat butter briefly, scrape bowl. Add powdered sugar. Beat until smooth. Add coconut mixture; beat until combined. Add additional coconut milk by tablespoons if necessary for consistency.

Whipped Chocolate Ganache:

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla
pinch salt

Chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl. Bring heavy cream to a simmer in a medium saucepan; pour over chocolate, stirring to combine. Add vanilla and salt. Allow to cool to room temperature. Beat the cooled ganache with an electric mixer fixed with the paddle attachment until it lightens in color and increases in volume; this should take a few minutes.


Brush crumbs off cake layers. Place a bit of frosting on the bottom of the cake stand. Place first layer; slice off domed top with a bread knife. Top with half of coconut filling, spreading evenly to within 1/2" of edge. Repeat with next layer and remaining filling. Place last layer. Frost with whipped ganache. Decorate, if desired, with toasted coconut shreds and dark chocolate curls.

Dark Chocolate Zucchini Bundt Cake

This recipe can be adapted to make 24 muffins, with a baking time of 25-30 minutes.

1 1/4 c sugar
3/4 c canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 large eggs
1/3 c buttermilk
3 c shredded zucchini
1 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
1 c unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray bundt pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat sugar, oil, and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each, then add buttermilk. Stir in zucchini.

Add half of flour mixture to egg mixture, then the other half. Fold in chocolate chips.

Pour batter evenly into bundt pan. Bake on center rack until cake tests done, 45-55 minutes. Cool on a rack for about 10 minutes, then unmold and let cool completely.