venetian chocolate walnut cake

venetian chocolate walnut cake

I believe with my whole heart in the act of cooking; in its smells, in its sounds, in its observable progress on the fire. – Marcella Hazan

Here’s a simple, rustic cake, right at home presented on a plain old cutting board, dolled up with nothing more than a lavish dusting of cocoa (powdered sugar would do just as well).

The basis of this recipe comes from Marcella Hazan’s masterpiece, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, a book I tote around with me like a cherished friend. And now I realize that it is just that.

venetian chocolate walnut cake

I bought my copy at the Strand Bookstore in New York City, just about twenty years ago when I was teaching myself to cook, and I still have it. On those days when I feel slightly uncentered and overwhelmed, Marcella’s words and recipes help me feel grounded again.

I only have to read the recipe title for Roast Chicken with Two Lemons (a version of that chicken appeared here as Marry Me Roast Chicken) to be reminded that no matter how discouraging a day seems, a person can always replenish the soul by making something simple and delicious to eat.

venetian chocolate walnut cake

Marcella’s recipe uses almonds, but I was craving walnuts and needed to make a dent in what seems to be a stockpile of them in my freezer (I must have been a squirrel in another lifetime). I also added a bit of chocolate (just because).

I love this cake, and I hope you will, too. It’s light, moist, rich, not too sweet…making it one of a few desserts that can be savored along with the last drops of red wine – or better yet, a glass of nocino - after dinner.

venetian chocolate walnut cake

Yield: one 8 inch cake

Marcella writes in the headnote to the original recipe that almonds are “ by a wide margin the most favored nut in Italian cakes, particularly in the Veneto...” but I think walnuts are a wonderful substitute.

Ingredients

  1. 1 ¾ cups shelled walnuts
  2. 1 cup sugar
  3. 3 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  4. Grated zest of one lemon or orange
  5. 8 egg whites
  6. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  7. ½ cup all-purpose flour or brown rice flour
  8. 1 tablespoon nocino (Italian walnut liqueur) or brandy
  9. Unsweetened cocoa powder and/or softly whipped cream for serving

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the sides of an 8-inch springform pan with olive oil or softened butter and line the bottom with a piece of parchment.
  2. Put the walnuts and sugar in a food processor and grind until fine crumbs form; add the chocolate and zest and pulse a few times to chop the chocolate into small chips.
  3. Whip the egg whites and salt in a mixer with the whisk attachment until they form stiff peaks.
  4. Sift the flour over the egg whites and fold it in gently. Add the walnut mixture in 2 or 3 additions and fold it in carefully (the volume will decrease slightly); stir in the nocino or brandy.
  5. Transfer the batter to the pan. Bake on the middle oven rack 30 – 35 minutes, until the cake is puffed and a toothpick inserted in the middle emerges without crumbs but with a little melted chocolate.
  6. Cool in the pan 10 minutes before releasing the sides of the pan; invert onto a rack, remove the parchment paper. Turn the cake right side up and cool completely.
  7. Sift cocoa powder over the cake before slicing and serving, with a side of whipped cream of you like.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/03/venetian-chocolate-walnut-cake/

whole meyer lemon semolina cake

whole meyer lemon semolina cake

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you might know I have a thing for anything lemon-y. That is, things that contain lemon peel, juice, oil, zest, flesh…

In other words, the very essence of lemon is delicious to me.

Which is why I was drawn to the idea of this cake. I saw a recipe for Whole Orange Cake in this month’s Sunset Magazine (The Food Lover’s Issue, which is terrific, by the way).

meyer lemon semolina cake

I do care deeply for other kinds of citrus, including oranges, but since Meyer lemons are at their peak season right now I thought they might be a good swap for oranges.

Meyer lemons are a cross between a type of tangerine and a lemon, so they have a milder, sweeter bite than the typical Eureka lemon, with a more delicate, thin skin. They are a great choice to use whole – skin, flesh and all – in the batter.


meyer lemon semolina cake

There’s semolina in my version of this cake – it’s the same finely ground durum flour used to make pasta, with a nice mild yellow color that seems to get along with lemon.

And the cake smells incredible while it’s baking, kind of like a pot of spaghetti with lemon sugar all over it. No, not really like that, but it does have an enticing aroma while in the oven.

The resulting crumb is moist. And lemony. So lemony, with just a tiny bit of bitterness from the peel. If you enjoy candied citrus peel, you’ll know the kind of sweet bitterness I’m talking about.

whole meyer lemon semolina cake

Emiko posted a recipe for an old-fashioned Italian semolina cake on her blog – I would love a bite of that, too.

whole meyer lemon semolina cake with yogurt-olive oil glaze

This cake is baked in a small (sometimes called a "mini" or half-size) Bundt pan. If you don't have that size pan, you can use a 6 - 8 cup fluted pan, but the height of the cake will be shorter.

Ingredients

  1. 1 tablespoon plus 1 stick butter (1/2 cup), at room temperature
  2. 1 tablespoon plus 1 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 2 Meyer lemons
  4. ½ cup semolina flour
  5. ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  6. ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  7. 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  8. ½ cup natural cane sugar or granulated sugar
  9. 2 eggs, room temperature
  10. For glaze:
  11. 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted to remove lumps
  12. 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  13. 1 tablespoon Greek yogurt (plain or vanilla flavored)
  14. 1 teaspoon fresh Meyer lemon or plain lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Use your fingers to smear 1 tablespoon butter all over the inside and into the nooks and crannies of a small (3 - 4 cup capacity) Bundt pan (6 – 7 inches in diameter). Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the flour into the pan and rotate to distribute the flour in an even coating over the butter. Knock out any excess flour by tapping the pan upside down. This is an important step to ensure your cake doesn’t stick to the pan.
  3. Cut the lemons into wedges and remove the seeds. Put the lemons in a food processor and process until fairly smooth – it’s okay if some very small pieces of peel are visible – you should have about 1 cup.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk remaining 1 cup flour together with the semolina, salt, baking powder and baking soda.
  5. Beat the remaining stick of butter with the sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed until fluffy; beat in the eggs one at a time.
  6. Add the lemon puree to the mixer and beat until combined; add the flour mixture and stir until smooth. Spread the batter evenly into the Bundt pan; bake 40 – 45 minutes, or until a toothpick emerges from the cake with a few moist crumbs. Cool the cake in the pan 10 minutes before turning out onto a rack to cool completely.
  7. To make the glaze, stir together all the ingredients until smooth; add 1 teaspoon or more water to reach a thick but pourable consistency. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake and let it set before slicing.

Notes

http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/whole-meyer-lemon-semolina-cake/

chocolate madeleines

chocolate-madeleines

So, you’re in the mood for chocolate (just in case you haven’t noticed: I am) but not sure whether you want to indulge in cake or cookies? Chocolate madeleines are a happy cross between the two; with a thin, crisp crust on the outside and a moist, melting chocolate crumb on the inside.

The method is pretty basic, but in order to achieve the characteristic domed, scalloped shape of these little French cakes you need to chill the batter for an hour in the baking pan – and yes, to make this recipe you will need a madeleine pan.

Madeleines are delicious at room temperature, but especially good slightly warm from the oven.

chocolate-madeleines-recipe

chocolate madeleines

Yield: 2 dozen madeleines

Ingredients

  1. 1 tablespoon melted butter
  2. 10 tablespoons butter
  3. 6 ounces dark or bittersweet chocolate; chopped
  4. 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  5. ½ cup all-purpose flour
  6. ½ cup cocoa powder
  7. ¼ teaspoon salt
  8. 6 egg whites

Instructions

  1. Brush a madeleine baking pan with the melted butter.
  2. Put remaining butter and the chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (be sure the water doesn't touch the bowl). Heat until chocolate and butter are almost melted; remove from heat and stir together until smooth.
  3. Sift sugar, flour, cocoa and salt into a bowl.
  4. Beat egg whites in a large bowl with an electric mixer or by hand until frothy. Stir in flour mixture until combined; add chocolate mixture and mix until blended.
  5. Portion batter into pan; chill in the refrigerator one hour. If your pan makes only 12 at a time, chill remaining batter in bowl and bake in batches.
  6. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  7. Bake about 12 minutes, or until madeleines are springy to touch. Cool in pan 1 minute; unmold madeleines onto a rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.
http://familystylefood.com/2013/02/chocolate-madeleines/