Double Dark Chocolate Cupcakes

We spent spring break at home last week, and I have to admit I dreaded it a tiny bit. My kids usually have a gang of friends in our neighborhood to hang with, but it seemed like they all flew south for a taste of warm sun, leaving my brood in a state of social withdrawal. I imagined long rainy days stuck inside while their boredom escalated to deafening levels.

Fortunately, my sister-in-law L flew in from Portland to entertain and play with us – happiness all around!

I came home one afternoon to find her in the kitchen with the kids, applying lashings of creamy frosting to the tops of just-baked little chocolate cupcakes, something I know an attentive Mrs. Cleaver might attempt with her family, but I never seem to. That must be what aunts are for, I think.

The cupcake recipe is from Dorie Greenspan’s fantastic book Baking: From My Home to Yours. Dorie is a perfectionist, and her recipes are crafted to a precise “T”. Perfect recipe instructions are especially important in baking recipes; those chemical reactions that happen in the oven rely on exact measurements of ingredients, time and temperature.

These cupcakes are no exception; they turned out just as promised – dark, moist, not too sweet – glazed with a shiny, bakery-like chocolate frosting. L sprinkled some colored candy sprinkles on the cupcakes, reserving a few with a sprinkle of sea salt, a just reward for the adults in need of a chocolate fix.

Chocolate Soufflé Cake

Everyone needs at least one go-to chocolate recipe, like stashing a little black dress in the recipe file.

This chocolate soufflè cake is like that perfect dress – deceptively basic but oh-so delicious in action. I pull this recipe out of my hat for last minute desserts as well as a last course for my clients requesting a chocolate ending for dinner parties.

I very slightly adapted this recipe from Alice Medrich’s book Chocolate and The Art of Low Fat Desserts. Yes, the cake is not only simple to make but not full of calories – that isn’t the reason I like it so much, but still good to know. Despite having little fat, the cake turns out with a soft, pudding-like texture and rich choocolate flavor.

Chocolate Soufflé Cake

Yield: 6 cakes

You can make this into one single cake instead of separate ones by using an 8-inch springform pan.

Ingredients

1 tablespoon softened butter

1 tablespoon granulated sugar

3 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup boiling water

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/3 cup blanched almonds, finely ground

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 cup boiling water

2 egg yolks

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

4 egg whites, at room temperature

Instructions

  1. Position rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 375 degrees. Brush softened butter all over the inside of 6 1-cup souffle cups or ramekins and coat with granulated sugar. Place the cups on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  2. Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa and 3/4 cup of the sugar in a large mixing bowl. Pour in the boiling water and whisk until mixture is smooth and chocolate is completely melted. Whisk in the egg yolks and vanilla extract. Set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites in the bowl of an electric mixer until soft peaks form. Gradually sprinkle in the remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff but not dry.
  4. Whisk the flour and almonds together and stir into the chocolate. Fold about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold in remaining egg whites. Spoon the batter evenly into the cups.
  5. Bake for 15 -20 minutes or until a toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Cool on a rack 5 minutes.
  6. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the cups and invert to release each cake. Serve warm or at room temperature, with a sprinkle of cocoa, powdered sugar or warm chocolate sauce.
http://familystylefood.com/2010/02/chocolate-souffle-cake/

The Chocolate Mousse Diet


Lush chocolate mousse with a healthy surprise inside
That bowl of summer corn chowder is long, long gone and it’s about time, too.

My personal chef work is keeping me busy, and putting me in touch with all sorts of people, each with their own set of dietary needs, likes and dislikes. But what I’m hearing most often when planning meals for clients is their desire to eat a healthy diet. It can be hard to distinguish what “healthy” really means when you see the word pasted on all sorts of processed food in the grocery store, from boxes of cereal to packaged frozen entrees.

What do most people perceive to be a healthy way of eating? My sense is that we all know that the more real, unprocessed food we eat the better, but it’s still a full time job to keep track of all the information out there about what’s good for us or not.

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