Lemon Polenta Cake


had a lot of pots on the fire this week and I was hoping to share some of the contents with you. And I will… but today I want to keep it simple. So here’s a favorite dessert recipe from my file. It’s a rustic Italian cake made with lots of lemon and crunchy stoneground cornmeal –  polenta.

It’s the sort of peasant-style dessert I love. You could cut it into squares and eat it with your hands like a bite of coffee cake, or sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve alongside a generous pile of whatever summer fruit is the sweetest at the moment.


Lemon Polenta Cake

Serving Size: serves 8 - 10


  1. 1 cup polenta, or coarse-ground cornmeal
  2. 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  3. 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  4. 1/2 teaspoon salt
  5. 1 cup sugar
  6. 2 eggs
  7. 2 egg whites
  8. 1/4 cup olive oil
  9. 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  10. 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  11. 2 tablespoons grated fresh lemon zest
  12. 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place an oven rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Line the bottom of an 8-inch cake pan or standard loaf pan with lightly oiled parchment paper to fit.
  3. Whisk the cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl and set aside.
  4. Beat the eggs, egg whites and sugar in a heavy-duty stand mixer until pale and creamy. On low speed, mix in the oil. butter, yogurt, lemon zest and juice.
  5. Stir in the dry ingredients until just blended. Pour the batter into the pan and bake 35 - 40 minutes, or until the top feels firm (not hard) and a toothpick inserted in the center of cake come out clean. Cool completely before serving.

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; bake for 25 - 30 minutes at 350 degrees.


  1. 1 tablespoon softened butter
  2. 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  3. 3 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
  4. 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  5. 1 cup granulated sugar
  6. 1/2 cup boiling water
  7. 2 egg yolks
  8. 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  9. 4 egg whites, at room temperature
  10. 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  11. 1/3 cup blanched almonds, finely ground


  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.

Brown Sugar Brownies with French Sea Salt

Time for a chocolate fix

Every once in a while, my sluggish sweet tooth wakes up and reminds me it’s time for a hit of chocolate. I suspect it has a little bit to do with the dew point, the Dow Jones average, Tony Soprano’s anxiety level and the price of tea in China. When certain things line up a particular way, well, watch out. I’ll be on the prowl for chocolate.

It’s a good thing I have a stash on hand for just those moments. It makes it so easy to wander into the kitchen and mix up a pan of deep, dark, moist chocolate brownies.

I strayed from a basic brownie batter by using some brown sugar and fancy fleur de sel because I wanted to intensify the flavors. But now I’m thinking I should have used some of the salt to sprinkle over the top of the ganache icing, to really point up the flavor. Yes! In fact, that’s what you should do if you happen to make these.

Fellow blogger Myriam at Once Upon a Tart is hosting Brownie Babe of the Month – check out her round-up of delicious brownies from the blogosphere….

Brown Sugar Brownies with Fancy French Sea Salt
makes about 16 bars

8 tablespoons unsalted butter
12 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or flaked sea salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup

Heat oven to 325 degrees.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with a sheet of overhanging parchment paper.
Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Stir in 8 ounces of the chocolate over low heat until melted and smooth. Cool 10 minutes.

In a medium bowl, beat eggs with vanilla and the two sugars. Add the chocolate mixture and stir until blended. Fold in the flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt just to incorporate.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 35 minutes, or until edges are firm and center is still slightly soft. Remove from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Remove brownie in one slab and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until cold, at least an hour.

Place the cream in a heatproof glass measuring cup and microwave on high for 30 – 40 seconds. Pour over the remaining chocolate in a small bowl and let sit 30 seconds. Add the corn syrup and stir until completely melted and smooth.

Set brownie slab on a rack over a large piece of parchment or waxed paper. Pour ganache over the center of the slab and gently spread to the sides. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt over the top. Let set about 1 hour before slicing into bars – use a knife that has been heated under hot running water, wiping the blade clean after each cut.

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