Month: January 2015

Tiny Chocolate Wine Cakes

I would like to take a moment to thank all of my friends for having birthdays. They enable my cake-related megalomania, and I love them for it. My friend Sarah likes red wine. She likes chocolate. And she had a birthday last week. These tiny cakes were the result, and they’re fucking magical. Rounds of rich red wine chocolate cake perch on thin discs of solid bittersweet chocolate, topped off with a dusting of powdered sugar and a swirl of cream cheese icing.

That sounds fancy as shit. And it is. But this base cake recipe is very, very forgiving.  The equipment used is a reward in and of itself. Through the magic of the holiday season, I received a number of tiny baking implements. And through the magic of this recipe, I got to use them all.

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This construction is also really tasty. When I’m putting together a new recipe, I aim for an initial punch of introductory flavor, a mellower but more satisfying mid-taste, and a lingering aftertaste. If my flavors trip all over each other, I haven’t made a dish. I’ve made a mess. This time, I got it right. The bittersweet crunch of the solid chocolate base is followed by the sweet tang of the icing, and rounded out by rich cocoa and red wine cake.

In short, this stuff is incredible. Grab hold of your tiny bakeware and follow me.

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Boston Cream Lies

If you have never had a Boston cream pie, consider the donut of the same name. Except instead of a single sad squirt of vanilla-ish pudding in the middle, there is a half-inch-thick layer of pastry cream. Replace the donut with sponge cake. And imagine that, once you’re finished with the first helping, there will be so many more slices right there in front of you.

Some incredibly incorrect person decided to name this perfect dish  Boston cream pie. It is not a fucking pie. It is a cake. I have no clue who decided that a two-layer sponge cake with pastry cream and chocolate ganache was a pie, but they were wrong.

I bake Boston cream pies on New Year’s Eve. Since I’m 23 and I’ve done it two years in a row, I’ll call it a tradition. An essential part of this baking process is being in Canada, where my friends congregate once a year. Boston cream pie is universally delicious, but I think that an atmosphere of imminent frozen death really adds to the experience.

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Exciting baking opportunities now available on Hoth!

Last year, I had just begun my terrible spiral into fancy cake hell, so I used boxed yellow cake for the layers. This year, I decided to make the cake from scratch. I know that the Internet has a thousand good recipes for sponge cake, with helpful diagrams and beautiful pictures. But Lawrence, my best friend and our host, had an old version of the Joy of Cooking in the pantry.

I grew up with The Joy of Cooking. My family’s battered, annotated, stained copy lived above the stove and grew fat on recipe clippings stuck between the pages. I loved that book. I made my first brownies and ginger snaps and cookies out of that book. It was the arbiter of all food-related arguments in the house, and my guide to everything that tasted like home. I considered going to Miami in the dead of night in order to steal it from my parents. Unfortunately, that particular volume started to grow mold and had to be put out of its misery. Sometimes, unfortunately, good old things become toxic nightmares. And sanitation wins out over sentimentality, even in my crusty, grumpy, crying-over-cookbooks heart.

So when I saw Lawrence’s copy, I latched on immediately and flung myself, all trusting, into an abyss of sponge cakes.

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