Tag Archives: chocolate

cat cake

We made a cat shaped cake for a friend’s birthday a couple weekends ago. Not only was it cat shaped, it also was checkered inside! When cut, it looks pretty impressive, but really it is quite simple to do, provided that you have the proper tools. The cakes used were a simple vanilla/yellow cake and a delicious chocolate cake, with a thin layer of raspberry filling (just some thinned out jam) and vanilla buttercream. In order to cut and shape the cake easily, I recommend freezing, or at the very least heavily chilling the layers. The best results will come with the use of a stencil, easily made by a manilla folder, an x-acto, and  a straightedge, the last two items are best acquired over 6 years of architecture school.

I really liked the chocolate cake that I wound up using. The crumb was tender and moist, even after a lot of fridge time, flavorful enough to be eaten sans frosting and held up to the flipping, flopping, and shaping. Using some raspberry jam brushed onto the cake will ensure some moisture, so I highly recommend doing that, especially with all of the freezing. I wish I could have let the crumb coat set on the cake a bit longer, as a result, the final icing was a bit messy, but maybe that just added some interest to the final cat.

If anyone is interested in a “how to” tutorial about making the layers and shaping, leave a comment and I will write up a more detailed post. If you don’t want to attempt a cake cat, this chocolate cake, served with some chocolate frosting or vanilla buttercream, is sure to disappear at your next summertime gathering.

We celebrated at Delancey, the pizza joint run by Orangette and her husband. It was DELICIOUS and the staff was so awesome and accommodating that they stored the cake in the fridge, and took it out in time for it to come up to room temp. They even stuck candles in for eyes! Hooray!

(Photos from Stephanie)

Chocolate Layer Cake

adapted lightly from gourmet, via smitten kitchen

This recipe is sized for 2 10 inch round layers; I made 1 9×13 sheet and 6-7 cupcakes out of this recipe. Nothing wrong with having extra cake!

3 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped

1 1/2 cups hot coffee

2 1/2 cups sugar

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups cocoa powder (not dutch processed)

2 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

1 1/4 tsp fine salt

3 lrg eggs, room temp

3/4 cup canola oil

1 1/2 cups buttermilk (I used 1/2 cup of yogurt and 1 cup of soymilk, well mixed)

1 tsp vanilla

Preheat the oven to 300. Baking at a lower temp for longer results in flatter, more even layers. Flatter layers=less leveling. Grease and line pans with parchment and then grease again.

In a heat proof bowl, combine the unsweetened chocolate and hot coffee and let it sit until melted. Meanwhile, sift together the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa, and salt. In another bowl, beat the eggs until they lighten in color and become a bit thicker (3-5 minutes with an electric beater) stream in the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla. Then add the melted chocolate mixture. Do this slowly. Beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture and beat until the batter is just mixed.

Divide into the awaiting pans. I usually drop the filled pans onto the counter from a few inches to let any air bubbles rise to the surface and pop. Bake in the middle of the oven until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. This will differ based on your pan size and oven. Cool in pans and then flip out onto a rack, if needed, or just frost in the pan and enjoy.


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homemade (vegan!) samoa cookies

it is still girl scout cookie season here in houston and while i like to indulge once a year, i feel like the girl scouts still have nothing on a homemade cookie.  samoa or “caramel delites” (depending on where you are in the country) have always been my favorite due to the combination of coconut and chocolate.  you can take or leave the shortbread base, but the coconut and chocolate makes the cookie.  i also try not to look at the nutritional label or ingredient list of girl scout cookies.  making your own (and these are super easy) lets you control the quality of ingredients (65% dark chocolate and organic coconut).

next time i might add a tiny bit more flour to these so they are a bit more cookie-like instead of macaroon like and (if feeling especially indulgent) drizzle with a bit of salted caramel.  i like that this recipe uses coconut oil instead of butter to intensify the coconut flavor and uses toasted coconut (my most very favorite dessert type flavor in the world).  these cookies take about 10 minutes to mix up and 8 minutes to bake so you can on your way to girl scout cookie heaven in no time.


vegan samoa cookies

adapted from the baking stone

2 cups shredded UNSWEETENED coconut (i usually get it in the bulk bins at WF)

1/3 cup virgin coconut oil, melted

1 cup brown sugar or sucanat or 1 1/2 cups if you like it sweeter

1/3 cup non dairy milk (i used soy, but i think you can use dairy milk)

1 tbsp ground flax (if you do not need these to be vegan, i think 1 egg can be used in place of flax)

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup all purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt (generous)

1/2 cup chocolate chips (i used 65% dark chocolate)

1 tbsp coconut oil

preheat oven to 350.

in a large skillet over medium heat, toast the coconut.  watch it and stir frequently!  when it smells very delicious and golden remove from the pan. and cool slightly.

meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together the coconut oil, sugar, milk, flax, and vanilla.  sift in the flour, baking soda, and salt.  fold in the toasted coconut.

drop tablespoons of dough on a well greased cookie sheet.  bake for 8-9 minutes or until the edges are just starting to get brown.  the cookie should be very soft when it comes out.  use the end of a spoon or chopstick to poke a hole in each cookie when it comes out.  cool for a few minutes of the sheet and then transfer to a cooling rack.

when the cookies are cool, make the chocolate drizzle my melting together the chocolate chips and coconut oil.  i just used the microwave in 30 second bursts.  place the cookies of a rack over a sheet pan and drizzle with chocolate.  allow the chocolate to set (in fridge or other cool place) and feast!



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chile and sea salt brownies

some visitors came by the other night, one with a craving for sweets.  i have made a lot of cookies this past month but i haven’t made brownies in quite a while.  these brownies cash in on two of the biggest trends in chocolate: sea salt and chile.  these are also extremely fudgy and, when cooled, are just in between light and dense.  the chile is not loud, but you feel some warmth in the back of your throat and is good complement to the dark chocolate.  next time, i would cut down a bit on the sugar, but everyone else seemed to enjoy the sweetness level.  cut these into small squares as these are very rich.

chile and sea salt brownies (the fudgy kind)

slightly adapted from in the kitchen with a good appetite

2 sticks plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter

3 oz dark or unsweetened chocolate

1.5 c all purpose flour

1/2 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp cayenne powder

1/2 c plus 2 tbsp cocoa powder

2.5 c sugar (i wound up using brown sugar because that is what i had left, and i would cut down to 2 cups, maybe even less next time)

3 eggs, beaten

1 tbsp vanilla

flaky sea salt for sprinkling and/or chopped walnuts for topping

preheat oven to 350 and grease or parchment a 9″ x 13″ pan.

in a double boiler, melt chocolate and butter together.  meanwhile, combine flour, salt, and cayenne in a mixing bowl.  when the chocolate and butter is smooth, take it off the heat and whisk in the cocoa powder and sugar.  beat in the eggs and vanilla.  add the flour mixture to the chocolate mixture and stir until just combined.  spread out into the prepared pan and sprinkle with salt and chopped nuts if using.  bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until the top is shiny and set and the edges have pulled away from the pan.  cool until you cant wait anymore and cut into squares.  these might seem too undercooked, but they will set up as it cools.


Filed under butter, sweets