Thursday, July 31, 2014

German Chocolate Cake



The traditional German Chocolate Cake recipe calls for "German's"-style chocolate, which can be a pain to find and doesn't produce a very richly flavored cake. Instead, I used a classic recipe from Hershey's, their Black Magic Cake. I don't know how the recipe can be this easy and this good, but it is. 


German Chocolate Cake
The cake recipe is my very slightly adapted version of Hershey's Black Magic Cake. It's the easiest cake I've ever made; it contains less fat than similar cakes; and it's delicious. You can also bake it in a 9 x 13” pan for 35 to 40 minutes or a 12-cup bundt pan for 50 to 55 minutes. The topping is from very slightly adapted from Betty Crocker.

Cake:

1 cup white sugar (200 grams)
1 cup dark brown sugar (220 grams)
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour (215 grams)
¾ cup natural cocoa powder, such as Ghirardelli or Hershey's (75 grams)
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease and flour 2 9-inch round baking pans (or use a baking spray containing flour; I use one by Pam). Preheat oven to 325F for dark-colored pans (such as nonstick); 350F for light-colored pans.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the sugars, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes (batter will be thin). Divide batter between prepared pans.

Bake side-by-side in the center of the oven for 30 to 35 minutes (mine took 33), switching positions after 20 minutes. Cakes are done with a toothpick comes out clean or with a couple moist crumbs. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool completely. Place one cake on a platter and spread half of the topping over the top. Cover with second cake and spread remaining topping over the top. Cake keeps well, covered, at room temperature for 3 days.

Topping:

3 large egg yolks
1 cup dark brown sugar (220 grams)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup evaporated milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
1/4 to 1/2 tsp sea salt


In a medium saucepan, stir together the yolks, sugar, butter, evaporated milk and vanilla until combined. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until thick and bubbly, about 12 minutes. Stir in the coconut and pecans. Remove from heat and cool, stirring occasionally, until mixture is spreadable, about 30 minutes. Stir in sea salt to taste.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Lentil Soup with Ground Turkey and Indian Spices


Almost every soup I make is improvised. Either that, or I follow a recipe I wrote up for a soup that I improvised. This particular healthy, hearty soup combines a lot of things I had on hand with flavors I love. It combines brown and red lentils, the latter of which almost completely break down into the soup during cooking. I used a ton of Indian spices for flavor, then threw in the very Mediterranean addition of sundried tomatoes.

The nice thing is that I improvised it, and you can too! Any spices, any protein, different veggies. It's all on the table!

Lentil Soup with Ground Turkey and Indian Spices
Sambar powder is a spice blend specifically made for sambar, an Indian lentil soup. It's sold in Indian markets. Curry powder is a great replacement.

Serves 6 to 8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 large white onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
red chile flakes or chile seasoning to taste
2 tbsp sambar powder or curry powder or other Indian spice blend
6 to 8 cups liquid (I generally use half chicken broth, half water)
1 1/2 cups chopped carrots
1 cup brown lentils
1/2 cup red lentils
1 pound ground turkey breast (or other protein)
6 to 8 oz spinach leaves
1/2 cup chopped sundried tomatoes (approximate)
Juice of 1 lemon, or more to taste

Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven on medium-high heat. Add onion, season with salt and pepper and cook until lightly browned. Add garlic, fennel, chile flakes and sambar or curry powder and cook for 1 to 2 minutes or until garlic is tender. Add 7 cups of liquid and bring to a boil.

Add carrots, cover and simmer on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add lentils and continue cooking until tender, about 25 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the turkey in a skillet on medium high, crumbling with your spoon, until cooked through. Season to taste with salt, pepper and chile powder, cumin, onion powder, or any spices you like.

Add spinach to soup and simmer until wilted, 1 to 2 minutes. If soup is too thick, add additional liquid as desired. Add turkey, sundried tomatoes and lemon juice. Stir until heated through. Taste and season as needed.