Flourless Chocolate Cake

Flourless Chocolate Cake Recipe
There are two kinds of ‘flourless’ Chocolate Cake.  The first is the dense and fudgy type, which I have never liked.  It’s way too intense for me.  The second, which is my preference, is a lighter version, ethereal and tender.

If you are looking for the perfect dessert to make for Valentine’s Day, this is it!  The real beauty of this cake is just how easy it is to make.  Even the chocolate decoration come together in a snap.  It’s meant to impress and it does!  

For a cake that says ‘I Love You’ in the sweetest way possible, it’s the perfect dessert for anytime you want to make something extra special for the chocolate lovers in your life.
Flourless Chocolate Cake RecipePS – Keeping it real, my daughter wanted to name this cake ‘Broken Heart Cake’.  She recently went through a very difficult breakup with her long-time boyfriend.  We had a good laugh, but I’m certain there were tears hidden behind the laughter.  So, wherever your heart rests this Valentine’s Day, I say eat cake! Chocolate cake!!
Flourless Chocolate Cake RecipeNote:  The directions for this cake may seem daunting, but in reality, it is pretty easy to make.  Read through the directions completely before beginning.  Chopping the almonds and chocolate can be done hours, or even days ahead.  

 

 

Adapted from Maida Heatter’s Queen Mother Cake 




Chocolate Banana Bread – Plain and Simple

Chocolate Banana Bread RecipeBananas represent a kind of edible security blanket for me.  Never a need to feel hungry if there is a bunch of canary yellow bananas sitting on my counter.  A quick and nutritious snack is always at hand.  And although bananas make a constant and predictable appearance in my market basket,  I fade in and out of my love affair with them.  I am fickle that way.  I will eat a banana religiously every morning for months, and then, just like that, I snub them for days.  It’s during those periods that the poor fellows sit forgotten, and ripen past a point of where I would even consider eating one.  For me, a banana has about a one day window of optimal appeal before those little brown freckles begin to dot their skin and send them over the hill.
Chocolate Banana Bread RecipeChocolate Banana Bread RecipeI detest throwing any food away, and see absolutely no reason to dispose of a banana, even those that have lingered beyond their prime.  An overly-ripened banana brings natural sweetness and nutrients to smoothies, muffins, pancakes, ice cream…  and my personal favorite, this chocolate quick bread.  I’ve been making it for years and I think it just might become your favorite too.
Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe

 

 

Chocolate Banana Bread Recipe 




Triple Coconut Macaroon Cake

Triple Coconut Macaroon Cake RecipeThere’s no ambivalence when it comes to coconut, either you’re a lover, or a hater.  I’m a lover.  My love affair with coconut began way back in my childhood, somewhere between my first Mounds Bar and my Dad’s German Chocolate Cake.  Now all grown up, I satisfy my taste for coconut in a variety of ways, from sweet to savory, and now with this Triple Coconut Macaroon Cake.

Recently, on a mission to go through and clean up stacks of food magazines that had accumulated throughout the house, I came upon this cake recipe.  A tri0 of coconut ingredients convinced me to rip the page from the magazine before tossing it in the trash.  The original recipe was titled Coconut Crunch Cake, however, I found the cake to be more chewy (in a macaroon kind of way), than crunchy, so I re-named it.
Triple Coconut Macaroon Cake RecipeTriple Coconut Macaroon Cake RecipeThe trifecta of coconut ingredients in this cake more than amused my coconut taste buds.  The natural sugars in the coconut caramelize as the cake bakes to a golden brown.  Enjoy an unadorned slice with a cup of coffee, or drizzle it with warm chocolate sauce for an impressive dinner party dessert.
Triple Coconut Macaroon Cake RecipeTriple Coconut Macaroon Cake RecipeTriple Coconut Macaroon Cake Recipe

 

 

Adapted from Martha Stewart Living




Grandma Harrison’s Butterscotch Pie

Butterscotch Pie RecipeMy Grandma Harrison was one of the best souls I have ever known.  She worked hard, gave selflessly, and loved unconditionally. Grandma raised my Dad as a single mother, and later lived together with my parents and helped raise me and my nine siblings.  After years of working hard outside the home, she spent many more years working even harder inside our home.  So much of what I learned about household arts was learned under her tutelage.  Grandma ironed like nobody’s business, was a fabulous cook, beautiful housekeeper, and baked as though she had been professionally trained at a culinary school.

If Grandma wasn’t hanging laundry on the backyard clothesline, or chasing after one of her grandchildren, she was in the kitchen.  I remember standing just behind the tie of her apron as she pushed and pulled mounds of dough across her flour-dusted red counter top, then later getting to enjoy the fruits of her labor as she served up warm from the oven yeasted dinner rolls.  Cooking and baking seemed to be effortless for her.  It was nothing for her to make a Sunday brunch of fried chicken, various side dishes, biscuits from scratch, and pie.  Grandma baked all kinds of pies, but none more legendary in our family than her butterscotch.   The way she melted the sugar for her pie was a form of alchemy.  Like a magician who produces a rabbit from a seemly empty hat, Grandma waved her magic wand and transformed a few simple ingredients into an heirloom.
Butterscotch Pie RecipeFor years I was under the impression that Grandma’s recipe for her butterscotch pie had been lost.  Not so.  When my Dad passed onto me my Grandmother’s little black book of hand-written recipes,  there it was!   Among its tattered, worn, and brown pages was the recipe for Butterscotch Pie.  I had been presented the Holy Grail!  As I went about the family proudly announcing that I  had custody of her recipe, come to find out, other siblings had it too!  It hadn’t been lost at all!!  Well, if that were true, why wasn’t  ‘the famous pie’  making an appearance at any of our family gatherings?  Word had it, some had tried to replicate it, but no one had been successful.  Was something missing?  Maybe a secret ingredient?
Butterscotch Pie Recipe
Butterscotch Pie RecipeI became determined to unlock the key to her pie.  Like the others, my first attempt wasn’t quite successful. Oh, it was a good enough pie, it just wasn’t Grandma’s.  This past Monday was National Pie Day so I decided to honor her by giving it another go-round.  I made a few changes from my original attempt.  I distinctly remember watching her melt the sugar in a cast iron skillet, so that is where I began.  The second time around I used a different brand of dark brown sugar, one that wasn’t quite so dark.  Then, and I hoped Grandma would have approved, I added an additional egg yolk.  The first pie hadn’t quite set up firmly enough so I reasoned it was possible that the eggs she used back then were larger than the eggs I use today.  Maybe so, because the pie set up beautifully.  One last thing, I snuck in an additional tablespoon of butter, because, well, just because.
Butterscotch Pie RecipePatience!  That was her secret ingredient.  Her scribbled directions simply said to stir the milk mixture into the melted sugar.  If one understands the principles of liquified sugar, then one knows that immediately upon the milk hitting the sugar, everything seizes up.  And this is where having patience comes in.  Grandma knew to ‘just keep stirring, stirring, stirring’.  Eventually it will smooth out and thicken into a lovely custard.
Butterscotch Pie Recipe  Unfortunately, I live three thousand miles from my other siblings so I had no taste testers nearby that could confirm, or deny, that the pie I made had reached Grandma Harrison’s Butterscotch Pie status.  I’m heading back home to Kentucky soon and I promised my brother I would bake a pie for him.  He’s been hankering for a slice for years.
Butterscotch Pie Recipe

 

 

 




Beer Bread Re-visited

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Beer Bread RecipeI awoke early this morning to yet another day of pounding rain and wind.  I’m not complaining, as heavy rain days are as close as we Southern Californians get to snow days.  It’s Sunday, and as such, the day was planned to be a quiet, ‘catch up on knitting and reading’ kind of day anyway.  Throughout the hustle and bustle of the holidays, I had fallen dismally behind in keeping up with all the baking magazines I receive every month.  So, as I lit the fireplace and sank deep into my sofa, I reached for the closest magazine at hand, which was an issue of Cook’s Country sitting on the coffee table.  I was initially enticed by the New Jersey Crumb Buns shown on the front cover, but by the last page, I had lost myself to an heirloom recipe for Beer Bread.
Beer Bread RecipeBeer Bread RecipeBeer Bread RecipeSitting idle is not my style, and even on this chilled and rainy day, baking called me from underneath my snuggly afghan to the kitchen.  I told myself that a recipe containing only three-ingredients couldn’t be that hard and before long I could find my way back to the sofa with a warm slice of bread slathered with butter and jam.  Well, that was my intention.  Then I decided to do a post on this ‘wonder bread’.  Dozens of photos later, and two enticing ways to eat this marvel, and well, there went my morning.  H had woken up by then, and I could hardly slither past him on my way back to the living room without asking if I could make an egg toast for him as well.

So it’s 1:23pm and I have yet to leave the kitchen.  Not that I mind really.  After all, it is my favorite room in the house.
Beer Bread RecipeA word on this bread.  This recipe is not new or original.  I think I remember making a version of it way back in the day.  That said, it is worth repeating and passing on to anyone who has missed it along its many year journey.  Does it compare to a yeasted and kneaded bread?  No.  But it has its worthy qualities – like by the time your oven preheats, you can mix together the ingredients and get the batter into the pan.  Thirty-five minutes later, plus 5 more minutes of cooling time, and you can be slicing into a tender-crumbed and yeasty (thanks to the beer) tasting bread.
Beer Bread Recipe  This bread makes great toast, and that’s how I ate it this morning – toasted and slathered with butter and blackberry jam first, then in a more savory fashion topped with cheese, egg, and tomato jam.  And, as I am finally heading back to my sofa, I am already imagining more tasty uses to suit such a bread, like grilled cheese sandwiches, croutons…..
Beer Bread RecipeBeer Bread Recipe

 

 

Source:  Cook’s Country