David Lebovitz’ Melt-In-Your-Mouth Chocolate Mousse Cake

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This weekend my friend Sine was here from to visit from Copenhagen, and we went to another friend’s for dinner. I brought dessert, and Sine brought wine, while Paola made the best parmigiana di melanzane I have ever eaten. She doesn’t follow a recipe, but I am determined to have her explain to me exactly how she makes it.

As the host had requested something chocolatey for dessert, I went to my go-to ‘takes no time to make/bake, but tastes like you spent aeons making it’-cake. This is an extremely easy cake to make, and it’s reeeally good too. It’s got just the right amount of dark chocolate, is very light and airy and sort of sophisticated, and just melts in your mouth. And it’s got no flour in it, so it’s also perfect for those with a gluten intolerance!

It’s based on David Lebovitz’ recipe for Racines Cake, from his book Ready for Dessert. His recipes never, ever fail me. Since I’m not a huge fan of coffee in chocolate cakes I add milk instead (water would work too).

I think this would taste really good drizzled with a tangy blackberry sauce, or with dark chocolate sauce, or served with a scoop of vanilla icecream… but it doesn’t necessarilly require an accompaniment, and I served it plain with just a bit of icing sugar on top.

You will need:

  •  280 g dark chocolate, around 70%
  • 115 g butter
  • 1 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 6 eggs, room temperature
  • 50 g sugar, plus 2 tbsp
  • Cocoa powder, to dust the pan

Preheat your oven to 175°C / 350°F. Butter a springform pan and dust it with cocoa powder.

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Break the chocolate into chunks, then put it in a large bowl along with the butter. Either melt the lot over a bain marie/double boiler, or microwave it for about a minute or two, stirring until all the chocolate chunks have melted into the butter. Add the tablespoon of milk and the vanilla.

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Separate your egg whites and yolks, and whisk the egg yolks and the 50 g of sugar together with an electric whisk for about a minute or so, until light and pale yellow.

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Whisk the egg whites (with a clean whisk) for a few minutes until they begin to firm up, then add the two tablespoons of sugar and continue whisking until the whites hold soft peaks.

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Add the egg yolks to the melted chocolate mixture, folding them in with a silicone spatula.

Fold in half of the egg whites at a time, mixing just until you can no longer see any streaks of white. Make sure you fold from the bottom of the bowl so that the batter is evenly mixed, but not over-mixed.

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Scrape into your pan and even out a bit, then bake for 20-25 minutes, depending on how hot your oven runs; mine runs pretty hot, so I baked the cake for just 20 minutes. Bake until the cake has only just set in the middle; it should still wobble when you press down on it lightly.  Don’t over-bake it, as the cake will get dry and lose its chocolate mousse consistency.

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Leave to cool completely before  running a knife around the edge of the cake and unmolding it from the tin (I didn’t have time, and so my cake sank a bit more than it would have otherwise in the middle… but I got home late and didn’t have more than 15 minutes for it to cool before having to just grab it, put it on a serving plate, and hope that it wouldn’t completely flatten before I got to my destination). If left alone to cool, the cake will sink a little all over, and firm up to an easy slicing consistency. It’s good the next day too, if kept under a cake dome, but best on the day it’s made.

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My Favourite Banana Cake

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Adapted from  Byens Bedste Kager

I’ve made many a banana bread/cake/loaf in my day; for years I kept going back to Nigella Lawson’s fantastic recipe from How to be a Domestic Goddess, and every time I tried another I was a little disappointed. Until I tried this one that is, which has it all, in my opinion: it’s not too sweet, but sweet enough, packed with plenty of chocolate and walnuts, and drizzled with melted chocolate. I hope you’ll like it too 🙂

I’ve found that the only thing that makes a banana bread a ‘bread’ is the fact that it’s baked in a loaf pan. This one is baked in a springform pan, and thus qualifies as a ‘cake’. The ingredients listed below are for just one cake, but they can very easily be doubled or tripled depending on how many bananas you have and how many cakes you need (I made two cakes because I had six very ripe bananas, and two birthdays to host/attend this weekend, and even though it looks like a humble cake, it’s very moorish and keeps really well if you need to make it a day or two in advance – just drizzle it with chocolate on the day of 🙂 ).

You will need:

  • 100 g butter, softened
  • 200 g brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 150 g flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50 ml buttermilk
  • 100 g dark chocolate, chopped (I used 70%), plus another 100 g for drizzling over the cake
  • 100 g walnuts, chopped (optional, but highly recommended)

Preheat your oven to 180° C / 350° F / gas mark 4. Butter a springform tin.

Mix together the butter and brown sugar, then whisk in the eggs one at a time.

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Mush up the bananas with a fork and add them to the butter, sugar and egg-mixture, followed by the vanilla extract.

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Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda, and mix this into the wet ingredients.

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Add the buttermilk, and then the chopped-up chocolate and walnuts (and if, like me, you have a sister who doesn’t like walnuts, add the chocolate first and pour a little of the batter into one or two mini loaf tins, before adding the walnuts to the rest of the batter, so that your sister can also have some cake!).

Pour into the baking tin and bake for about 45 minutes, until the cake no longer wobbles and a tooth pick comes out clean.

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Let the cake cool on a cooling rack, then place it on a cake dish and drizzle with the melted chocolate (I just break it into chunks and microwave it for 30-40 seconds; you can also go the slightly more time consuming way and melt it over a bain marie/double boiler).

The cake keeps well for at least three days under a cake dome 🙂

Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes

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Adapted from Orangette.

To say that I am not a morning person would be an understatement. But I love breakfast, so sometimes at the weekend I’ll make pancakes or French toast, or poached eggs. Food is pretty much the only thing that will get me out of bed on weekend mornings. Yesterday my boyfriend went and picked us up a Moroccan pancake at the market in Flagey (Brussels is ripe with markets, both at the weekend and throughout the week) – they are the best thing in the world. Full stop. I think they are my favourite food. There’s a little green food van called ‘SOUL KITCH’N’ that makes fresh apple and ginger juice, and sweet mint tea, and then the pancakes. They’re basically a buttery, salty, flaky type of flatbread, smeared with ricotta, olives, artichoke hearts and sundried tomatoes, spicy merguez sausages, and drizzled with sweet and sour sauce (odd, but it really works). And it’s hard to explain how good they are. I’ll try to get a picture of the van and/or pancake next time (I found someone else’s online recommendation of the van, if you want to go check out the photos 🙂 ) – yesterday I was too caught up, first with being lazy in the hammock in the sun (!), whilst food was being picked up for
me (!!), and then eating said pancake (in the hammock!! In the sun!!!). Not too bad for a Saturday.

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Today is Sunday, and my sister’s coming round for brunch (at 2 p.m. though – I have a strict ‘don’t expect me to do or show up for anything before 2 p.m. on a Sunday’ policy). So I decided to make these oatmeal and blueberry pancakes, as they’re so so easy, and so so good. Especially drizzled with maple syrup. Or brown sugar! Brown sugar’s good too. The original recipe says to leave the oats and buttermilk to mush together in the fridge over night, but the longest I’ve ever let the mixture sit before making the pancakes is an hour, and I’ve never noticed that they were any worse for it. I’ve tried them with both fresh and frozen blueberries, and I much prefer using fresh berries, as the frozen for some reason burned a bit when I flipped the pancakes over (I think because they’re a lot wetter than fresh ones, and as such a bit more ‘exposed’, if you will, if that makes sense?), and also ‘leaked’ a lot more colour into the pancakes. The fresh berries stay sort of intact, and create little pockets of fruit that burst as you eat the pancake.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 180 g ~ 2 cups rolled oats/oatmeal
  • 480 ml ~ 2 cups buttermilk
  • 62.5 g (no need for this level of precision, but the original recipe is in cups 😉 ) ~ ½ cup flour
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 115 g ~ ½ cup ~ 1 stick butter, melted
  • Olive oil, for cooking (or another vegetable oil of your choice)
  • About 200 g fresh blueberries

Mix together the rolled oats and buttermilk. In another bowl, mix the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder and soda, and salt).

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Lightly beat the two eggs together, then pour them into the oats and buttermilk mixture, followed by the melted butter, and mix well.

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Heat up some olive oil a large non-stick pan, over medium-high heat. Pour about a ¼ cup of the batter onto your pan (I usually make four at a time, as they tend to spread a bit). After 1-2 minutes, when the pancakes seem to be setting around the edges, plop your blueberries around on the not-yet-baked side of the pancakes, before flipping them over to brown on the other side. I find that pushing each pancake onto a spatula with another spatula, helps me to not massacre the pancakes completely as I flip them over 😉

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Deposit the finished pancakes in a baking dish/tray covered in aluminium foil as you go along, and leave the dish in the oven, at about 100˚ C, so that they stay warm and don’t get too ‘floppy’ before you’re ready to serve them.

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Serve warm with maple syrup, brown sugar, or apricot jam (my new favourite topping for these – even if maple syrup is hard to top!).

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Yield: 22-23 little pancakes 🙂

P.s.: these are also delightful cold the next day; I usually put them in a tupperware container, separated by layers of baking parchment, and bring along another little tub with whatever I want to dip them in (tomorrow I’ll go for the apricot jam. I also think this will look less silly when I give in and eat them on the bus on my way to work, maple syrup tends to make a bit of a mess.)

Crêpes

pancakes 082My mum used to make these thin pancakes for my brother and me when we were kids, sometimes we’d have pancake dinners, and it was awesome! We’d usually have them with either brown sugar or sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. She’d make a big batch, folding them with the spatula and placing them in a tin foil-covered dish in the oven as she made them, and then we’d all dig in. If there were any left over, she’d sprinkle them with sugar and roll them up in tin foil for us to bring in our school lunch. I still do this now (for work instead of school!) whenever I make a batch.

I’ve had a slightly challenging week, and, to top it off, I’m having a sliiightly challenging Sunday. And I’m trying really, really hard not to moan about it, because it isn’t a big deal, in the grand scheme of things, to be woken up early by your neighbour’s alarm clock on a Sunday, an alarm that will keep buzzing and buzzing for over an hour until you’re guaranteed not to be able to fall back asleep; or to then try to console yourself with pancakes and a long bath, only to discover that the water to your building has been shut off for some reason – making it rather difficult to take a long bath, or to make pancakes. Well, I’m making the pancakes anyway, sod it.

So here goes.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 125 g ~ 1 cup flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 200 ml mild beer (for this batch I used Hoegaarden, a Belgian white beer, but I’ve also made this with strong, dark beer, and it was delicious; you can substitute water or milk for the beer if you wish, but the beer makes for really light and airy pancakes)
  • 125 ml milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp oil (I use olive oil, but it doesn’t matter much which you use)
  • Butter for cooking

Whisk or sift together your dry ingredients.

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Add the beer and milk a little at a time, whisking well to make a thick batter.

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Whisk in your four eggs, followed by the two tbsp of oil, whisking until you have a smooth, thin batter.

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Leave to rest for about 30 minutes (I have skipped this step before, but if you have the time/patience to wait, letting the batter rest really will make for thinner, more even pancakes).

Heat up your pan (or pans) over medium to high heat, and add a nubbin of butter. When the butter starts to foam and brown slightly, pour in a scant ladle-full of batter (this will, of course, depend on the size of your pan and ladle! But aim to use as little batter as possible to cover the base of your frying pan), swirling the pan around to spread the batter. If there are any little holes, just drop little droplets of batter to fill these.

After about a minute, when the pancake starts to bubble up and brown around the edges (lift the side up to check!), flip it over and let it bake on the other side for about 30 seconds to a minute. Place in a dish and cover with tin foil (you can leave the covered dish in the oven at 100˚C, to make sure the pancakes stay warm but don’t crisp up, or just make sure you tuck the tin foil in well around your dish after adding a newly baked pancake), and repeat.

I usually do what my mum always did, which is fold the finished pancake in half twice, to make a quarter, before placing it in the dish – I don’t know why she did this, but I keep doing it for some reason. Maybe because it makes them easier to transfer to the dish? You can also just stack them one on top of the other 😉

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Serve with brown sugar, sugar and lemon, or whatever topping you prefer (ice cream/Nutella/jam? 🙂 )

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Yield: depends on the size of your pan, I usually get about 16 medium-sized pancakes 🙂

 

 

 

Rhubarb Torte

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What the fudge is a torte, you may ask. I have been asking myself that very question, so I googled away for answers, and it seems that while not all cakes are tortes, all tortes are cakes. In other words, a torte is a type of cake, but according to this here, a very fancy one indeed. Well now. This recipe seems to be the exception to the rule – it’s simple and wholesome, but no less delicious for it.

I’ve read a lot about this torte across the blogosphere, a simple butter cake that can be adapted using most fruits that have a sour note to them. Whilst the original recipe calls for purple plums, I’ve read about variations using raspberries, blueberries, apples..

I decided to go with rhubarb for two reasons: I love rhubarb, and I had some in the freezer. And I will most certainly be making this again. And again. And again. The result is a golden, buttery, tender-crunchy cake with luscious pockets of jammy fruit. And it’s such an unassuming cake, which makes me love it even more.  I’m going to try making this with really sour apples, next time, or blackberries, if I can find some!

Rhubarb Torte 
Adapted from smitten kitchen and Lottie + Doof  📠

  • 125 g (1 cup) flour
  • 1 tsp (5 g) baking powder
  • large pinch of salt
  • 200 g  (1 cup) sugar, plus 1-2 tbsp for sprinkling
    (1 tbsp if the fruit you’re using is on sweeter side)
  • 115 g (½ cup) softened butter
  • 2 eggs
  • about 230 g rhubarb, cut into large chunks (since I was using frozen fruit, I left it to defrost on sheets of kitchen roll for a few hours, to absorb some of the liquid, before baking)
  • 2 tsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • (if using apples or berries, or plums, also add 1 tbsp ground cinnamon when sprinkling the sugar on top – I omitted this because I didn’t feel it would go so well with the rhubarb, but it would be beautiful with apples!)

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4. Lightly grease a springform pan.

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In a medium bowl, mix together your flour, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar well, preferably with an electric mixer, then whisk in the eggs one at a time (a hand whisk will do just fine here).

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Whisk in your dry ingredients until everything is just combined. Scrape into your springform and flatten with a silicone spatula.

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Distribute the fruit all over the cake; sprinkle the lemon juice over the cake, followed by the extra tbsp of sugar, and bake for approximately 45 minutes until the cake is nicely brown, and no longer feels ‘squidgy’ when you press down lightly on it with a finger. (After 25 minutes of baking I had to cover it with tin foil to make sure the cake wouldn’t brown too much on top before the middle had had time to set; I left the foil on for 15 minutes, then took it off for the remaining 5 minutes to let the cake finish ‘browning up’ 🙂 ).

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Leave to cool on a rack for a few hours (even if I didn’t…), then eat away!

P.s.: this cake is, as reported, just as good, if not better, on the second day! Which is no mean feat, as it’s pretty marvellous on the first.

P.p.s.: I have since made this several times with purple plums as well, and it is UNbelievable. One time my plums were too big (insert inuendo) and sank to the bottom, but it was luscious, and almost even better than when the plums stay ensconced in the buttery batter, if slightly more difficult to eat. This is a magical cake indeed (excuse me, torte).

 

Rainy Day Cinnamon Bun Cake (Kanelsneglskage)

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Adapted from Lil’ Luna

It was raining yesterday, and the rain sounds lovely in my apartment, drip-dropping on my roof
(I live on the fourth floor, so some of my walls are made of roof!).

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Rainy Autumn days (even if it is, technically, still Summer? Or at least it was still August on Sunday! September is definitely an Autumn month.. no? I can’t believe September is here already…) always make me crave cinnamon buns. Truth be told, I crave cinnamon buns most of the time; we’re big on cinnamon in Scandinavia. In Denmark, cinnamon buns are called kanelsnegle – ‘cinnamon snails’ – because of their shape (obviously 😉 ), and while I have made them a lot, they take aaaaages, with the rising of the dough, and the rolling out… So I rarely make them these days, even though they really are worth the fuss. Enter: the cinnamon bun cake.

I printed this recipe out to test about a week ago, and a rainy Sunday afternoon seemed the perfect time to make something sweet, rich and cinnamony. Oh and easy!

Although I did have some trouble with the swirling of the cinnamon-sugar-butter gloop – it just wouldn’t swirl for me. So I will have to practice my swirling, because it really does make for a more beautiful-looking cake (I may try adding a tbsp more butter next time, to make the filling a little runnier, or leave out the 2 tbsp flour – I’ll let you know how this goes!). But man, it tastes good just the same – sweet, buttery, cinnamony, just like a cinnamon bun with more of the filling! I’m definitely a fan. If you like cinnamon buns, I’m sure you will be too 🙂

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the batter

  • 375 g ~ 3 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200 g ~ 1 cup sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • 360 ml ~ 1 ½ cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115 g ~ ½ cup butter, melted

For the filling

  • 170 g ~ ¾ cups butter, softened
  • 200 g ~ 2 cups brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp flour

For the glaze

  • 250 g ~ 2 cups icing sugar
  • 5 tbsp just-boiled water

Preheat your oven to 180° Celsius ~ 350° Farhenheit ~ gas mark 4, and grease a baking pan
(more or less 22×34 cm ~ 9×13 inches).

In a large mixing bowl, mix together your flour, salt, sugar and baking powder.

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In another bowl, briefly whisk together the eggs and milk, and poor this into the flour mixture a little at a time, whisking well after each time, until you’ve incorporated all the eggy milk into the flour and the batter is smooth.

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Poor in your melted butter, and gently whisk until the butter has just been absorbed and you have a shiny, thick batter. Poor into your prepared baking tray.

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Make the filling by mixing the ingredients in a bowl.

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Distribute evenly across the batter, using two teaspoons. With a knife, make cinnamon-butter swirls throughout your cake! (Or, if you’re me, try to do this, and end up with something much less dignified-looking, but delicious all the same).

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Bake for about 30 minutes until the cake begins to brown nicely.

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When your cake is out of the oven, prepare the glaze by mixing the icing sugar and just-boiled water until there are no icing sugar lumps (giggle at the words ‘sugar lumps’).

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Drizzle this over your cake while it’s still warm from the oven. Eat some straight away, or wait until it’s cooled down a bit, if you can 🙂 It’s equally good once cooled, and stays super moist because of the filling. I think this would keep well for several days, if kept covered.

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Hope you like it! I’m already planning to make a second (hopefully prettier) batch! I need to practice my swirling.

P.s.: I also tried making this as cupcakes a few days later, and it turned out ok – but I like the ‘cake’ cake version better, this cake wasn’t made to be teeny tiny and fussy… I think for this to work in cupcake form, I would need to get a jumbo muffin tin! Makes for about 36 little cupcakes, baked for approximately 20 minutes. 🙂

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