Favorite Chocolate Cake with Rich Chocolate Frosting + 5 Must Make Chocolate Cake Recipes

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While everyone else was grieving Tess, Ann made a chocolate cake, after all, it was her mother’s birthday.  Birthdays were celebrated in her family, Tess made sure of it, before cancer began a tug of war, taking much of Tess and leaving some.

[Crumbs left to feed those who loved her: an occasional kiss, a smile, a half-hearted laugh, maybe, on a good day, a story that made sense;  stories where time and place were accurate, not distorted by eighty-nine years of living. But, now, memories, people, places in time met as if in a bizarre dream, making sense only to Tess.  And when her children said no Mom that doesn’t sound right, no I don’t remember it that way and I think you mean…, Tess became agitated and angry as if her children were trying to rewrite her stories.  So they stopped correcting Tess, allowing her to hold onto the bits and pieces of her life as she saw them, painful, but a necessary mercy.]

Ann poured the chocolate batter into the prepared pans, moving the bowl slightly back and forth, watching the batter make ribbons and fold into itself.  Tess was still alive, god damn it.  A medical mystery! Some asshole somewhere would say, as if it were a good thing.  [Why is defying odds when the end is known and hope is absent a good thing? Breath entering and exiting Tess’ lungs, a strong heart still beating despite her mind saying I want to die.  Plastic rosary beads and a beat up bible offering nothing to her weary soul and failing mind…and yet she continues.]  Ann couldn’t understand why her mother never sought treatment, allowing cancer to eat her breast while her family watched, and cried, and grieved.  How selfish, Ann thought.

While the cakes rose in the oven, Ann cleaned the dishes.  The breeze coming through the kitchen window was warm and humid.  A drop of sweat slid down her breast dissolving into her t-shirt.  A night swim would feel so good.

Tess set two towels on the kitchen table letting Ann know it was time to put on her bathing suit.  Ann loved swimming at night with her mother, watching her float around the shallow end of the pool, making sure not to get her freshly permed hair wet.  Tess’ huge smile made Ann’s heart weak.  She loved her so it felt unbearable.  Ann knew someday the weight of their love for would crush her. Ann swam around her mother, porpoising through the dark water while Tess watched.  She turned onto her back and floated with her ears submerged, the sounds of the crickets and the bullfrogs muffled.  Ann stared at the black sky and the overcast moon.  And when Ann floated too far away from Tess, she could feel it without being told: “Don’t go so far away, old girl.” 

The memory of swimming with her mother made Ann feel sick.  If only she could do it all over again and be cared for by Tess, swallowed by her mother’s fierce love, and relinquish her newfound role as her mother’s caregiver.  But there is no starting over, one more time or do overs.

The dish soap left tiny bubble mountains on Ann’s hands.  She rinsed the soap off.  The oven timer blasted its horrible beep.  The cakes were ready, waiting for Ann to carry on.

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Birthday Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Recipe barely adapted from Food and Wine’s Mom’s Chocolate Cake

Serves 8 to 10

Ingredients for cake:

 2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 cups sugar

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate

6 tablespoons butter

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs, lightly beaten

Directions for cake:

Pre-heat the oven to 350F.  Butter and flour two 8 by 1 ½ inch cake pans and line bottom of the pans with parchment paper.  Set aside.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger.  Set aside.

Grab a medium saucepan and combine the sugar with 2 cups of water.  Bring to a boil and stir until sugar dissolves.  Pour into a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer.  Add the chocolate and butter and let sit.  Stir once in a while until the butter and chocolate are melted and slightly cool.  Add the vanilla and stir.

Using a paddle attachment beat the eggs on medium speed into the chocolate mixture until combined.  Add the dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until well combined and smooth.  Pour the batter evenly into each cake pan.  Bake for about 25 minutes or until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean.  Allow the cakes to cool in their pans on a wire rack for about 25 minutes.  Next, invert the cakes onto the wire rack and cool completely.

While the cakes cool, make your frosting.

Ingredients for Chocolate Frosting:

1 + 1/3 cups heavy cream

1 + ½ cups sugar

2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped

4 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

1 stick + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Pinch of salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Direction for frosting:

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a boil over medium-high heat.  After it comes to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally.  Simmer until the liquid reduces slightly, about 5 or 6 minutes.  Pour the liquid into a medium bowl.  Add the chocolate, butter, vanilla, and salt.  Let sit until the chocolate and butter are melted.

Place the bowl in a larger bowl of ice.  Using a handheld electric mixer beat the frosting on medium speed, scraping the sides and the bottom a few times, until the frosting is very thick and glossy, about 10 minutes.  (You can also use a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment.  Be sure to surround the mixer with ice packs or a bowl of ice.)  Use immediately.

Assembly Time!

Place one cake layer on a cake stand.  Using a metal spatula spread 1/3 of the frosting over the cake.  Place the second cake layer on top and frost the entire cake with the remaining frosting.  Add fresh flowers to decorate, if desired.   Store cake, covered, in the refrigerator until ready to use.  Bring to room temperature before serving.

The cake will last stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days.  Enjoy!

5 Must Make Chocolate Cake Links

The classic chocolate cake roll was on heavy rotation in my house growing up and I loved it.  Check out Smitten Kitchen’s version of the classic recipe here.

A go-to flourless chocolate cake recipe is a must for any baker.  Head to the Tartlette blog for a flourless chocolate cake served with a butter caramel sauce.  Yes!

Overrun with zucchini?  Make Zoe Bakes chocolate zucchini bundt cake.

Need a vegan option?  Check out Food 52’s vegan chocolate cake.

My new favorite cake blog is Cake by Courtney.  Her cakes are absolutely beautiful and look delicious.  Check out her chocolate dulce de leche cake recipe when you need a special treat.

Blueberry Ricotta Turnovers + 5 Turnover Links!

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We were such a nice surprise, you said,  and a reminder that things could still keep popping up.” – Dear Mr. You, Mary-Louise Parker

I stare down at my long list of weekly groceries: bread, yogurt, milk, cream cheese, blueberry jam, ricotta (fresh)… I’ll stop there, it goes on until is reaches about $300. (Hard gulp as I swipe my card once at Stop N’ Shop, and again at Whole Foods.)  

“Hey, Kelly.”  I look up and there he is, my grocery store buddy, with a big, bright smile on his face, no kids in tow. I think: lucky, as I wrestle the belt around my chubby two year old’s waist, pleading with him to sit.  Please. Just. Sit!  We chat briefly about running while I reach for the cream cheese. (Generic or Philadelphia?  Does it matter?  Focus for a second on the conversation you are having with another human.  Actually, Mr. Smiles I’d like to run right out of here.  Will you take my toddler for a few hours?)  We part ways, but I carry a little bit of that smile with me, as I grab a few boxes of whole grain pasta and make my way down the fluorescent lit aisles.

I stand in the check out line, methodically loading my groceries on the 10 inches of belt in front of me, hoping the bagger will keep the cold with the cold, while also stuffing a Kashi strawberry cereal bar in my toddler’s mouth.   What is the hold up?!  I feel stressed.  I need to get out of here before N melts.  Almost done Buddy!  Deep breath.  

Finally, the line moves.  K., a pretty, middle-aged brunette, checks us out quickly.  I see K. every week because I choose her, no matter how many people deep the check out line.  I like her. She has kind eyes and a whole face smile, and I’m guessing a good story I could listen to for hours.  She coos at N and offers him a high-five, asks about my weekend plans, though I am more interested in her plans.  She has 2 boys, both grown.  The weekend belongs to her; how liberating and I’m sure a little strange to be in that place again.

“See you next week,” she says with a laugh.  She knows I don’t waiver much from my weekly routine.  I smile back.  Wave.  On to the next store.

Blueberry Ricotta Turnovers

makes 6 large or 12 small

pastry dough recipe from Gourmet 2004

Filling inspired by Food 52 Baking Cookbook

Ingredients:

2 sheets of an all butter pastry dough like Dufour or 1 recipe of rough puff pastry dough

6 ounces of whole milk ricotta drained and at room temperature

2  eggs

zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar or to taste

1/4 teaspoon cardamom

pinch of ground ginger

pinch of kosher salt

1/2 cup wild blueberry jam ( I used Bonne Maman.)

1/4 cup raw sugar for coating

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 375F.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Using a medium bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 egg, lemon zest, confectioners’ sugar, cardamom, ginger and salt.  Whisk until completely incorporated and smooth.  Set aside.

Flour a clean work surface and roll out one sheet of puff pastry (or the dough you made) to about an 1/8 of an inch.  Cut into 6 rectangles.

If making small turnovers, spread a spoonful of the ricotta on the pastry, followed by a spoonful of the jam, leaving a small border around the edges, about 1/4 inch.  Fold the pastry over to enclose the filling and press the edges firmly together with a fork.  This will seal the turnover.

If making large turnovers, spread 2 spoonfuls of the ricotta on the pastry, followed by 2 scant spoonfuls of the jam, leaving a small border around the edges, about 1/4 inch.  Roll out second sheet of puff pastry, cut into 6 rectangles of same size.  Top the first pastry with the second, making a pastry sandwich.  Press edges firmly together with a fork.

Carefully place turnovers on prepared baking sheets.  Beat remaining egg with a splash of water just slightly to make an egg wash.  Brush the egg wash over the pastries and sprinkle generously with raw sugar.

Bake until golden brown and puffy, about 25-30 minutes.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool.  Enjoy immediately because they taste best just out of the oven.

5 Turnover Links You Must Check Out!

Looking for a quick and easy sweet treat for your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day? Head to Averie Cooks for her cherry and cream cheese turnovers with vanilla cream cheese glaze.  Wow!

Still have a bag of frozen cranberries left over from the holidays?  Head to Fork Knife Swoon for Laura’s cranberry pear turnover recipe.

If you prefer a savory turnover check out Handmade Charlotte’s easy ham and cheese turnovers.  This would be a great addition to any brunch!

Savory and sweet? Ok, Savory Simple has a recipe for apple, sweet potato and bacon turnovers that sounds divine!

One of my favorite blogs, Local Milk, has a recipe for lavender blueberry ricotta turnovers that is now on my must try list.

 

Brownie Pie with Raspberry Sauce + 5 Perfect Brownie Recipes for Heart Day!

 

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I’m prepping dinner.  Taco night again, the one meal the kids and Bubba will eat without complaining.  I could make tacos with eyes closed.  Number of tacos shells for each person, the perfect portion of chopped red pepper, avocado slices and shredded cheese.  Some like black beans only, others a spoonful of ground turkey.  A dollop of Greek yogurt, but never, ever any salsa.  “Too spicy, mama.”  I mindlessly hurry through this task.

My mind wanders to my to do list: valentines, allergists appointment, email C’s teacher, make safe cupcakes for G’s class, well-check for the baby coming up Friday, continuing training and fundraising for the marathon.  How many miles this week?

I’m tired today.  Next time I’m awake at 3am for no reason at all, I’m getting up and working on this list.  Why can’t I sleep?

I look up for a moment and the notice the sky glowing pink, the large naked trees behind our house illuminated in the winter’s setting sun.  To the right, the yellow of the sun shines so brightly, I squint my eyes, wondering if the day is just beginning.  How odd to feel both the beginning and end of a day at once.

I grab my phone and snap a quick picture.  “Mama and her pictures,” chimes C.

“Pink sky goose.” Me.

“I know.” C, unimpressed.

I snap another picture and then one more, attempting to hold on to the colors, carry them around with me, and look at them when I need to.  She doesn’t understand this need, not yet.

“Mama, time to eat!”

I sit down with them at our narrow, wooden kitchen table and look out the window.  A rich, dark blue replaces the pink and yellow, the trees still discernible, but quickly fading into the night sky.

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Brownie Pie  with Raspberry Sauce

Rich, intense chocolate brownie pie paired with a bright raspberry sauce is sure to make your Valentine swoon.  This is easy to make pie will take no time at all so make the day of and serve slightly warm. Enjoy!

Recipe slightly adapted from Ina Garten

Serves 8

Ingredient for Brownie Pie:

6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, melted

3 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided

3 extra-large eggs

1 cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

1 tablespoon instant espresso

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

2 or 3 tablespoons heavy cream

Directions:

Pre-heat your oven to 350F and then grease and flour a 9 inch pie pan or tart pan with removable sides.  ( I used a pie pan.)

Using a medium size bowl, melt the butter over a pan with simmering water.  Once the butter is melted add 2 cups of chocolate chips and stir until the chocolate is almost completely melted.   Be careful not to burn the chocolate.  Remove from heat and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth.  Set aside and cool.

Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the eggs, sugar, espresso, vanilla and orange zest on medium/high-speed until pale and fluffy, a few minutes.  Stir in the cooled chocolate. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and 1 cup of chocolate chips.  Gently fold the dry mixture into the wet batter until just combined.  Pour into prepared pan and bake for about 35 minutes or up to 40 minutes.  The center will puff up and crack.  The inside should be soft.  Allow to cool to room temperature.

Melt the remaining chocolate chips with the heavy cream and drizzle all over the pie.

Slice and serve with raspberry sauce.  The pie tastes best the day it is made, but tastes pretty good the next day too.  Maybe add ice cream on day two if it seems too dry.  Enjoy!   Happy Heart Day!

Raspberry Sauce

barely adapted from Emeril Lagasse

makes 1 cup

Ingredients:

1- 12 ounce bag of frozen raspberries or 1 pint of fresh raspberries

1/8 cup of sugar

scant tablespoon of lemon juice

Directions:

Combine raspberries, sugar and lemon juice in a pan and cook for about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and strain with a fine mesh sieve to remove seeds.  Serve at room temperature or refrigerate in air-tight container for a few days.  Enjoy!

5 Brownie Treats Perfect For Valentine’s Day

Obsessed with Trader Joe’s brownie brittle? Make your own! Bakers Royale has a recipe for a crisp pecan brownie brittle that will convert even the most devoted TJ’s fan.  Check it out!

If you love ice cream even in the dead of winter, check out Top With Cinnamon’s no-churn pistachio, mint, olive oil and fudge brownie ice cream.  I love the idea of these flavor combinations- so creative!

Need a quick, 5 minute dessert for your valentine? Cooking Classy has a microwave mug brownie recipe for you that looks so, so good.

Solo on Valentine’s Day? No worries, you can still enjoy something sweet!  Top With Cinnamon has a recipe for a single lady, vegan, molten fudge brownie and a gluten-free version is available too!

Cookies or brownies? Tough call. How about brownie cookies? Pastry Affair has the yummy recipe for you.

Support YES as I run the Boston Marathon on Aril 20th. https://www.crowdrise.com/youthenrichmentboston2015/fundraiser/kellyfitzpatrick1 Thank you in advance for your kindness and generosity!

 

 

Chocolate Dipped Sugar Cookies + 5 Cookie Recipes You Should Try for Valentine’s Day

cdsc0027A foot of snow fell yesterday in the Boston area. School was cancelled. Our neighborhood quickly went from gray to winter white. The streets were quiet except for the occasional snow plow, but our house was buzzing with excitement. The kids and our dog, Alice, love snow. After some time lounging around in their pjs, C & G decided it was time to explore the new winter wonderland just outside our door. I wrestled them into their snow gear and off they went. The snow fell steadily. I watched them from the kitchen window. I love watching C & G play when they don’t know it. They ran around in circles, occasionally stopping to turn their faces to the sky, open their mouths and let the snow kiss their tongues. Alice followed their lead, only stopping to shake off the snow when too much covered her fluffy blonde fur. Happy and free from the house, they ran around and around each other. I thought: quick take a picture of this. Post this. Document this somehow. Instead of grabbing my phone or camera, I watched. I just watched and it was nice. Not everything needs to be documented or shared or liked. Some moments are just for me, just for my memory.

After a while they came inside, tired from the fresh air. I kissed their cold, rosy red cheeks, hung up their snow gear to dry and made lunch. After lunch, we decided it was a good day to make Valentine cookies. I prepped the sugar cookie dough and decorations while they zoned out in front of the TV.

My favorite sugar cookie recipe comes from Joanne Chang’s Flour cookbook. Her recipe is simple, yet delicious. I never alter it in any way because I think it is the perfect sugar cookie recipe. The cookies are chewy on the inside with just enough crispness on the outside. A whole tablespoon of good quality vanilla extract perfectly flavors the cookies. This recipe is my go to for any holiday or cookie swap. cdsc0005 We used heart shape cookie cutters in different sizes. The kids had a hard time resisting the raw dough. I did too! The cookies baked at 350 for about 17 minutes and then cooled on the baking sheet for 30 minutes. (Cooling cookies on the baking sheet will make them chewy.) I then transferred them to a wire rack to cool completely. cdsc0011 I found a recipe for pourable royal icing from I am Baker here. This icing is much easier for the kids to handle. No piping or flooding required! They simply dipped the cookies face down into the icing and then added sprinkles. I set aside a few cookies to decorate with melted semi-sweet chocolate. Bubba loved the addition of the chocolate, but he also loves chocolate. cdsc0017 The dough will yield about 2 dozen 2 and 1/2 inch cookies. The cookies will last in air tight container at room temperature for up to 4 days, but I doubt they will last that long. Enjoy!

Holiday Sugar Cookies

recipe from Flour by Joanne Chang

makes about 2 dozen 21/2 inch cookies

Ingredients:

1 cup, 2 sticks, unsalted butter at room temperature

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 large eggs

1 tbsp. vanilla extract

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour

2 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. kosher salt

sprinkles, non-pareils, colored sugar for decorating

Chocolate Dipped Ingredients:

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

Pourable Icing Ingredients:

1 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tbsp. milk

squeeze of lemon juice

1 tbsp. light corn syrup

food coloring, if desired

The recipe for pourable royal icing is here.

Directions: Using a stand mixer, cream the butter and sugar on medium speed for about 5 minutes. Be sure to stop the mixer a few times and scrap down the sides of the bowl. Once the butter and sugar is light and fluffy, beat in the eggs and vanilla on medium speed for about 2-3 minutes. Scrape the bowl and beat again to make sure the eggs and vanilla are thoroughly combined.

In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder and salt. On low-speed, add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until the flour is completely incorporated. Scrape the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Press the down the dough to form a disk about 8 inches across. Wrap the dough and refrigerate for 1 hour or up to 5 days. (The dough can be stored in the freezer for up to 1 month. If the dough is frozen, thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then let sit at room temperature for an hour before rolling out.)

While the dough is chilling pre-heat the oven to 350 and prep your icing, decorations and melted chocolate. Once the dough is firm and ready to use, lightly flour a cutting board or work surface. Roll out the dough to about 1/4 inch thick. If the dough or surface gets too sticky, sprinkle on some more flour. Using cookie cutters, cut out shapes and place them on a baking sheet. Gather up any scraps and roll them out again. If the dough gets to warm, put it back in the refrigerator for a few minutes and then proceed.

Bake the cookies for about 15-17 minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 30 minutes and then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Once cool dip a quarter or half of the cookie into melted semi-sweet chocolate. Then dip into sprinkles, sanding sugar etc. Allow to dry before storing in an air-tight container. Enjoy!

5 Cookies You Should Try For Valentine’s Day

If you like chocolate covered cherries, try them in cookie form! A Farm Girl Dabbles has the recipe for you.

Strawberries and Valentine’s Day go hand in hand. If you are tired of the traditional strawberry desserts, try making strawberry sugar cookies this year. Head here for the recipe.

Do you love thin mints? Make your own in 15 minutes with just 3 ingredients.

One of my new favorite food blogs is Pastry Affair. The recipes are fantastic and the photos are beautiful. The brownie cookie recipe is a must try this holiday.

I love milk chocolate in cookies. Brown Eyed Baker takes a simple chocolate chip cookie to a new level by adding cashews and sea salt. Yum! Find her recipe here.