I’m not a huge fan of the greeting card industry’s holiday Valentine’s Day, but any holiday that encourages me to eat excessive amounts of chocolate can’t be all bad. My recent, frequent, and increasingly difficult trips to the gym have been rather torturous, yet they’re obviously a necessity since I’ll be eating my weight in chocolate this week. I’m well on my way of setting a record for most chocolate consumed, and I owe part of that accomplishment to the 1.5 slices of this cake I had for lunch yesterday (followed by the 1.5 slices I had for dessert after dinner).
From the moment I saw this recipe from the NY Times, I was intrigued. I love the dense richness of a poundcake and was beyond fascinated with the thought of a slightly salty strussel on top (and bottom!). Needless to say I was beyond impressed with this recipe and there’s very little I would change (which is rare for me, I almost always tweak a recipe in some way).
If you’re looking for other chocolate ideas, here are my favorite chocolate recipe posts:
- Quadruple Chocolate Cookies
- Beatty’s Chocolate Cupcakes
- Orange Chocolate Chunk Cake
- Chocolate and Red Wine Cake
Chocolate Streusel Poundcake
From the NY Times
For the streusel:
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 ½ tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cubed
- ⅓ cup semisweet chocolate chips
For the poundcake:
- 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- ¾ cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup lightly packed dark brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- ½ cup plain Greek yogurt
- ½ cup whole milk
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan, then line with parchment paper. Grease the parchment on the bottom of the loaf pan.
In a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or in the microwave, melt the chocolate for the cake, stirring until smooth. Set aside to cool while you prepare the streusel.
Prepare the streusel: In a bowl, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt. Using fingers, fork or a pastry blender, cut in the butter until it is evenly distributed and forms large, moist crumbs. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scatter half the streusel evenly into the bottom of the loaf pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until baked through.
Prepare the cake: In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat melted butter, both sugars and salt together until combined. Beat in egg, vanilla extract, yogurt, milk and melted chocolate. Fold in dry ingredients until just combined.
Scrape batter into prepared pan and top with remaining streusel. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of cake emerges with one or two crumbs, about 1 hour (start checking at 55 minutes, although could take up to 1 hour and 15 minutes). Transfer pan to a wire rack and cool completely before turning out and slicing.
Serve with whipped cream and/or fresh berries.
There’s a local cupcake store in Seattle, Cupcake Royale, which has some of my favorite cupcakes. They have exceptional seasonal/monthly flavors and whether I’m enjoying a blueberry crumble cupcake in the middle of summer or a boozy eggnog cupcake in December, I’m always a happy customer.
My last trip to Cupcake Royale involved buying one or two (or like ten) cupcakes, one of which was practically life changing: a stout gingerbread cake. Beer, ginger, and cream cheese frosting are in the top 20 of my favorite things, and it was all I could do not to inhale this delicious cupcake. I immediately made it my goal in life to replicate this cupcake.
My results definitely weren’t a match in flavor as I ended up with something that packed a lot more heat from ginger and had a delightfully forceful taste of molasses, but I am in love with them. Definitely not for the faint of heart as the flavors are in no way subtle. They’re quite bold, in fact. So bold some may call the flavor overpowering. I, however, find them very nicely intense.
FYI, I used Dragonstooth Stout, a beer made in Seattle, that has a very intense coffee taste to it. If you’re really into stouts or porters, feel free to use your favorite! The most common and easily accessible one is Guinness.
Oh, and these stayed surprisingly moist for 3 days. Best when they’re freshly made; however, a day or two in advance would be fine if you’re short on time.
Gingerbread Stout Cupcakes
Adapted from David Lebovitz
- 4 ounces fresh ginger
- 1 cup mild molasses
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 1/2 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 cup stout or porter
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 2 eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 24 capacity cupcake pan with 20-21 cupcake liners (recipe made 21 for me).
Peel, slice, and chop the ginger very fine with a knife (or use a grater)—or, pulse in a food processor until very fine (which is what I did, very easy). Mix together the molasses, sugar, and oil. In another bowl, sift together the flour, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper.
Bring the stout/porter to a boil in a saucepan, stir in the baking soda, and then mix the beer mixture into the molasses mixture. Stir in the ginger.
Gradually fold the dry ingredients into the batter. Add the eggs, and continue mixing until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into the prepared cupcake pan(s) and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until the top of the cake springs back lightly when pressed or a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, or with only a one or two moist crumbs.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 2 8-oz packages cream cheese, at room temperature
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups sifted powdered sugar
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or using a hand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter together on medium-high speed until slightly fluffy and well combined. Add in vanilla extract, mix slowly, and gradually add powdered sugar. Pipe on to cooled cupcakes.
Every now and then I overthink things. Deciding what to have for lunch is occasionally a three hour long process where I have to ask 20 people what I should have and by the time I’ve decided it’s practically dinnertime. Friends of mine all know they shouldn’t ask me what I want to do during a weekend, since my answer tends to be “I don’t know, what do you want to do?” While I can make important choices under pressure, in my day-to-day life I can sometimes be a bit indecisive.
Deciding on what to cook or bake can sometimes be a challenge as well. Do I go back to a favorite recipe I’ve made before that has exceptional results, or do I try something new and different? Yesterday when I couldn’t decide whether or not do something familiar or new, I decided to settle and I made a few revisions to a recipe I knew I loved.
Several years ago smitten kitchen posted a recipe involving browned butter, obscenely whipped eggs, and sweet pears juxtaposed against the bite of bittersweet chocolate. It was a cake that I loved to make and within 2 months of seeing the post for the first time I had made the recipe 5 or 6 times. I thought it was that good.
Now that the recipe is officially a go-to in my arsenal, I thought it might be time to update it a bit. Don’t get me wrong, the pear and chocolate combination is delicious, but considering Thanksgiving is just around the corner, I thought it might be appropriate to swap out the chocolate for fresh cranberries. Texturally, cranberries aren’t at all similar to chocolate, but taste wise the tart bite of the cranberries is a great substitute to the bitterness of chocolate. Despite the fact that fall spices are nowhere to be found in this recipe, a bite of it was quintessentially autumn, and I think this would be a perfect addition to Thanksgiving dinner, or any dinner for that matter.
If anyone is indecisive on what to make, I’ll help you with the decision…. make this!
Pear and Cranberry Cake
Adapted from smitten kitchen
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal (small grind)
- 1 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder (yes, a tablespoon, that’s not a typo)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs, at room-temperature
- 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 2 pears, peeled, in a small dice
- 1 1/4 cup fresh cranberries, sorted and washed
- Powdered sugar and whipped cream for serving
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with cornmeal (you could also use plain breadcrumbs or flour), set aside.
Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, whip eggs on high until pale and very thick (beyond ribbon stage). This should take a minimum of 8 minutes using a stand mixer, 10+ using a hand mixer, and I would imagine a very, very long time if whisking by hand.
While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter by melting the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once butter has melted, it should start browning in approximately 4 minutes. Do not stir for the first few minutes, but once butter starts to bubble you’ll want to occasionally stir to ensure the solids don’t burn. You’ll know it’s done when it smells nutty and the white solids in the butter turn brown. Remove from burner but leave in a warm spot so butter doesn’t solidify.
Meanwhile, mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a small bowl, set aside.
Add the sugar to the eggs and whip 2 more minutes, or until the mixture just starts to loosen. Reduce speed to the lowest setting, add one third of the flour mixture, half of the brown butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Mix until barely combined, then lightly stir by hand with a spatula, to ensure all flour has been incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
Pour batter into prepared pan and lightly sprinkle the pears and cranberries on top.
Bake in preheated oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean or with one or two tender crumbs.
Let cake cook completely, dust with powdered sugar (optional), and serve with whipped cream.
Due to the juiciness of the pears and cranberries, this cake is still moist on the second and third days, if it isn’t all eaten before then.
(As if by magic, the cake rises over the pears and cranberries that were on top prior to baking)
I spent St. Patrick’s Day this past year in Las Vegas. On a day where bars color their beer green, shots of Irish whiskey are in abundance, and everyone drinks a bit too much (because being 1/180th Irish is a great excuse to party), it just seemed fitting that I was in Sin City… a city where everything is in excess and there is never a shortage of alcohol.
Since I’m not a big gambler I spent most of my time eating (Wicked Spoon and Border Grill were the highlights of this past trip) and occasionally enjoying a refreshing cocktail, glass of wine, or beer (Vesper Bar is life changing). At one point I stumbled across a special for Bottomless Guinness at one of the countless bars on The Strip and decided why not? It seemed fitting for St. Patrick’s Day.
In case anyone wants to know, going to a buffet before sitting down at a bar to drink as much Guinness as you can consume is definitely not something I recommend. While what transpired that night is a secret—because, ya know, what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas (kidding, it was a mellow night, my party days are over), I drank plenty of Guinness to last me a while… the thought of consuming any more is a bit nauseating.
My aversion to Guinness has sadly started to impact my baking. I’ve made an incredible Chocolate Stout cake a few times and thought how perfect it would be to bring to a potluck. I immediately began to think of good alternatives to stout. As destiny would have it I had opened up a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon a few nights prior and it didn’t quite get finished (I guess that’s a sign of getting old, one glass is enough) so I figured using that in place of beer would be perfect.
Chocolate and red wine is a match made in heaven and the red wine taste in this cake, while incredibly subtle, was very pleasant. If you’re looking for a really bold, heavy, wine flavor this cake may not be for you. The wine just enhances the chocolate taste and adds a little bit of something special.
Chocolate and Red Wine Cake
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
- 1 cup red wine (I used a berry forward Cabernet Sauvignon, but most red wines would work—I would stay away from an excessively sweet red though)
- 1 cup unsalted butter, plus extra for the pan
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 cups all purpose flour, plus extra for the pan
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 2/3 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350°F. Heavily and thoroughly grease and flour a 10 cup bundt pan, tap out extra flour, and place in freezer for a few minutes to set.
Meanwhile, in a large sauce pan, add wine and butter. Bring to a simmer and cook until butter is melted. Add cocoa powder and stir until mixture is smooth. Set aside to cool.
Sift together flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
In a stand mixer (or using a large bowl and a hand mixer), mix together eggs and sour cream. In a slow stream, mix in wine/butter/chocolate mixture until it’s just combined. Add flour mixture in three additions and mix just until blended.
Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 35-45 minutes (check at 35 minutes by inserting a toothpick—when it’s done you’ll want to see a few moist crumbs but no batter). Let cool completely in pan, remove, and dust with powdered sugar.
For the past few months I’ve tried to live (nutritionally, at least) a somewhat balanced life. I’m not going to lie, some days I have a slice of pizza for lunch and a burger for dinner… but I’ll have raw veggies as a snack and a green smoothie for breakfast. It all evens out in the end, right?
That’s not to say I don’t make a conscious effort to eat healthy grains and lean proteins most days, but every now and then that just doesn’t happen. And I’m okay with that. Especially when I end a meal by eating a healthy version of cake.
Now, typically when one thinks of cake, one thinks of copious amounts of fat, white flour, and sugar. While those three elements add up to typically delicious desserts, more often than not it’s not going to be healthy. But, I’m pleased to say you can make and enjoy a cake that doesn’t have sugar or white flour, and is packed with whole-wheat and vegetables. Who woulda thunk?
Whole-Wheat, Zucchini Chocolate Cake
From Texan Erin Baking
- ¾ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup honey
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 3 cups grated zucchini
- 1 cup chopped bitter-sweet chocolate (small chop)
From Barefoot Contessa
- 4 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee granules
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Grease and flour a 12-cup bundt pan.
In a large bowl, whisk together the honey, oil, and vanilla (the honey may be stubborn, but it will mix together eventually). Stir in the eggs and then the Greek yogurt. Set aside.
In another large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa. Add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir, just until combined. Fold in the zucchini and the chopped chocolate. Pour into prepared pan and even out the top.
Bake in prehated oven for 45 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out with a smidge of moist batter (typically you would want to cook cake longer, but this particular recipe can dry out easily so you want to take it out of the oven before entirely cooked [especially since it will continue to cook once out of the oven]).
Let cool in the pan for 20 minutes and then flip out onto a wire rack to finish cooling.
Once cooled, prepare ganache by melting the chocolate, cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler. You’ll want to stir occasionally until everything is nicely melted together. If it looks too thick, add a few more splashes of cream. Drizzle over the completely cooled cake.
One Ingredient Ice Cream
As a bonus, here is a “recipe” for “ice cream”; use as many bananas as you feel fit (one banana is roughly one small serving of ice cream).
- Peel bananas, slice into small pieces, freeze for 2 hours.
- Place frozen banana slices in a food processor and pulse until consistency becomes creamy. Prepare to be shocked how the texture is almost exactly that of a rich, decadent ice cream.
Happy first birthday to my blog (which, coincidentally is the same day as my half birthday)! I cannot believe it’s been a year of blogging (although my lack of belief probably has to do with my immense lack of posts the first 6 months or so). I’ve really enjoyed having every single one of you as readers and I’ve equally enjoyed reading all of the other blogs I’ve come across… it’s nice to meet so many people from different states, countries, continents, and hemispheres who enjoy food as much as I do.
What’s in store for year two of Air-runn? I certainly hope to post more original recipes and I definitely hope to take better pictures (although, ahem, improving on something so mediocre probably won’t be difficult).
My first blog post was a cake recipe (orange chocolate chunk) so it seemed fitting I start my second year with another cake recipe.
One of my good friends makes some of the best cupcakes I’ve ever had and she was kind enough to share her red velvet cupcake recipe (perhaps my favorite cupcake). The recipe originates from Bubble Room, a restaurant she goes to anytime she’s in Florida. She initially found the recipe published in a cookbook but has since made a few minor alterations. I’m not privy to all of her changes (undoubtedly she doesn’t want to share all the secrets to her amazing cupcakes) but I think I did the recipe justice.
Besides the fact that this recipe tastes divine, it was relatively forgiving and incredibly simple. For instance, when I had already scooped the batter into the lined muffin tins, placed them in the oven and realized I forgot to put sugar in them, the final product didn’t suffer when I had to scrape out the batter into a bowl, add the sugar, and re-pour into the muffin tins. Woohoo!
Red Velvet Cupcakes
Adapted from a friend’s recipe, who adapted it from here
Makes 12 cupcakes
- 1 1/4 all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons red food coloring
Preheat oven to 350°
Sift together dry ingredients in a bowl.
In another bowl, mix together egg, vinegar, oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and food coloring. Add to dry ingredients and mix well.
Spoon into 12 lined muffin tins and bake 20-22 minutes (although I test at 18). When cupcakes are done, a cake tester (such as a toothpick) will come out with one or two moist crumbs. Let cool slightly, remove from muffin tins, and cool completely on a wire rack. Frost with the following frosting recipe.
Cream Cheese Frosting
- 8 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
- 1 stick unsalted butter (room temperature)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch of salt
- 2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat cream cheese and butter for a few minutes, until light and fluffly. Add vanilla, salt, and sugar, turn mixer to low (you don’t want to cover yourself in a cloud of powdered sugar), and mix until combined, light, and fluffy. Use immediately.
One of the foods I most associate with the holidays is Kentucky Bourbon Cake, which is a dense, heavy, pecan packed cake that has been covered with bourbon. My grandmother makes it every single year and it just wouldn’t be the holidays without it. While some may compare it to a fruitcake, I think that’s blasphemous as I think fruitcakes are awful. However, I guess there are some similarities between the two since both include nuts, dried fruit, and booze. After baking bourbon into the cake, you brush on additional bourbon periodically (ever 4 days or so [or when it starts to dry out]) for a few weeks. Traditionally, my grandmother would make the cake around Thanksgiving and let it “age” for a few weeks before serving it around Christmas. The flavor does actually improve over time but if you don’t have a month, a week and a half or so works almost as well. That means, if you make it now it will be ready for the holidays!
While waiting weeks on end to enjoy this delicious cake is irritating (especially for someone impatient), I promise that it’s worth it. It stores really well, it’s something that can be enjoyed over the course of several days (probably for much longer, but it usually disappears really quickly), is desserty, but not excessively sweet. Since it’s packed with nuts and only has 1 cup sugar in the whole recipe (which is a lot of servings) I’ve decided it’s perfectly acceptable to have it for breakfast, which I usually do.
Kentucky Bourbon Cake
A recipe my family has been making for decades
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated nutmeg
- 1/4 cup bourbon (plus additional for coating)
- 5 eggs (separated into whites and yolks)
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 1/2 cup flour (plus an additional 1/4 cup)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup unsalted butter (at room temperature)
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup currants or raisins
- 4 cups pecans
Spread pecans on a sheet tray in an even layer and toast in a preheated 375 degree oven for 5 to 7 minutes, or until very aromatic. Let cool and chop.
Soak nutmeg in 1/4 cup bourbon. Set aside.
Coat pecans and currants with 1/4 cup flour. Set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat egg whites until frothy. Add in salt and cream of tartar. Whip until stiff and fluffy, but not dried out. Remove from bowl and set aside.
In the same stand mixer bowl (I don’t even bother cleaning it out), beat butter and sugar with a paddle attachment until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Add egg yolks and blend until mixed.
In a medium bowl, sift together 1 1/2 cups flour and baking soda. Gradually mix in to butter mixture until just mixed. Mix in nutmeg and bourbon mixture. Gently fold in egg whites until just blended. Gently fold in pecan and raisin mixture.
Pour batter into a greased and floured bundt pan. Bake in preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour 15 minutes.
Once cooled, remove from pan, and brush with additional bourbon (about a few tablespoons). Wrap tightly and store for at least a week and a half, periodically brushing cake with additional bourbon every 4 days or so.