Rachel's Digestif

baking is my kind of science

3 notes &

Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake a.k.a. OMG Chocolate!

….Soooo….it took me a little bit more than a few days to get this first blog post completed.  What can I say, I have summer vacation brain.  Better late than never, right?!  And I promise that what I share here today is both equal parts delicious and dangerous.  Enticed?  I hope so.  

I have being meaning to make this particular chocolate cake recipe for YEARS.  I first read about it on the wonderful Molly Wizenberg’s blog Orangette.  Then again in her lovely first book A Homemade Life (currently enjoying her second book, Delancey).  For whatever reason, I just never got around to making it.  I guess I could compare it to the the numerous books I have sitting on my bookshelf that I have every intention of reading…but just haven’t (yet).  Well, summer 2014 is all about doing the things I’ve put on the back burner for far too long.  So hop along for the ride!

This cake is serious business people.  Don’t fret, I do not mean that it takes hours to make and has numerous intricate steps.  Quite the contrary actually.  What I mean to say is that this cake is rich, intense, and oh-so-chocolatey.   Because very few ingredients go into the actual cake, it’s important that those ingredients are of a good quality.  We’re talking nice chocolate, European style butter, and good eggs.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  

When the cake comes out the oven, you might be dubious about it.  (Heck, I was.)  However, remind yourself that this is the recipe that Wizenberg chose for her wedding cake.  Basically, have faith and be prepared to be amazed.  Make this cake for a chocolate lover, make it for yourself, or make it for your next fete with good friends.  You won’t regret it.  And yes, it will win hearts and minds.  

Winning Hearts and Minds Chocolate Cake

Recipe from Orangette


  • 7 ounces best-quality dark chocolate
  • 7 ounces unsalted European-style butter (the high-butterfat kind)  cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 Tbs unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (for topping)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit, and butter an 8-inch round cake pan (I only had a 9-inch and it worked just fine). Line the base of the pan with parchment, and butter the parchment too.  Do not skip this step…this will enable you to easily release the cooked cake from the pan.

Finely chop the chocolate (a serrated bread knife works well) and melt it gently with the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave, stirring regularly to combine. Add the sugar to the chocolate-butter mixture, stirring well, and set aside to cool for a few moments. Then add the eggs one by one, stirring well after each addition, and then add the flour. The batter should be smooth, dark, and silky.  Resist the temptation to drink the batter.

Pour batter into the buttered cake pan and bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until the center of the cake looks set and the top is shiny and a bit crackly-looking. I checked on my after 20 minutes, and then kept checking until the center was about 95% set (i.e. very little jiggle to it). Let the cake cool in its pan on a rack for 10 minutes; then carefully turn the cake out of the pan and revert it, so that the crackly side is facing upward. Allow to cool completely. The cake will deflate slightly as it cools.

Serve in wedges at room temperature with a loose dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.  And maybe a juicy berry if you’re feeling fancy.

Filed under chocolate cake dessert food butter delicious

2 notes &

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

For years now, Smitten Kitchen has been one of my favorite blogs.  It’s definitely in my top three, for a few good reasons.  One, Deb has a great writing style/voice that is fun and interesting.  Two, this lady KNOWS her food.  Her recipes are clearly well tested and tweaked before she shares them with the world.  Three, her recipes are insanely deliciously!  (Yes, that was similar to reason 2.)  

When the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook came out, naturally I pre-ordered it.  For the past few months, I have delved into it to try out some of her recipes.  Last week, some friends and I even honored Smitten Kitchen by throwing a Smitten Kitchen themed dinner soiree.  Yes, I am that much of a food dork.  One of the recipes I selected was a red velvet chocolate cake that uses red wine in place of the standard food coloring.  The result was incredible.

This chocolate cake is INTENSE and not meant for every day.  This is a dinner party/birthday party/holiday celebration type of cake.  Though this recipe definitely could be adapted a bit to make it a little less overwhelming.

The version I made was the one straight from Deb’s cookbook.  This entails three layers, sandwiched with utterly scrumptious marscapone cream cheese frosting.  Again, it was truly delicious.  However, I actually think a single layer or a traditional two layer cake would be more than enough.  However many layers you decide to go with, you won’t regret the decision to make this cake.  One last cautionary word of advice: make this for a crowd or at least for several very hungry people.  This cake does not hold up too well…we’re talking 2-3 days max.  No need to worry, it’s so tasty that it won’t last long.

Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Recipe from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

Cake Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups red wine of your choice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cup dutch cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

Icing ingredients:

  • 16 ounces marscapone cheese (you could sub with cream cheese, but marscapone is worth the splurge!)
  • 2 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt


  • Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of three 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans (both the parchment and exposed sides). 
  • In a mixing bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy (about three minutes). Add the eggs and beat well, then add the red wine and vanilla.  The batter might appear a bit “off”.  Never fear, deliciousness is on the way!
  • Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together right over the wet ingredients. Mix until three-quarters combined, then fold the rest of the batter together using a rubber spatula.
  • Divide batter between three pans (each pan should receive roughly 2 1/2 cups of batter) and bake for 25 minutes, or until a cake tester (I used a skewer) comes out clean.
  • Cool in pan on top of a wire rack for about 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.
  • While the cake cools, prepare the icing:
  • In a mixing bowl, beat the marscapone with the powdered sugar, salt, and vanilla at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy (about two minutes).
  • Once cake is cooled completely, place one layer on a large plate or cake stand. Spread the top of the cake with 1/3 of the icing.  Add a second layer and proceed to frost the top of that layer.  Repeat with remaining layer.  

*Note: I admittedly failed horribly with the icing/layering bit.  At one point, my top layer cracked.  I swore like a sailor and had to bite my lip to prevent angry tears from shedding.  On a whim, I flipped the cake onto another plate, thus hiding the cracked layer on the bottom of the cake.  Learn from me and level out your layers if they did not bake completely evenly!

Filed under smitten kitchen cake red velvet red wine dessert food delicious yum

4 notes &

Kale Slaw with Apples and Sweet Tahini Dressing

Greetings, 2014!  Wait, when the heck did you happen?  Apparently it’s been five months since I last posted.  Whoops.  Guess teaching has been consuming my life more than I realized.  Alas…

I am (hesitantly) trying to get back into the groove here on this sadly neglected blog o’ mine.  We’ll see if it actually happens.  (I’ve made empty promises before to be completely blunt about the situation.)  Let’s just say my intentions are always good.  ’Kay?

Alright, I think I’ll just dive right in with a recipe.  The salad/slaw I bring you today is all about trying to reset post the heavy eating affair that is the winter holiday season.  Anyone else out there eat their weight (or more?) in baked goods?  Good.  I’m glad I’m not alone on that one.  Never fear, because today I’m sharing a kale slaw that is not only super healthy for you, but also happens to taste FANTASTIC.  Pinkie swear.  

I’ve been perusing Kathy Patalsky’s blog Healthy-Happy-Life (it’s a wonderful vegan recipe blog) as of late and have fallen head-over-heels in love with slaws.  Again.  Apparently, history- and eating patterns- repeat themselves.  Kathy has a great dressing that she uses for most of her slaws, and I find it absolutely addicting.  The base of the dressing is tahini, which lends a delightfully nutty taste.  Healthy doses of maple syrup (or agave nectar) and lemon juice are then swirled in, resulting in a sweet and tangy dressing begging to be poured on everything green.  

One of my favorite uses for the dressing recently involved a mixture of shredded kale, apple, and sweet onion.  The resulting combination proved utterly delicious!  

So if you, like myself, desperately need to reset this month of January, give this slaw a try.  You won’t even miss the cookies.  Honest.  

Kale Slaw with Apples and Tahini Dressing

Recipe inspired and adapted from Healthy Happy Life


  • 1 bunch kale (I like the dino variety for slaws), rinsed and shredded
  • 1 apple (I went with Cameo with great results), diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced small
  • 3-4 tablespoons Tahini
  • 3-4 tablespoons maple syrup or agave nectar
  • juice from 1-2 lemons
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Cut the majority of the ends off the kale bunch.  (I don’t bother to destem the kale leaves unless the stems are particularly large.  Using a sharp knife, thinly slice the kale (essentially shredding it).  Place the shredded kale in a salad spinner (or a large bowl with cold water) to clean.  Gently pat dry.
  2. Make the dressing.  In a medium/large bowl, mix all of the dressing ingredients together (tahini, maple syrup, lemon juice, olive oil, cayenne, salt, and pepper).  Taste, and adjust as you see fit.
  3. Add the clean kale to the dressing bowl.  Using your hands, massage the dressing into the kale for 1-2 minutes (your’ll notice it start to break down a bit).
  4. Finally, add the apple and onion and toss gently to combine.  
  5. Enjoy!  (I think it tastes good right away, but it tastes EVEN better after you let it sit for a few hours in the fridge.)

Filed under vegan kale slaw apple tahini yummy food healthy delicious