Rachel's Digestif

baking is my kind of science

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

6 notes &

Peanut-Tomato Salad with Lime Dressing

Where did the month of July go???  Wasn’t it June yesterday?  Good thing I’ve prepared for the next school year.  Good thing I’ve been sleeping in, working out, cooking/baking, and reading up a storm!  Seriously, I better soak up as much of summer as I can while I can.  I highly recommend it.  

The past two weeks, I have been dabbling with Mark Bittman’s whole VB6 (vegan before six) eating plan.  For the most part, it’s been easy and enjoyable.  Granted, I’ve cheated here and there (most of the time completely by accident!), but overall I think I’m going to try and stick with it.  Basically, the eating lifestyle he’s coined involves refraining from animal products and refined foods (think white sugar, white bread) before 6 PM.  After 6, you are then free to eat what you’d like.  What I’ve discovered is that, for the most past, once you’ve spent the majority of your day making smart food choices, you usually want to continue making good choices come dinnertime. (Typically with a bit of dairy- CHEESE- thrown in for good measure.)

I’m curious if I’ll be able to keep it up once the school year starts…but I’m definitely committed to giving it a try.  I’ve also recently begun to EASE myself back into jogging/running.  I downloaded the C25K app and have been using it to guide me.  I’m averaging four of their workouts per week instead of the standard three, as I wasn’t ‘couch’ status when I started.  I’m three ‘weeks’ into the program and enjoying it quite a bit. We’ll see if I feel the same way once I get into the longer runs.  

With these new additions to my life, I’ve definitely been trying out new vegan recipes.  Most of the time, this experimentation is met with delicious results.  One such notable entry is a recipe I made a few days ago: peanut-tomato salad with lime dressing.  It comes from the reliable Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking and is a breeze to pull together.  Raw peanuts (that get lightly toasted) join with fresh summer tomatoes and are drizzled with a lime vinaigrette.  The epitome of summer eating.

 I like to keep the peanuts separate from the tomato mixture until right before I eat the salad, to ensure the peanuts keep their crunch.  (This also allows me to enjoy the salad over the course of a few days.)  

Happy Summer!

Peanut-Tomato Salad with Lime Dressing

Recipe slightly adapted from Heidi Swanson’ Super Natural Cooking


  • 2 cups unsalted raw peanuts
  • 4 medium tomatoes, seeded and diced (I used heirloom)
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 3/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1/2 a lime (1 Tablespoon)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • sriracha, to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper (makes for easy cleanup).  Spread the peanuts out on the lined sheet in a single layer.  Toast in the oven for 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Set aside.

Meanwhile, combine the diced tomatoes and jalapeno with the cilantro in a small bowl.  In a separate small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, and salt until combined.  Pour into the tomato mixture and toss to combine.  

Just before you are ready to eat, combine the peanuts the tomato mixture.  Taste and add salt or sriracha to taste.  Enjoy!

Filed under vegan vegetarian food healthy salad peanuts tomatoes cilantro lime yummy

3 notes &

Deb’s Salted Caramel Brownies

The title basically says it all.  These brownies are insanely delicious.  Like whoa, hold on, let me stay awhile and eat this whole pan of brownies delicious.  Did I mention I’ve been on a health kick lately?  Ha.  (No worries, I actually made these brownies a few months ago, and sweet lord, I still think about them.)  

I’m in a lazy blogging mood today, so I’m just going to include the link to Deb’s amazing recipe.  Despite the fact that they look a bit daunting to make (you make your own caramel for the recipe), they are actually pretty simple to pull off.  And so impressive.  Trust.

If you’ve got a special event coming up, make these!  Better yet, make these for yourself and just prepare to have a delicious chocolate-caramel experience.  Enjoy!

Click the link below to take you to this dangerously yummy recipe!

Salted Caramel Brownies

Happy Tuesday!

P.S. I have some recipes coming your way sooooon!


Filed under salted caramel brownies dessert delicious food chocolate