Saturday, November 17, 2012

Flourless Chocolate Cake

This is a nice easy cake. Rich.  Like a really good brownie says my husband :) I am actually not a huge chocolate fan -- I like it in things and occasionally crave a piece of chocolate but chocolate desserts often are too rich for me and just not as good as something else.  But most people love chocolate and it is such an quick recipe and a crowd pleaser.  Good for guests.  Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.


8 oz good bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), chopped
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large eggs
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus additional for dusting


1. Put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter pan, line bottom with a round of parchment paper or wax paper, and butter paper.

2. Chop up chocolate. Mmmmm chocolate.

3.  Slice up butter. (health health health!)

4.  Melt chocolate with butter in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth.

5.  Remove bowl from heat and whisk in sugar, then add eggs one at time, whisking well after each addition.

6.  Sift cocoa powder over chocolate and whisk until just combined.

7.  Pour batter into pan.

8.  Bake until top has formed a thin crust and a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of cake comes out with moist crumbs adhering, 35 to 40 minutes.  Cool cake in pan on rack for 10 minutes, then remove side of pan.  Invert cake onto a plate and reinvert onto rack to cool completely.  Dust cake with cocoa powder before serving.


-- Anya

Delicious Braided Challah Bread Recipe

OMG!  I don't know what to say.  I have always loved Challah but I have never made it before and never had it straight out of the oven.  This was as good as Challah from a Jewish bakery in Brooklyn and I didn't have to leave Voorheesville!  Amazing.  I got it from the smitten kitchen blog which I just love.  She is great.  The only thing I botched a little was the braiding part... but it didn't matter.  I will perfect it next time.  Let's make it!

Time: about 1 hour, plus 2 1/2 hours’ rising
Yield: 2 loaves (I halved the recipe to make one loaf)


1 1/2 packages active dry yeast (1 1/2 tablespoons or 3/8 ounces or 11 grams)
1 tablespoon (13 grams) plus 1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (118 ml) olive or vegetable oil, plus more for greasing the bowl
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon (14 grams) table salt
8 to 8 1/2 cups (1000 to 1063 grams) all-purpose flour

1/2 cup raisins (about 70 grams) per challah, if using, plumped in hot water and drained
Poppy or sesame seeds for sprinkling.

NOTE: The recipe above is for 2 loaves.  I made one and the pictures below just show one loaf.  Next time I will probably make two... if I can find people to eat it! 

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar in 1 3/4 cups lukewarm water.

 2. Whisk oil into yeast, then beat in 4 eggs, one at a time, with remaining sugar and salt. Gradually add flour. When dough holds together, it is ready for kneading. (You can also use a mixer with a dough hook for both mixing and kneading, but be careful if using a standard size KitchenAid–it’s a bit much for it, though it can be done.)

3. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead until smooth, or knead in kitchen aid mixer, like I did. Clean out bowl and grease it, then return dough to bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm place for 1 hour, until almost doubled in size. Dough may also rise in an oven that has been warmed to 150 degrees then turned off.

It will look like this:

4.  Punch down dough, cover and let rise again in a warm place for another half-hour.

After second rise:

5.  (At this point, you can knead the raisins into the challah, if you’re using them, before forming the loaves.) To make a 6-braid challah, either straight or circular, take half the dough and form it into 6 balls.

6.  With your hands, roll each ball into a strand about 12 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Place the 6 in a row, parallel to one another. Pinch the tops of the strands together.

7.  Here are the instructions for braiding it... As I said, I couldn't really follow it but it turned out OK... I would have liked it prettier and will try again next time! 

Move the outside right strand over 2 strands. Then take the second strand from the left and move it to the far right. Take the outside left strand and move it over 2. Move second strand from the right over to the far left. Start over with the outside right strand. Continue this until all strands are braided. For a straight loaf, tuck ends underneath. For a circular loaf, twist into a circle, pinching ends together. Make a second loaf the same way. Place braided loaves on a greased cookie sheet with at least 2 inches in between.

8. Beat remaining egg and brush it on loaves. Either freeze breads or let rise another hour.  SAVE EGG WASH if you are baking immediately -- you will paint it again before it goes in the oven!

After rising another hour:

9. If baking immediately, preheat oven to 375 degrees and brush loaves again.  Sprinkle bread with seeds, if using. If freezing, remove from freezer 5 hours before baking.

10. Bake in middle of oven for 30 to 40 minutes, or until golden. (If you have an instant read thermometer, you can take it out when it hits an internal temperature of 190 degrees.) Cool loaves on a rack.


-- Anya

Jim Lahey's Basic No-Knead Bread

I love this bread.  I have been making it for a little over a year now and it never fails to delight me.  It is so incredibly flavorful from the long rise time and the crust is super crusty while the inside stays light and fluffy.  Great with soup, or stew, or pasta... or peanut butter or jam or just by itself... yeah I'd say it is just GREAT.  And all you need is flour, yeast, salt, water a dutch oven with a lid... and a little planning. 

So a note on timing:  Active time for this bread is less than 15 minutes total.  Mixing the ingredients takes 5 minutes.  First rise takes 18 hours.  Turn out for second rise takes 5 minutes.  Second rise takes 1-2 hours and baking time is 35-45 minutes.  Cool time... if you are better than me, 1 hour or so... (I tend to dive right in when warm bread is involved!).  So total time: about 22 hours.... SO if you want this for dinner Sunday night, start the first rise Saturday night.  If you are making it on a weeknight, you could start the first rise the night before, and turn the dough out for the second rise as soon as you walk in the door from work -- it could still be ready for dinner 2 hours later... so doable depending how late you eat or early you get home from work.

Here's what you do:

Mix together 3 cups bread flour, 1/4 tsp. dry active yeast, and 1 1/4 tsp. salt in a medium bowl.

Then add 1 1/3 cups (one and one-third cups) of cool water (55 to 65 degrees F). 

Mix together with your hands (or a wooden spoon) until you have a wet, sticky dough.  It should be really sticky! If it isn't, add a T or two more of water.

Cover with a kitchen towel or plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot, out of direct sunlight for 18 hours until the surface is dotted with bubbles and the dough has more than doubled in size.  (If it is really dead of winter cold it may take up to 24 hours... here that can happen! but mostly 18 hours is fine. sometimes 12 will be enough).  It will look like this:

Generously dust a work surface (wooden or plastic cutting board) with flour.  Using a bowl scraper or rubber spatula to scrape the dough onto the board in one piece.  The dough will cling to the bowl in long thin strands (this is the developed gluten), and it will be loose and sticky.  Don't add more flour! Just use lightly floured hands to lift the edges of the dough in toward the center.  Nudge and tuck in the edges to make the dough round.  

Turn the dough, seam side down onto  a generously dusted cloth napkin or tea towel (cotton or linen).  If the top is tacky, dust with flour and fold towel loosely over the dough to cover it and place it in a warm draft-free spot to rise for 1 to 2 hours, until it is almost doubled.  If you poke it with your finger, making an indentation about 1/4 inch deep, it should hold the impression.

A half hour before the end of the second rise, preheat the oven to 475 with rack in the lower third position, and put the covered dutch oven (4 1/2 to 5 1/2 quarts) in the center of the rack to preheat.

Using pot holders, carefully remove the preheated pot from the oven and uncover it.  Unfold the towel, dust the surface of the dough with flour or wheat bran, lift up the dough on the towel, and quickly but gently invert it into the pot, seam side up.  Be careful!!! Pot is VERY HOT!

Bake for 30 minutes with cover on (here it is after first 30 min:)

Then remove the cover and bake for another 15-30 minutes until bread is a deep chestnut color but not burnt. 

I often remove it before it reaches the "deep chestnut color" -- sometimes I can find the crust gets too hard.  But it is good either way!  Use a heatproof spatula to remove the bread from the pot and place it on a rack to cool thoroughly. 



Triple-Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

I don't think this needs more introduction than the title.  Just yum.  Tart fresh cranberries contrast with the sweet white, milk and semi-sweet chocolate trio.  They are also very delicate!  A great holiday cookie!

This recipe is from Bon Appetit, December 2004.
Makes about 30 cookies.


1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
10 T (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh (or frozen) cranberries

optional: 2 oz milk or white chocolate, chopped (for drizzling)


1. Position rack in center of oven preheated to 350 degrees F.  Line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  Whisk flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in medium bowl to blend.

3.  Cream butter and both sugars in electric mixer until smooth.

4.  Beat in egg and vanilla.

5.  Gradually beat in flour mixture.  Mix until just combined.

6.  Using a wooden spoon or spatula, mix in oats and then chocolate chips and cranberries.

(I love that picture! It should be a holiday card! so pretty :-))

7.  Drop batter by rounded tablespoonfuls onto prepared sheets, 2 inches apart. 

8. Bake cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until edges are light brown, about 16 minutes.  Cool on sheets for 5 minutes and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

(for optional chocolate drizzle: stir chopped chocolate in a top of a double boiler until melted and smooth and then drizzle over cookies in a zig-zag pattern.  let cook until chocolate sets, about 1 hour)