Saturday, 17 May 2014

Birthday Chocolate Cake

I usually only bake cakes for celebrations - birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, etc.  One Thursday afternoon not too long ago I was toiling away at work - staring at the neverending dreary rain outside, when the following thought came to my mind:  'Why not bake a cake tonight?'  Indeed, why not? A sinfully rich chocolate double layer cake, just because?  No pressure to  make it look perfect - no rushing to get it finished in time for the party. Just bake, admire, and enjoy.  A whole cake, just for us.

I did have one other reason.  The last time I used this recipe was for a birthday cake.  I have used this recipe in the past with outstanding results.  It's my go-to chocolate cake recipe.  I don't know what happened the last time - it was dry.  It was dry, and I was disappointed.  And, in the world of baking, there are not too many worse things than a dry cake.  So - this was redemption.  And what a sweet redemption it was!  To my relief, it was almost better than I remembered.  Sigh of contentment.

Birthday Chocolate Cake
from chatelaine 

2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Fry’s
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup lightly packed brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups buttermilk

Preheat oven to 325F.
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a medium-sized bowl. 
Cream butter with granulated and brown sugars in a larger bowl.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating well in between.  Add vanilla and continue to mix.  Add in 1/3 of the flour mixture and add half of the buttermilk. Repeat with remaining flour and buttermilk.  Pour batter into two greased 9 inch round cake pans.  A parchment or wax paper liner is always a good idea (Mom's tip).
Bake at 325 degrees for about 25-30 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.  Mine took closer to 30 minutes this time around. 
Frost with chocolate icing, take a moment to admire, then dig right in. Unless of course you are supposed to be saving it for a special occasion.  In that case, hands off.

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Almond Energy Bars

Another adventure, another travelling treat!   We recently travelled to Iceland for our anniversary and I threw this together a couple of days before we left.   Iceland is an expensive destination, so we brought snacks with us to save a bit of money.  We planned to go on several long day trips (10-11 hours long) with unpredicatable weather - snow, rain, sunshine -  and always always wind. 

It needed to be substantial, strong, and packable.   So here they are - Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Almond Energy Bars.  These are rich and so so good.  Base of peanut butter and crammed with peanut butter chips, chocolate chips and slivered almonds - and they travelled much better than I expected - a bit crumbly, but still delicious even a week old.  

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Almond Energy Bars

adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup peanut butter chips
1/2 cup slivered almonds

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugars in a medium sized bowl. Add egg, beat into mixture before adding peanut butter and vanilla, mix until well combined. Add the flour mixture into peanut butter mixture, and once nearly combined, add in the chips and almonds. Mix well until all ingredients are well combined. Bake in a 9x13 greased pan for about 20 minutes at 350 degrees. If using a slightly smaller pan (thicker bars) continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Energy Bar consumption at Geysir 

Thar She Blows!
Energy Bar consumption between tectonic plates