Peat bogs and holey cakes

Ohhhh I know…

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It’s a CAKE!

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[There’s a hole in this cake…]

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But… I fixed it!

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There is now a hole in this cake and alcohol as well. Because… why not?? Also because… Happy Belated, Vacuum Vati! He has this penchant for drinking scotch out of these special glasses (and I can tell what he’s had because it’s either scotch or graham crackers with milk. That’s random, you say…. but actually there is a method to his madness. The wide mouthed glasses let the scotch breathe properly and also are the appropriate width for graham cracker dippage). Actually it’s really fun to just tell him I know exactly what he’s been drinking and have him be slightly baffled as to how I know. Muahhaha. Exemplary powers of observation, that’s what that is. And mildly hilarious to watch him drink scotch and carefully put a coaster over the top of the aforementioned wide mouth glass to discourage escaping peat-boggishness. Because my mom rightfully dislikes the peat bog smell that emanates from certain bottles of superior scotch. He has a special peat-bog-discouraging coaster. It’s hilarious and I love it.

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And actually I essayed a teeny sip of scotch today and it was DISGUSTING. I coughed for days. It burns all the way down. BUT. Then you put it in chocolate cake. With coconut sugar. And chocolate. And five spice. And CARAMEL and ohmygod is it actually delicious. I mean really, how is cake NOT delicious. But this one is especially good.

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Many happy returns, Vacuum Vati! So pleased you like your peat-bog-chocoalte-caramel decadence. Because everyone deserves a little indulgence on their birthday!

Also ps: I was in Texas visiting fam for the last several weeks and I will put up some pictures eventually probably if they’ll ever load. So cake first, vacay second. I’m sure you’re just sitting on the edge of your chair waiting with bated breath…

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Chocolate Scotch Cake with Whiskey Caramel Glaze

Recipe adapted from Love and Olive Oil, here! Recipe yields a normal sized bundt cake. Refined sugar free (though it IS sweet, as per VV’s request), whole wheat, and healthy fats from the avocado oil. So it’s good for you! Uh. No. But indulge accordingly, because that’s what birthdays are for! Don’t worry–it’s not overly scotch-y, either. I like it quite a bit and I don’t even like scotch. It’s like chocolate cake that is deeper and richer than your average fair.

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Let’s get our cake on:

  • 1.5 c coconut sugar
  • 2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp five spice
  • 1 c lowfat buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c avocado oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 c warm water
  • 1/4 (or closer to 1/3… I went heavy handed) c good quality Scotch whiskey [preferably one that smells less like a peat bog]
  • 1/2 c extra dark chocolate chips

For the caramel:

  • 1 c coconut sugar
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  • 1/4 c water
  • 2/3 c heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp salted butter
  • 2 tbsp Scotch whiskey

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Get yo’ cake on:

Preheat the oven to 350, and grease the living daylights out of a bundt pan. Standard bundt size is fine {I use coconut oil for greasing}. Combine 1 tbsp flour+1 tbsp cocoa powder, and flour the inside of the pan, tapping out all the excess.

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, flour, sifted cocoa, baking powder+soda, salt, and five spice until combined. In a separate bowl, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, avocado oil, and vanilla. Pour wet into dry, and use an electric mixer to beat until just combined. Add water and scotch, and continue mixing until just barely incorporated (don’t over mix, puhhleeez). Stir in the chocolate chips, and pour into the prepared pan. Bake for 50-55 minutes, until a tester inserted into the fat part of the cake comes out clean. Let cool on a rack in the pan until cool enough to handle, then flip out and cool completely (the cake, not you. I know the cake is fabby but don’t flip out. You can eat it… soon!!).

While the cake is baking, make the caramel! In a high-sided sauce pan over medium-high heat, add sugar and cream of tartar. Pour water around the edges and bring to a boil, then cover and let sit for 2 minutes (the steam melts the sugar evenly). Uncover, and boil for a few minutes more, until frothy. It should NOT smell burnt, just delicious. Remove from heat, whisk in cream and butter until the lumps are gone (carefully, it can splatter). Return to heat and whisk a few minutes more until smooth. Remove from heat again, and cool in a heat proof container until ready to use, preferably an hour or two to let it thicken.

Pour about half the glaze over the cooled cake once you’re ready to serve! Then slice away and drizzle mooooore caramel over the individual slices because why not?? Because caramel, that’s why. Eat immediately. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for longer cake preservation… if you’re crazy enough to have leftovers.

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Cake rolls are annoying to photograph but undeniably delicious.

this is how I rolllll

Today and tomorrow I’m doing makeup for my elementary school’s play! I looove helping with the play—I’ve attended every year since I was in it myself, and I did makeup last year as well. The kids are adorable and so excited! And Mrs. Noel is hands down the most awesome director. EVER. Who else could wrangle that many children with such grace and humor?! This year, they’re doing Beauty and the Beast, which is awesome, since I was in that one in 5th grade (I was also in Pirates of Penzance in 4th)…. except today I realized as I was doing Gaston’s makeup that most of the kids in this show were born the year I was in the play. EEEEKKKK! Way to make me feel SO OLD.

Okay really, I need to get onto a more regular schedule for this blogging biz… How is it that when I was in school and theoretically “busier” that I had more regular posts?! Whatever… I’ve been crazy busy and having lots of fun, so absolutely no regrets there. However.

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It’s cake time! It’s been waaay too long. Well, at least since I’ve MADE a cake. No guarantees on what I’ve eaten recently… I’m sure there’s some cake in there somewhere…

I’ve been intrigued lately by interesting flavor combinations, like the curry-chocolate chip cookies. When I was down in San Luis Obispo last weekend visiting friends, I made the curry cookies again, except this time with five spice! It was totally inspired, and sooo good. I think I may like those better than the curried ones, actually. There’s something about the coconut+five spice+chocolate that is really tasty. So, when I got home, I wanted to do something else with those flavors. But I decided, rather than making yet another batch of cookies (though we do know how much I love cookies), I would make a cake! But not any cake, oh no… A cake roll! I’d actually never made one before this, so this was quite the novel experience… not as difficult as anticipated, with just a minor bit of cracking. No big deal, nothing that cleverly placed whipped cream can’t hide, ha. AND, added bonus: this cake is fat free! (the cake bit. Not the whipped cream, obvs,… gotta have a little indulgence in there somewhere!). Five spice is also reputed to have health benefits (though I’m not entirely sure what they are).

mmm… five spice = new favorite flavor!

Five Spice Roll Cake with Coconut-Chocolate Chip Whipped Cream

I adapted the cake recipe only slightly from Cooking Light, and ignored their filling idea in favor of using whipped cream with chocolate chips folded in. The chippies got rave reviews from all tasting parties, since they add texture interest and go well with both five spice and chocolate.

For the cake:

  • 1/2 c whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 c granulated sugar, divided (6 tbsp + 6 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp five-spice powder*
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • largeish pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp coconut rum**
  • 1/3 c unsweetened shredded coconut
*the blend I used was organic five spice, with cinnamon, star anise, fennel, sichuan pepper, and cloves. Try to find one that doesn’t have any weird additives beyond spices
**the original recipe called for coconut extract, but no way was I going to shell out $6 for a small bottle of imitation coconut flavor, eww. So I did what I do best: improvise! Malibu rum worked exceptionally well instead…
yumyumyum

For the filling:

  • 1 c whipping cream
  • powdered sugar to taste
  • coconut rum, to taste
  • vanilla extract, to taste
  • a good handful of chocolate chips

For the cake! Preheat the oven to 325, and line a 15 by 10 inch jelly-roll pan with waxed paper. No worries if it doesn’t come all the way up the sides.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, 6 tbsp sugar, and five spice powder. In a non-reactive bowl (I like to use the metal bowl from my kitchenaide), beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until foamy. Add in cream of tartar and salt, and beat until soft peaks form. Add remaining 6 tbsp of sugar 2 tbsp at a time, and beat until you see stiff peaks when you pull the beaters out (beating egg whites might be one of my favorite things ever… I love how they change!). Once you have stiff peaks, quickly beat in the lemon juice, vanilla extract, and coconut rum.

egg whites are awesome!

Sift 1/4 c of the flour over the egg whites, and fold in until combined. Repeat until all the flour is incorporated. Spread the batter out into the prepared pan, smoothing out the top. Sprinkle the top with coconut, and bake for 20 minutes, until lightly browned. The top should spring back when you touch it lightly.

Place a clean (preferably relatively smooth, not really ribbed) dish towel over a largish cooling rack, and lightly dust with powdered sugar. Let the cake cool in the pan for about 3 minutes, then loosen the sides and invert onto the towel. Peel off the wax paper. Starting from the narrow end of the cake, roll the cake and towel up together in a spiral, and place seam side down on the cooling rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling, make filling! Using an electric mixer, beat cream until it starts to get a bit more solid. Add in powdered sugar a little at a time, as well as a little vanilla and rum (to taste, as desired! I probably used about 3-4 tsp of powdered sugar, 1/2ish tsp vanilla, and 1 tbsp rum—my measurements were definitely not exact… pour and taste is my preferred method for whipped cream). Beat until the cream is… creamy?! You’ll know when it’s done, just don’t go too long and turn it into butter! Fold in chocolate chips.

When the cake is completely cool, unroll carefully from the towel. If it rips a bit, don’t freak out! Better luck next time, and you can disguise the rip with a bit of whipped cream, or else put the cake on it’s plate rip-side down, haha… and yes, I speak from experience! Spread the whipped cream filling evenly over the inside of the cake, and then carefully roll it back up. Sprinkle the top with a bit of powdered sugar or extra coconut if desired. Eat immediately or chill briefly, but make sure you keep it in the fridge for storage (if it lasts that long, ours didn’t!). Serrated knives work best for slicing and serving.

this looks like some kind of awesome moonscape…