Thursday, February 12, 2009

Lopsided with Love: Dark Chocolate V-day Cake

Valentine's day also happens to be my littlest sister's birthday. And while I no longer really enjoy the merchandising that accompanies this holiday, and rarely celebrate it, you can imagine my profound shock and horror at six years old when she emerged from the womb, hollering indignantly (she has been doing this ever since), on this special day. Where was our table full of chocolates and gifts? (Our parents could get pretty lavish back then.) Why, Julia was the present this year! And so it was for the rest of our childhood. We soon recovered, though, because Julia was a very cute baby.

ANYWAY I have been dreaming about this cake for weeks. I mean, the concept of this cake. Dark, moist, simple cake. Sweet, shining icing. Pink against brown. It was an appropriate time of the year to be desirous of this combination. I made it a week in advance because I was so eager.

Dark Chocolate V-day Cake

3 oz. semisweet chocolate
1 cup milk
1 cup brown sugar
3 egg yolks
2 egg whites
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a saucepan, melt the chocolate (I used chips), 1 egg yolk, brown sugar, and 1/2 cup of the milk, over low heat. Allow to cool.

3. Combine sugar and butter in the bowl of an electric mixer.

Mix until fluffy.

4. Add the remaining egg yolks, one at a time.

5. Add the cooled chocolate mixture.

6. Combine dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, soda, and salt) in a separate bowl.

7. Combine water, the remaining milk, and vanilla.

8. Add this mixture to the mixer bowl, alternating with dry ingredients.

9. Beat the egg whites until stiff peaks are formed. Fold into the batter.

10. Place batter in two greased 8" round pans.

11. Bake for 20 - 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Pinkish-Red Vanilla Icing

1/2 cup butter, softened
1 tsp vanilla
1 dash salt
1/4 cup milk (more if needed)
1 lb. powdered sugar
1 tube red gel food coloring, and one drop blue coloring

1. Beat butter, salt, and vanilla with the whisk attachment on an electric mixer.
2. Alternately add the sugar and the milk until icing is thick and smooth.
3. Squeeze that ENTIRE tube of food coloring (and a little bit of blue) into the frosting. What a lovely color!

4. Cover your first layer with frosting, then add the second. Proceed to panic because it's a lopsided mess. Resign yourself to its imperfect beauty, after panic attack has subsided.

(Special thanks to my tolerant and helpful assistant/boyfriend).

Hope your Valentine's day includes something as delicious as this cake!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Eclair at Soleil

The lovely cafe around the corner from my apartment, Soleil, was featured recently in the Boston Globe. While the article is mildly doom-and-gloom, and uses Soleil's owner as sort of a symbol for all small business owners struggling economically, it did serve to alert me to this little place.

Replacing the previous establishment but keeping the same name is a questionable business move, to be sure. I think Soleil Cafe's food is enough to leave an impression on customers, however, and their sun-filled dining area is a peaceful place to read or contemplate life.

Did I mention that the eclairs are delicious?

Soleil Cafe
1153 Broadway
Somerville, MA 02144
Phone: 617-625-0082