CHOCOLATE CAKE (because we’re celebrating around here)

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Hey friends! Happy New Year! Remember me?? I’m the gal that used to talk about food around here.

It’s been a LONG time since we’ve talked. But, over the last four months, things started happening. Good things. Happening faster and faster than I ever could have imagined. Happening too quickly to snap photos of the meals we made or to jot down the recipes.. Too quickly to document dinner party menus or gift packaging tips or farmers market lists. Before I knew it, it was time to put a big red bow on 2013 and I realized I hadn’t posted so much as a Christmas cookie on this poor forgotten website.  Will you let me come back? Cause I missed y’all and I got news and recipes. I’ll take a second to catch you up.

September 22 was the first day of fall.  I woke up with a swelling in my heart, as I do every year on this day, because it’s my favorite. Fall is magic. Fall is when the world quiets down. Between the long days of summertime play and the chaos of holidays. Fall is my time for books and cups of tea. Cozy afternoons at home filled with comfort food. The first day of fall is my favorite day of the year.


This year, my day was extra special because it was also the day that my favorite person decided to get down on one knee on a park bench by the ocean, flip open up a box that held something real sparkly, and ask me to be his wife. Of course, it’s the day I told him yes, and the day we celebrated with all of our anxiously waiting friends and family at a nearby bar. Favorite day of the year?  Yes. Favorite day ever.

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brittle

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caramelcake

Somewhere amidst the wedding planning, we bought a house. I moved out of my parents home and became Nate’s roomie. It’s pretty awesome. It’s also a crazy ton of work being your own landlord. But, we’re having a good time. Nate knows way more about grounding electrical outlets than he ever cared to, and I can tell you how to find anything you want in The Container Store or Target. I am grateful for the daunting task of maintaining my own garden and sewing curtains. Our spare change is going towards a new furnace. I knew it was worth it the first we opened a bottle of wine and played a record in our own living room as loud as we wanted.

Not quite as exciting, but still pretty exciting, was my entry into professional pastry school. You’ll be hearing a lot more about it over the next year, but let’s just say it’s amazing. For now, because my heart is so full I need to share it with sweets, let’s have some cake. This is one for celebrating.

cake!


RICH CHOCOLATE CAKE with Salty Dulce de Leche & Hazelnut Brittle

*This cake is adapted from the wonderful cookbook One Girl Cookies, from the equally wonderful bakery by the same name in Brooklyn, NY. It is rich, dense, and very, very special.

You’ll Need

  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (or one tablespoon of instant espresso powder mixed with 8oz hot water)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder – this the place to use that really good stuff you’ve been saving
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon table salt

Here’s How

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.  This part is important – this is one moist cake!
  • Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
  • In a medium bowl, pour hot coffee over cocoa powder and stir until cocoa is completely dissolved. Stir in the brown sugar, yogurt, and vanilla and mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Using an electric mixer and a large bowl, cream together the butter and granulated sugar for a few minutes until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and mix for another few minutes, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Mix in approx one third of the flour mixture and half of the coffee mixture. Scrape down sides and add another third of the flour mixture and rest of the coffee mixture.  Using a paddle, fold in the remaining flour. Pour into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 20-25 minutes and rotate pan before baking an additional 20 minutes. The cake will be done when a toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Use this as your guide more so than oven time. Cool cake in pan for 15-20 minutes, then remove from pan and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
  • Crush a few pieces of hazelnut brittle in a food processor or with a rolling pin. Top cake with a generous drizzle of dulce de leche or caramel and the crushed  brittle (some day we’ll talk about making brittle… for now use your favorite go-to recipe or storebought v. Use just a little bit or go crazy with the toppings… it’s gonna be delicious either way.

HAZELNUT BRITTLE (makes approx 2lbs)

You’ll Need

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 pound skinned hazelnuts

Here’s How

  • Prepare the pan you’ll eventually pour your hot brittle onto the cool by lining it with lightly butter parchment paper or a Silpat. Set aside. Mix together the baking soda and vanilla. You can add a teaspoon of water if needed to prevent the mixture from becoming one big lump.
  • In a large, heavy saucepan combine the sugar, corn syrup, and 1 cup of water over medium heat, stirring occasionally to dissolve sugar crystals, until mixture is clear and reads 240F on a candy thermometer. Stir in the butter and nuts and continue cooking to 300F. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda mixture, at which point your mixture will bubble up. Be careful – it’s very hot and sticky!
  • Carefully pour the candy mixture into your prepared pan and quickly spread it out to an even thickness. Allow to cool completely and then break into large pieces.
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