Chocolate Loaf Cake

While I love layer cakes, cheesecakes and all other sorts of fancy cakes, they are usually made and eaten on holidays, birthdays, and other special occasions -- I don't know many people who have the time or energy to whip up a cheesecake in the middle of the week after work. I do love cake though, and I know that the more cake one eats, the better, which is why I love the “every day” cake so much. This sort of cake is nothing new to the blog, but to recap: every day cakes are cakes that can be thrown together quickly, on short notice, and that do not require frosting, filling, multiple pans, or hard to find ingredients. They are good for breakfast, for snack, or with tea, and are capable of satisfying even the most unexpected middle-of-the-week cake craving. These sort of cakes have been featured more than once on this blog, in the form of this Summer Berry Cake, this Nutella Swirl Cake, this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake, and this Coffee Chocolate Nutella Cake.

This Chocolate Loaf Cake is my new favorite every day cake. It doesn’t look like much at first glance – just a simple, chocolate loaf – but do not underestimate it! This cake is fudgy and rich while still managing to be light and fluffy and not overly sweet. It is extremely moist thanks to the addition of the plain yogurt, and deeply chocolate-ly thanks to a generous dose of cocoa powder. The mini chocolate chip topping is not to be left out here – it adds another layer of chocolate to the whole cake, not to mention they look pretty as well. If you wanted to dress things up a little, this cake would also be great with a dollop of whipped cream, a swoosh of Nutella, a dusting of powdered sugar, or a sprinkling of berries -- but of course, every day cakes are delicious when eaten plain, and this one is no exception. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE LOAF CAKE

Ingredients:
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup Dutch process cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt

½ cup mini chocolate chips

Directions: 
Preheat the oven to 325°F. Butter and lightly flour a 9x5x3-inch loaf pan. In a large bowl, on the medium speed of an electric mixer, cream the butter until smooth. Add the sugars and beat until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and beat well, then add the yogurt and vanilla. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together right into the wet ingredients. Stir together with a spoon until well-blended, but be careful not to overmix. 

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and sprinkle the top with mini chocolate chips. Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let it cool complete and then serve with whipped cream and fresh berries, if desired. Serves 8-10.


Recipe very slightly adapted from The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook and www.smittenkitchen.com.




Basic Waffles

Everyone knows that the Breakfast Trinity -- if we are talking about sweet breakfast, after all -- consists of pancakes, French toast, and of course waffles. I am no stranger to pancakes (note, the name of this blog) having shared recipes for these classic pancakes, these pumpkin pancakes, and these cornmeal blueberry pancakes. French toast has also been covered on here, in the form of these individual French toasts and this pumpkin spice French toast

Noticeably absent on this blog then are waffles. This does not mean I have anything against waffles -- I love waffles! -- but apart from the occasional Eggo Waffle as a quick breakfast, they were not something my mom ever made for us growing up. Waffles -- the real, fluffy kind -- were considered a treat, usually enjoyed when went out for breakfast, and were therefore nothing I ever had a recipe for. "Waffles" thus remained on my "To make" list along with profiteroles, beignets, and this insane chocolate cake that has been on my list for ages (hope to have those covered soon!)

As chance would have it, I came across a waffle iron being sold for only 20 euros while in Bologna last weekend (note however that waffles are not at all a Bolognese specialty! This was pure coincidence). I knew that the moment to make my own waffles had arrived. I promptly purchased the iron and then proceeded to lug it all over the city with me, and on to the train -- waffle irons are not light, for the record -- but it was so very worth it, as these waffles were incredibly delicious. 

Admittedly, this was a bit of a surprise -- a 20 euro waffle iron seemed to good to be true, not to mention the recipe was a combination of different ones I had found online, and so I wasn’t positive the results would be good. These waffles instead were absolute perfection: soft and fluffy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside, golden brown and just sweet enough. And there's more! Each waffle requires a short 4 minutes of cooking time and are made with basic ingredients I (and you too, probably!) already had on hand. I'm not kidding -- these were pure breakfast bliss.

Now, for serving -- I ate these waffles with maple syrup and butter, but feel free to dress yours up with fruit, Nutella, powdered sugar, or jam. Since this was my first time making waffles I kept them plain, but I imagine you could also add mini chocolate chips or blueberries to this batter if you wanted. Enjoy everyone!


HOMEMADE WAFFLES 

Ingredients:
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups whole milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ cup melted unsalted butter, cooled 
2 cups flour
2 1/2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Fresh berries, maple syrup, or Nutella for serving

Directions:
In a large bowl, beat the eggs with a whisk until fluffy. Whisk in the milk, vanilla melted butter, and sugar whisking until just combined. In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add this mixture to the wet ingredients and whisk just until combined.

Brush the waffle iron with melted butter or spray with cooking spray. Preheat according to the manufacturer's instructions. 

Pour slightly less than 3/4 cup batter onto the center of the preheated waffle iron. Alternatively, use a ladle and put on a ladle-ful of batter, spreading it out over the iron a bit. (Do check manufacturer’s instructions for recommended amount of batter however -- each iron is a different size!) Close the lid of waffle iron.

Cook the waffle for about 4 minutes (again, check the manufacturer’s instructions). Carefully remove the waffle using a fork. Serve immediately with extra butter, maple syrup, berries, or Nutella, if you wish. Repeat with remaining batter. Makes about 4 large waffles. 







Valentine's Day Recipe Round up

Valentine's Day is fast upon us, and while it is possible that you're planning to go with the usual bouquet of roses or box of chocolates this year, I beg you to reconsider! Nothing says "I love you" like a carefully selected, homemade dessert (not to mention a slice of cake is way tastier than flowers). I recently posted a recipe for Chocolate Lava Cakes -- quite possible Valentine's Day in cake form -- but if those aren't quite your cup of tea, I wanted to provide a few other options so that you can find the perfect sweet to make for the person you love this year. If there happens to be no significant other in your life at the moment, one of these desserts could of course also be made for your friends or family or anyone else you love. Suggestions below!


Breakfast

Cake


Cookies and Bars

Pies and Tarts

And everything else in between!






Chocolate Lava Cakes

Okay, okay, I know I'm a little late to the game on this one. Chocolate Lava Cakes -- also known as Molten Chocolate Cakes -- are not exactly new to the scene, especially for anyone living in the U.S, where these little cakes were all the rage in the early 2000s. Chocolate Lava Cakes -- like cupcakes and cronuts after them -- enjoyed a period of fame and popularity in the dessert world in my middle school years, and could be found on nearly every dessert menu one came across, something that made my 12 year old self very happy. I remember reading recipes for them in Bon Appetit Magazine and seeing them prepared on the Food Network when I was first learning how to bake.

Chocolate Lava Cakes may not longer be the hot new (no pun intended) dessert they once were, but it's not hard to understand why people are still making them. After all, what's not to like about a rich little chocolate cake, warm out of the oven, with a luscious, melt-y, pure chocolate center? Add a little ice cream or whipped cream to that and you have pure dessert magic. 

These are so easy to whip them up that I make them for my sister and I often, but with Valentine's Day just a week or so away I'm inclined to point out that these would be the perfect sweet to make for someone you love (way better than flowers, if you ask me). A couple of things: the key to achieving the molten center here is of course to not over bake them. They would still be delicious if you did, of course, but you would end up with a plain chocolate cake instead of one with a melted chocolate center. You can make these 1 day ahead and refrigerate the ramekins overnight, but be sure to increase the baking time by 2-3 minutes as the batter will be cold. Enjoy!

CHOCOLATE LAVA CAKES

Ingredients:
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 eggs
3 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup flour

Optional: Freshly whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, powdered sugar, or raspberries for serving

6 (3/4 cup) ramekins (I used heart shaped ones)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter the 6 ramekins and set aside.

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the butter and the chocolate together. Set aside and let cool slightly. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs. Whisk in the vanilla and then the chocolate and butter mixture. Whisk in the powdered sugar, and then the flour, and mix everything until well combined. Divide the batter up between the 6 ramekins. Bake cakes until the sides are set but the center remains soft, about 11 minutes. Run a small knife around the cakes to loosen after taking them out of the oven. Turn the cakes out onto plates and serve with powdered sugar, freshly whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or raspberries, if desired. Makes 6.