Chocolate + Orange Upside-Down Cake

In continued attempts to use up our stash of baking chocolate and cocoa powder (of which we appear to have more than our sensible share), we came up with this recipe. It’s a pretty classic combination of chocolate and orange, lightly spiced and very subtly heated by ginger and cayenne. The cake is slightly adapted from Christopher Kimball’s recipe Buttermilk Cake (found in the ever reliable Dessert Bible). As you can imagine, real buttermilk isn’t the easiest thing to find in our side of the world. Whenever a recipe calls for it, we have to make do with buttermilk substitute, which, we are told, is hardly the same thing. Still, combining the milk, orange juice and zest give the cake a bright, lovely orange flavor, which plays well against the richness of the chocolate crumb. The cakes were lovely straight out of the oven but were even better the day after, as the chocolate became slightly fudgier and more fragrant.

We hope you’re not chocolate-d out yet.

For the orange topping:
2 large oranges, washed and thinly sliced
1 tbsp frech ginger, thinly sliced or slivered
2 cups water
1 cup granulated white sugar
1 tsp cinnamon

For the cake:
1 1/2 cup cake flour
1/2 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp orange extract
3/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup orange juice, with zest or ground peel

Make the candied orange and ginger topping. In a sauce pan or skillet, combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Add the orange and ginger slices. Cook over medium heat. Stir and turn occasionally. Cook for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid is reduced to a thin syrup and the orange slices have turned translucent. Reduce to a low heat. Simmer for 10 minutes or until the syrup thickens and the slices are tender but still intact. Transfer the orange slices to a rack or lined tray to cool. Reserve the syrup for glazing.

Make the cake. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease and line 2 8×4-inch loaf pans.

In one bowl, combine and sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, spices and salt. Set aside.

Combine milk and orange juice. Stir well. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add both sugars. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored.

Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you do. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat for 1 minute after all eggs have been added. Add the vanilla and orange extracts. Beat for another 10 seconds.

Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish. Be careful not to overbeat.

Assemble your and bake. Pour cake batter on top of orange topping. Divide evenly between the two pans. Smooth with spatula if necessary. Bake at 176°C/350°F for 30-35 minutes (rotate halfway through if necessary) or until a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cakes should spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the cake pans for at least 10 minutes. Unmold and cool on the rack. Take any reserved orange syrup and glaze the
tops and sides.


Have some cake. These slices are best served warm, with a scoop of ice cream.

Ganache-Filled Dark Chocolate + Black Sesame Cakes

Here’s a tip for those of you who cannot get enough chocolate: quickly roasting cocoa powder results in an even richer and more complex final product. As the cocoa powder roasts, it turns a lovely dark brown. It becomes more aromatic, with bittersweet notes, not unlike that of a good, dark coffee or of a golden, deep caramel. And a little bit of it will go a long way, be it in your hot drink or baked goods.

On the left is the roasted cocoa powder. Note the difference in color.

For this recipe, we needed other elements that could stand up to the intensity of the chocolate. We felt that both toasted black sesame and brown rice flour would be able to add their own different kind of roasty flavors. The cake is a little dense and more than a little fudgy, and the ganache-filled centers are a promise of gooey, chocolate goodness.

(Bonus: Our old friend Chocnut once again makes an appearance in this recipe. Just seven pieces, crumbled and mixed into the ganache, and you’ve got a great nutty taste that works so very well with the rice and sesame flavors. It’s optional, of course. If you preferred a straight forward chocolate ganache, skip this step. We’ve heard that not everyone likes Chocnut – it is mind boggling, but we suppose the world is a big enough place for all.)


For the cake:
8 tbsp roasted unsweetened, Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 cup / 240ml boiling water
1 cup / 240ml coconut oil
1/2 cup / 120g white granulated sugar
1/2 cup / 120g brown sugar
6 large eggs
1/2 cup / 70g brown rice flour
1/4 cup / 22g dessicated coconut
2 tbsp toasted black sesame seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt

For the chocolate ganache:
1 cup / 240ml heavy cream
100g bittersweet chocolate, chopped
7 pieces of Chocnut
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

Roast your cocoa powder. Preheat the oven to 176°C/350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Spread the cocoa on the tray in a layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes until it turns a deep, dark brown. Check every 5 minutes, to stir if necessary to avoid burning or clumping. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.

Make your ganache ahead of time. Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes and stir. Microwave for another 1 minute or until chocolate is completely melted. Stir with a spatula until even-colored and smooth. Chill for at least 20 minutes or until cool and slightly thickened. It should be a little closer to a spreadable consistency.

Make your cakes. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Line 2 12-cup muffin tins with cupcake wrappers/liners.

Blend the dessicated coconut in a blender, food processor or coffee grinder until you have a fine flour-like consistency. Combine with brown rice flour, toasted sesame seeds, salt and spices. Set aside.

Sift roasted cocoa powder into a bowl. Whisk in boiling water. Stir until mixture is thick and smooth. Whisk in vanilla extract. Set aside to let cool.

Beat the eggs with a handheld mixer (set to medium speed) 6 to 7 minutes with or until thick and light. Gradually add coconut oil and sugar. Beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Mixture should have doubled in volume and should form ribbons when mixer is lifted.

Set mixer to low speed. Mix in your chocolate mixture into the whipped eggs until evenly combined. Gradually add rice flour and coconut mixture. Use a spatula to fold the coconut into the batter. Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary.

Fill each muffin cup halfway. Place a teaspoon of ganache in the center. Fill completely. Bake each batch for 20-25 minutes or until sides of cake are set but the center is still slightly damp. Cool on the wire rack.

Have some cakes. Pour some more ganache on top, sprinkle with a little more sesame.

Chocolate + Chili Chickpea Torte

Chickpeas and chocolate. Who knew? Well, probably a lot of you gluten-free folks out there did. The chickpea doesn’t have much by way of flavor (only a very subtle hit of it at the very end, we might try a stronger bean next time), but it does give the cake a good fudgy texture. We know – a teaspoon of chili powder and a teaspoon of chili flakes might seem like a whole lot of chili. But because this cake turned out to be darker and richer than our last chocolate experiment, we think it handles the heat well.


The cake isn’t very sweet, but serve it with your lime and white chocolate ganache and it will be perfect.

For the cake:
250g plain, dark chocolate (70% or darker), chopped
1/4 cup / 50g granulated white sugar
1/2 cup / 100g coconut oil (plus extra for greasing)
2 cups / 400g tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3 large eggs, separated
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried chili flakes
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt

For the lime and white chocolate ganache:
1 cup / 200g coconut cream
100g plain white chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar
zest of one lime
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt

Make your cake. Place chocolate in microwave-safe container and microwave at medium power for 40-50 seconds. Remove and stir. If chocolate is not melted, return and microwave for another 10-20 seconds. Stir to avoid scorching. Stir in salt, chili powder and flakes, cinnamon and vanilla. Set aside until ready for use.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/375°F. Grease a 9×2 inch cake pan or springform cake tin. Line the bottom with baking paper.

Combine chickpeas, oil and sugar in a food processor or a high-powered blender. Blend together until creamy and smooth. Switch it off, push the mix down and blend again a few of times if necessary. Add egg yolks. Blend well.

Slowly add the cooled melted chocolate. Continue to blend until the mixture is evenly colored.

Whisk the egg whites in a large bowl until light and stiff but not dry. Carefully fold in to the chocolate and chickpea mixture.

Pour the mix into the prepared cake pan. Use the spatula to press and spread it evenly.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cake has risen. It should be firm to the touch and about to shrink away from the sides. Remove from the oven. Leave to cool for 8 to 10 minutes in the pan.

Make the ganache. Bring the coconut cream to a boil. Add chopped white chocolate, zest, vanilla extract and salt. Stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. This ganache may be served warm, but if you want a thicker, spreadable consistency, chill it in the fridge for at least two hours.

Have some cake. Awww yissss.

Flourless Chocolate + Coconut Cake

The most valuable lesson we learned from last weekend’s baking experiment is that a chocolate cake doesn’t need to be overly dense or heavy to be good. Beating the eggs gives the cake its lightness, but a heaping helping of cocoa powder gives it a rich, deep chocolate flavor. The ganache is not too sweet and even has a little roasty, fruity flavor, thanks to the use of coconut cream and spices.

They say every home baker should have a go-to chocolate cake recipe. This one might be ours from now on. It can be yours, too. It couldn’t be easier to put together. It also happens to be gluten and dairy-free.

For the cake:
5 tbsp unsweetened, Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup / 120ml boiling water
1/2 cup / 120ml coconut oil
3/4 cup / 150g white granulated sugar
3 large eggs
3/4 cup / 90g dessicated coconut
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt

For the coconut chocolate ganache:
1 cup / 240ml coconut cream
100g dark chocolate (70% cocoa or darker), chopped
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp salt

Make your ganache. Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes and stir. Microwave for another 1 minute or until chocolate is completely melted. Stir with a spatula until even-colored and smooth. This ganache may be served warm, but might even be better cold.

Make your cake. Preheat oven to 176°C/350°F. Grease a 9×2 inch cake pan with a little oil. Line base of the pan with parchment paper.

Blend the dessicated coconut in a blender, food processor or coffee grinder until you have a fine flour-like consistency. Set aside.

Sift cocoa powder into a bowl. Whisk in boiling water. Stir until mixture is thick and smooth. Whisk in vanilla extract and spices. Set aside to let cool.

Beat the eggs with a handheld mixer (set to medium speed) 6 to 7 minutes with or until thick and light. Gradually add coconut oil and sugar. Beat for another 2 to 3 minutes. Mixture should have doubled in volume and should form ribbons when mixer is lifted.

Set mixer to low speed. Mix in your chocolate mixture into the whipped eggs until evenly combined. Gradually add dessicated coconut. Use a spatula to fold the coconut into the batter. Scrape down sides of bowl if necessary.

Bake for 40 to 45 minutes or until sides of cake are set but the center is still slightly damp. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes. Unmold and cool on the wire rack. Sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar and/or cocoa powder.

Have some cake. Serve with your ganache, chocolate shavings, ice cream or fresh berries if you have them.

Strawberry + Earl Grey Upside-Down Tea Cake

This recipe came together after we discovered that our neighborhood supermarket carries frozen local strawberries by the bag. They’re not expensive, but they’re also not very large or very sweet, making them less than ideal for pie-making, but just about right for this upside-down tea cake. Strawberry and earl grey go very well together, but we think you can go ahead and try other strong teas if you’ve got them.

 

For the topping:
3 1/2 cups strawberries
1/2 stick / 4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 bag of earl grey

For the cake:
2 sticks / 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup white granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 eggs, room temperature
1 bag of earl grey tea
1 cup whole milk, room temperature
1/2 cup lemon juice
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp powdered ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
2 tsp vanilla extract

For the strawberry + earl grey syrup:
1 cup strawberries
1 bag of earl grey tea
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 cup white granulated sugar
1/4 cup water

Make your topping. Grease and flour two 9×2 inch cake pans. Place parchment paper on the bottom. Combine butter and sugar in a saucepan. Stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved. Pour into prepared cake pans. Arrange strawberries over the butter and sugar mixture in a single layer.

Make your cake. In one bowl, combine and whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and spices. Set aside.

Combine milk, lemon juice and contents of the earl grey tea bag. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with your electric mixer at medium speed for 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar. Beat for about 3 minutes or until it has become creamy and light-colored.

Add eggs one at a time and beat well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as you do. Beat on high speed for 30 seconds after each addition. Beat for 1 minute after all eggs have been added. Add the vanilla and orange extracts.

Add flour mixture and milk mixture alternately, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix just until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Stir by hand to finish. Be careful not to overbeat.

Assemble your and bake. Pour cake batter on top of strawberry topping. Divide evenly between the two pans. Smooth with spatula if necessary. Bake at 176°C/350°F for 40-45 minutes (rotate halfway through if necessary) or until the cake is golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the cake pans for at least 10 minutes. Unmold and serve.

Make the syrup. Combine strawberries, sugar, salt, vanilla, tea bag contents and water to a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-low heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until the strawberries have softened and the liquid has thickened and colored. Remove from heat. The syrup may be served warm or chilled. You can use it on your upside-down cake and many other things.

 

Have some cake. It’s perfect for an afternoon tea snack.

Guava & Apple Pocket Pies

These pocket pies make for a quick and tasty snack. We’re new to making fried pies, and we’re excited to find the perfect pie dough for frying, but there’s already lots of things we like about this pretty basic sour cream crust. It’s very tender and flavorful; plus it has a bit of a savory, cheesy taste that works really well with a sweet, fruity filling. Use vegetable, canola, palm or any neutral oil for frying. Use your thermometer to make sure your oil is at the right temperature. But if you don’t have one, tear off a little piece of dough and drop it in the oil to test it. It should sizzle and start to fry, but it shouldn’t burn or brown right away.

For the pastry:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp white granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup / 2 sticks cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup cold sour cream

For the filling:
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 large apples, cored, peeled and sliced
1/3 cup white granulated sugar
5 tbsp guava jelly
1 tsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp all spice
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Make your dough. Whisk together the flour, sugar, and salt. Add the butter, working it in to make a coarse/crumbly mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces. Stir in the sour cream. Dough will be wet. Turn it out onto a floured work surface, and bring it together with a few quick kneads. Pat the dough into a rough log, and roll it into a rectangle. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter. Flip the dough over, give it a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it again into a rectangle. Fold it in three again. Wrap the dough, and chill for at least 30 minutes before using.

Make your filling. Melt the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add guava jelly. Stir well. Saute the apple slices for 3 to 5 minutes or until they are just starting to soften. Sprinkle with the sugar and stir. Add the salt and spices. Cook until apple slices start to break apart. Stir in lemon juice and vanilla extract. Remove from the heat. Set aside to cool for at least 30 minutes.

Assemble and fry your pies. Fill a deep pot halfway with oil and heat to 365°F. Roll the dough out on a lightly-floured surface. Use a 6 inch cookie cutter to cut out 8 to 9 circles. Gather and re-roll the dough if necessary. Beat the egg in a small bowl with 1 tablespoon of water. Place about 1 heaping tablespoon of the apple filling into the center of each dough round. Brush the edge with some egg mixture. Fold the dough over to make a half-moon shape. Press out the air and seal the edges with a fork. Repeat with the remaining filling and dough.

Place 3 to 4 pies at a time into the hot oil and cook until golden brown, flipping as needed, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. The pies can be frozen for up to 6 months before frying. Frozen pies will take about 7 to 8 minutes to fry.

Have some pie. They are best served warm, with a sprinkling of powdered sugar on top.

Green & Yellow Mango Pie

Last weekend, we were given a buttload of beautiful carabao mangoes (a national treasure, to be sure), both ripe and unripe, so we thought why not a use them in a pie? Ripe mangoes are a wonderful fruit filling. They’re naturally sweet, meaty, juicy and fragrant. Turns out, unripe mangoes can work very well, too. They bring bite that you might expect from an apple pie and a kind of tartness you might find in a berry pie, but a flavor that is entirely mango. Precooking the filling is important for this recipe, because it allows you to make sure you get your green mangoes to just the right kind of sweetness.

For the crust:
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup / 227g / 2 sticks cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup/ 113g cold sour cream
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

For the filling:
4 large green mangoes, peeled and sliced
3 large yellow mangoes, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup honey
1 to 1/2 cup white granulated sugar (depending on the ripeness of your green mangoes)
2 tbsps cornstarch
3 tbsps lime juice
1 tbsp lime zest
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger powder
1/4 tsp salt

Make your dough. Cut your butter into large pea-sized pieces. Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Add butter. Work to make a coarse or crumbly mixture. Stir in the sour cream. Turn out onto a clean and floured work surface. Bring it together by quickly kneading. Make sure not to overwork. The butter chunks should still be very visible. Pat dough into a log shape. Roll into a rectangle. Fold it in three (like you would a letter). Flip the dough over, turn 90º and roll it again into a rectangle. Fold in three again. Wrap dough in plastic or keep in an air-tight container. Chill for at least 30 minutes before using. When ready to use, divide into two. Roll out half and place in a well-greased and floured 9 inch pie pan. Roll out other half (cut into strips and make a lattice, if you like) to use as top cover.

Make your filling. Preheat oven to 400ºF/204ºC. Combine green mango slices, honey, sugar and spices in a roasting pan. Roast the for 20-25 minutes or until mixture bubbles and thickens. Take out of the oven and add yellow mango slices. Combine well. Bake for another 8-10 minutes. Cool for 30 minutes to 1 hour before filling your crust.

Assemble and bake. Preheat oven to 400ºF/204ºC. Fill your crust with the fruit filling. Cover and brush with sour cream. Bake for 55-60 minutes or until crust is golden and filling is hot and bubbling.

Have some pie. Drizzle a little more honey on top of your slice. And add a scoop of ice cream. We hope you like mangoes.