Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Coconut Ganache

Screen shot 2014-02-12 at 6.06.57 PMSo this Wednesday, February 12th, was my birthday!

Over the years my tastes for birthday cake have most definitely changed. Ice cream cakes from Cold Stone Creamery; flourless fudge cakes from Cosentino’s Italian Market; dark chocolate cakes garnished with beautiful fresh strawberries from Whole Foods. Chocolate clearly is a recurring theme here. I am and always will be a dark chocolate fan ūüôā

However, this year I decided I wanted to make my own birthday cake. I mean, what better time to try out a new recipe? If it gets messed up, or it takes all day, or you lick the spoon, or you burn it, who cares, because it’s your birthday!

I chose to try out a healthy chocolate cake recipe so that I could eat it all week without getting sick of it, or feeling overly indulgent. Sneaky, huh? Therefore, I picked a recipe using whole wheat flour, that’s nearly fat free (in the cake base), and allowed me to try out a new AMAZING ingredient that I just bought, coconut oil, in the ganache! You guys should check out ifoodreal for the whole spiel ūüôā

The coconut oil, I will warn you if you’re not a coconut fan, does retain some of the floral-coconutty notes. However, I really like coconut oil’s melting point and how incredibly luxurious it tastes. It melts on your tongue instantly – yet hardens when it cools like a true ganache. Heaven!

Also, it’s crucial for this cake that you have a spring form pan so that the ganache stays on the sides when you pour it on. This eliminates the need to spread on the ganache, because you can just drizzle it over the top; so much easier!

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Using my own creativity (and inspiration from admiring Momofuku’s birthday cake), I made the cake a layered one with a cake “crumb” filling, much like Momofuku’s. I didn’t use¬†any¬†butter in the entire recipe, so it’s definitely not as rich as theirs, but hey, it looks beautiful and I had a lot of ton making it! If you’re not used to low-fat cakes, it’ll take some getting used to. But, as my mom remarked,¬†“you could eat this for breakfast!”

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Whole Wheat Chocolate Cake with Coconut Ganache 

(from ifoodreal)

Ingredients

Cake: 

  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used 1%, even nut milks should work, though)
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Crumb Filling/Soak: 

  • Baked cake from small pan
  • 2 Tbs milk (or any liquid, rum would be nice!)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used Guittard 62%)

Ganache: 

  • 1/2 cup coconut oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder (I used hershey’s extra dark)

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and grease or spray either an 8′ or 6′ spring form pan. Also grease a small loaf sized pan or about 3 ramekins to make the cake “crumbs”. The size of pan doesn’t matter too much, but do keep in mind baking times may vary because of this.

Mix the liquid ingredients in one bowl, until well combined. In a separate bowl stir together the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet, and mix with an electric mixer on medium-low or by hand until just combined.

Pour about a half cup of the batter into the loaf pan or ramekins, and put the rest of the batter into a greased cake/spring form pan and put in the oven for about 20 minutes. Take the small portion of cake “crumbs” out of the oven and set aside. Leave the rest of the cake in the oven for about 20 more minutes. Add additional time if necessary, in five minute increments, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Immediately put the cake (in its pan!) in the freezer for about 1 hour to firm up. Leave the crumbs at room temperature.

For the Ganache: Melt the coconut oil in a measuring cup in the microwave for about 30 seconds, or over the stove for about 1 minute. Stir in the cocoa powder and agave. Chill in the fridge for about 1 hour, until the ganache is the consistency of melted chocolate. Waited too long to chill, and now it’s too hard? Put the ganache in the microwave to soften it up.

For the Filling: Put the cake crumbs in a large bowl and break the cake up into large crumb-size pieces. Mix in the 1 cup of chocolate chips, and milk with a spoon, until it forms a moist crumbly mixture. Set covered in the fridge.

For the assembly: Take the cake out of the freezer and carefully run a knife around the edges to unmold it. Slice the cake into three even rings, ignoring the “dome” topped shape. We’re not going to trim this off – it gives the cake character and height!

Now put one layer on the bottom of the cake mold. Add a quarter of the cake crumbs in an even layer, and drizzle about a quarter cup of ganache. Repeat until their are no more cake disks and the “dome” layer is on top. Press the dome layer down, gently, to secure the other cake layers. Now pour the remainder of the chocolate ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip down the cake INSIDE of the mold.

If you feel the ganache will overflow, press down the layers of the cake firmly so that there is enough edge on the cake mold to not overflow. Sprinkle the remainder of cake crumbs over the cake, cover, and let chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour. When ready to serve, carefully remove the sides of the spring form pan and transfer to a plate. Good Luck!

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Sticky Dumplings in Ginger Syrup (Che Troi Nuoc)

Lunar New Year is just around the corner! For those of you who don’t celebrate, the lunar new year (called Tet in Vietnamese) falls on Friday, January 31st, 2014.

I won’t go into all the details about the celebration just yet, but I will give you a sneak-peek recipe – there are always plenty of great dishes to share around New Year, and desserts are no exception!

This Vietnamese dessert is a “sweet soup”, called Che. These desserts are a play on texture – there is always great focus on providing various crunchy or chewy elements. The best part is, there are different types of “chewy”, too. Some are snappy-chewy, like palm fruits, for example – other times, they are soft-chewy, like sticky (glutinous) rice flour balls.

Che¬†can either be cold and served over ice, or served hot or warm. Often, it’s finished with a bit of coconut milk for added richness and body. This particular Che is served warm.¬†It’s very soothing, great on a cold day, and has a wonderful spicy kick from ginger, beautifully contrasting textures from the glutinous rice flour and mung bean paste, and will make your whole body warm.

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Ginger Syrup
Ingredients
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 hand of ginger, cut into thin slices (normally I don’t peel)
  • 1 cup of brown sugar or equivalent of rock sugar

Add the ginger and water to a small pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to low heat, and cover ¬†for 20 to 30 minutes (if you don’t want it as intensely gingery, simmer for less).

Once 20-30 minutes have elapsed, add in the sugar and stir to dissolve. Strain the syrup if you don’t want the ginger chunks, but they won’t do any harm.
Sticky Rice Ball Dough
Ingredients:
  • 1 bag glutinuous rice flour (6 oz.)
  • 1 3/4 cups water
Put 1 bag of 6 oz. glutinous rice flour (SEE NOTE) into a mixing bowl. Slowly add¬†in between 1¬†2/3 and 1 ¬ĺ cup of water. Mix with your hands thoroughly as you add the water! Alternately you can do this in a food processor or electric/stand mixer. Knead the dough for 3 to 5 minutes, until it forms a smooth, shiny ball, and cover it with a damp towel or plastic wrap. Let it rest.

 

Mung Bean Filling
Ingredients:
  • 2 cups of yellow, shelled, split mung beans
  • water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (white or brown)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Soak the mung beans overnight (or at least 2 hours) in a covered bowl. Drain, rinse, and put them in a small sauce pan or a pot, with just enough water  to cover the beans. Turn the heat to high and let it come to a boil. After about 10 to 15 minutes, test to see if they are soft enough to mush between your fingers. If they are still firm, test them every additional five minutes.

Set the mung beans aside. In a large mixing bowl, add in the sugar and salt, and stir until the mixture is a smooth paste. Put the mixture aside for a bit, until it is cool enough to handle (but still warm!). Form the paste into little round balls, about 2 cm in diameter.
Put it all together!
  • Dough
  • Mung Bean Filling
  • Ginger Syrup
  • Pot of boiling water
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Thinly sliced ginger (optional)
  • Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
  • coconut milk or cream (optional)
Uncover the dough and form it into balls about twice the size as the mung bean paste balls. Flatten the balls into disks, using your fingers to thin it out. Place the filling in the center of the dough, fold over one edge and pinch together, make sure the dough cover the filling completely. Gently roll until the dough seals, and forms a smooth ball. Be gentle when rolling to make sure you don’t mash the filling with the dough. If you’d like, you can save some dough at the end to form little tiny sticky rice flour balls without filling, for added variety of texture. Bring water to a boil in a large pot. Fill a separate bowl with cold water.
Drop the balls into the boiling water until they floats to the top. Once they float, let them boil for about two minutes, then scoop them out and drop into the bowl of cold water for a few seconds. Then take the balls out and place them in the ginger syrup. Repeat the process in batches.
To serve, top it with coconut milk, toasted sesame seeds, or thinly sliced ginger. An Ngon!
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Note: I use this brand of glutinous (sticky) rice flour: 

Healthy Ferrero Rochers

trufflecloseupNote: This recipe is courtesy of my sister. She doesn’t typically cook (I am the one teaching her!), but she loves to experiment with nut butters. Recently she has made hazelnut truffles; while I cannot taste them as I am allergic to tree nuts, this recipe has been a big hit with the rest of the family.¬†

My grandmother used to keep a stock of truffles and cookies, tucked away under the draping floral tablecloth on the dining room table, for the kids to snack on. She was truly the sweetest; instead of the Chips Ahoy, Hershey’s Kisses, or whatever American kids were nibbling on, she had loads of foreign goodies: LU butter cookies, Quadratini chocolate wafers, and little gold-foil wrapped Ferrero Rochers. Today, those brands automatically trigger memories of her home, full of family and food for everyone to share.

Since she passed away, I haven’t seen Ferrero Rochers since. I couldn’t eat them anyway, but my sister has sorely missed them. So she composed this less-processed, healthy version of Ferrero Rochers to reminisce about our childhood days.

Bonus, they are refined sugar free!

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Healthy Ferrero Rochers

  • 1 cup dry roasted, unsalted hazelnuts
  • 1/2 cup cacao nibs (Buy them here)
  • honey (amount as needed, can sub vegan alternative)
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 block dark chocolate (I used 70% dark chocolate)
  • additional nibs, to sprinkle on the top

In a food processor, add the cacao nibs and hazelnuts. Run the machine for about 5 minutes, until a coarse, crumbly mixture is made. Drizzle in about 1/4 cup honey, add the cocoa powder, and run the food processor again. When the mixture becomes thick, firm, and rollable into balls, it is finished. Add more honey if the mixture is still too dry. If the mixture becomes too wet, add more cocoa powder at 1 tablespoon at a time. When the mixture is rollable, put the food processor cup in the fridge, covered.

Meanwhile, cut the dark chocolate into chunks. Fill a deep skillet with about 1 inch of water and put it on the stove until it comes to a simmer. Add the chocolate to another bowl, and place the bowl into the water. Stir until the mixture is fully melted. Set aside. (See Notes if you want to learn about how to melt chocolate)

Take the nut mixture out of the fridge and form them into ping-pong size balls, about 2 cm in diameter. Make sure your hands are clean! If you don’t want to hand them too much, you can alternately use two spoons. Form all the mixture into balls and place on a parchment lined tray. Now, spoon melted chocolate over each truffle. You may need to melt more chocolate if you are a little generous. Sprinkle cacao nibs over each truffle, too.

Finished! Store in the fridge for about a week, or in the freezer indefinitely (just make sure you thaw them first, so you don’t break a tooth). Give as gifts, or keep them to yourself to cure a sweets craving the healthy way!

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Sneaky Chocolate Crinkles

20131226-145120.jpgWith 2013 near its final days, I thought I’d share a new recipe I tried this Christmas. Traditionally, my sibling, mom, and I make cut out sugar cookies and thumbprints for our cookie lineup, but this year I was enticed by this gorgeous recipe. The cookies are deliciously chocolatey, yet not over-indulgent. They also require no decorating, since they’re rolled in powdered sugar! To change things up a bit (and lighten up the holiday butter-load) I chose a recipe with less butter, and substitute partial whole wheat pastry flour. This IS the superior crinkle!

Chocolate Crinkles (Sneakily better-for-you!)
Inspired by Julievr on Babble.com

  • 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (I used hersheys)
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 2 large eggs

2 tsp. vanilla

Powdered sugar, for rolling

Preheat the oven to 350¬įF. In a medium bowl cream the butter and sugars until fluffy and light, about 3 minutes. Do not skip this! It is crucial in cookie-making. Add the eggs, vanilla, and stir until well blended, then dry ingredients and mix again.

At first it will seem like there isn‚Äôt enough liquid, but it will come together. You may need to get in there with your hands ‚Äď don‚Äôt be afraid to! Form the dough into a ball, slab, whatever and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill in the fridge for at least 1 hour.

Take the dough out of the fridge. Put some icing sugar in a shallow bowl and line a baking tray with parchment. Sprinkle some powdered sugar on the parchment, too. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls and roll the balls in icing sugar to coat; be sure to cover them well, it makes them look much prettier. Place an inch or two apart on the cookie sheets.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until set around the edges but still soft in the middle. Be sure not to over bake them! In fact, they are better a bit under, so they say soft and chewy in the center. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Serve warm with a glass of milk or egg nog.

Happy Baking!

Traditional Cranberry Biscotti

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Hi all! Today I have for you a quick recipe for traditional Italian Biscotti.¬†Biscotti, if you’re not familiar with them,¬†are twice-baked cookies¬†originating in the Italian¬†city of Prato (it’s near Florence). The cookies are often oblong shaped, and contain almonds, dried fruit, and some sort of citrus zest. They are made dry and crunchy by cutting the log of baked dough into slices and baking it again at a lower temperature. Traditionally, biscotti is served alongside coffee or tea, and by nature is not supposed to be too sweet, as to avoid offsetting its accompanying beverage. Today, however, bakeries are tending to shift towards a more buttery, rich, and sweet biscotti (often covered in chocolate) that is more dessert-like.

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The recipe I have for you today is a more traditional biscotti – only relying on the sweetness from dried fruit, and the perfect level of crunchy-crumbliness from the richness of whole eggs. There is no butter or oil in the recipe, making the cookie perfect to satisfy your sweet-tooth in the morning, midday, or even after dinner when preparing for the richness that comes with the holidays. Also, this recipe is easily adaptable! If you would like the cookie to be richer, add in up to 1 cup of sugar, or even dip them in chocolate when they’re done. You can also add nuts, and chocolate chips, or experiment with different extracts. I’ve made this recipe 3 times, and each time I differ the filling. Have fun with it!

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Traditional Cranberry Biscotti

This biscotti is lighter and simpler than its bakery-counterparts, relying on a traditional Italian method. Serve it as a light sweet snack alongside a warm beverage.

Ingredients

3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or almond, coffee, raspberry, etc.)
zest of 1 whole orange (OPTIONAL)
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup dried cranberries (or any mixture, such as raisins, apricots, almonds, chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix the eggs, and extract. In a larger bowl, mix the remaining ingredients except the nuts. Stir the wet mixture into the dry, using a spoon first and then using your hands. The dough will be VERY sticky and tacky. Stir in the dried fruit.

Flouring your hands and working surface, roll half of the dough into a 12-inch flat log. Place it on a baking sheet lined with parchment, sprayed foil, or a silicone mat. Repeat with the remaining dough. You can put both logs on the same sheet.

Bake in the center position of the oven for about 50 minutes, until golden brown. Take the logs off the sheet and onto a cooling rack, let cool for about 5 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 275 degrees.

Use a serrated knife to slice the logs into 1/2-inch thick slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown and almost crisp. Transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Makes 4 dozen biscotti

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Fusing cultures with LA-style Sweet Rice Cakes!

Yes, I know, it seems like I’ve forgotten all about this blog. But don’t worry! I just have a lot of college-related things to do, but I’ll try to post at least once a week.

Anyway, onto the recipe. This is a recipe from Koreans who began to move to LA, but missed the sweet korean rice cakes they had back home. Instead of recreating them, they tweaked the recipe so that the rice cakes are baked (!) rather than steamed. The result is a wonderfully delicious bar that has the interior of a mochi (if you don’t know what mochi is, it’s a chewy, soft sweet made of pounded sticky rice) yet a slightly crunchy, golden brown exterior akin to a quickbread crust. The fillings are completely up to you!

Action shots of mine –

Ready to stir; I recommend azuki beans and sesame seeds!

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I love this recipe because it’s so simple! My favorite filling is azuki/red beans to go with the asian theme, it may sound weird to put beans in a dessert but you just have to try it. Also sesame seeds (of both colors) add a nice toasty flavor.

From Beyond Kimchee

LA Style Sweet Rice Cake Bars

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: about 20 bars

LA Style Sweet Rice Cake Bars

Ingredients

3 cup glutinous rice flour (DO NOT SUB RICE FLOUR, you can find this at an asian/specialty grocery)
1-1/2 to 2 cups brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cup milk (Soy, lowfat, skim, whole, I bet even almond would work)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1-2 cups fillings (nuts, raisins, pistachios, COOKED azuki beans, chocolate chips, sesame seeds, etc… possibilities are endless)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375¬ļF
  2. In a large bowl whisk together rice flour, brown sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour milk and vanilla and stir to mix well.
  3. Add the fillings. Mix well.
  4. Pour the batter over well greased 9×13 inch pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes until the top gets brown and crisp.
  5. Cool completely and cut into bars. Wrap leftover bars with plastic wrap and store in the fridge.Happy munching!

Greek Yogurt Soufflé

Ah, greek yogurt. Thick, luscious, creamy. A compliment to any fresh fruit, a vehicle for swirly jam, the basis of a cooling sauce, or the finishing touch to a warm bowl of soup.

Greek yogurt is perfect for breakfast. It’s refreshing and light, yet full of protein to keep you full all morning. But what about when winter comes, temperature drops, the berries are scarce, and you’re too cold to eat a parfait? No fear, souffl√© is here.

Imagine fluffy, soft, greek yogurt. Pillowy, creamy, and rich. Lightly sweetened and tangy, fresh from your oven. Talk about delicious! I love having this greek yogurt soufflé as an accompaniment to a Sunday breakfast. It feels rich and indulgent, yet is surprisingly light. It also makes an impressive (and fancy!) brunch dish for company. And did I mention how easy it comes together?

My favorite way to eat the souffle is straight out of the oven, either plain or with a dollop of jam. It is equally delicious in the hotter months when it’s been chilled (though the souffle will fall a little). Little cheesecake heaven!

Greek Yogurt Souffle (adapted from Jules Food here)

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1 cup greek yogurt, plain (I typically use Greek Gods yogurt 0%, though any amount of fat would do)
3 eggs, seperated
3 Tbsp AP flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp cream of tartar
1/4 cup sugar

6 ramekins

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 F degrees DO NOT TURN ON CONVECTION
  2. Spray six 6 oz. ramekins, set on baking sheet.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, egg yolks, flour, salt and vanilla. ¬†In a medium bowl (or with a stand mixer if you’re fancy) beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Gradually add ¬†sugar and whisk until firm, but soft peaks form. It’s OK if you overmix but try not to.
  4. Fold in whites to yogurt-egg mixture in thirds, being careful to retain volume.
  5. Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins.
  6. Bake on the tray for 15 minutes until they are risen and a nice golden brown. Yes, you can peak, according to this. So be curious. But if it takes longer than 15 minutes because you peak that much, step away from the oven!
  7. Serve immediately so they don’t fall (they do fall). Of course I took pictures and they fell while I sprinted to get my camera.
  8. Pour on the jam, maple syrup, fresh fruit, chocolate – whatever your heart desires! You can even cover the tops with sugar and br√Ľl√©e them muahaha. Or, refrigerate for cheesecakes later!

Happy eating!