Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve last posted here on Cassie’s Kitchen! It’s been pretty hectic over the past few weeks (months?) and my poor kitchen and blog have been sadly neglected. But I’m back, and I apologize profusely for keeping you from this decadent Chocolate Brandy Cake recipe because we have so many things to celebrate and what’s better to celebrate with than Chocolate Cake! Well..Chocolate Brandy Cake!

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

I have so much news, I don’t even know where to start! (Deep breath…) Okay, first I had a pretttttty big birthday. At least it seemed pretty big to me…I entered into my 3rd decade on this planet…eek!! I love birthdays, any reason to bake glorious layer cakes and boozy cupcakes is okay by me…that is…as long as they’re not my own. For some reason I try to avoid my birthday at all costs. Possibly because I was born on St. Patricks Day, which was a glorious day to celebrate when I turned 21 (I actually did so in Dublin – who am was I?), but now that I’m 30 (double eek!), the idea of being surrounded by drunken obnoxious people in overcrowded bars is nauseating. So the last few years I’ve decided to escape the city and celebrate my birthday anywhere but NYC. Since this birthday happened to be a big one, my boyfriend, Jordan, and I decided to take a trip first to Austin for SXSW (so I could surround myself with drunken, obnoxious people in crowded music venues…hm..), and then to Costa Rica.

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

My birthday was spent with some of my favorite people, including Jordan (obviously), his best friend Steve and his very talented girlfriend, Miss Katie from Butterlust, who generously baked a fabulous mini chocolate cake for me (thank you Katie!). I also was able to see two of my closest friends, Catherine and Cordelia, whom I’ve known since my first decade on earth! I couldn’t have asked for a better, low-key birthday. To top it off, the birthday week was just starting as we continued with a trip to Costa Rica! Pura Vida!

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

Five years ago, Jordan and I went on our first vacation together to Costa Rica, and we were excited to go back to relive the amazing time we had there. I still look back and think it to be one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. Jordan was the perfect travel companion, we got along so well and had the same exact travel style (mostly relaxation, a little bit of adventure, some sight-seeing, and a lot of time spent at cafes, bars and restaurants.) We returned to the same hotel we had stayed at on our previous trip, Banana Azul, which was even better than we had remembered.

Costa Rica

Little did I know, the first day we arrived in Puerto Viejo, Jordan had a surprise waiting for me. He suggested we bike to Punta Uva, a popular beach in Puerto Viejo, and then hike the cliff next to the beach to the serene and secluded beach we knew was on the other side. This was our favorite spot when we visited last, and for years to come Jordan and I would send each other pictures of the beach anytime the weather was bad, we had a rough day, or because we knew the other needed a pick-me-up. When we climbed down the cliff and the brush opened up to crystal blue water and white sand, Jordan got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I couldn’t have been happier, and we celebrated with a bottle of champagne overlooking the most beautiful blue water on a perfect warm day. We enjoyed the rest of the week celebrating, drinking far too much lots of bubbly, eating fresh, local seafood and relaxing beach side.

Costa Rica

When we returned to NYC, we didn’t even bother unpacking, because we moved to Brooklyn 2 weeks later! Phew! I’m seriously exhausted even typing all this.

Now that we’re fully settled into our new hood, I’m hoping to get back on the saddle and start blogging again. I hope you’ll forgive me for my absence, but I hope you caught up on recipes in the archive. And now can we talk about cake already?

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

This cake really doesn’t need much of an explanation. It’s rich, decadent, and intensely chocolate. The prunes soaked in liquor adds an elegance to the chocolate making this cake refined and almost luxurious. It’s perfect for a birthday celebration, Memorial Day party, Christmas dinner, or seriously, just because. Yes, it is a little involved, but I can tell you it’s ever so worth it. Because there are always reasons to celebrate, especially when chocolate is involved.

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Note: This cake is relatively straight forward and simple to make. The one intimidating step (at least for me), was setting the prune and brandy mixture aflame. I was expecting massive showy flames, but the flame was very tame and didn’t creep above the top of the saucepan. Even so, always exercise caution when using this technique.
 
Adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2/3 cup finely ground pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 plump, moist prunes, pitted and chopped into small bits
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup Brandy (or cognac, Armagnac or Scotch whiskey)
  • 7 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

For the glaze:

  • 3 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Recipe

For the cake:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375º F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan, fit the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper, and then butter paper. Dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the nuts, flour and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Place the prunes and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until almost all of the water has evaporated.  Be sure not to scorch the fruit. Pull the pan from the heat and pour in the brandy, stand back and set the prunes and liquor aflame with a match or utility lighter. Allow the flame to die out, then transfer the fruit and any remaining liquid to a bowl and let cool. (This step can be done up to a day in advance.)
  4. Add the chocolate, butter and remaining 3 tablespoons water to a heatproof bowl, and set it over a pan of simmering water.  Stir occasionally until chocolate and butter are melted. Remove from heat as soon as it is melted and not overly hot.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick, approximately 2 minutes. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate mixture, then the nut mixture and then finally the prune mixture.  Mix to combine and evenly distribute all ingredients.
  6. With a stand mixer or hand held mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold firm, glossy peaks. Stir one quarter of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Turn the batter into the pan and spread the top evenly with a spatula.
  7. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, until it is puffed, firm on top and starting to pull slightly away from the sides of the pan; a thin knife or toothpick will come out streaky, but not wet. You don’t want to over-bake this cake.
  8. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing the sides of the pan. Invert the cake and pull off the bottom and paper, and then turn right side up to cool to room temperature. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the sugar, then butter, stirring until the glaze is smooth.
  2. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing excess to run down the sides. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the cake and sides if necessary.

Cake will keep for 1 day at room temperature, or 3 days in the refrigerator, stored in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Advertisements

Brown Butter Coconut Cookies

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

Since we’ve been on a brown butter kick lately (I mean, let’s be honest, when are we ever not on a brown butter kick), I figured why stop with corn bread when I have these delicious coconut cookies to share with you! Just when I thought it couldn’t get better than Joy the Baker’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (seriously, have you tried them? They are the chocolate chip cookie to end all chocolate chip cookies), Smitten Kitchen came along (as she does) and discovered the joy of the brown butter coconut cookie.

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

And oh the joy. Deb, you are a domestic goddess (as if we didn’t already know that). These cookies are absolutely divine. They’re soft and chewy in the center, slightly crispy around the edges and have the ooey-gooey tender flakiness of the coconut throughout. There’s almost as much coconut as dough, turning these cookies into crumbly, chewy sweet perfection. Add to that the nuttiness of the browned butter and you have single-handedly one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten.

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

These cookies are definitely meant for sharing.  Warning, do not leave yourself alone with the whole batch-it’s dangerous.

Browned Butter Coconut Cookies

Brown Butter Coconut Cookies

  • Servings: ~4 dozen cookies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 4 cups dried, unsweetened coconut flakes (I used Bob’s Red Mills)

Recipe

  1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, stirring frequently.  First the butter will melt, and then foam, and then turn a golden color before it turns brown. Stop when it is brown and smells nutty, but be sure not to overcook it as it will quickly burn. Remove from heat and refrigerator until the butter has solidified, about 1-2 hours. You can also put the butter in the freezer, but check back often to stir so it doesn’t freeze unevenly.
  2. Heat oven to 350° F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  3. Scrape the chilled brown butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and add the granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
  4. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl.  Pour half the flour mixture into the butter mixture and mix on low speed until combined.  Add the remaining flour and beat until combined.  Add coconut flakes and mix until evenly distributed. If the dough looks too dry or crumbly, add 1-2 tablespoons of water and mix until combined.
  5. Scoop dough by the teaspoon onto your prepared baking sheet, using your finger to flatten the dough slightly.  Bake for 9-10 minutes, until they’re golden brown.
  6. Cool cookies on a cookie sheet for 1-2 minutes and then cool completely on a wire rack. Cookies will keep for up to a week in an air tight container. Dough will keep refrigerated for a few days and up to a month frozen.

Almond Apricot Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate Ganache #BundtBakers

Almond Apricot Bundt Cake with Dark Chocolate GanacheLittle known fact about me: I love chocolate.  Okay, that might have been obvious by now if you are a frequent visitor of my little part of these here interwebs, but seriously, I live for chocolate. I’m not even in the slightest bit embarrassed about admitting to the fact that I probably eat chocolate almost every day.  Most of the time, it’s just a small square, or a few chocolate chips, but I have a hard time going a full day without my much needed chocolate fix.  Continue reading

Coconut Orange Bundt Cake with Coconut Whipped Cream #Bundtbakers

Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Coconut Orange Bundt Cake

For the past few weeks, I’ve been making a conscious effort to eat healthy, which hasn’t been that difficult considering the endless amount of nutritious and delicious recipes on the internet. Eating more healthfully, for me, often means opting for cooking rather than ordering in, and I’ve been having a blast researching so many different recipes from some of my favorite cookbooks and blogs. I’ve been stocking up on veggies,healthier flours (buckwheat pancakes anyone?), and cutting back on sugar. The hardest part about conscious eating, for me at least, is that I can’t resist my incessant sweet tooth. As hard as I try, my hankering for baked goods can not be denied. In addition to my pathetic lack of self control when it comes to sweets, I also didn’t want to miss out on this month’s #bundtbakers theme: Coconut (one of my faves!)  Continue reading

Bourbon Molasses Cookies with Bourbon Buttercream (a.k.a the “Drunken Debbie”)

Bourbon Molasses Cookies with Bourbon Italian Meringue Buttercream

Last weekend, my friend Soffia and I competed in the Brooklyn Cookie Takedown, a cookie competition held at the Bell House in Gowanus, Brooklyn.  To compete, all you have to do is bake 250 cookies, and show up to the venue and hand them out. Not too bad, right? Um…yea – easy, except that it’s 250 cookies (think 20 dozen cookies!).  These were to be made in my tiny, tiny kitchen that lacks a stand up mixer. That’s right people, everything you’ve seen on this site to date is made with the use of my handy-dandy (pun intended) handheld mixer.  Continue reading

Kentucky Bourbon Cake #BundtBakers

Kentucky Bourbon Cake

I’m trying so hard not to talk about the weather, because it’s so boring, I know, but I just can’t help myself.  It’s frigid here in NYC, and I’m just not ready for it. Yesterday marked the lowest recorded high temperature since 1882.  That’s right, at a muggy 33 degrees, this time of the year has not seen these kind of temperatures in over a century.  So what can we do to keep ourselves warm? I’ll tell you what – drink (responsibly of course).  Because when life brings you frigid temperatures, keep yourself warm with a strong drink and a slice of this Kentucky Bourbon Cake.  It’s cold outside, and bourbon keeps you warm, it’s really just science. Continue reading

Homemade Nutter Butter Cookies

Homemade Nutter Butters

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend brought home a single serving pack of Nutter Butters and left them on the kitchen table.  I don’t know where or why he got them, but they sat on our table for a week without being touched, taunting me.  We don’t usually keep a lot of snacks in our apartment, partially because grocery shopping in New York is the worst, and mostly because I just don’t like having snacks around – I’m weak and get tempted too easily.  Cheez-Its, for example, are simply banned from the apartment because I could eat the whole box in one sitting.  I’m not proud.  Continue reading

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Baked Apple Cider Doughnuts

Every Sunday, I have a routine of visiting my local farmers market and stocking up on fresh fruits and veggies for the week. Recently, my favorite produce stand has gotten into the habit of bringing these deliciously spiced, absolutely scrumptious apple cider doughnuts with them every Sunday. So naturally, apple cider doughnuts have found their way into my weekly routine.  Continue reading

Apple Butter Bundt Cake with Cider Caramel Glaze #bundtbakers

Apple Butter Bundt with Cider Caramel Glaze

Last weekend, my sister, Sam, and I visited our good friend Lydia in Massachusetts.  Lydia is incredibly talented in the kitchen, and has taken her talent and passion for all things sweet to create her own brand: Sweet Lydia’s.  She’s pretty much a celebrity in her home town, and is known by everyone as the woman who makes the delectable marshmallows and sweets that she sells in her store.  I really admire how Lydia has taken her passion and turned it into a successful business.  She works so hard, and it’s so exciting to see her business grow.  Continue reading

Carrot Bundt Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting #BundtBakers

Carrot Bundt Cake with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

My boyfriend, Jordan, is obsessed with making lists.  He makes lists for everything, his top 10 albums of all time, his top 5 trips of all time, his top 10 Cassie’s Kitchen recipes, he’s always and forever ranking items in his head and somehow manages to remember them all when asked to recite them.  He’s always asking me for my favorites – and I don’t always have an answer because my tastes change pretty often.  The music I listen to now is certainly different than what I was listening to in high school or college, and the things I like to do have changed as well.  But something that has never changed, from the time I was little, is my favorite month of the year – September.  Continue reading