Happy St. Patty’s Day! Whether you are Irish by birth or by spirit, this is the week that everyone is a wee bit Irish. And what better way to celebrate than with a bit of Guinness Stout? Guinness is great on its own but when combined with chocolate it only gets better. The combination of the rich beer and chocolate produces a dense and complex cake that isn’t overly sweet. You could skip the coffee infused ganache if you wanted but I think it takes these cakes from very good to great. After all, you now have beer, chocolate and coffee!
Like so many recipes, this one is an adaptation of an adaptation which you guessed it, was adapted from the original. I found the recipe on Smitten Kitchen but versions of this recipe are floating all over the web. Some recipes produce three layer cakes and others give you one large bundt shaped cake. I decided to make mini bundt cakes since I recently re-discovered my mini bundt cake pan while unpacking my moving boxes. And because I made this cake for a get together with Glenn’s co-workers, the mini cakes traveled better and were easier to serve a crowd. I had hoped to bring a leftover cake home with me but alas, they all disappeared. I guess the moral is that if I really want to eat the cake I need to leave one at home.
MINI CHOCOLATE STOUT CAKES
For the cake:
1 cup Guinness Stout
1 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
For the ganache:
6 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon instant coffee granules
To make the cake:
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a six-cake mini bundt pan with non-stick cooking spray taking care to get in all of the nooks and crannies. If you don’t have two pans you will need to wash, dry, and re-grease the pan before baking the remaining cakes.
- In a large, heavy saucepan set over medium heat bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to a simmer.
- Add the cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
- Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend.
- Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
- Add the stout-chocolate mixture to the egg mixture and beat until just combined.
- Add the flour mixture and beat briefly on low speed until just combined.
- Using a rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined.
- Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake for 14-16 minutes or until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the pan.
To make the ganache:
- For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee in the top of a double boiler over simmering water until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.
- Drizzle over the top of cooled cakes.
Yields: 12 miniature bundt cakes
Think of this as a giant chocolate chip studded scone. With its crispy crust and cake like interior this is a quick bread that is just as nice for dessert as it is for a snack. And it is easy; very easy. The recipe comes from the kitchens of the Washington Post and the first time I baked this recipe the bread got eaten so quickly that I now make two (baked on two separate baking sheets). It is that good. The loaf is free formed so you can experiment with its shape–make two or four smaller loaves, make it round or rectangular–whatever you prefer. Just be sure to adjust the baking time if your loaves are smaller.
And because I am a fan of chocolate I prefer to use miniature chocolate chips since I think they give you more chocolate for your buck. You can also switch out the chocolate chips for diced dried fruit or use a combination of chocolate and fruit (sour cherries are particularly good).
RUSTIC CHOCOLATE CHIP TEA BREAD
3 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/4 teaspoon salt, preferably fine sea salt
1/3 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
10 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into teaspoon-size chunks
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon buttermilk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons, if needed
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
- In the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and 1/3 cup of the sugar.
- Drop in the chunks of butter pulse until pea sized dough balls form. Transfer the mixture into a large mixing bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, the 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of buttermilk and the vanilla extract.
- Pour the egg mixture over the flour mixture, sprinkle with the chocolate chips. USe a wooden spoon or paddle to stir, forming a rough, cohesive, slightly sticky dough. If the dough seems a little dry, drizzle it with an extra tablespoon or two of buttermilk.
- Gather the dough into a rough mass with your hands, then knead lightly until it comes together completely, using firm strokes to gather it all cohesively. Form the dough into a 5 1/2-to-6-inch ball.
- Place the ball of dough at the center baking sheet. Use a sharp paring knife to score an 1/8-inch-deep cross in the top of the ball of dough, then sprinkle the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar evenly over the top.
- Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the loaf is set, golden on top and baked through. It should sound hollow when you lightly tap the top or bottom with a wooden spoon.
- Cool, on the baking sheet, on a wire cooling rack for 10 minutes.
- Slip a metal spatula under the loaf and transfer it to a separate rack to cool completely.
- Use a serrated knife to cut slices or wedges.
Turkey leftovers…….after a big Thanksgiving dinner, they seem to haunt you for days on end. In the immediate aftermath of the turkey coma sandwiches filled with turkey, stuffing, and gravy are on the menu. Next you might simply reheat the original meal but after that what do you do with your mounds of turkey? In reality, the possibilities are endless.
Right about now, after four full turkey dinners plus an assortment of leftovers, I’m just plain tired of turkey. But I still have a lot of turkey in the refrigerator that needs to be eaten. Last night’s solution was to use the turkey in a way that is decidedly un-Thanksgiving like. There wasn’t any mashed potatoes, bread stuffing, or Brussels spouts on the dinner table. Instead, I put a Mediterranean twist on the turkey and made calzones stuffed with red peppers, lots of gooey cheese, and yes, turkey. The calzone crust is a Williams Sonoma flat bread recipe but the filling is all pantry and refrigerator leftovers. I served it with a marinara dipping sauce but I think the calzones would be especially good accompanied by a roasted red pepper and eggplant avjar.
TURKEY & ROASTED RED PEPPER CALZONES
For the pastry:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1/2 tablespoon sugar
1/2 tablespoon salt
3/4 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
- In a food processor, combine the flour, yeast, sugar, and salt and pulse to blend. Add the warm water and the olive oil and pulse until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 1 to 2 minutes to form a smooth ball.
- Place the dough in a large oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise in a warm place until it has doubled in bulk and is very spongy, about 1 1/2 hours.
- After the dough has risen, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, punch it down, and knead it into a smooth cylinder. Reshape the dough into a smooth ball and allow it to sit, covered with a dry kitchen towel, for 10 minutes.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough ball into a cylinder that is 10 inches long. Cut into 10 even pieces and roll each piece into a smooth ball. Cover with a kitchen towel and let rest at room temperature for 20 minutes.
For the filling:
1 cup diced cooked turkey
1/3 cup ricotta cheese
2/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1/4 cup minced green onion
3/4 cup diced roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon fresh minced thyme
Salt & pepper to taste
1 egg, slightly beaten
- Combine the turkey, cheese, green onion, red peppers and thyme in a small bowl and toss well to combine. Season with salt and pepper
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll each dough ball into a round that is 5 to 6 inches in diameter and 1/8 of an inch thick.
- Divide the calzone filling evenly on the center of each round and brush the edges of the dough with water.
- Life the edges, stretching and adjusting the dough and compacting the filling, so the edges meet in the center. Firmly crimps the edges and transfer each calzone, seam side down, to the prepared baking sheet.
- Cut a small steam vent into the top of each calzone.
- Place the egg in a small bowl and add 2 teaspoons of water. Brush the egg wash over the top of each calzone.
- Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool for 5 minutes, then serve.
Yields: 10 calzones