Wednesday, February 25, 2015

homemade nutella (gianduja).

At the very top (if not the top) of the list of things you should never ever (under any circumstances) learn how to make homemade sits nutella.   

Making homemade nutella (also known as gianduja) is like going down a rabbit hole - you will realize rather quickly that you can never ever go back to the jarred stuff.  The jarred stuff is cloyingly sweet, it lacks the true hazlenut taste, and it just isn't really that good (Sorry, don't hate me). 

But this stuff?  This is insane with a pronounced chocolate/nut taste that the jarred stuff doesn't come close to. This is why you buy fresh bread from a reputable bakery.  This is why you make homemade crepes.  This is why you find yourself sneaking into the fridge with a spoon in one hand and a thought in your head that you will only have one more bite (such a lie).  Tyler and I have been eating it slathered on toasted sourdough bread with a thin layer of jam and a sprinkle of flaky sea salt (absurdly good).  It's the kind of stuff that will get you through the rest of February and take you through March.  How can you be sad about the weather when you have homemade nutella in your life?  

Homemade Nutella Recipe (Gianduja)
Recipe via the Baking Society (From the guys at Baked Bakery in Brooklyn/TriBeca) 

This can be halved, but why would you do such a thing?   Also – my Nutella firms up quite a bit as I store it in the fridge.  To bring it back to a spreadable consistency, just nuke it for about 10 seconds.  It will return to its normal perfect state.  

6 ounces (a heaping cup) skinned hazelnuts
1 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chunked
8 ounces dark chocolate (in the 60% range, not higher)
½ cup heavy cream
½ teaspoon fine sea salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spread the hazelnuts out on a small baking sheet and roast until toasty brown in color, about 12 minutes (I usually flip the nuts half-way through the bake time for an even roast). Allow to cool completely. Place the hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor and sprinkle with sugar. Process until a smooth, buttery paste forms, about 3+ minutes. Add the butter and process until just incorporated.

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate, stirring often, in heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water. After the chocolate is completely melted, whisk in the cream then the hazelnut paste. Pour into a glass jar. The gianduja will thicken as it cools.

Spread on everything.    

Monday, February 23, 2015


Hello, lover.

This is a galley kitchen done extraordinarily right.   

That floor. That stove.  Those lights.

I'm starting to realize smaller can be better.  Quality over quantity (and I will always pick quality).  

small kitchen

Image via Pinterest.

Sunday, February 22, 2015


I am currently a bread/carb/pasta eating machine.  

It started with the flu last week when all I could stomach was toast with butter and jam and from there it downward spiraled into an all out obsession with anything made with all-purpose flour. Sourdough bread slathered in homemade nutella and strawberry jam? GIVE ME. Bean and cheese tortillas? I'll take 5!  Pasta covered in cheese?  Two bowls please.   

I like to think I am balancing out the world that is filled with Paleo/carb-phobic eaters.   

This on-going carb obsession culminated this past Sunday with me deciding if I was going to be stuck inside all day because it was too damm cold to walk more then one city block then my god I was going to make fresh pasta with bolognese. (We are officially hibernating people!)

Fresh pasta is up there with bread warm from the oven as one of the most perfect foods.  I mean it's the definition of pure comfort food.  The kind of thing your body craves wholeheartedly this time of year.  The kind of thing you should FEED your body with this time of year.   Bathing suit season is still months away.  

This bolognese recipe is adapted slightly from one I had photo-copied from my mom.  She and I share a love of creating binders filled with recipe favorites and I stumbled across this one one of the last times I was home.  It isn't difficult in the slightest and is the perfect thing to put together on a Sunday afternoon while you are puttering around your home.  It will fill your space with a fantastic scent i.e. the perfume of Italian grandmothers and leave you with a pretty fabulous dinner.  

Recipe tweaked slighly from Mama

Makes enough sauce for 1 pound of pasta.  Pasta recipe below.

2 slices of bacon, chopped 1 small yellow onion, minced
2 small-medium sized carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound ground beef, pork, or lamb or some combination of all 3 (I did half beef and half pork)
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 13.5 ounces can crushed San Marzano tomatoes 
2 cups beef or chicken broth
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry red or white wine
1/2 cup cream
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large heavy bottomed pot set over medium heat, combine the bacon, onion, carrots, and celery.  Cook until the bacon has rendered and the vegetables have softened and begun to lightly brown, about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds.   Add in meat mixture, and use a spoon to break up the clumps. Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the meat is well-browned and cooked through. Add a good pinch of salt, a couple of grinds of black pepper, and the wine - continue to cook until the wine has been absorbed.

Mix tomato paste with broth and add to mixture along with the can of crushed tomatoes.  Simmer, uncovered, for an hour or so or until the mixture has reduced and the meat sauce has thickened.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.   Remove from heat, add cream, and mix well.  If freezing or reheating, hold the cream until ready to serve.  

Toss with pasta and serve with lots of grated parmesan.   

Poor Man's Fresh Pasta 
Recipe from the great Lidia Bastianich

Makes about 1 pound  

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 large whole eggs
¼ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons water 

Making the Dough:  Measure the flour and shake it through a sieve into a medium sized mixing bowl

Drop the eggs into a small bowl or measuring cup; beat briefly with a fork to break them up. Pour in the measured amounts of oil and water and mix well with the eggs. 

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour. Toss and mix everything with a fork until the flour is moistened and starts to clump together. 

Lightly flour with your hands, then gather the clumps-or use a flexible plastic dough scraper-and begin kneading right in the bowl, folding the ragged mass over, pushing and turning it, then folding again. Use the kneading action to clean the sides of the bowl. 

When you have formed a cohesive clump of dough, turn it out onto a small work surface lightly dusted with 1/2 teaspoon of flour and continue kneading for 2 to 3 minutes, until the dough is smooth and shiny on the outside, soft throughout, and stretchy. 

Form the dough into a disk and wrap it tightly in plastic wrap, and let it rest at room temperature for 1/2 hour. Store, very well wrapped, in the refrigerator for a day, or for a month or more in the freezer. Defrost frozen dough slowly in refrigerator, and let it return to room temperature before rolling. Defrosted dough will need a bit more flour.

Rolling the Dough: Have your dough at room temperature and cut the dough into 4 pieces.  Work with one piece at a time and keep the others covered.  Have a large trade tray or baking sheet nearby, lightly sprinkled with flour, on which to lay the dough strips. 

Turn the knob to the widest setting  - you’ll work at this setting for a while . Press the first piece of dough into a rectangle, then fold it in half, and roll it through the machine two times.  Fold the now elongated rectangle in thirds, turn the dough 90 degrees (so the fold in on the side) and roll it through. 

Catch the dough; fold it and roll it through again with the fold on the side.  Repeat the folding and rolling six more times (total of 8) to straighten and smooth the dough.  Like kneading this will make if more resilient and workable. 

Resent the roller to the very next setting (slightly narrower) or skip to the third (even narrower).  Roll your strip through, short end in first (don’t fold it again).  Let the rollers grab and move the dough – don’t push it or pull it through – and catch it on your hand as it comes out. 

Reset the machine even narrower; you should be on the third or fifth setting by now.  Pass the strip through once again; it will lengthen rapidly, and you will need to catch and support it as it comes through the rollers.  Flour the strip lightly and cut the dough in half so it becomes a more manageable size.  You should now have 2 long strips about 5 inches wide and 13ish inches in length, dust them with flour so they don’t stick.   Cut them by hand into "pappardelle" width or via the machine.  Repeat the above procedure with the remaining 3 pieces of dough. 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

nashville (looking for tips).

I do well when I have things to plan and look forward to.  I like goals and the idea of moving towards things.  Last year I was spoiled with a lot of planning (Wedding! Honeymoon! Life in general!) and this year I've felt a little lost.  So after stalking Google flights I finally pulled the trigger and booked Tyler and I a flight to Nashville. 

I've been dying to visit Nashville for awhile now it just exudes casual coolness.  It doesn't hurt that they have a food called "hot chicken" which I am basically dreaming of eating.  It's essentially spicy fried chicken WHAT IS THERE NOT TO LOVE?!

So if you have any suggestions - sites to see (I have the Belmont Mansion on my list), shopping, or food tips, please share.  I will be dieting from now until March 13th so I can eat massive amounts of chicken and biscuits - totally worth it.   

Image via Bon Appetit.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


Rugs in the kitchen is the most genius idea ever.  Maybe not the most practical but pretty darn genius. 

Kitchen With Persian Rug

Kitchen With Persian Rug

Kitchen With Persian Rug

Images via here.  

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

granola bark.

My brother got me the Husk cookbook for Christmas and flipping through the pages has me longing for a trip to the South.  I usually don't feel the need to leave the tundra that is called the Northeast during the month of February (I personally don't mind hibernating) but this year I am feeling particularly antsy.  Not necessarily for the feeling of warmth (though I wouldn't mind some sunshine on my face) but just to explore, to get lost in a new place, to try something new.  Sometimes I feel lost when things feel stagnant.  

While I am still planning a trip to south of the Mason-Dixon line, I discovered I can bring a little bit of the south to me by spending an inordinate amount of money on Anson Mills flours and grains. Anson Mills is one of those places that is trying to resurrect the world of heirloom grains - the kind of thing we ate hundred's of years ago. It's a lofty goal, mostly because people aren't used to eating the heartier grains of the yesteryear but I encourage it.  It doesn't hurt that the hearty grains taste so good. 

So I bought graham flour and buckwheat flour and flatbread flour (which may ruin all other tortillas for me) but the best thing I bought was the 10 POUNDS OF OATS.  Yes - I now own 10 pounds of oats which means I will be eating oatmeal everyday for the next 7 months but I am OK with that. These oats are delightful.  Nutty and filling.  They have me craving breakfast.   They also have me searching for things to do with my plethora of oats (because 7 months of only oatmeal is a lot) and that is where the Anson Mills website comes in handy.  You see THEY GIVE YOU RECIPES so you know how to use their products which is how I stumbled across granola bark which is as if granola and a bar had a baby.    It makes for a fine breakfast and an equally wonderful afternoon snack.   

Granola Bark
Recipe adapted from Anson Mills

Feel free to mix up the add in's.  This is a great way to clean out the cabinets.  It also makes A LOT so feel free to share.  You're recipient will thank you.   

16 ounces (3 cups) old-fashioned oats
6 ounces (2 cups) raw sliced almonds
3 ounces (1 cup) unsweetened shredded coconut
4 ounces (1 cup) raw shelled sunflower or pumpkin seeds
2.3 ounces (1/2 cup) ground flaxseed
5.3 ounces (about 1 cup) dried cranberries, raisins, apricots, or some combination of all
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon grated nutmeg
5 ounces (10 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter or coconut oil (or some combination of both)
9 ounces (scant 1 cup) honey or maple syrup
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
Line a large rimmed baking sheet (18 by 13 inches) with parchment paper and set it aside.
Place the oats, almonds, coconut, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, flax seed, dried fruit, and spices in a large mixing bowl and toss to combine.
Heat the butter or coconut oil and honey/maple syrup in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat until the butter melts. Stir in the salt and vanilla, and then pour the mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until the dry ingredients are evenly moistened. Turn the granola onto the prepared baking sheet and press firmly with an offset spatula to create an even layer about ½ inch thick. Cover and refrigerate overnight, time and space permitting.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 250 degrees. Bake the granola until it is firm to the touch and deep golden brown, about 1¼ hours. Let cool in the baking sheet; the granola will become crisper as it cools.
When cooled and crisp, lift an edge of the parchment paper to loosen the bark and break the granola into pieces. Store in zipper-lock plastic bags at cool room temperature. The granola will keep at the height of its texture and flavor for 2 weeks. Serve with dried or fresh fruit and milk or yogurt, or eat out of hand.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

feb. 14.

Happy Valentines Day.  May it be filled with chocolate and love.  

And if you are looking for something to make that special someone, might I suggest...

chocolate toffee cookies.
coconut truffles.
coffee toffee.
salted chocolate rye cookies.
salted dark chocolate espresso cookies.  
sweet and salty brownies.
world peace cookies.

(Sarah and Dan at Chellise Michael are the greatest wedding photographers ever.)

Thursday, February 12, 2015

inna jam - a review.

Now that I've been sick with the flu for the better part of 4 days, I have found myself considerable nauseated by certain foods.   Actually, I have found myself nauseated by almost all foods with the exception of toast.  Toast. Glorious toast.  Toast covered in butter and jam and a smidgen of sea salt. 

Is there a food more perfect?   

But toast is only as good as the sum of its parts which means the best butter, bread, and jam is required.  If you aren't up for making you're own bread (though I really think you should), you can find some pretty killer loaves at your neighborhood bakery (at this moment I wish I lived next door to High Street on Market so I could eat this loaf of Roasted Potato Bread every single day).  We now live in a world where high-end European-style butter can be found in almost any supermarket (woo!). So now the only thing we still need to procure is quality jam.  

Over the last couple of years, I've started making a lot of jam.  It's fun, it's easy, and it tastes a hell of a lot better then most of the jam in the supermarket.  But there comes a time (usually in December) when I run out of the homemade stuff and I start to hunt for some good packaged jam.  Usually these searches proved fruitless, but this year the tides turned.  

I bought some INNA jam when Tyler and I were out in California.  I had read about them and figured their positive reviews warranted a couple of jars a spot in my suitcase.  This proved to be an excellent decision.  This jam is KILLER mostly because it actually tastes LIKE ACTUAL FRUIT.  Not sugar but fruit! (A novel concept I know.) And not just any fruit but freshly picked, perfectly ripe fruit.  It's a revelation especially when you are so used to the world of cloyingly sweet jams.  

I may have purchased 6 years of the stuff just last week (the more you buy the cheaper the shipping is per jar!) and while some people may think such a thing is crazy, I personally find it rather sane (purchasing 10 pounds of oats on the other hand...).  I've already dipped into the Plenty Spicy Jalapeno (insane on a turkey sandwich) and the Seascape Strawberry (makes for one dreamy peanut butter and jelly) and have several more to try (once I finish the open ones as per Tyler's rules).   

Toast has never tasted had it so good.   

INNA Jam can be purchased here.  

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

beer-battered catfish tacos.

One of the perks of marriage is having someone to take care of you.  

This past weekend I managed to splice off the top of my finger and come down with the flu and having Tyler bandage me up and make me tea reminded me that marriage and relationships are about taking care of one another.  I like to pretend I am superwoman - that if I am sick with the flu that I can still go to work, and go to the gym, and make dinner, and be everything for everyone.  Sometimes you have to let that all go and wear sweatpants all day and watch a lot of really bad Bravo TV and be taken care of.  

It's nice being taken care of.  

But as much as I like being taken care of, I much prefer taking care of others - usually by cooking. While tacos aren't the most romantic of foods it's up there with pizza and cheese as my Valentine's Day meal of choice.  These fish tacos are the kind of perfect food because the two of you can make them together - one can assemble the slaw, the other the beer batter, and together you can fry the fish up.  Wash the tacos down with a couple of beers and a box of chocolates.  Sometimes romance is being taken care of and other times its doing something together.   

Beer-Battered Catfish Tacos
From The Homesick Texan’s Family Table, by Lisa Fain

Serves 4

For the Cabbage Topping

2 cups shredded cabbage
1½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, stemmed, seeded, and finely minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
¼ teaspoon toasted cumin seeds
2 tablespoons white vinegar

For the Beer Batter

¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup cornmeal
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1 egg
1 cup dark (preferably Mexican but anything works) beer

For the Catfish

Oil, for frying
1 pound catfish fillets, cut into thin sticks or bite-sized nuggets
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
¼ cup all-purpose flour
Corn or flour tortillas, warmed, for serving
Optional Additions - Lime wedges, sliced avocado, crema or sour cream 
Hot sauce or store-bought salsa, for serving

To make the cabbage topping, toss the cabbage with the salt and allow to sit for 1 hour, refrigerated.
Rinse and drain the cabbage. Stir in the garlic, jalapeño, cilantro, cumin seeds, and vinegar. Taste and adjust the seasonings, and then keep refrigerated until you are serving.

To make the beer batter, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne until well combined. Beat the egg with the beer and then pour into the flour mixture and stir until a smooth batter forms. Allow the batter to rest at room temperature for 1 hour. If it separates a bit during this time, simply whisk it again before using.

After the batter has rested, in a large, heavy skillet, heat 2 inches of oil over medium heat until it reaches 350°F. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, after 5 minutes of heating, you can stick a wooden spoon into the oil to see if it’s ready. If the oil bubbles around the spoon, it should be hot enough. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.

To fry the catfish, first season it evenly with the salt, pepper, and lime juice. Place the ¼ cup of flour on a plate, then, working in batches, lightly dredge the catfish in the flour. Holding it by one end, dip the catfish in the beer batter until well coated, and then gently lower into the oil. Fry for 2½ to 3 minutes, or until golden, turning once. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain the catfish on the paper towels. Repeat for the remaining fish.

Serve the fried fish with the warm tortillas, lime wedges, cabbage topping, sliced avocado, sour cream or crema, and salsa and let diners assemble their own tacos.

Monday, February 9, 2015

black shelves.

Black shelving is everything.  This would be perfect for housing my cookbook collection and the several pounds of flours I may have purchased last week from Anson Mills.  

a higher-contrast aesthetic option

Image via Pinterest.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

vegetarian dried-bean chili.

It seems that February is keen on exhibiting polar vortex like tendencies which normally I don't mind but if I have discovered anything these past couple of weeks, it's that work pants are not designed to withstand sub-arctic temperatures.   By the time I return home, my goal is to thaw myself in front of our oven (since someone is keen on making it his goal to see if we can avoid ever turning on the heat).  The oven has turned into my own personal heater which mean's I've been very into braises, roasts, and long simmering dishes like chili.   

A few months back I discovered Rancho Gordo and basically fell head over heels for their beans. I ordered a few bags and then, when Tyler and I were out in California for our Honeymoon, I stumbled across their shop in the San Francisco Ferry Market Plaza.  I may have purchased several pounds of beans and loaded our suitcases with them. Thankfully they returned home unscathed.   As someone who eats minimal amounts of meat, beans (and eggs!) are my go-to sources of protein so you can only imagine my delight at discovering this heirloom bean shop.  I've been making all sorts of bean dishes (soups! on toast!) but chili was something I had yet to tackle.  

If you are purebred Texan, the idea of vegetarian chili probably sounds like blasphemy but if you are from the North where chili can include beans (and still be called chili) this probably sounds rather delightful.  Beans are cooked slow and low in a myriad of spices and crushed tomatoes to produce a full-bodied chili that tastes meaty without including a lick of meat.  It's flavorful and comforting and the kind of thing that begs to be served during a February polar-vortex-esq snow storm.  Best of all the chili tastes better the longer it sits, so day 3 of eating chili is even better then day 1 (WIN-WIN).   

Vegetarian Dried-Bean Chili
Recipe adapted and inspired by here and here.   

If you are inspired to make your own chili powder (and I encourage you to do so), this guide is awesome.  

This is the "when I have a whole day to make chili" dish.  If you are looking for a quick-cooking (canned bean) chili, this is the one I recommend.   

Serves 4-6

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
1 to 2 peppers of your choice (I personally love poblano’s but bell peppers will work), finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
2 chipotle chilies in adobo, chopped + 2 tablespoons chipotle chili sauce
1 teaspoons hot sauce (plus more at the end if you choose)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 ½ teaspoons table salt or 2 ½ teaspoons kosher or coarse salt
1 12-ounce bottle beer
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted if you can find them
1 1/2 cups mixed dried beans (pinto and black beans are my beans of choice)
3 1/2 to 4 cups water
2 tablespoons masa (if desired)

To serve: Lime wedges, sour cream, diced white onion, hot sauce, cilantro, corn or flour tortillas or tortilla chips or rice, cheese, avocado

Heat oil in the bottom of a medium-sized heavy pot or Dutch oven.  Once warm, add onion and cook for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add any fresh peppers and cook for 3 more minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano and salt and cook for 2 minutes, until browned and deeply fragrant. Add beer and scrape up any bits stuck to the pot. Boil until reduced by half.

Add tomatoes, dried beans, chipotle chiles (and sauce), hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, and the smaller amount of water. Bring mixture to a full boil and boil for one minute, then reduce heat to a very low, gentle simmer, place a lid on your pot, and cook for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, until the beans are tender, stirring occasionally. Add the last 1/2 cup water if mixture seems to be getting dry, though I didn’t need it in most of my tested batches. If a slightly more sloshy chili wouldn’t bother you, you can add it from the get-go.  Stir in the masa if you want your chili a little thicker.

Store in the fridge for up to a week (best eaten the day after it is made).  Can also be frozen! 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

stained floors.

Lately I've been obessing over the contrast of super dark wood and white.  The juxstaposition works incredibly well and manages to make both the floor and the room a focal point.  

That stainless steel stove and marble counters don't hurt either.  

In other news (and completely un-food related), I am obsessing over the new Kanye, Paul McCartney, and Rhianna song.   

Kitchen - Marble countertops and white cabinetry in a bright kitchen

Image via Lonny.  

Monday, February 2, 2015

funfetti cake with chocolate fudge frosting.

My better half turned 30 yesterday. (!!!!)

Some days, it feels like just yesterday that we were 20 and exploring the meandering alleys in Venice, Italy. Other days, it feels as if our initial courtship was 100 years ago.  It's funny how time can play tricks on you.   I still vividly recall his 21st birthday.  It was filled with mojitos, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and lots of laughs in some random bar in Venice.   

30 looked slightly different (except for the laughs part).   

Tyler, as much as I love him, is not the kind of guy who is easy to get presents for.  He does not like presents which makes it very difficult for me, someone who LOVES to give presents to celebrate such momentous occasions.   So instead of making myself crazy trying to come up with something that fulfill's his long list of present requirements (must be practical, must not cost a lot, preferably not an item, etc.), I just do what I do best and that is cook and bake and basically make him the best birthday cake possible.  

Everyone and I repeat everyone LOVES FUNFETTI.  So when I sat down and thought about the perfect birthday cake, I thought funfetti because if you were to ask a 5-year old what kind of birthday cake he or she wants, I guarantee it will involve yellow cake with chocolate frosting.  It's about as quintessential as it gets.   So that's what I did, and the resulting cake was a crowd-pleaser and a keeper. A rich, buttery, (triple layer!) buttermilk cake is loaded up with sprinkles and topped with fudgy chocolate buttercream (and more sprinkles).    

Dare I say, it's the perfect birthday cake.   

(Oh! I like to thing my praying for the Patriots to win the Superbowl was why they won which in turn means that birthday gift was almost as good as the composter I got him for Christmas 4 years ago.)  

Yellow Layer Cake
Adapted (barely) from Smitten Kitchen

Yield: Two 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers.  (This can also be divided into 3 9-inch round pans to create a triple layer cake.  Each layer will be about 1.3 inches tall).   You can also make 22 to 24 cupcakes Or! two 8-inch squares OR! a 9×13 single-layer cake

4 cups plus 2 tablespoons (530 grams) cake flour (not self-rising)
2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt
2 sticks (1 cup, 1/2 pound or 225 grams) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (400 grams) sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, at room temperature
2 cups buttermilk (475 ml), well-shaken
1 cup sprinkles (Optional but necessary if looking to make this funfetti!)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter two (or three if making this a triple layer) 9-inch round cake pans and line with circles of parchment paper, then butter parchment. (Alternately, you can use a cooking spray, either with just butter or butter and flour to speed this process up.)

Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, then beat in vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition. At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled). Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated.  Stir in sprinkles if using.  

Spread batter evenly in the cake pans, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles. (I like to drop mine a few times from two inches up, making a great big noisy fuss.) Bake until golden and a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes (if making 2 layers) or 22-30 minutes (if making a triple layer). Cool in pan on a rack 10 minutes, and then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment, then cool completely, about 1 hour.

To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Spread about 1 1/3 cups of the Instant Fudge Frosting (below) evenly over the top of the layer. Repeat with the next layer, more frosting. Finally, top with the third layer and frost the tops and sides with the remaining frosting.  Sprinkle with more sprinkles if you so desire.   

Instant Fudge Frosting
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

I usually have a lot of issues with chocolate frosting.  Most of the time I find them to be cloyingly sweet and chocolate in appearance but not in taste (adding a little cocoa powder to a vanilla buttercream does NOT make it a chocolate frosting).  When I want fudge frosting I want chocolate fudge frosting.  This is as close as I’ve gotten to frosting perfection though it did require a little bit of work (upping the amount of unsweetened chocolate and adding in some cocoa powder).  Kids and adults will go crazy for it.  

Makes about 5 cups

7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth.