Flourless Chocolate Cake, Fresh Strawberries and Whipped Sour Cream

Flourless chocolate cake, fresh strawberries and whipped sour cream.

Am I posting this flourless chocolate cake recipe because it's Pesach? Yes. Yes I am. But you certainly don't have to be observing or even a member of the tribe or believe gluten is the root of all evil to enjoy the rich decadence of this cake. You can, of course, replace the flourless chocolate cake in this recipe with your favorite chocolate sponge, but the intensity of this cake contrasted with the sharpness of the whipped sour cream is what really takes this cake up a notch from Birthday Party to Plated Dessert.

You'll notice in this recipe I use gelatin to stabilize the whipped sour cream to allow me to build this cake in a ring mold. You can omit the gelatin but it means you'll probably want to build this cake right before serving, with a more rustic, icebox cake look or just serve it as slices of cake with a dollop of whipped sour cream and fresh strawberries on top.

If you just don't have a ring mold or like the idea of plating better, but still want to do as much as possible in advance, keep the gelatin in the recipe and the stabilized whipped sour cream should hold in the fridge for about twenty four hours.

This cake is incredibly rich, so even though it's only a nine inch round, I'd say it serves about 15-18.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 8 oz Bittersweet Chocolate (chopped)
  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) Butter
  • 1 1/2 cups Sugar
  • 6 Eggs (room temperature)
  • 1 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 cup Heavy Cream
  • 1/4 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 3/4 cup Sour Cream
  • 3 sheets Gelatin (I don't know the strength I'm using because Korea)
  • 2 tablespoons Cointreau or other liqueur
  • 1 cup Strawberries (sliced)
  • 1/3 cup Strawberry Jam

Cake

  1. Preheat your oven to 350. Grease the bottom of two 9 inch pans, cover with parchment and grease again. (Your life will be easier if you have springforms, but I don't have appropriately sized ones and it worked out fine.)
  2. Using a double boiler, melt together your butter and chocolate. I always line my bowls with the butter before putting in the chopped chocolate as an extra precaution against burning. Once completely melted, whisk in one cup of the sugar and set aside.
  3. Using a stand or hand mixer (or a whisk and a lot of elbow grease) whisk the eggs and remaining half cup of sugar to ribbon stage. Reduce the speed to low and slowly pour in the melted chocolate mixtures. When the chocolate mixture is most of the way incorporated, whisk in the cocoa powder and salt.
  4. Divide evenly between the two prepare pans. Bake for twenty to twenty five minutes or until a tester poked in the middle comes out with moist crumbs.
  5. Cool cake for ten minutes in the pan before removing and cooling completely on a rack.

Whipped Sour Cream (When Cake is Ready for Assembly)

  1. Bloom sheet gelatin in cold water.
  2. Whip heavy cream and powdered sugar to medium peak. While whipping, squeeze out the bloomed gelatin and then melt in 3 tablespoons water or a mixture of two tablespoons liqueur and one tablespoon water. (I do this in the microwave, only do about fifteen seconds but you can also use a double boiler)
  3. With the mixer on low speed, drizzle the gelatin into the whipped cream. Add in the sour cream and mix until incorporated.

Assembly

  1. If necessary, trim cakes to the size of the ring
  2. Put your ring on a cake board and line with a cake collar (acetate strip).
  3. Carefully place your bottom cake layer inside the ring. Arrange strawberries in an even layer covering the cake.
  4. Scoop half the whipped sour cream over the strawberries and use a small offset spatula to spread and smooth.
  5. Carefully place your second layer inside the ring.
  6. In a small ramekin, heat strawberry jam for twenty seconds in the microwave. Use a small offset spatula to spread a thin layer over the cake. Let cool.
  7. Scoop remaining whipped sour cream over the top of the cake. Use a large offset spatula to make a smooth top or use a smaller one to make swirls for a textured look.
  8. Cover in a cake dome and refrigerate for at least one hour or up to twenty four.
  9. Remove acetate strip and slice. This is definitely a cake where you want to have some hot water to clean your knife between every cut.
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Sugar Daddy

Sugar Daddy Itaewon

Let's be honest, I think the cupcake trend in America had long since jumped the shark and it always was mostly terrible. Most shops do a great disservice to a dessert that can be just as delicious as a full sized cake by focusing on twee over taste. Though I do find Sugar Daddy a little sweet for my taste, I think they do a great job of finding a balance between presentation and flavor and I love that walking into the shop it immediately has the warm, sugary smell of a real bakery. The mismatched, funky decor in the small shop also helps keep it from being overly precious and makes me want to hang out there more.

As well as cupcakes they also have a wide variety of cheesecakes, tea, juice and coffee but the only one of those things I've tried is the coffee, which is solidly average for espresso drinks in Seoul. They also sell a few cakes by the slice and dog biscuits that I'll be picking up for Ada once she's no longer on a prescription only diet.

Chocolate Mint Cupcake Sugar Daddy Itaewon

My first visit to Sugar Daddy, I got a choco mint cupcake. The cake was pleasantly dense, moist and chocolate-y. The frosting was a lightly mint flavored American buttercream. American buttercream doesn't really do it for me in the same way as it's European counterparts and I found it too sweet and stiff. Everything about this cupcake from the texture of the cake to the sweetness of the buttercream tasted quintessentially American childhood, so if you're feeling a bit nostalgic, or missing a taste of home, this cupcake will certainly satisfy your cravings.

The carrot cake is probably my favorite so far. Once again, the cake was nice and moist. The spice balance was spot on. I did find the cream cheese frosting a little sweet but not as much so as the mint frosting.

Nutella Cupcake, Sugar Daddy Itaewon Seoul

I really wanted more from the Nutella cupcake. It had the same chocolate cake as the choco mint cupcake which I liked, but the frosting seemed more like just chocolate buttercream with a half a Ferrero Rocher on top than then hazelnutty goodness I wanted from something Nutella flavored. It was fine, but I probably won't get it again.

I've heard much about the maple bacon cupcake and I've been disappointed that it hasn't been in the case when I've visited. I'm pretty much a sucker for any maple bacon dessert.

Overall, I like Sugar Daddy. I'm not going to be there all the time, but it definitely hasn't seen the last of me yet.

Sugar Daddy is currently located at 56-21 Itaewon-dong down an alley right next to McDonalds. They often have a sandwich board out on Itaewon-ro making it easier to find. In May, Sugar Daddy is moving across the street and up the hill to the 2nd floor of 118-5 Itaewon-Dong.

Roasted Kumquat, Dried Cherry and Chocolate Scones

dark chocolate, roasted kumquat, cherry scone

This last week we got a pint of kumquats in our CSA box and since it didn't seem like we were going to eat them all, I figured I would candy them. This is what working in a kitchen does to you, any fruit that sits in the fridge too long either gets candied or turned into jam. For a future mystery something. But candying just seemed such a BORING things to do with them. I decided it was time to jump on the roasting citrus bandwagon and HOLY SHIT, why didn't I jump on this bandwagon sooner, guys?

Sadly, not all of my kumquats were fit for roasting. A lot of the pint was all pith and seeds, which I did end up candying. I separated out the fleshiest ones for roasting, which only ended up being ten kumquats but they were ten kumquats that were turned into savory, citrusy, spicy heaven. What more could a kumquat want from life?

There's no real recipe for this part of the scone making.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the end off of the kumquats then slice into four pieces. Remove the seeds. Put your kumquats on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. I used smoked salt and two finely chopped Thai chillies on mine. You can use whatever fancy or not fancy salt you desire and crushed red pepper flakes if Thai chillies aren't available but I really recommend the smoked salt and chillies. Roast for ten to fifteen minutes, checking and tossing every five minutes. Remove them from the oven when they start to caramelize and brown. Let cool. Taste. Decide they're too good to use in scones because you live in America and can put them in a salad with butterleaf lettuce and chevre and avocado and really show off their flavor. I can't do that though, and scones are delicious, so if you still want to make scones, I've got you covered.

Roasted kumquat, cherry and chocolate scone

Ingredients

  • 3 1/3 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)
  • 8 oz (2 sticks) butter cubed (cold)
  • 3/4 cups Whole Milk
  • 1 Egg
  • 1/3 cup Coarsely Chopped Dark Chocolate
  • 1/3 cup Chopped Roasted Kumquats
  • 1/3 cup Chopped Dried Cherries

Put it Together

  1. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Use your hands to flake in the cubed cold butter like you're making pie dough until it resembles course sand with some larger pea sized chunks of butter. Toss in the chocolate, kumquats and dried cherries, distributing evenly throughout the mix.
  2. Whisk together the milk and egg. Make a well in the middle of your dry ingredients and pour in the milk and egg mixture. Use a wooden spoon to mix the dough just until it's shaggy and then dump onto a lightly floured surface. Gently squeeze the dough together until it forms a ball. Scones are more about gentle squeezes than kneading. We want those flaky layers.
  3. Pat into a disc, wrap well in plastic wrap and chill at least one hour or overnight.
  4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Roll out disc to one inch thick. Use a bench scraper or knife to cut the disc into 8-10 wedges. Space evenly on a parchment or silicon mat lined pan. Brush with milk and sprinkle generously with more sugar.
  5. Bake 18-22 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool on rack. Scones are best consumed within twenty four hours.


Thailand Takeover: Five Spice Chocolate Mini Bundts with Coffee Glaze

five spice chocolate bundt cake with coffee glaze

I am absolutely in love with the five spice powder we brought back from Thailand. I'm pretty sure it's made with white pepper instead of Sichuan but the bag didn't come with the ingredients listed and I don't care because it's so well balanced and flavorful. I have been putting it on everything despite my husband's objections that I didn't buy that much of it and I can't replace it without a trip to Thailand. Now that I've eaten four of these mini bundt cakes in the last twelve hours, maaaaybe I'll cool my jets with the five spice (probably not though).

In case you don't know this about me, I don't really like sweet things added to my savory food but I'm all about adding savory to sweet. The fantastic thing about five spice is that it's already a mix of spices we tend to think of as belonging in sweet food in Western desserts with a bit of savory kick. Basically it's doing my work of balancing sweet and savory for me. This bundt cake isn't too rich or sweet so it's a great way to add a unique pastry to a brunch menu without feeling like if you eat it you couldn't possibly try anything else. Which, if you're home alone with twelve of them like me, maybe actually a down side. Somebody please come take some bundt cakes off my hands.

Ingredients

For the Cake:

  • 1/4 cup Cocoa Powder
  • 1/4 cup Boiling Water
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1 1/4 cup All Purpose Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoon Five Spice*
  • 3/4 teaspoon Baking Powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) softened Butter
  • 1/2 cup Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

For the Glaze:

  • 1/2 cup Milk
  • 1 tablespoon ground Coffee
  • 1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar

The Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Grease bundt cake pan.
  2. Whisk cocoa powder and hot water to a smooth paste. Set aside to cool.
  3. Combine all the dries in the bowl of a stand mixer. (Sugar is considered a dry in this recipe)
  4. Whisk eggs into cooled cocoa powder until well combined.
  5. In the stand mixer (or using a hand mixer) add in butter and 1/2 the cocoa egg mixtures. Mix on low speed until well combined and then medium speed for one minute to aerate the batter. Repeat adding the rest of the cocoa mix in two batches, scraping down the bowl between each addition.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips by hand.
  7. Use a portion scoop or two large spoons to divide batter evenly in the mini bundt pan. (I made twelve very full bundts but I suspect you could actually get fifteen out of this batch.)
  8. Bake for 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean/the cake springs back when lightly touched. Let cool for ten minutes before removing from pan and cooling on a rack.

The Glaze

  1. Heat milk over low heat just until it comes to a boil. Add ground coffee. Cover and steep ten minutes.
  2. Strain milk and let cool to room temperature.
  3. Slowly whisk coffee infused milk into the powdered sugar until you reach the desire consistency. I think I only used about 1/3 a cup.
  4. When the cakes are cool, drizzle glaze over the top or dip the top of the bundt in the bowl of glaze and flip over, letting the glaze run down the sides. (I recommend doing this on a cooling/glazing rack over a baking sheet so you don't end up with the mess I did.)
  5. Let the glaze set. Try to not eat the whole batch by yourself.

*After searching a bunch of online spice shops, I think this five spice blend from Frontier is probably the closest to what I'm using. You can often find five spice blends at American grocery stores but I've always found them a little bland. If not buying online, I would check your closest Asian market and buy the blend with the least English on it.