Catching up on life and cooking…

Seattle summer happened a few months ago and it was beautiful – green, sunny, not too hot. Little humidity! I guess I got so caught up in it that I forgot to post on my blog! We also spent the summer house-hunting and now we are home owners! I guess I can blame that search for taking up a lot of our time. As usual though, I have done plenty of cooking and eating since the last time. Here’s a quick taste of just some of the things I’ve been cooking. (If you follow me on Instagram, however, you can keep up with my cooking and life a little more regularly – @erinthecooker)

Summer Berry Buckle (NYT), Blueberry and Peach Crisp, Black Bean Salad, and homemade Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Jam filling for a former co-worker.

Here’s a photo of our beautiful living room in our new house! (Don’t mind the Zappos box that I forgot to remove when taking the photo.) Don’t you love the orange front door?!

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I also made a Snickers pie (no Snickers actually in it, but rather a pie trying to imitate a giant Snickers!) It was rich, but it was a hit! I improvised the recipe off a Pinterest one I had saved months ago. The cake below is a chocolate stout cake.

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Having a house also means we now have a backyard and our very our own grill! We got to work right away grilling zucchini, chicken, and sausage. The photo on the right was a delicious Vietnamese-style noodle salad with grilled chicken. In the end, the recipe tasted very similar to one of our favorite Boston food trucks, Bon Me! Thanks again NYT Cooking!

Now that fall is upon us I’m looking forward to making some apple pie, pumpkin bread, and other cozy treats. Hopefully the next time you hear from me will be sooner rather than later!

Happy cooking!

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Post 46 – Mexican Chocolate Flan Cake

This cake.

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It’s the ultimate in cake transformation. Two separate, totally different parts of a cake switch places – seamlessly flip-flop. What am I talking about?

This delicious Choco-flan cake. Have you heard of it?

They say it’s impossible, (who are they anyway?) but somehow it happens every time. You make a thick chocolate cake batter and pour it into the bottom of a bundt pan (which would be the top when you flip it over right? Stay with me here)

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Evidence that I put the chocolate cake part in first!

and pour a soupy layer of eggs and milk on top of it (which should be the bottom of the cake when it’s served)

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and miraculously when you pull it out of the oven, the chocolate cake is on the top and the custard layer has all but disappeared… until you flip it over (carefully!) and see the beautiful jiggly caramely thing it has become. I’d say there’s probably some serious cake science going on here, but you can just call it magic if you like.

See! How did that happen?

See! How did that happen?

I had a great excuse to make this cake again yesterday: a co-worker’s birthday. She’s a beautiful well-dressed older woman from Columbia, South America, who speaks rapid-fire Spanish. I once spoke a few words to her in Spanish and since then she has spoken to me at her usual pace as if I understood every word. It’s not because she’s cruel, but I think because she assumes I understand a lot more than I do. I don’t, but I appreciate the gesture. Nonetheless her actions and kind smile often speak for her, sweet woman that she is. Her smile told me today how much she enjoyed the cake.

Since I know nothing about Columbian desserts I thought I’d make this cake (which is actually a Mexican recipe) since it was something different from the usual layer cake and I thought maybe she’d appreciate it. The top custard layer bakes into a beautiful egg-y flan and as the cake sits, the once fluffy chocolate cake sinks lower and lower to become a dense chocolate torte. The two layers provide wonderful contrasting textures to each other – almost like cake with ice cream already part of it.

Anyway, the point is – this cake – you probably can find an excuse to make it. And it’s not impossible in the sense that you can’t make it. There’s just a little cake magic involved. But don’t worry – the cake does all the work.

Chocoflan

recipe from Scarletta Bakes

For the cake:
10 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
1 c. white sugar, granulated
1 large egg, room temperature
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/3 c. cocoa powder, unsweetened
1 1/4 c. buttermilk, room temperature
1/4 c. cajeta or good quality caramel sauce to coat pan (Cajeta is a sweetened goat milk caramel that can be hard to find, but is totally worth it if you do. Or you can make it if you’re super ambitious.)

For the flan:
1- 12 ounce can evaporated milk
1- 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp. vanilla extract

For garnish:
1/4 c. cajeta or caramel sauce
1/4 c. chopped pecans (Note that I did not garnish my chocoflan at all.)

Butter or spray a 12-cup capacity Bundt pan and line the bottom with the cajeta. Place the prepared pan into a large roasting pan and set aside.

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°.

To prepare the cake, add the butter and sugar to a bowl and, using an electric hand mixer or stand mixer, beat until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and cocoa in a medium bowl. Beat 1/3 of the flour mixture, and 1/2 of the buttermilk into the egg mixture. Repeat, ending with the flour mixture. Blend until well incorporated.

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Some stuff happens in between these two pictures that I didn’t document. Sorry…

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To prepare the flan, beat the room temperature cream cheese with the sweetened condensed milk until smooth. Slowly add the eggs, beating to incorporate with the cream cheese. Add the evaporated milk and beat. Alternatively blend in a blender. *

Scoop the cake batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spread evenly. Slowly pour the flan mixture over the cake batter. Cover with foil and put into the oven, leaving the door open briefly. Slowly add about 1-inch of hot water to the roasting pan (don’t splash the cake), slide the pan into the oven and close the oven door.

Or add the water before you put it in the oven, though it's a little more precarious.

Or add the water before you put it in the oven, though it’s a little more precarious.

Bake for 50 minutes to an hour out until the surface of the cake is firm or a toothpick comes out clean. When the cake is done, remove it from the water bath and allow it to cool completely to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Use a thin spatula and carefully go around the edges of the cake and a few inches down (if necessary) to help loosen the edges. Invert a large, rimmed serving platter over the Bundt pan, grasp tightly together and flip over. It is important to do this part with confidence and in one foul swoop or you may lose some of your cake. Remove the pan and scrape any remaining cajeta from the pan onto the cake, garnish with chopped pecans and serve (this cake is traditionally served after being chilled for 24 hours, but you can also serve it warm or at room temperature).

*I found that the cream cheese separated into chunks (the eggs were too cold maybe?) and ended up sitting at the bottom of the chocolate cake. It tasted fine overall, but I think incorporating the cheese with the liquid ingredients more slowly will help.

Towel courtesy of my good friend, Natalie!

Towel courtesy of my good friend, Natalie!

 

And for those of your drooling over the last post’s zucchini squares, here is the recipe:

Zucchini Squares

Adapted from Stillman’s farm CSA newsletter

1 cup Bisquick baking mix**

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

dried basil and oregano (optional)

3-4 cups shredded zucchini (I used 3 cups because that’s what the zucchini yielded)

3 scallions, finely chopped

¾ cup grated cheddar cheese

4 eggs, beaten

¼ cup shredded parmesan (or more cheddar)

In a medium bowl mix Bisquick (or see substitute below) with salt, pepper, and dried spices as desired. Add in shredded zucchini, scallions, and shredded cheddar and stir to thoroughly mix. In a separate small bowl beat eggs so the yolks and whites are well mixed. Stir into the flour mixture.

Pour into a greased 8×8 baking dish and spread out. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown and springy when touched in the center.

**If you don’t use Bisquick, substitute (as I did) the following: 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 ½ tsp. baking powder, ¼ tsp. salt. Rub in 1 T. shortening or butter until it looks well incorporated.