Salted, Malted Chocolate Bundt Cake

This cake came to me in a snow-covered dream. I woke up Sunday knowing I had to do three things: shovel my driveway, take my kids sledding, and bake something. It’s no secret I love to be snowed in; I view it as nature’s permission to let everything go — I don’t stress about it, I don’t complain about it, I just let it all go. Northern Virginia was in the epicenter of the recent “snowzilla” storm. We had historic snowfall and the world shut down for a few days. It was pretty wonderful. I’ll be back at work tomorrow, so while I’m enjoying my last day of snowed in freedom, I thought I’d hop back on the blogging wagon and share this wonderful, easy recipe. No mixer required, and I bet you have most of the ingredients in your pantry.

The malt powder isn’t absolutely necessary — meaning your texture won’t suffer if you leave it out. You’ll still have a delicious, moist chocolate cake — but it’s so, so good. If you grew up drinking malted milkshakes like I did (my dad made/makes the best milkshakes), you might already have a container in your pantry, and if you want a treat, you’ll want to make a special trip to grab some. It’s sold in most grocery stores in the coffee/tea/hot chocolate section usually. You can stir it into cold milk, add it to your favorite cookie recipes, or, of course, make milkshakes with it. It’s nostalgic, old-fashioned, and truly one of my favorite things. My son loves it too, which just makes me so darn happy– have I ever told you how much I love that little guy?

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Salted, Malted Chocolate Bundt Cake

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Credit: Ani Hughes — CookonaWhim.com

For the cake:

  • Non-stick baking spray (I am in love with Baker’s Joy) or butter for the pan
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup malt powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee 1/2 cup hot water (you can use all hot water, but I love the richness the coffee gives)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 & 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 & 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the chocolate glaze:

  • 1 & 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons malt powder (plus a pinch or two for sprinkling)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons milk (or enough to make a smooth, pourable glaze)
  • a sprinkle of sea salt (maldon flaked sea salt is my favorite, but kosher salt will work just fine)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour a 10 – 12 cup bundt pan, or spray generously with baking spray. Set aside.
  2. Melt butter in microwave or a small saucepan, remove from heat and add cocoa powder and malt powder. Whisk until smooth. Add coffee/water, eggs, sour cream, and vanilla and whisk again until smooth.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Add butter mixture and whisk until smooth–this is a loose batter so don’t worry if it looks too thin.
  4. Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes—don’t over bake! Let the cake cool in the pan for 15 minutes and then invert onto a large platter or cakestand. Let cool completely before glazing.
  5. While the cake is cooling, make the chocolate glaze. Place all ingredients except salt into a medium bowl and whisk until smooth and a thick ribbon forms when you hold your whisk in the air. You want this pourable, not spreadable.
  6. Generously drizzle the glaze over the cooled cake. Wait 5 minutes for glaze to set a bit and sprinkle with malt powder and sea salt.
  7. Slice and devour

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My Grandma

I have been away too long, and I thought today was a good day to change that. For reasons I won’t divulge, I haven’t felt much like writing, sharing, or being social lately. The wind was knocked out of my sails, I lost my inspiration, my mojo, my zing. I am still not 100%, but I miss writing, so here I am.

I spent the afternoon and evening with my grandparents yesterday, and my ever supportive and encouraging grandpa noted that I hadn’t written anything in awhile. I’m not sure if he knows how much it means to me that he notices things like that, but I know he is reading this, so, grandpa, thank you.

I decided that on the eve of Mother’s Day I’d tell you all about the woman I am named after—the woman who has never given up on me and who can make me feel restored and right no matter what is happening in my life. Her name is Anita. I call her grandma, and my kids call her Nini. She is my father’s mother. She is kind, gentle, patient, and brilliant. She is simply the best. IMG_1885

Spending long stretches of my summer vacation with her was the best part of my childhood. I loved it. She has since moved from the house that was ‘grandma’s house’ when I was little, but I can still remember the way it smelled. When I dream, I dream of that house, not of the house I grew up in. I won’t tell you how many times I’ve wished for a time machine.

I can still remember how it felt to crawl into bed with her in the morning after my grandpa went to work. We’d just lay there and chat and giggle while I played with her elbows. I’m sure this sounds silly, but it’s a memory that still makes us both laugh. I’d pinch the soft skin of her elbow between my index finger and thumb and it would stay in a little point until she bent her arm, then I’d repeat the process until she made me stop. Her skin was (and still is) so soft and she smells so good. I always take a big breath in when I hug her. Sigh.

My grandmother is the mother of 4 boys—my three uncles and my father. Incredible men with extraordinary brains and personalities. A diplomat, a physics professor and dean, an artist/photographer/graphic designer/mobile app designer and developer/jack-of-all-trades, and an international man of mystery who has worked in many different countries and who makes the best food anyone has ever tasted. All of them are fathers, and in a few days they will all be grandfathers as well. She raised them all. She is the matriarch of the incredible Parris family and she is always there for us all.

My son is 12 now, and when he was a year old I moved in with my grandparents for about a year and to this day that year is my favorite year. The time my son had with his great grandparents—the bond they created—is irreplaceable and I will always treasure it. We still recall moments from time to time, still talk about that year and the memories we have from it. Priceless.

My grandparents and my kids. Love.

My grandparents and my kids. Love.

Now I only live about 3 minutes from my grandparents, and I am the luckiest girl in the world for it. Yet, even with our closeness, the craziness of the last several months has kept us from getting together as much as I’d like. I can actually feel when I haven’t spoken with my grandma, like something is physically missing from me. Whenever I feel like that, I pick up the phone and I feel my shoulders relax as soon as I hear her voice and her signature laugh. It is such a rich, heartfelt laugh that makes anyone who hears it feel rewarded.

Oh, and she makes the best cherry pie ever, and it just so happens cherry pie is my favorite. Lucky me, I get one for my birthday every year. Best. Present. Ever.

This is just a tiny glimpse into the greatness of my grandma. I could write an entire book. But, for now, this will do. Happy Mother’s Day.

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Reminiscing and asking for a favor

I recently discovered that one of my favorite food magazines, Saveur Magazine, is taking nominations for their annual food blog award. So, I thought I’d combine “Throwback Thursday” with my request for your nominations. I’m including my favorite and most personal blog posts. I hope you’ll revisit them, or read them for the first time, and if you like them and feel I am worthy, hop over to this link: Blog Awards 2015,  and cast your nomination for little old me. You never know… You can nominate me, and all of your other favorite food blogs, until March 13th, then go back and vote on March 30th. I’ll be sure to remind you.

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The Beginning: This was my very first post, with a recipe for one of my very favorite things—Orange Pound Cake. I feel it must be included in this summary since it was the post that started it all: Craving Inspiration. It’s pretty nuts how much has changed in my life since I wrote it. Friends have come and gone; my kids have grown so much; I have grown so much—I have achieved goals that at that moment in time felt so daunting and far away. I am so thankful for the people who encouraged me along the way—from starting this blog to completing my degree and everything in between. I am grateful.

 

 

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Julian: This post is by far the most personal one I’ve ever written. It is one I struggled with and almost didn’t post. It is for my older brother Julian, a kind, sweet, gentle person who was taken for reasons I’ll never understand. His death is the reason I refuse to believe everything happens for a reason, because there is no reason he should be gone. I made these cupcakes for him; I always make something for him on his birthday and these are a nod to his favorite candy (and mine): Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups. Here is the post with the delicious recipe: Chocolate Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

 

 

IMG_1902Virginia: I love this post. I read it the other day and it actually made me cry. I’m a bit of an emotional wreck lately, but even if I wasn’t it would bring tears to my eyes. I just love it. The pictures, my words, my feelings. This post is so “me.” We are on our gazillionth snow day this year, and I still love Virginia; I can still rely on Virginia. I’m crazy, for sure, but I just love this place. Read on to find out why: Virginia, My Love

 

 

 

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Christmas: I will always remember how I felt when I was waiting for Santa. I will always remember that magic. I’ve never lost it, and I love seeing the magic live on in my kids’ eyes. It is truly one of life’s greatest pleasures. This post is an homage to Christmas—to my love of Christmas and all the magic that comes with it. (This is another one that gets me a little misty). Christmas: Feeling Nostalgic Already

 

 

 

I know most of these posts don’t include recipes, but they do include glimpses into my life and into my heart. Here’s a little more about me, in case you haven’t had enough already: About

I hope you’ll take a minute to revisit these posts and, if you want, cast your nomination for my blog on Saveur.com. Thank you so much.

 

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Hello friends! I was recently introduced to Bloglovin.com by my fabulous blogging friend, Jen. She makes the most unique and absolutely gorgeous cards I have ever seen.You can check out her beautiful work at http://stampinonthefly.com/

I have to post a link to begin using the Bloglovin’ services, so that is the purpose of this post! I will still be with wordpress, right here. Nothing is changing. Thanks for your continued support. Here’s to a fantastic year.

More recipes coming soon!

Virginia, My Love

You know that saying, “Virginia is for Lovers”? It’s one of my favorite things. Most bumper stickers offend me or make me roll my eyes, but this one warms my heart every time. I like to think of it as an incomplete sentence that can be completed in so many different ways. Virginia is for lovers… of trees, of snow, of thunderstorms, of rolling hills, of horses, of juicy peaches, of perfect summertime tomatoes, of fireflies… but most importantly, Virginia is for lovers of Virginia.

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There is something about this state. It gets under your skin and into your soul. I am a Virginia girl, and as much as I love to travel, Virginia will always be my home. When I’m gone I miss it; I can’t wait to get back and get my fix.

Virginia is temperamental and imperfect, moody and often unpredictable. There are traits of Virginia that even lovers of Virginia don’t love, but there is always a reward.

Winter is long and cold, but then come those intoxicating first days of spring, when, suddenly, everything is green and blooming and overwhelmingly beautiful—like you’re experiencing it all for the first time. The smell of lilacs floating by on a spring breeze gets me every year.

Late July and early August are often too humid, but just to get us through, Virginia gives us the best peaches and tomatoes (and tons of other good things—those are just my two favorites).

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And when you’ve had your fill of tomato sandwiches and vanilla ice cream with peaches on top, summer gives way to fall, where Virginia never fails to impress. The leaves turn to gold and auburn, the air gets crisp and the evenings get chilly. The smell of a fire on a cool evening, yep, it gets me every year.

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Virginia is a place for people who aren’t afraid to wait for the good stuff. Virginia is reliable. Virginia never lets me down. Virginia is one of my favorite things, and always will be.

Christmas: Feeling Nostalgic Already

It’s been awhile since I’ve posted anything. I thought about doing a Thanksgiving or Christmas post… but for some reason, I just didn’t; it didn’t feel right. I have tons of holiday recipes, as I’m sure you do, too. I just think the holidays are so intensely personal that I didn’t want to impose. That might seem silly, but that’s just how I felt.

So, Christmas—my favorite time of year—has zipped by, and I have cooked and eaten everything in sight and had lots of fun doing it. And here I am, thinking about what to cook and what to write about next… But first, I think I’ll write about my version of the holidays—what makes them special to me—if for no other reason than to help me accept that Christmas is, in fact, over—like a therapy exercise.

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For me, the holidays are about food, family, and smells. The smells I remember from my childhood—the smells that never change: Celery and onion cooking in butter for stuffing; warm buttery graham cracker crumbs being pressed into the pan for a cheesecake crust; the smell of a real Christmas tree; peppermint sticks—the real ones—that my dad taught me how to drink milk through. These smells make me remember being a little girl, they make me remember the magic of Christmas: Leaving my Grandma’s house on Christmas Eve, and leaning my sleepy head against the cold van window, looking up and being sure—every year—that Orion’s belt was Santa and his reindeer; waking up on Christmas morning to find the tree had been decorated with candy canes and tinsel by Santa while we slept; Cold, cold eggnog; bowls full of oranges to be peeled and nuts to be cracked; lying under the Christmas tree and looking up through the branches; the kitchen counter lined with cooling cheesecakes.  These little traditions and memories make Christmas special and personal, and I love continuing them, tweaking them, and of course starting a few new ones.

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Without a doubt, the biggest tradition I’ve continued is that of my dad’s cheesecake. Every Christmas he made dozens of them for everyone we knew. My brothers and I helped him, and he’d scream at us if we ran through the kitchen while they were baking, insisting that they would “fall” if we shook the floor too much. When I was about 19, I started to really cook on my own, and the first thing I tackled was my dad’s cheesecake. I read dozens of recipes, compared techniques, temperatures, timing, and after many changes and variations, came up with my cheesecake. When my dad tried it, and told me mine was better than his, it was like I had won the cooking Olympics. So now, every Christmas, I get funny stares for the obscene amount of cream cheese I buy, and I bake cheesecakes for my friends and family, just like my dad used to do.

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Something new I’ve started is making monkey bread on Christmas Eve to have for Christmas morning breakfast. I started it with my son several years ago; his job (which my daughter now helps with, too) was to roll the dough balls in butter and then into the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture—messy, fun, and perfect for little hands. It rises overnight in the fridge, and bakes while we open presents. About two years ago he did an assignment at school about traditions, and guess what he wrote about. Monkey Bread.  This is the stuff that warms my heart; this is why we have traditions!

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Another new tradition is peppermint bark—something I don’t think I ever had as a child. I have my own secret recipe. I use my signature double sifting method to separate the crushed peppermint into three different size categories. It takes a little extra effort, but my kids love watching the “fairy dust” technique. It makes it more like candy, and gives the white chocolate (which I’m not normally the biggest fan of) some real texture and flavor—almost a crystalline crunch. I’m pretty proud of it, and it’s a sweet, festive homemade gift that takes two ingredients and hardly any time.

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Finally, and perhaps most importantly (especially to my daughter) is the cookie decorating. Santa needs cookies. A messy, can’t-be-rushed activity that always results in giggles and creativity. The googly eyes were a new addition this year. I think they must become part of the tradition.

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These are my traditions—the things that are special enough to wait all year for. The things that have me missing Christmas already. I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and I wish you all a very happy and healthy new year (full of lots of good food!).

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