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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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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Slow Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini

Thanks to the lovely and talented Selma of Selma’s Table, a beautiful and delicious blog that I implore you to visit, I am participating in my very first blog party in celebration of Fiesta Friday’s first anniversary. Very exciting. There is such a wonderful community of bloggers, and I love meeting new friends who are so gracious and welcoming. I’m looking forward to meeting many more at the fiesta!

To get the party started, today’s theme is “happy hour,” and since happy hour isn’t complete without drinks and little bites I am sharing a few wine recommendations and my delicious recipe for slow roasted tomatoes, which I love to serve over goat cheese-topped, crispy baguette slices. Such an easy and beautiful appetizer. I hope you love it!

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Let’s begin with a drink, shall we? I am not much of a cocktail aficionado, but I am a wine lover, and these crostini pair beautifully with a crisp, cool white wine. These are my three favorites, and each one will compliment the tangy, creamy goat cheese, and the jammy, sweet tomatoes. It’s a winning combo whichever wine you choose. The first is Despagne Eclat de Sauvignon—a lovely, crisp white from the Bordeaux region of France. This wine won my heart with its refreshingly tart, almost effervescent grapefruit notes. I was pretty impressed with myself on this one, because I immediately tasted the grapefruit notes and, later, when I did some research I saw that many other tasters had described it this way! Next is my old standby: Pinot Grigio. I am a big fan of Cavit Pinot Grigio—Italian, crisp, fruity but not sweet. I have often described it as a very “friendly” wine, since everyone likes it and it’s always invited to the party. Finally, the H.B. Picpoul de Pinet is a wonderfully intriguing wine made in the South of France. It is crisp and dry with hints of citrus—delicate, floral, and really worth trying. These are three of my favorite whites—and guess what—they are all under $10 (at least they are at my local Wegmans!). In my opinion, good wine does not mean expensive wine. Drink what you love—life is too short to drink bad, expensive wine.

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Now, on to the recipe. A printable version is at the bottom of my post, but here is the step-by-step with photos.

**I originally published this recipe in a piece called “When Life Gives You Tomatoes, Make Crostini” on DCFud.com, a great online food magazine covering the DC metro area. Check it out!**

Slow Roasted Tomatoes

 Ingredients:

  • Lots of smaller tomatoes such as roma, cherry, or grape, halved—about 8 cups (they shrink during the roasting process)
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch or two of red pepper flakes to taste
  • fresh herbs—oregano and thyme are my favorites
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Toss gently to coat the tomatoes and spread the entire mixture evenly on a parchment lined, large rimmed baking sheet or two sheets. You want an even layer with no overlapping.

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Roast for 4-6 hours, gently tossing occasionally (or just shake and rotate the pan). The time is broad, I know, but it depends on the juiciness and size of your tomatoes and your oven. The tomatoes will shrink and their juices will dry slightly. Don’t take them too far; you want them to still have some juiciness. This really needs to be judged by eye, so just check on them occasionally.

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Enjoy straight from the oven, or transfer, along with all juices and herbs, to a mason jar or other storage container, cover with more olive oil and store in refrigerator.

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Note: The olive oil will harden upon refrigeration. Allow refrigerated tomatoes to sit at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before using.

Slow Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini

Ingredients:

  • Baguette, or any good bread, sliced 1/4 inch thick on an angle
  • slow roasted tomatoes
  • Fresh goat cheese
  • Fresh basil

To prepare:

Drizzle or brush bread slices lightly with olive oil, and either toast in a 350 degree oven 10-15 minutes, or gently toast in a grill pan or skillet until lightly golden on both sides, but still tender in the middle. Transfer to a platter and smear with a tablespoon or two of goat cheese, top with oven roasted tomatoes, and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil. Enjoy!

Slow Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

For the Slow Roasted Tomatoes:

Ingredients:

  • Lots of smaller tomatoes such as roma, cherry, or grape, halved—about 8 cups (they shrink during the roasting process)
  • 1/4 cup Olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • pinch or two of red pepper flakes to taste
  • fresh herbs, oregano and thyme are my favorites
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.

Place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Toss gently to coat the tomatoes and spread the entire mixture evenly on a parchment-lined, large rimmed baking sheet or sheets. You want an even layer with no overlapping.

Roast for 4-6 hours, gently tossing occasionally (or just shake and rotate the pan). The time is broad, I know, but it depends on the juiciness and size of your tomatoes and your oven. The tomatoes will shrink and their juices will dry slightly. Don’t take them too far; you want them to still have some juiciness. This really needs to be judged by eye, so just check on them occasionally.

Enjoy straight from the oven, or transfer, along with all juices and herbs, to a mason jar or other storage container, cover with more olive oil and store in refrigerator.

Note: The olive oil will harden upon refrigeration. Allow refrigerated tomatoes to sit at room temperature for 30-40 minutes before using.

To make and assemble the Slow Roasted Tomato and Goat Cheese Crostini:

Ingredients:

  • Baguette, or any good bread, sliced 1/4 inch thick on an angle
  • Oven roasted tomatoes
  • Fresh goat cheese
  • Fresh basil

To prepare:

Drizzle or brush bread slices lightly with olive oil, and either toast in a 350 degree oven 10-15 minutes, or gently toast in a grill pan or skillet until lightly golden on both sides, but still tender in the middle. Transfer to a platter and smear each with a tablespoon or two of goat cheese, top with oven roasted tomatoes, and sprinkle with fresh chopped basil. Enjoy!

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Dad’s Chicken and Sausage Gumbo

Made this tonight. It was perfect. I updated my blog with a new theme and have added printer-friendly recipes! This is an older post, but I’ve updated the photos and added a printable recipe. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

cook on a whim

It might seem odd to associate gumbo with snow, but a few years ago, before a huge snowstorm blew through, I decided if I was going to be snowed in, I was going to make gumbo—just because. So, I ran to the store with the rest of Northern Virginia, and came home with the necessary loot. The next day I made it, and my house smelled like my Dad’s. Nothing else smells like gumbo; nothing else tastes like gumbo. It is warm, steeped in tradition, and so satisfying—just the kind of food you want when it’s icy cold outside.

So, naturally, a few days ago when the biggest snow storm since that one in 2010 was forecast, I went to the store with milk, bread, and gumbo supplies on my list. I made it last night for some dear friends—girl time and gumbo. Heart-warming and belly-warming. Just perfect.

I highly…

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Old-Fashioned Peach Custard Pie

One of the easiest and most delicious pies you will ever make. The recipe doubles beautifully, so whip up two pies and surprise someone you care about with something peachy like my daughter and I did. We delivered one to my grandparents when they weren’t home—like little pie fairies.

**Prepare crust first, either by pre-baking a store bought crust according to package instructions or use my recipe below. My crust recipe makes enough for two pies; however, the filling recipe is just for one pie—feel free to double it like I did!**

Ingredients:

  • one pre-baked pie crust (recipe below)
  • 3 peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ½ cup white sugar
  • ¼ cup light brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • seeds from ½ a vanilla bean, or 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 400.

Arrange sliced peaches in bottom of pre-baked pie crust in a single layer—slight overlapping is fine.

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Mix together all other ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly combined. You will have a slightly thick, almost peanut butter-like consistency.

Spread this over the peaches, don’t worry if it does not cover every inch, it will even out in the oven.

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Bake for 10 minutes at 400, then reduce temperature to 300 and bake for 50-60 more minutes until the custard is set and the top is lightly browned.

Enjoy at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Basic Pre-Baked Flaky Pastry Crust

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups AP flour
  • 1 1/2 stick butter (12 tablespoons), very cold and diced into small cubes
  • 1/3 cup shortening, also very cold. I keep mine in the refrigerator, as this is really the only time I use it.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbs sugar
  • 2 tbs vodka mixed with 4 tbs water, very cold (I learned the vodka trick from America’s Test Kitchen a long, long time ago, and it really makes a difference; however, you can leave it out and just use water.)

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Place dry ingredients in food processor and pulse to mix. Add cubed butter and shortening and pulse about 12 times until the butter and shortening are mixed throughout. Slowly pour the water/vodka mixture through the lid while pulsing, until the dough begins to clump. Give it one more good, long pulse. Carefully transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead a few times to combine. Divide the dough evenly in half (this makes enough for two one-crust pies). Place each half between parchment or plastic wrap, flatten into a round disk, and chill for 20-30 minutes. Prepare your fruit and custard while it chills.

After chilling, roll one of the disks out on a floured surface until you have about a 12 inch circle, and a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Make sure to keep moving the dough and adding flour while rolling to make sure it isn’t sticking. Carefully place rolled dough into pie plate, easing it into the corners without stretching it too much. Make any kind of decorative edge you want. Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes.

Remove dough from refrigerator, place parchment or aluminum foil directly on top of dough and fill the pie plate with dried beans or pie weights.

Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove foil and pie weights, poke holes all over bottom of dough with a fork, and return to the oven for 5-10 more minutes until lightly browned.

Continue with recipe above or use for any pie recipe requiring a pre-baked crust.

 

 

Peach Muffins

This is the first recipe I came up with after a recent peach-picking trip to Hollin Farms with my kids. On the drive home, my son was already devouring a peach, and I was already thinking of what I would make with the fuzzy beauties.

Before I moved on to peach pie and peaches over vanilla ice cream (my favorite), I was determined to use them in some kind of breakfast recipe. Peach pancakes crossed my mind, obviously fresh peaches sliced up on yogurt or french toast would be delicious, but then my thoughts landed on muffins. Peaches with brown sugar and vanilla? Yes, please. I’m not really sure why peach muffins aren’t as common as banana or blueberry, but maybe this recipe will change that.

PS: I’ve got a few more peach recipes to come. (We picked lots!). Stay tuned.

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Peach Muffins

 Makes 12 muffins

Ingredients:

  • 1 ½ cups peeled and chopped peaches (should be about 2-3 peaches)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2  cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil or any flavorless cooking oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • granulated sugar for sprinkling

To prepare:

Preheat oven to 400. Line a muffin tin with 12 paper liners.

Stir flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Stir brown sugar, sour cream, milk, oil, egg, and vanilla in a medium bowl.

Add wet ingredients to dry along with the peaches.

Stir just until combined. I use a fork, because it really prevents over mixing. As I’ve said before, muffin batter should be lumpy and kind of ugly. You will end up with the yummiest, most tender muffins this way. Trust me.

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Scoop your gently mixed batter into muffin tins. Sprinkle tops with sugar if you want a crackly, sparkly crust.

Bake in preheated oven for 15-17 minutes or until muffins are domed and lightly golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

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Enjoy!

Check out my other muffin recipes: Pumpkin Banana Muffins, Mini Mini Chocolate Chip Muffins, Mini Spiced Banana Muffins

Lemon Bars

I just got back from dropping off a plateful of these to my grandparents — my grandparents, who are both from Minnesota. So, of course we were standing around in the kitchen, giggling, saying “bars” with that distinctive Minnesota (Minne-SOH-ta) accent. Dontcha know that accent??

My grandpa has a major sweet tooth, and he is known for his love of chocolate, but his favorite dessert is “lemon pie” as he calls it — (lemon meringue pie) — so when I made these bars I knew I’d be surprising him with a delivery. The first thing he said when he took a bite was, “these taste just like lemon pie.” Mission accomplished.

This recipe is almost exactly The Barefoot Contessa’s lemon bar recipe, but I made a few tiny changes. The biggest change was to the crust. Not the ingredients so much, (although I did add vanilla; I am a vanilla-aholic), but the method. The way I do it is faster, since it doesn’t require you have the butter at room temp, but it also just creates a better texture in my opinion.

Here’s how I made them!

 

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Lemon Bars

Ingredients:

Crust:

  • 2 sticks cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Filling:

  • 6 eggs
  • 3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup flour
  • zest of one lemon (zest it before you juice it!)
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 6 lemons)
  • 1 teaspoon salt

To Prepare:

Preheat oven to 350.

Butter a 9x13x2 inch baking pan, or spray generously with cooking spray. For extra safety, line the pan with parchment paper (butter or spray the paper too!) so that the edges hang over each side. This will help lift the bars out later. The filling can get sticky, so the buttering and spraying is really important, even if you have a non-stick pan.

Place all crust ingredients in a food processor and pulse several times until combined. You will have a dry, crumbly mixture. It won’t come together like a dough, so don’t worry.

Dump this mixture into the prepared baking pan. Gently even out the mixture, and begin pressing into the bottom of the pan with your fingers and build up about a 1/2 inch edge on all sides. It doesn’t have to be perfectly even.

Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes until just beginning to brown around the edges.

While the crust bakes, prepare the filling:

Combine all filling ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to completely combine.

When the crust is done, pour over filling and return to oven for 25-30 minutes, until the filling is set.

Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. You can also refrigerate them overnight, which makes them even easier to slice. Either way, when ready to slice, slide a thin knife around the edges to make sure the bars are loose, and if you’ve used parchment you should be able to lift them out in one piece. Place on a cutting board and slice into bars, squares, or triangles and enjoy.

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