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Tomorrow my sister is leaving to study abroad in Italy for four months. I don’t think I have words to express my jealousy, except that I’m using her as an excuse to get my mom to tag along with me and visit. I figured I’d see her off with a good American dessert that she didn’t ask for and probably won’t eat because it isn’t banana bread. But it’s a good parting dish, comparable to the level of deliciousness of baked goods that she will eat for breakfast in the next few months as she tries to order something in Italian and receives something else, so much better.
I didn’t want anything too rich since I’m recovering from eating everything as of late. I had my doubts because the batter was insanely thick and I had a difficult time spreading it, but I put it in the oven anyway, and it came out puffy, golden and delicious with a crust along the top from the caramelized sugar. It’s light and buttery with just enough chocolate. It’s insanely good.
Chocolate Chip Sour Cream Coffee Cake
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick, 4 ounces or 113 grams) at room temperature
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) granulated sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (16 ounces) sour cream
3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon table salt
Filling and Topping
2 cups or 12 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate chips or coarsely chopped chocolate bars
1/2 cup (100 grams) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-x-13-inch baking pan. If not nonstick coated, cover the bottom with a rectangle of parchment paper. Set pan aside.
In a large bowl, cream butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla. Sift flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together into a separate bowl. Alternately mix in sour cream and then dry ingredients into butter mixture until both are used up and the batter is smooth and very thick. In a medium bowl, beat eggs whites until stiff, then fold into batter.
In a small dish, whisk together sugar and cinnamon for filling and topping.
Spread half the cake batter in the bottom of prepared pan. Sprinkle with half of cinnamon-sugar mixture and 1 cup of chocolate chips. Dollop remaining cake batter over filling in spoonfuls. Use a rubber or offset spatula to gently spread it over the filling and smooth the top. Sprinkle batter with remaining cinnamon-sugar and remaining chocolate chips. With the palm of your hand, ever-so-gently press the chocolate chips a bit into the batter. No need to submerge them, you just want to make sure they adhere bit.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, rotating halfway through, until a tester inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
I’m bringing in the new year with caramels. Literally. What other way is there to do it?
It’s going to be a good year, I can feel it. I am going to college. I got a job (interview, but I’ve never gotten so close to getting one). I made this chocolate bark last week that was insane. And this weekend, I got a free magazine subscription, did two physics labs, and made these caramels. The only problem (besides my personal struggle to pass physics) is that I can’t get them off of the wax paper, which is making it increasingly difficult for me to eat them and type simultaneously. My personal bias aside, I have never tasted better candies in my life.
I had no problems making them. They are easy. And delicious. And you need a candy thermometer to cook them so you’ll need to fork over about 5 dollars which is completely and utterly worth it for a tray of salted chocolate caramels in your own kitchen.
Also, I want to learn to drive. I have been trying to find out how online, but it seems the internet (along with my parents) isn’t keen on the idea of me behind a wheel. I thought I could avoid learning how to navigate the new york subway system but apparently I’ve just been set back 17 years. Meh.
Salted Chocolate Caramels
2 cups heavy cream
10 1/2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (no more than 60% cacao if marked), finely chopped
1 3/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces
2 teaspoons flaky sea salt such as Maldon
Vegetable oil for greasing
Line bottom and sides of an 8-inch straight-sided square metal baking pan with 2 long sheets of crisscrossed parchment.
Bring cream just to a boil in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderately high heat, then reduce heat to low and add chocolate. Let stand 1 minute, then stir until chocolate is completely melted. Remove from heat.
Bring sugar, corn syrup, water, and salt to a boil in a 5- to 6-quart heavy pot over moderate heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Boil, uncovered, without stirring but gently swirling pan occasionally, until sugar is deep golden, about 10 minutes. Tilt pan and carefully pour in chocolate mixture (mixture will bubble and steam vigorously). Continue to boil over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until mixture registers 255°F on thermometer, about 15 minutes. Add butter, stirring until completely melted, then immediately pour into lined baking pan (do not scrape any caramel clinging to bottom or side of saucepan). Let caramel stand 10 minutes, then sprinkle evenly with sea salt. Cool completely in pan on a rack, about 2 hours.
Carefully invert caramel onto a clean, dry cutting board, then peel off parchment. Turn caramel salt side up. Lightly oil blade of a large heavy knife and cut into 1-inch squares.
This short and sweet: I know that as a food-loving person, It’s my duty to be appalled by Paula Deen’s cooking methods. I’m supposed to tell you that I am a cook/blogger who doesn’t need butter to make food taste good. Well, guess what? Butter tastes good. Especially in these pumpkin gooey butter cakes. We can’t get enough of them. We ate them too fast to take pictures- which is why the one above isn’t even my own (I’m so ashamed!). They are, all kidding aside, one of the most delicious things I have ever made. Gooey and so so moist, with a surprisingly irresistible crust from the cake mix. Lord praise them. I love butter.
Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake
from Paula Deen
1 (18 1/4-ounce) package yellow cake mix
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 tablespoons butter, melted
1 (16-ounce) box powdered sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cake mix, egg, and butter and mix well with an electric mixer. Pat the mixture into the bottom of a lightly greased 13 by 9-inch baking pan.
To make the filling: In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese and pumpkin until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, and beat together. Next, add the powdered sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and mix well. Spread pumpkin mixture over cake batter and bake for 40 to 50 minutes. Make sure not to overbake as the center should be a little gooey.
Serve with fresh whipped cream.
Variations: For a Pineapple Gooey Cake: Instead of the pumpkin, add a drained 20-ounce can of crushed pineapple to the cream cheese filling. Proceed as directed above.
For a Banana Gooey Cake: Prepare cream cheese filling as directed, beating in 2 ripe bananas instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
For a Peanut Butter Gooey Cake: Use a chocolate cake mix. Add 1 cup creamy peanut butter to the cream cheese filling instead of the pumpkin. Proceed as directed above.
I measure my seasons by the arrival of different drinks at Starbucks. Yesterday when I saw the Eggnog Latte and Peppermint Mocha on the menu, I knew that winter is coming— though it also marked another important day! I honestly don’t know whether I should be proud or ashamed of this, but I obtained “gold status” at Starbucks, which basically means nothing except that I have a slight obsession. The drinks make me feel festive, and as I reeled over all of my cookbooks looking for something to inspire me, I realized there was not one thing I wanted to make from them. I know that is slightly hard to believe, seeing that I have at least two dozen, but the heart wants what it wants, and my food moods are very particular. I went to Barnes and Noble and sat myself down with a pile of cookbooks and my computer, and eventually settled on a cupcake cookbook. I never make cupcakes— I don’t know why. They’re God’s way of saying sorry for our stomachs’ not being able to fit normal sized cakes — so he gave us little ones instead. I was actually surprised about how creative the cupcake flavors are — I have a lot to catch up on.
I don’t really do Halloween. I have bad experiences associated with the holiday, usually involving being carted around by my dad who tried to get me to trick or treat while I embarrassingly resisted. No offense dad. The day would always end up with us at a restaurant, eating dinner and people-watching as if we were standing behind a glass window. If there wasn’t the opportunity for candy, I really would have given up on the holiday much sooner. Clearly I have an inclination towards baked goods, but when I do eat candy I love me some reese’s, snickers, and m&ms. I sort through bowls and bowls for them. I have been known to just buy the whole darn halloween pack with my favorites so I don’t have to be picky. Things haven’t changed much over the years.Before my transition from baked goods to candy, I was craving one last thing. The sticky sticky buns from Flour Bakery. Don’t ask me why- the heart wants what it wants. When I looked up the recipe, though, it seemed to be overly involved, and maybe I just wasn’t in the mood to make something that elaborate, but I ditched that plan and looked for another recipe. I can’t honestly say this recipe is quick and simple. It took longer than I wanted it to and annoyed me every step of the way, as I wanted to leave my house but couldn’t because the dough was rising, ready to be rolled, rising again, and ready to be baked. These buns were such a pain.
But they are so, so good. The dough is heavenly, and it makes a huge difference to make it homemade. It tends to harden a bit after the first day, but nothing a quick zap in the microwave can’t fix and more, making it bubbly and delicious. I don’t even need to sell you on the caramelized pecans, do I?