Healthy Red Velvet Cake with Chevre Icing

Ok, enough of appetizers for a while, now we turn to my fave kind of recipe to make: DESSERT!

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I had stopped making red velvet cake because of the insane amount of red food coloring you have to put into the conventional batter. That is waaaaaay too much red dye #2 for anybody. So imagine my delight when this version crossed my desktop! Thank you thank you to Local Milk for the recipe and pic. I shall be making this soon!

This recipe yields 2 small bundts or one 2 layer 8” cake or about 20 cupcakes

The cake gets its intense red color from a combination of acid ingredients with raw cocoa and a reduced beet puree. You see, the reduction of the puree is necessary to produce an intense color with minimal amount of puree leading to a cake that’s more in line with the traditional red velvet texture and taste. AND it’s important that you use room temperature ingredients where noted, and that your flour be unbleached and your cocoa not be Dutch processed (alkalized). I also wouldn’t advise substituting milk for buttermilk. The acid in this cake is key!

Ingredients:

Cake

250 g ( 2 cups) unbleached all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 Tbsp raw cocoa or unprocessed cocoa powder (nonalkalized)

100g (1/3 + 1/4 cup) coconut oil (refined), at room temp

50g (4 Tbsp) unsalted butter, at room temp

300 g  (1 1/4 cup) sugar

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp vanilla

2 eggs, room temp

1/4 cup + 2 Tbsp reduced beet puree (fully cool)

2.5 tsp champagne vinegar (or other white vinegar)

180 g (3/4 cup) buttermilk, at room temp

Goat cheese glaze

8 oz goat cheese, at room temp

1 cup powdered sugar

2 tsp thyme, finely minced & packed (optional)

Beet puree

3 small beets or 2 medium

1/2 cup water + 1/4 cup water

Cooking Directions:

Make Beet Puree…

Heat oven to 400°F. Wash beets thoroughly, scrubbing to remove any dirt. Line a small baking dish with tin foil, place beets along with water in the dish. Cover tightly with additional foil and bake for one hour or until beets are completely tender when pierced. Using a paper towel and being careful to not burn yourself, wipe off the skin—it’ll come right off! Cut beets into chunks. Place beets along with the leftover beet water in the bottom of the pan and the additional 1/4 cup of water into a food processor or blender (I use my mini processor). Puree completely until absolutely no lumps remain. Press this puree through a sieve, discarding any pulp that doesn’t pass through. and into a small sauce pan. Simmer the beet puree until reduced, about ten minutes. You should have a little over 1/4 cup by the end. Place reduced beet puree in a bowl and set aside to cool completely while you make your cake.

Make Cake…

Heat oven to 350°F. Grease cake tin of your choice thoroughly with butter or organic cooking spray. If using traditional round tins, line bottom with parchment after greasing and then grease parchment.

In a medium bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, and cocoa to combine thoroughly.

In the bowl of a stand mixer cream coconut oil, butter, salt, and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping to scrape down the bowl at the half way mark. With the mixer on low, add the vanilla and then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the bowl between each addition. Mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. Scrape down bowl again, and add in beet puree and vinegar. Mix to combine thoroughly on low, again scraping down the bowl as needed.

With the mixer on low, add in the flour and buttermilk in three additions, alternating between the two, beginning with flour and ending on buttermilk and scraping down the bowl, making sure to scrape up the very bottom, as needed. Once just combined remove bowl from mixer and give it a stir gently with your spatula just to make sure it’s thoroughly mixed.

Fill cake tins no more than 1/2-3/4 the way full. Bake for 25-35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted in multiple places in the cake. Start checking at 25 for small cakes, 30 for thicker ones.

When done, remove cake from oven and allow to cool in tin on a rack for about 5-10 minutes. Turn cake out onto a plate and allow to cool fully before icing…or it will melt. If you only want a light glaze, you can put your icing on a warm cake, which is what I do. But if you want a thicker icing, definitely wait until totally cool!

While the cake cools…make the glaze:

In a medium bowl whisk the powdered sugar (and thyme, if you choose) into the goat cheese. It will turn into an icing consistency without any additional liquid added. Voila!

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Cherry-rhubarb-chevre summertime tart

We’ve been watering the rhubarb in the garden faithfully over the past month, and we’re about to be rewarded…it looks fabulous! This recipe is the perfect ending to a rhubarb harvest, and since we have just a bag or two of last summer’s tart cherries left in the freezer, the rhubarb cherry tart is just the ticket! Belly up! Thanks to Firefly Farms for the recipe and photo:)

Begin by lining a 9-inch tart pan with a simple pastry crust.  If you have the time, make it from scratch.  Pre-bake the crust in a 400 degree oven until just golden — be careful not to overcook at this point; you don’t want the edges to burn when the custard is baking.  When you pull the crust out, drop the oven temperature to 350 degrees.

While the crust cools a bit, make the chèvre custard filling: whisk together 8 ounces of chèvre with a half-cup milk, two eggs, a bit of vanilla extract and 3/4 Cup of sugar.  Last, whisk in the juice of half a lemon.  Pour the custard mix into the pre-baked crust.

Now the fruit: slice the rhubarb- about one quarter-inch thick.  Use about 4 good-sized stalks.  Pit and halve a pint of cherries.  Mix the fruit together with a couple tablespoons of sugar — just enough to coat the fruit — then “sprinkle” the fruit evenly over the top of the tart.


Your mouth will be fully watering at this point.  Pop the tart back into the 350 degree oven and bake for about 45 minutes.  Check frequently during the final 15 — you’ll want to pull it out when the surface of the custard begins to brown about the edges and the smell throughout your kitchen is irresistible.  Cool the tart in your fridge before you cut and serve.  You be glad you waited:  the custard develops a cheesecake texture, the flavors marry, and it cuts and serves beautifully.  (The freezer works too if you must eat it fast…).  Enjoy!

Savory Carrot Cake with Chevre

A savory carrot cake? Oh, yes please! And with pepitas on top? Even better! There are some days when munching a piece of still-warm carrot cake for breakfast out on the deck as the day warms to summer temps really takes life to a whole new level. And then there’s the slightly-sweet chevre topping. Plus, the recipe is SUPER-easy — Dig in! And thank you to palate/palette/plate (a 2012 finalist in Saveur magazine’s top food blogs of the year) for the dreamy recipe and pix.

 

SAVORY CARROT CAKE WITH GOAT CHEESE
[Adapted from The Paris Baker, Rose Carrarini]

Ingredients

3 large eggs
1 Tbsp sugar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup grated carrots
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup all-purpose or white whole-wheat flour, sifted
1 tsp tumeric powder
2 tsp ground coriander
A pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
Small 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup roasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup ground flax seed
_____________
4 oz goat cheese
honey
almond milk

Directions
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl combine eggs and sugar; beat with a whisk until well-blended. Slowly add the olive oil, slowly, whisking continuously.  Add the carrots and cilantro; stir to combine.

2. In another bowl sift 1 cup flour and add the rest of the dry ingredients (including the ground flax and pepitas). Whisk gently to combine.

3. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet carrot mixture until just combined (do not overmix). Pour batter into a bread pan and bake for about 50-55 minutes until toothpick comes out clean.

For the goat cheese spread: Combine fresh goat cheese with a drizzle of honey and about a tablespoon of almond milk to thin slightly. Stir to a smooth consistency and spread on slices of the warm bread.

Chocolate Yogurt Cake

Have mercy! I thought I had eaten and baked all of the heavenly chocolate cakes, but no! Here’s one of the best. And you know how I love yogurt cakes. They are d.i.v.i.n.e. Have yourself some, NOW! Thanks, Epicurious!

 

yield: Makes 1 loaf

active time: 20 min

total time: 2 hr

ingredients

  • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for buttering pan
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder plus additional for dusting pan
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup whole-milk plain yogurt
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Special equipment: an 8 1/2- by 4 1/2- by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan (6-cup capacity)

preparation

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Generously butter pan, then dust with cocoa powder, knocking out excess.

Whisk together flour, 2/3 cup cocoa, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a bowl. Whisk yogurt with water and vanilla in another bowl. Beat 3/4 stick butter with sugar in a large bowl using an electric mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating after each addition. Reduce speed to low and add half of flour mixture. Add yogurt mixture, then remaining flour mixture, mixing until just combined.

Transfer batter to pan and bake until a skewer inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour. Cool in pan on a rack 15 minutes, then turn out onto rack to cool completely.

Fruit Bruschetta

This looks just so wonderful! If you haven’t tried fruit with balsamic vinegar, you’re in for a treat. The idea comes from a Polish gourmet blog by way of Pinterest. It’s simple and sublime!

Ingredients

Several slices of sourdough bread

8 ounces of fresh goat cheese (chèvre)

Several ripe plums and 4 ounces of fresh raspberries

Two tablespoons of honey

1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar, olive oil for drizzling

Fresh thyme and rosemary

Directions

Toast or grill slices of bread on both sides. Drizzle olive oil on toasted bread and spread goat cheese on one side.

Cut plums in half and remove stones. Put in small pot, add honey and thyme. Cook over low heat for a few minutes until plums are tender but not falling apart. Spoon plums onto prepared toasts and drizzle with some of the fruit syrup in pot.

Put half of the raspberries into the pot with the remaining syrup, add balsamic vinegar and chopped rosemary. Heat until the raspberries just break down. Add remaining raspberries and stir. Spoon fruit onto prepared toasts and drizzle with fruit syrup.

Eat while warm.

 

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart

Here in northern Michigan we are poised to enter the summer fruit season…with the prospect of NO fruit this year! Repeated spring frosts have decimated the blossoms on virtually all of our fruit crops. So no apricots, strawberries, peaches, raspberries, cherries (gasp!), even apples are threatened. Horrors.

I am just hoping that the wild blackberries have escaped this awful fate. As a talisman against this eventuality, I offer the following dessert, courtesy of Blondie’s Cakespot.

Blackberry Goat Cheese Tart
Adapted from Always With Butter

Crust:
1 cup flour
pinch of salt
7 Tbsp butter, room temp
3 oz cream cheese, room temp

Filling:
6 oz fresh goat cheese
4 oz cream cheese
2 eggs
2 Tbsp honey
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Topping:
12 oz blackberries (or more)
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 tsp thyme leaves

Crust:
– Combine everything in a food processor and pulse a few times until the dough is uniform. Turn out onto a piece of saran wrap, shape into a flat disk and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. It will be a very soft dough at this point so you definitely need to chill it to make it workable.
– Preheat the oven to 350F. The original instructions tell you to grease a 12×8″ tart pan, but I used my 9″ round one and didn’t grease it and everything still came out beautifully.
– On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough and fit into your tart pan, trimming the edges. Stick it into the freezer. If you have some extra dough left over, re-roll it and make an extra mini-tart for later.

Filling:
– Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and beat until the mixture is smooth and uniform. Pour into the pan, smooth the top and bake for 25 to 35 minutes. Once the top is just slightly puffy and golden you should be all set.
– Let the tart cool completely, top with berries (as many as you like), a drizzle of honey over the top, and shower with the rest of the thyme leaves, if you like a savory note.

Cannoli Cream/Chevre Calzone With Honey and Orange

Last weekend we made an apple strudel, with frozen puff pastry and frozen apples. It was ok, but I am swearing off frozen puff pastry because it tastes of vegetable oil instead of butter. Entirely unsatisfactory. Anyway, that less-than-successful endeavor set me up to be really curious about Mark Bittman’s intriguing dessert calzone, detailed below. And the picture. OMG, so seductive. So it’s back to dairy ingredients and real dough for this gal. Laced with honey and orange, such a dreamy confection! Thanks, Mark:)

Time: About 30 minutes

Ingredients 

Extra virgin olive oil, as needed

1 1/4 cups fresh ricotta or mix of ricotta and chèvre

1 1/2 tablespoons honey, more as needed Finely grated zest of 1 orange

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 8-ounce ball pizza dough, divided into 2 pieces

All-purpose flour, as needed

1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt

Confectioners’ sugar.

 Instructions

1. Heat the oven to 500 degrees. Lightly oil a baking sheet.

2. In a small bowl, stir together the ricotta, honey, orange zest and cinnamon.

3. Lightly flour a work surface, and stretch or roll each piece of dough into a 6-inch round. Spread half the ricotta mixture on one side of each round, leaving a half-inch border. Brush the edges of one dough round with water, and fold dough in half, over filling; pinch the edges of the dough together to seal. Repeat with second dough round.

4. Transfer calzones to baking sheet. Brush the tops with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake until crusts are golden brown and firm, 15 to 20 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar and drizzle with additional honey before serving.

Yield: 4 servings.

Variation: Sprinkle 2 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips over the ricotta in each calzone before sealing.

For those of you who really need to see something demo’d to get the hang of putting it together, here’s the NYT Food Editor Melissa Clark assembling a savory calzone: