Heavenly Chocolate Cake

Chocolate!

Chocolate cake!

Chocolate birthday cake!

Not everyone knows that I’m a baker in training and when they find out, it’s a big surprise and sometimes when they find out they want me to bake for them! That’s what happened when Jade’s dog walker’s discovered my Sweetly, Simona Instagram account.

Jade is lucky enough to have an amazing dog walker, Andrew, who’s girlfriend, Scarlett also walks dogs & has taken care of Jade many times. Scarlett discovered my baking account right around the corner from Andrew’s birthday so, she asked me to make a very chocolatey cake!

I chose the Heavenly Chocolate cake recipe from the Mary Berry cookbook.

For this cake, I decided to use a springform pan. I did this mostly because of the fact that the recipe specifically called for a deep cake dish. The springform pan was the deepest I had and I figured springform couldn’t hurt! I cut a piece of parchment paper to put at the bottom of the pan and sprayed the inside of the pan with coconut cooking spray.

I was really excited because I got to use my baking scale!

I then had to melt chocolate with butter. I didn’t have the right sized bowl to fit over the pot of boiling water so I placed a colander at the top of the pot and put the bowl of chocolate inside that. It may have been unconventional, but it worked!

 

I put the chocolate aside to cool and mixed the egg yolks and sugar until they were a light yellow color and fluffy.

Once the chocolate was cooled, I poured it into the fluffed egg and sugar mixture and carefully mixed it together. I used the gentle folding technique that I learned at my Sur La Table cooking classes and tried my best to go as slowly as possible.

Once combined, I added the flour and ground almonds and again, gently folded together.

In my stand mixer, I beat the egg whites until they were “stiff but not dry”. Honestly, I wasn’t entirely sure what that meant, but beat the eggs until they could form a peak but still had moisture. That seemed about right. I added it to the batter and stirred together carefully. I poured the batter into the pan and put it into the oven for 50 minutes.

After 50 minutes, the cake was perfectly well done and smelled so chocolatey! The original plan had been to make this cake twice that night. I was going to make the birthday one for Scarlett & Andrew and another for Ward/the office. However, when the cake came out, it was much thinner than Mary Berry’s. So, the second cake ended up being my second layer for Scarlett & Andrew’s cake. It was meant to be!

I let the cakes cool for a long time, wrapped in Saran Wrap, in the fridge. As everyone knows, I have very little patience with cooling baked goods, so I made a point of getting these out of my sight for multiple hours while they chilled.

At some point in the cooling process I made the frosting.

I melted the butter in a pan and then added the cocoa powder and milk.

Once combined, I sifted the powdered sugar into the mixture.

Right off the bat, I knew I would have to make more frosting. There were two reasons for this. The first being that I knew right away that there wasn’t enough. Secondly though, I didn’t like how it looked and it was super thick. I decided that this first round would be my base coat on the cake and that I’d make a second bath for the top coat.

 

I didn’t have time to photograph the making of the second batch of frosting but it came out much thinner and lighter. Phew! I covered the first layer with this new frosting and then added sprinkles because…. birthday cake!

I obviously didn’t get to take a bite of this, but Scarlett & Andrew both said that it was super tasty and that they ate the whole thing in just a few days! Yes!

Sweetly,

Simona

Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies

My family and I have decided to seriously start eating well and working out.

So you can imagine how hard baking around that has been. I’ve done a good amount of research and I’m going to be integrating healthy (or rather, healthier) baked goods into what I do. Don’t worry though, there will still be a good amount of good ol’ fashioned baked goods with full sugar and real flour!

For my first attempt at a healthy dessert, I decide to try these Paleo Chocolate Covered Strawberry Brownies.

I had to buy some special ingredients for this (like coconut sugar and almond flour) but it looked like a pretty simple recipe.

I started by lining a cake pan (how is it that I still don’t own a square brownie pan??) with tin foil and then sprayed it with cooking spray (my favorite is this coconut spray).

In a large bowl, I combined the coconut oil, coconut sugar, cocoa powder, and salt and microwaved it in bursts of 30 seconds. Once the coconut oil was melted enough, I stirred it all together to combine and to ensure the coconut sugar was dissolved. Once it was all combined, I added the eggs and vanilla and stirred again.

Once combined, I added the almond flour and stirred until it was no longer  visible.

I poured the batter into the prepared pan and placed it in the oven to bake for 23 minutes.

While the brownies baked, I made the chocolate sauce by combining cocoa powder, coconut oil and maple syrup.

It took a few times to get the baking time right. I took it out at 23 minutes and it was still under cooked. The coconut oil was bubbling around the sides. I put it in for another 3 minutes and it still wasn’t done. Three final minutes and it was done…mostly. A little gooey but when has that ever been a bad thing in brownies? I took it out and let it cool. ALL THE WAY.

Once cooled, I sprinkle the diced strawberries over the brownies. The chocolate sauce was ready at that point and I poured it over the strawberries. From the description of the recipe, it sounded like the sauce was much more “liquidy”. Mine was thick so when I poured it over the strawberries I had to mix them together instead of it just filling in all around them.

I stuck the brownies in the fridge for an hour for the chocolate sauce to harden a bit.

After an hour, I took the brownies out of the fridge and the chocolate had hardened. Photogenically, they did not come out super nicely but I cut in and took a big bite.

The brownies were very rich, super chocolatey and the strawberries added a nice, refreshing end note. If anyone was wondering, or watching their food intake, according to the Weight Watchers website, these are only 7 points per brownie and 100% paleo compliant – woohoo!

Maybe healthier desserts aren’t really that bad! Yum!

Sweetly,

Simona

Valentine’s Day Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day & Happy Discounted Candy Day! 

For Valentine’s Day this year, Ward and I decided to stay home and make homemade ahi tuna & octopus bowls. Our rice cooker broke (scratch that – the rice cooker we got for free and tried using for the first time, broke last night). Even though the rice was more like porridge because of this, the bowls and our Valentine’s Day was pretty perfect 🙂

The night before, I decided to bake for the holiday and I decided on cookies. As we all know, cookies are rough for me and these were no different but they were so, so good.

I started by mixing together the dry ingredients and in a separate bowl, I mixed the sugar and butter.

Once the butter and sugar were combined, I added the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and beat them all together until just combined.

I rolled the dough into balls of about 2 tablespoons and rolled them in sugar before placing them on the silpat.

Once they were all on the silpat, I used a glass to flatten them out.

I put the cookies in the oven and made the frosting while I waited. The frosting was easy and just included mixing together butter, heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and pink food coloring.

When the cookies were ready I let them cool for 10 minutes before frosting. As usual, my cookies were super flat. Ugh!

I frosted them anyway, and then let them sit. For some of them, I put sprinkles on top but I left the majority unsprinkled.

They didn’t look too pretty but they were super, super yummy and I will definitely try to make these again! Maybe next time they won’t be so flat!

Sweetly,

Simona

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups

It has been a really long time and I’ll tell you why…

After the holidays, the inauguration happened and all of my energy has been put towards the resistance. Though before January 20th, baking made me relax and forget my troubles, since then it has felt like more of a weight while I juggled making protest signs, gathering the troops and writing to and calling Congress. I’m exhausted.

Last weekend as I talked to some friends about the state of our world, my baking came up and they suggested I try again because maybe it would take my mind of things like it had before. So, last night I searched my pantry for ingredients and made something simple. Though it didn’t take my mind off what I really wanted to be doing (scouring Facebook for news and writing to Senator Harris & Feinstein), the final result did make me happy – so that’s a start!

I started by melting chocolate & coconut oil.

I poured half of the melted chocolate into the muffin tins – just enough to cover the bottom entirely.

I let this freeze for 15 minutes and melted the peanut butter mixture of peanut butter, coconut oil & honey.

I poured the peanut butter mixture over the hardened chocolate then let those two layers freeze for another 5 minutes. 

This is when I realized that my first layer of chocolate was NOT tasty. I had pulled whatever chocolate I could find from my pantry and it was semi-sweet… or unsweetened all together – yuck! So, before pouring my third layer, I added granulated sugar to my melted chocolate. I then poured the sweetened chocolate over the peanut butter and placed the cups in the freezer for an hour.

When the hour was up, the cups were very well hardened. So much so that I had to use my molars to actually bite into them. The cups that had thinner bottom layers (aka thinner unsweetened chocolate layers) were the best because there was less of a bitter taste. That being said, I thought that they looked pretty amazing and were overall tasty!

Sweetly,

Simona

Once A Baker, Always A Baker

Before Christmas, my mom and I got a bunch of old VHS tapes transferred to digital files.

We used Southree and could not be happier with the results! I couldn’t resist posting this video of me at age 4 (speaking totally in Spanish) reveling at the pecan something-or-other I created.