Thursday, December 11, 2008

Simple Sweets

Desserts are truly one of my favourite things. I’ll leave the raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens to Julie Andrews. Pass me the lemon cheesecake. Dessert cookbooks are another one of my favourite things. You’ll notice in a previous post that Haley gloats upon obtaining a copy of Nigella Lawson’s new Christmas cookbook. She plans to curl up on a couch with a cup of hot chocolate and a book full of Nigella and do some serious reading, naturally, one of her favourite things. I would be ridiculously jealous, but I too have Nigella on hold at the library. Some of my favourite dessert cookbooks of late include the Moosewook Restaurant’s book of desserts (these people are wonderful), Perfect Light Desserts (this one is sooo good! Not full of boring, icky light desserts, but really tasty creations), and my ancient copy of The Joy of Cooking (this book feels a lot like a mother, or grandmother, laying all the kitchen tips and secrets bare).

Caleb’s birthday falls in the second week of December, giving me a big fat wonderful excuse to drool over dessert recipes. Perfect. After an exhaustive search I decided upon a Joy of Cooking special: lemon cheesecake made with cottage cheese. This appealed to my low fat sensibilities. I worked out a number of ways to further reduce the fat and I was off, flying high before I fell. Because I reduced the fat in the cake it needed a shorter baking time. I realized this after I pulled it from the oven. Boohoo. While the dessert was tasty, it was decidedly dry, as over-baked cheesecakes tend to be, particularly low-fat over baked cheese cake. Yet I’m still excited, and hopeful. With a little tinkering this could prove to be my work-horse of cheesecakes. Well I couldn’t serve a dried out cake at the birthday go time. What to do? I had no time during the day to prepare another dessert, as Caleb and I had a list of plans. A normal, less obsessive person would probably just pick up a cake from the store or bakery. But I am obsessive. I unearthed my recipe, or rather, the Moosewood Collective’s recipe, for Six Minute Cake. As Caleb’s family members arrived for the birthday dinner, and I sprinkled the coarse salt on the foccacia, dropped the meatballs in the sauce, panicked about a salad, I used my third free hand to whip up a six minute cake. I swear I did it in five. I served this simple chocolate cake warm from the oven with a dollop of mocha whipped cream. It was a hit.

What a reminder that food should be simple and fun. It should taste good. Tiered cakes and frothy egg whites have their place but most often a slice of something hot and chocolate and a little sweet beside it is all a girl needs.

Six Minute Chocolate Cake

Sift the following ingredients directly into a an 8 inch square or 9 inch round baking pan:

1 ½ cups white flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 cup sugar

In a measuring cup, measure and mix together:
½ cup vegetable oil
1 cup cold water or coffee
2 tsp pure vanilla extract

Pour the liquid ingredients into the baking pan and mix with a fork or whisk.

When the batter is smooth add 2 TBSP apple cider vinegar.

Stir quickly. There will be pale swirls in the batter.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes at 350. Let the cake cool in the pan on rack. You can cut the slices directly from the pan to serve.

The Moosewood Collective suggests that you let the cake cool and then refrigerate it for 30 minutes but I prefer the cake warm.

Mocha Whipped Cream

Combine and whip until stiff:
1 TBSP instant coffee
1 cup whipping cream
¼ cup icing sugar
1 TBSP cocoa powder

1 comment:

  1. I really felt like I was there - the anticipation of the cheesecake.. the overbaked sadness.. and (drum roll) the triumphant save! Nice work on the chocolate cake. Mocha whipped cream sounds like my new favourite thing.