Monday, January 10, 2011

Molten Chocolate Cakes

Since Ryan usually makes me a cake for my birthday, I decided that I should bake something for his birthday this year. After looking at various recipes, I decided to try my hand at molten chocolate cakes.

was the basic recipe I followed, but I made a few changes.


1 cup unsalted butter
8 ounces dark chocolate, cut into bite-size chunks
4 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
4 teaspoons flour (or matzo meal, ground in a blender to a fine powder)
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 (6 ounce) container raspberries, barely moistened and rolled in about
1/2 cup sugar right before serving


1. Melt butter and chocolate in a medium heat-proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; remove from heat. Beat eggs, sugar and salt with a hand mixer (or whisk) in a medium bowl until sugar dissolves. Beat egg mixture and chocolate mixture together until smooth. Stir in vanilla extract. Beat in flour or matzo meal until just combined.

2. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a standard-size muffin tin (1/2 cup capacity) with 8 extra-large muffin papers (papers should extend above cups to facilitate removal). Spray muffin papers with vegetable cooking spray. OR use ramekins that have been oiled or sprayed with cooking spray. Divide batter equally among muffin cups or ramekins.

3. Bake until batter puffs but center is not set, 8 to 10 minutes. (When cracks begin to appear on the top, the cakes are done.)

Muffin cups: Carefully lift cakes from tin and set on a work surface. Pull papers away from cakes and transfer cakes to dessert plates.

Ramekins: Remove from oven. Let cool for a few minutes, then turn upside down onto dessert plates. It may help to run a knife around the edge before turning them upside down. Cakes can also be served in the ramekins.

4. Top each cake with sugared raspberries and serve immediately with vanilla ice cream.


1. The original recipe calls for 5 eggs. Since I was just making cakes for Ryan and myself, I halved the recipe and used 2 eggs. They came out perfectly fine, so if you're doing the full recipe, I'm quite certain that 4 eggs will work.

2. Instead of rolling the raspberries in sugar right before serving, I tossed the berries in sugar before putting the ramekins in the oven so that they had time to macerate. When the cakes were done, I put the berries on top and drizzled the "syrup" over everything.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

This might be my favorite cookie recipe ever. I usually make them around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but sometimes I make them as early in the year as Halloween. Hey, pumpkins are a big part of Halloween too, okay?

Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (can be increased to 1 1/2 cups for stronger pumpkin flavor)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 (3.4 oz) package instant vanilla pudding mix
1 package milk chocolate chips (12 oz or so)

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease cookie sheets (or line with parchment paper or silicon baking mat).

2) In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then stir in the pumpkin puree.

3) In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and vanilla instant pudding mix; gradually mix into the pumpkin mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4) To make the dough easier to work with, refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour (or longer, it doesn't really matter). Roll into walnut sized balls and place them 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets.

5) Bake for 12-15 minutes in the preheated oven or until lightly browned at the edges. If you chilled the dough, it'll be more like 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Pumpkin Bread

With Thanksgiving coming up, I thought I'd post this recipe for pumpkin bread. Just about every year, shortly after Halloween, my mom would bake pumpkin bread using this recipe. She got it from her old friend and first boss, Anette, when she worked at Bullock's department store, back when we lived in California.

But that's enough history. Let's get to it, shall we?


1 C sugar
1/2 C oil
2 eggs
1 C pumpkin puree
1 1/2 C all purpose flour
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl sift together flour, salt, baking powder, soda, and spices.

Dry ingredients
Figure 1: Dry ingredients sifted together.

In another large mixing bowl, cream oil and sugar together. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until light and fluffy.

Wet ingredients
Figure 2: Oil, sugar, and eggs

Mix pumpkin puree into sugar, oil, and egg mixture. Although the recipe calls for 1 C of pumpkin, you can try adding more. Extra pumpkin will give you a denser, more pumpkin-ey bread. Personally, I like to put in about 1 1/2 C pumpkin puree.

Next, combine wet and dry ingredients by slowly adding dry to wet until. Stir till fully combined.

At this point you can fold in whatever extras you like. I've tried chocolate chips, nuts, and raisins. You can combine them or just use one. Try out whatever you think might taste good.

Add Chips
Figure 3: Folding in chocolate chips

Grease a 9" x 5" bread pan and pour in the batter. Bake bread for 45-60 minutes keeping in mind that times will vary from oven to oven and at different elevations.

Before baking
Figure 4: In bread pan before baking

Check for doneness by inserting a knife or toothpick into the center of the loaf. If it's done, it should come out clean. Remove from oven and allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before removing from the pan.

After baking
Figure 5: After baking

Eat it fresh out of the oven or toast a couple slices the following morning. No matter how you cut it, this stuff is awesome!!

Ready to eat
Figure 6: Sliced and ready to eat

Monday, October 20, 2008

Bread Head

Since I've had some time to myself, I've decided to try my hand at baking bread. I think that in the beginning, making bread from scratch can be quite daunting. However, if you give it a try I think that you'll find it not quite as difficult as you thought.

I took this basic bread recipe from my food hero, Alton Brown, host of Good Eats on Food Network. It's really simple and is also a good basis for experimenting with different ingredients and techniques.


1 lb (approx 3 2/3 Cups) bread flour
1 tsp. instant rapid rise yeast
2 tsp. honey
10 oz. filtered water
2 tsp salt

In a small bowl, mix together 1 cup of the flour, 1/4 tsp of the yeast, all the honey, and all the water. Whisk this up real good, cover loosely, and place in the fridge. It should sit for about about 8-12 hours, so it's a good idea to do this the night before you want to bake.

Figure 1: The starter after a good whisking.

8 to 12 hours later

In a large bowl, mix together the starter, the rest of the yeast, salt, and 1 cup of flour. Stir till it's well combined and then slowly add the rest of the flour. You might want to forgo the spoon at this point and just get in there with your hand. You can knead in the last of the flour in the bowl or you can do it a lightly floured surface.

If you're lucky enough to have a stand mixer, this step is a lot easier. If you've got a hand mixer, then I recommend that you put it back in the cupboard. I tried this out with a hand mixer and it wasn't that great. Best to stick to your trusty ol' wooden spoon.

How do you know when you can stop kneading? If you pull off a small piece of dough, you should be able to pull it out into a sheet thin enough that light can pass through. The dough should sticky but not so sticky that you can't handle it.

Figure 2: Kneading in the flour

Grease a straight-sided container with vegetable oil or Pam and place the dough in it. Cover the container with a kitchen towel and place it in the oven (don't turn the oven on for this). Slide a shallow pan under the container and fill it with boiling water. Close the oven and let the dough rise until it's doubled in size. This should take about 1-2 hours.

A neat trick I gleaned from Good Eats is to place a rubber band around the container to mark where the dough is prior to rising. This way you can more accurately gauge how much the dough has risen.

First rise
Figure 3: Dough covered and in container with a sheet pan filled with boiling water placed beneath it.

1-2 hours later

After bench proof
Figure 4: Dough after first rise.

Empty your dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Using your knuckles, press the dough out till it's flattened out enough for you to be able to fold the dough into thirds: first top to bottom, then left to right. Flip the folded dough over and press it out again. You're going to do this 2-3 times.

Cover the dough with a damp kitchen towel and let it rest for 10-20 minutes.

Press the dough out again and this time you're going to be forming the final shape of your loaf.

To make a round loaf bring the edges into the center and pinch them together, forming a jelly-fish like form. Place the dough down onto your floured surface with the pinched side down. Roll the dough between your hands to get it into a nice rounded shape. Place the dough onto a baking pan that's been dusted with corn meal.

To make a more oblong loaf, flatten the dough out and then roll it up tightly. Place it seam side down onto your baking pan (you dusted it with corn meal, right?) and tuck the ends under.

Cover the loaf with a moist kitchen towel and let it rise till it's doubled in size again. This should take about an hour. After it's risen, slash the top of the loaf a couple times.

Figure 5: Dough after final rise with slashes.

At this point, I like to brush the bread with one of two options:

For a more rustic look, whisk together:

1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/3 cup water

Brush onto top of loaf after slashing.

To give your loaf a bit of a shine, whisk together:

2 Tbsp water
1 egg white

Brush onto the top of the loaf after slashing and then again after about 20 minutes of baking.

Bake loaf in a 400 degree (F) oven for 35-45 minutes (watch carefully because this time varies from oven to oven). When putting the loaf into the oven, fill a shallow pan with boiling water again and place below loaf. When the bread is done, it should have an internal temperature of about 200-210 degrees.

Round loaf
Figure 6: Round loaf with cornstarch wash.

Figure 7: Ready to eat!

Oblong loaf
Figure 8: Oblong loaf with the egg white wash.

Whole wheat loaf
Figure 9: Whole wheat loaf with cracked oats sprinkled across the top (added after first brushing).

Have fun with this. You can do all kinds of things, add herbs, try different flours, or top the bread with different things.

Yay, carbs!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Village Sushi

I *love* sushi. I could eat it everyday for the rest of my life. Understandably, then, one of my top food-related priorities when I moved to Seattle was finding good places for sushi. After reading reviews on Yelp, I decided to give Village Sushi a try. I first went there with Ryan shortly after they opened. The restaurant is inside of a converted house, so the atmosphere is very cozy (but it doesn't feel cramped at all). We ordered an assortment of sashimi and sushi rolls. Everything was delicious! I was especially impressed with the salmon sashimi, which was the freshest I've ever had.

I've been there several more times since, and I always enjoy myself. I usually stick to the sushi and sashimi, but when my cousin Adam was visiting me this past summer, we decided to get an order of their tempura. It was really good--not heavy or greasy. Two thumbs up!

I've liked everything I've ever ordered at Village Sushi, except for the oshinko (pickled vegetables). I'm pretty picky when it comes to Japanese pickled vegetables, and there were a few I didn't care for in the mix. Other than that, though, everything has been delicious! I'd like to work my way through their entire menu. Not in one sitting, of course. But their prices are extremely reasonable, so if you've got a big enough appetite...

Anyway, I'm going to leave you with a few pictures from my latest trip to Village Sushi. If you're ever in the U-District, definitely stop by and try them out. Great sushi, friendly service, good prices. What more could you ask for?

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Caffeinated Awesomeness

Zoka Coffee Roasters and Tea Company: Awesome coffee and also home to the best cappuccino that I've ever had. Yesterday I had the chance to go down to the University Zoka's and while I was there I got a soy cappuccino and 1 lb. of the Zoka Java Blend.

Now, I'm no coffee expert and I don't really think of myself as a coffee snob. However, I'm definitely pickier than the average coffee drinker and I've had my fair share of coffees, cappuccinos, mochas, and other espresso-based drinks. I've sampled the good, the bad, and the swill they serve at the US army DFAC (that's "dining facility" in army-speak). I like to think that over the years I've gained the ability to differentiate the good stuff from the bad.

That being said, this morning's coffee, made with the Zoka Java Blend, was great. Yesterday's cappuccino: Caffeinated Awesomeness. If you're ever in the Seattle area and you're craving a cup: Zoka.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Because Google can't convert everything for you (yet)

I just discovered this awesome cooking conversions calculator at Gourmet Sleuth.

I used it to help Ryan figure out what 5 oz of bread flour is in cups (answer: 1.03). He made a very tasty loaf of bread, and yes, there will be a blog post about it! We forgot to take pictures this first time, so the post will have to wait until the next time he makes bread.

In the meantime, enjoy this nifty online tool. Happy cooking/baking/converting!