Flourless Chocolate Cake with Pomegranate Sauce

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Pomegranate Sauce

After driving 3,000 miles a week during the trucking years, driving 3 miles to the grocery store is a delight.  Plus, the merits of shopping local cannot be overstated.

The idea of pomegranate sauce began teasing my foodie imagination when I saw a lovely display of crown-topped orbs in the produce section. I’d never eaten one before (better late than never), so I brought one home and munched on a few arils while I sieved, pressed, and extracted. I soon discovered that one pomegranate doesn’t yield much juice. Back to the store for another one.

But, those intriguing ruby-like gems had worked their magic on me and I found myself eating more than I was extracting. After a third trip to the store, I came home with a bottle of Pom Wonderful. (Those folks do a marvelous job of getting juice out of those lil’ buggers!) Homemade is my preference, but I come from the “whatever works” camp, too.

Then I simmered and savored until success (and sauce) was achieved. The cake is a good ol’ standby from 30+ years ago — source unknown and recipe considerably tweaked since then. And, trips down memory lane don’t require any driving either.

Flourless Chocolate Cake 3

Flourless Chocolate Cake

1 c. baking cocoa (I used Nestle’s Toll House Cocoa)

6 Tbsp. butter, softened

1/2 c. sugar

1/2 Tbsp. vanilla extract

1/2 Tbsp. whiskey (*see note below)

2 Tbsp. strong coffee, cooled

3/4 c. heavy cream

2 extra large eggs

Pomegranate arils for garnish (if there are any left)

(*May omit whiskey and increase vanilla to 1 tablespoon.)

Preheat oven to 325° F. Butter the bottom of a 9″ cake pan. Have a baking sheet with 1″ sides and a kettle of boiling water at the ready.

In a heavy saucepan, combine cocoa, butter, sugar, vanilla, whiskey (if using), and coffee. Whisk over medium heat until sugar  dissolves; remove from heat. Gradually whisk in cream until blended; set aside to cool.

In a medium-sized bowl, beat eggs with an electric mixer for 4 to 5 minutes or until color is pale yellow and volume is tripled. Gradually whisk eggs into cooled chocolate mixture.

With a spatula, scrape batter into prepared cake pan. Set cake pan on the baking sheet, place in the oven, and pour boiling water onto the baking sheet to a depth of one-half inch. Bake 25 to 30 minutes until cake is set.

Remove cake pan to a cooling rack (I leave the baking pan/water in the oven); cool completely. Refrigerate cake (covered) for 4 hours or overnight. Slice into wedges and drizzle with Pomegranate Sauce.

Garnish with pomegranate seeds, if desired.

Flourless Chocolate Cake 1

Pomegranate Sauce

(adapted from this recipe)

1/2 c. pomegranate juice

1/2 c. red wine (I used Briar Patch Black Cherry Wine; see below)

1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice

1 Tbsp. honey

3″ stick cinnamon

Combine ingredients in a small saucepan. Stir over medium heat until mixture boils; reduce heat to low.  Simmer 25 to 30 minutes or until sauce is reduced by half and is thickened and syrupy. Cool to room temperature before serving.

About the Black Cherry wine…

We’re fortunate to have a small local winery with a huge sense of humor nearby. (Click on the photo below or like their FB page here.) Stop by the Briar Patch and say hi to Jim and Linda. Good folks, good fun, good wine!

Black Cherry Wine

Well it’s time to enjoy a slice of cake, so I’ll leave you with two words:

Shop local!

Enjoying pomegranate success (at last),

~ Kimby

Cake Walk (Silky Chocolate Cake)

Silky Chocolate Cake

Have you ever played musical chairs?  With cake?

For as long as I can remember, the school I attended as a young’n hosted an event known as The Carnival in mid-March.  While its intent was to raise funds for various projects, its effect was that of an indoor Mardis Gras.  (A welcome break from the snowbanks outside.)

It also happened to coincide with my birthday, which meant that there was a good chance of celebrating with two cakes instead of one.

Classes were dismissed at noon on Friday to decorate the gym with streamers and balloons and glittery posters.  Shop students worked feverishly to pound last-minute nails into makeshift booths.  Faculty members supervised the tumult with lighthearted smiles and the occasional admonition to “stop horsing around!”

Prizes were then unpacked from large cardboard boxes stacked on the stage, yielding plastic trinkets and wholesale teddy bears that somehow transformed themselves into desirable objects simply by merit of being displayed on a shelf.

In short, the hometown basketball court became a thing of beauty.

The next night (Saturday night), the doors leading into the gym were propped open at 7:00 o’clock sharp and folks would file into the bleachers that angled upward from the gym floor — a vantage point to shed winter coats, visit friends and neighbors, and keep an eye on their children scurrying around below.

I still remember the thrill of clutching a fistful of tickets…

Priced at a nickel apiece, families could afford an evening’s worth of entertainment for their progeny, along with a mutual understanding:

“When the tickets run out, it’s time to go home.”

With my personal stash of five-cent-increment happiness in hand, I’d wander wide-eyed past each booth, sizing up the odds of winning and calculating the staying power of my ticket-trove.

The games were as varied as their names.  Ring Toss.  Dip the Duck.  Free Throw Booth.  (It was situated on a basketball court, after all…)

But, my premeditated destination was The Cake Walk.

Tucked in a corner of the gym behind a fence-like barricade, a dozen metal folding chairs encircled long tables on loan from the school cafeteria.  Atop those tables were cakes.  Not just any cakes, mind you… The Carnival was an annual opportunity for the ladies of the community to show off their baking skills — and show off they did!

Sometime between Friday afternoon and Saturday evening, a parade of baked goods made their way into the gymnasium, balanced on matronly laps during the car ride to town, or tucked on the floorboard farthest from the car heater so as not to melt the frosting.

Each carefully constructed creation was delivered to The Cake Walk with its glory intact — towering three-layer beauties, billowy angel food encased in Seven Minute Frosting, light-as-air German chocolate under a thick layer of coconut and walnuts, two-layer cakes artfully appliqued with butter cream…

Basically, the Pillsbury Bake-Off in a booth. ;)

After producing the required tickets to enter The Cake Walk, folks lined up in front of the chairs and the music would begin in typical musical chairs fashion.  But, unlike the traditional game where one chair is removed after each round, The Cake Walk chairs remained in place — randomly numbered to avoid mass hysteria, potential injuries — and toppled cakes.

Round and round we’d shuffle to the Beatles crooning, “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” or Petula Clark belting out “Downtown.”

(On a record player, ahem.)

When the music stopped, it was our cue to scramble for a seat — and scramble we did.  Then we anxiously awaited for the corresponding “lucky number” to be drawn from a bowl.  Amidst groans and cheers, the winner would stand, select the cake of their choice (which was another reason to get there first), and emerge victorious.

It’s been years since I’ve been back to the The Carnival, primarily because I moved 750 miles away and I can’t do “winter,” but also because the homemade cakes of yore were deemed dangerous by the legislature and eventually replaced by packaged angel food cakes.

Sometimes a memory is better than being there.

I must admit, I don’t covet cake with the same intensity I once did, but if I spy one that elicits that “carnival” craving, I know I’m going to be the lucky winner — without leaving it up to chance.

Many thanks to Maureen from The Orgasmic Chef for this year’s birthday cake.  (Click here for the recipe for Silky Chocolate Cake.)

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I can almost hear the music now… “She Loves You, Yeah, Yeah…”

Enjoying cake walks,

~ Kimby

.

Put De Lime In De Coconut Cake

Have you ever seen a recipe and known in your heart of hearts that you must make it now?  That’s how I felt when I saw Pina Colada Cake by Chef Dennis earlier this year.

Normally, I follow a recipe to a “tee” the first time — out of respect for the Chef who created it, and because I hope you do the same with mine. :)  I can’t begin to count the number of fabulous meals that have graced our table as a result.  (I love food blog world… sigh.)

But, when I checked my pantry for pineapple, I was out.  (Drat!)

Sometimes ya gotta punt…

Racking my brain for a suitable substitute, I decided to compensate for the missing “pineapple moisture” with a smidge of lime juice.

(Bear in mind, it was strictly conjecture at that point… precise measurements to follow.)  Lime pairs well with coconut, yes?

Speaking of “pairs,” I spied some fresh pears on the counter… hmm.

A chopped pear would contribute “body” without adversely affecting the flavor.  Don’t ya just love food “science?”

Allow me to interject — I Googled straightaway to see if there were other lime & coconut cakes out and about — there were.  But, none of them included a pear or spelled it ala Harry Nilsson’s song. :)

After a few trials and tweaks (made it with a D’Anjou pear first, then tried a Bosc — all in the name of research, of course…), it was a keeper!  The cake was moist and dense, with a hint of lime and a tease of coconut.

After all was said and done, I frosted my “adaptation,” sprinkled toasted coconut over the top, and it was indeed over the top!

Prepare yourself for a taste of the tropics…

Put De Lime In De Coconut Cake

(adapted from Pina Colada Cake by Chef Dennis)

Cake:

2 c. all purpose flour

1 tsp. baking powder

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. salt

1 1/2 cups coconut, divided

1/2 c. butter, plus additional for the pan

1/4 c. brown sugar (that’s all!)

2 eggs, at room temperature

1 ripe pear (D’anjou or Bosc), peeled, seeded, & diced

Zest of 1 medium lime

1/4 c. freshly squeezed lime juice

15 oz. can Cream of Coconut, divided (I used Coco Lopez)

Coconut Lime Frosting (recipe follows)

Toasted Coconut, for garnish

Coconut Lime Frosting:

3/4 c. Mascarpone cheese (homemade or store-bought)

3/4 c. cream cheese, softened

1 Tbsp. butter, softened

2 c. confectioners’ sugar

1 1/2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

1 tsp. vanilla

1/4 tsp. salt

1 to 2 Tbsp. Cream of Coconut, reserved from above

For the Cake:

Preheat oven to 350° F.  Butter the bottom and sides of a 9-inch round cake pan; set aside.

Spread 1 cup of coconut on an ungreased baking sheet.  Toast in the oven for 7 to 10 minutes, stirring several times until golden brown; immediately remove from baking sheet to cool; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup coconut (untoasted); set aside.

In a large bowl, beat butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition; set aside.

Peel, core, and dice the pear.  Place the diced pear into a 2-cup measuring cup.  (It should yield 1 cup, loosely packed.)  Add lime zest and juice; toss to coat.

In the same measuring cup, pour 1 cup Cream of Coconut (approximately) over the diced pear mixture, until the total quantity measures 1-3/4 cups.  Reserve remaining Cream of Coconut for the frosting.

Add pear mixture to creamed mixture; beat well.  (Batter will look soupy and some of the pears will still be “chunky,” but that’s okay.)

Gradually add flour mixture in thirds — no need to create a dust storm! — and beat on low speed until just combined.

Spread batter into prepared pan.  Bake 35 to 45 minutes, until a wooden pick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Run a sharp knife around inside edge of the pan, invert and remove the pan, then flip the cake back onto the cooling rack to cool completely.

(Note:  Cake may rise significantly above the pan — not to worry — just another reason to label it “over the top!”)

Trim edges of cake before frosting, if desired.

For the Frosting:

Prepare homemade Mascarpone cheese several hours in advance (I made it with lime juice instead of lemon juice); refrigerate until set.

Alternatively, use store-bought Mascarpone & get on with it. :)

Whip the cream cheese, Mascarpone, and butter until fluffy.

Add confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, salt, and lime juice; mix well.

Add enough of the reserved Cream of Coconut until frosting reaches “spreadable” consistency.

Frost top & sides of cooled cake.  Sprinkle with toasted coconut.

Enjoying cake by de lake,

~ Kim