Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake

This chiffon cake was my mother-in-law’s specialty. Before she became ill, she was a wonderful cook and baker. She taught me how to make ground meat lettuce wraps, a dish with bean threads I fancifully called “ants climbing a tree,” and this chiffon cake. I remember how it was always light and airy with the caress of coffee and sweetness.

Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake

7 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
7 egg yolks
3/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons espresso coffee powder, dissolved in 2 tablespoons warm water
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 325˚F. I recommend using a two-piece tube cake pan because it is easier to remove the cake. However, at my mother’s house, I only had a one piece pan. Do not grease the tube cake pan.

Put egg whites and cream of tartar in a large mixing bowl. Beat at high speed until stiff peaks form. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and continue beating until whites turn smooth and silky.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and 1 cup sugar in another large bowl. Make well in center of the dry ingredients and add oil, egg yolks, water, dissolved coffee, and vanilla. Beat at medium speed until all ingredients are moistened. There’s no need to clean the beaters first.

By hand gently fold egg mixture into beaten egg whites. Do not over mix. It is all right if streaks of white and brown remain. Pour batter  into the ungreased tube cake pan. Use a sharp thin blade to cut the batter several times to eliminate air pockets. Bake 55-60 minutes. Invert the cake pan over a funnel to cool. Make sure the cake is cooled thoroughly before attempting to remove it from the pan. This should take about two hours.

To remove the cake from a tube pan, run a sharp thin blade around the outer rim and around the tube in the middle. Hold the one-piece tube pan over a large plate and gently tap the bottom and sides. The cake should fall out into the plate. For a two piece pan, do the same as above.  Remove the sides then insert the blade between the pan bottom and the cake to release it. Frost cooled cake with a chocolate butter cream frosting, if desired.

Slice of Espresso Coffee Chiffon Cake with Berries

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

A pavlova is a cake with a baked meringue base. If you’re looking for a flourless chocolate cake with fresh fruit, this simple recipe from nigella.com  is the answer. It’s a recipe with some quirky British-isms (e.g. “squidginess”) but the rest, like “sieved,”  you can figure out.  For ease of use, I converted the measurements from grams to ounces. I made one mistake and that was I used liquid egg whites instead of fresh egg whites. The reason why liquid egg whites is a bad idea is because they have impurities in them that prevent them from whipping up into a meringue. It still came out all right though the meringue wasn’t as light and as fluffy as it should have been. Nevertheless, the cake turned out slightly sweet and refreshing.  Like eating a giant macaroon, a pavlova is the perfect summer dessert!

Chopping Chocolate

Ingredients

FOR THE CHOCOLATE MERINGUE BASE:

  • 6 large egg whites, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups (300g) caster sugar (superfine)
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder, sieved (sifted)
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic or red wine vinegar
  • 2 oz (50g) dark chocolate, finely chopped

FOR THE TOPPING:

  • 2 cups (500ml) heavy cream (at least 36% milk fat)
  • 2 cups (500g) raspberries
  • 2-3 tablespoons coarsely grated dark chocolate

Chocolate Meringue Disk

 Method

  1. Prepare to bake. Preheat the oven to 350˚F (180°C/gas mark 4) and line a large baking tray with baking parchment. You want to use a large tray in case the meringue spreads as it bakes.  Gently rinse the raspberries and spread them to dry on paper towels. To chop the chocolate, I cut a big sheet of waxed paper and put the chocolate in the middle of it. Start with a corner and use a serrated knife to whittle the chocolate into pieces. After several cuts, turn the chocolate to another corner and repeat. The waxed paper makes it easier to tip the chocolate shavings into the bowl.
  1. Prepare the egg whites. [The Cake Baker’s Note: Make sure the bowl and beaters are free of grease and there is no yolk in the egg whites.] In a large bowl, beat the egg whites until satiny peaks form, and then beat in the sugar one tablespoonful at a time until the meringue is stiff and shiny. Sprinkle on top of the beaten egg whites the cocoa, vinegar, and the chopped chocolate. Using a rubber spatula,  gently fold in the additions until the cocoa is thoroughly mixed in. Mound the meringue on the prepared baking sheet in a fat circle approximately 9 inches (23cm) in diameter, smoothing the sides and top.
  1. Bake the meringue. Place the meringue in the oven, then immediately turn the temperature down to 300˚F (150°C/gas mark 2) and bake for about 1 to 1 1/4 hours.  Nigella says, “When it’s ready it should look crisp around the edges and on the sides and be dry on top, but when you prod the centre you should feel the promise of squidginess  beneath your fingers.” Thanks to Encarta, I learned squidgy means “soft, damp, and yielding.”  Turn off the oven and open the door slightly to allow the meringue to thoroughly cool.
  1. Decorate the cake. Just before serving, invert the cooled meringue on to a big serving plate. Whisk the cream until soft peaks form and spread it on top of the meringue. Scatter or place the raspberries on top. Nigella writes, “Coarsely grate the chocolate so that you get curls rather than rubble, as you don’t want the raspberries’ luscious colour and form to be obscured, and sprinkle haphazardly over the top, letting some fall, as it will, on the plate’s rim.”

Chocolate Raspberry Pavlova

The meringue base is supposed to crack like this, showing just a hint of the rich chocolate inside. Next time I would use a darker chocolate, perhaps 70-80% cacao. As you can see that thin meringue base wasn’t able to hold up its half of the cake. Tip: Cut the cake with a serrated knife and use a sawing motion. Don’t press down.

Pavlova Cutaway

Khanom Krok: Thai Coconut-Rice Pancakes

Khanom krok is the Thai version of pancakes made on a cast-iron griddle with small “cups” for each pancake. Khanom means “sweet” and krok means “griddle.” It is a popular street food, slightly sweet and coconut-ty. I found this recipe for khanom krok on the internet and decided to try it. The method was a bit vague so I experimented with it and made adjustments. The first batch was a terrible disaster because  the griddle was not properly seasoned and I did not use the correct amount of coconut milk. I was a can short so I substituted milk. Instead of the traditional khanom krok griddle which has 28 cups,  I used the aebelskiver griddle I bought from Amazon.com and which only has 7 cups.

Cooking Khanom Krok in the Aebelskiver Griddle

The first thing to do, and so you won’t regret it later, is to take the time to season the griddle properly before using it. I followed the directions for seasoning new cast-iron cookware at Temple of Thai.com. It was well worth the effort because the second batch of khanom krok came out perfect!

About the ingredients: You can find unsweetened coconut milk, tapioca flour, and glutinous rice flour at Asian markets. I reduced the salt from two teaspoons to one  because I thought two was too salty. As a rule, the Thai like the play of sweet, salty, and savory flavors so adjust the amount of sweet and salt to taste.

Khanom Krok

INGREDIENTS:

3×14 ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk
1⁄4 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 1⁄2 tablespoons tapioca or arrowroot flour (I used tapioca)
3 tablespoons uncooked white rice
1⁄4 cup dried, unsweetened shredded coconut
2 cups glutinous rice flour
1-2 teaspoons sea salt
2 to 3 tablespoons peanut or corn oil
 
Optional filling ingredients:
1⁄4 cup green onions, cut in thin rounds
1⁄4 cup fresh corn kernels
2 tablespoons cilantro leaves

PREPARATION:

Make the coconut cream topping: Spoon 1 3/4 cups of the creamiest part from the top of three cans of coconut milk. Heat just enough to melt and smooth out the lumps. Add sugar and stir to dissolve. Allow to cool before mixing in 2 1⁄2 tablespoons of tapioca or arrowroot flour. Stir until smooth. Set aside.

Make the coconut-rice filling: In a large bowl, combine the remaining coconut milk from the cans and stir until smooth. It isn’t necessary to heat it to get out the lumps. A good brisk whisk helps. Grind the uncooked white rice in a food mill or clean coffee grinder as finely as possible.  Add the ground rice, dried coconut, the rice flour, and salt to the remaining coconut milk. Stir and mix until well blended and smooth. Set aside.

Make the pancakes: Heat a well-seasoned khanom krok griddle  on the stove over medium-high heat. When the griddle is hot or nearly smoking, brush the cups with peanut or corn oil. Wait a few seconds before spooning the filling mixture into each cup to about two-thirds full. The batter should sizzle when it hits the hot metal. [Tip: use a small soup or gravy ladle. In Thailand the cook uses a small teapot to pour the coconut-rice filling into the cups.] Before the batter sets, add a tablespoon of the sweet coconut cream mixture over the top to fill each cup. Sprinkle the center of each pancake with a little bit of one of the toppings, or leave plain. Reduce heat to medium-low. Cover with a round lid and allow to cook for 5-8 minutes, or until the pancakes are firm and crispy brown on the bottom. Remove gently with a rounded spoon. Each pancake will slip out of the griddle if it has been well-seasoned before. Re-grease the griddle before making the next batch. Because rice flour tends to settle, stir the coconut-rice filling mixture well before pouring onto the griddle.

Cool slightly before eating because the pancake centers are very hot.  The bottoms will be crispy and the centers creamy. Serve warm.

Skimming coconut cream for Khanom Krok

Whole Lotta Granola

We are a family of cooks (or at least merely interested in food) and we are now into our fourth generation of foodies. Though I published this recipe on the More Than One More Day blog, my niece requested this recipe again. When I made it two Christmases ago, I gave it all away as Christmas goodies and everyone raved about it. It’s the best granola recipe I ever tasted and it smells up the house with a wonderful cinnamon scent. Eat well, Asha!

Ingredients:

3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cup slivered almonds
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds
1/4 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans or pine nuts)
1/2 cup unsweetened flaked coconuts (I never include this)
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t salt
4 T unsalted butter
1/3 cup honey
1/2 t vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins or chopped apricot or dates
1/2 cup dried cranberries or blueberries or cherries (or combination)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F

Directions:

In a large bowl stir together oats, almonds, (coconut), seeds, nuts, cinnamon and salt.  In a small saucepan melt butter with honey over low heat, stirring.  Add vanilla and pour butter over oat mixture and stir until combined well.

On a large baking sheet, spread the granola evenly in a thin layer.  Bake, stirring every 5 minutes to keep from sticking or burning, until golden brown and crisp, about 20 minutes.  (Do not overcook, the granola will crisp more when cooled.)  Cool the granola in the pan on top of the stove and stir in dried fruit.  Granola can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

Serve at room temperature in a bowl with milk or as a snack.

Variation:

Serve in a parfait glass with plain low-fat yogurt drizzled with honey and berries.