avocado marble cake

avocado marble cake

Avocado Marble Cake (adapted from Cake Whiz)
There is very little fat in this cake. I think the avocado must replace most of the fats. It has a light, chocolate-y flavor with a moist tender crumb and a crisp baked exterior. The cake is merely pale green after it is baked.

Ingredients
For the avocado cake batter, have at room temperature:
1 ripe avocado (processed into a smooth paste so there are no lumps)
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup nonfat milk
1/2 cup whipping cream (or evaporated milk)
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

For the chocolate batter to create the “marbling” effect:
1 1/2 cup avocado cake batter (same as above)
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4-5 tablespoons whipping cream (more or less may be needed to make batter smooth)
5 tablespoons sugar (omitted)

Preparation
Preheat the oven 350˚F. Spray cooking spray inside two 8 1/2 x 4 1/2 inch loaf pans. Into the workbowl of a food processor, scrape the avocado and puree it into a smooth paste so there are no lumps. Scrape the pureed avocado into a deep mixing bowl. Then add the sugar and blend.

Add eggs, one at a time, to the avocado and blend until smooth. Continue mixing for about 3 minutes until the batter becomes green and creamy. Depending on the ripeness of the avocado, and how fast it oxidizes at room temperature, the mixture may turn from light green to the color of your grandmother’s 70s style avocado-green refrigerator.

Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. In a small bowl, mix milk, whipping cream, and vanilla. Now add the flour mixture alternating with the milk mixture. Scrape down the bowl after each addition.

On low speed, add one-third of the flour mixture to the avocado-egg mixture until just incorporated. Add half of the milk mixture and mix until just blended. Add half the remaining flour until just blended. Add the remaining milk until just blended. Add the rest of the flour, mixing until just blended. Scrape down the bowl for the last time.

Now, scoop out 1 1/2 cups of this avocado cake batter and put it in a separate bowl. Add cocoa powder, sugar (omitted) and cream. Mix with a wire whisk until the batter is smooth.

Pour avocado cake batter into prepared loaf pans. Fill them a little less than half-way each.

Now, add random spoonfuls of chocolate batter on top of the avocado cake batter.

Run a small spatula in a figure eight through the batter to create a “marbling” effect. Tap pans lightly on the counter to remove any air bubbles.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you’re using a pan with a dark nonstick finish, reduce heat 25˚ and test the cake after 35 minutes.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack 10 minutes. Insert a thin blade around the edges to release the cake from the sides of the pan. Remove the cake from the pan and let cool completely right side up on the cooling rack.

Cake Baker’s Note: If you are not going to eat the cake right away, wrap cooled cake airtight in plastic wrap and store covered on the counter top 2 days.

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salted caramel brownies

Salted Caramel Brownies (adapted from Food Network Magazine)
A colleague at the office gave me the October edition of this magazine. I promised her I would bake one of the cakes in its pages. I was intrigued by the recipe for silver frosting but that’s for another post.  Instead, I decided to try this brownie recipe. After all, it looked straightforward and simple, perfect for Cake Tuesday tomorrow. That saltiness of the sea salt flakes plays against the sweetness of the chocolate and the gooey stickiness of the caramel. This is a moist and tender brownie, not overwhelming in chocolate or sweetness.

Prep Time: 25 minutes
Total: 1 hour (plus cooling)
Servings: 12 large brownies or 24 square brownies

Have at room temperature:
1/2  pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon
8 oz plus 6 oz  semisweet chocolate chips
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
4 large eggs (3 extra-large eggs in the original recipe)
1 1/2 tablespoons instant coffee granules
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
5-6 oz caramel sauce
2-3 teaspoons flaked sea salt

  • Preheat oven to 350˚F. Melt 1 tablespoon butter. Mix in 1 tablespoon flour. Brush the butter-flour mixture on the inside and bottom of a 9×13 inch baking pan. Set pan aside. If the pan has a dark nonstick finish, remember to turn the heat down to 325˚F.
  • Melt the butter, 8 oz of the chocolate chips and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water. Allow to cool 15 minutes. It is very important to allow the butter mixture to cool before adding the remaining chocolate chips or the chips will melt and ruin the brownies.
  • In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together 1/2 cup of flour, the baking powder, and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture. Toss the remaining  6 oz of chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tablespoons flour in a medium bowl and add to the chocolate mixture. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
  • Shift pan back and forth on the counter to settle the batter. Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t over bake. If you’re using a pan with a dark non-stick finish, test the brownies after 30 minutes. If the toothpick comes out clean, take the pan out of the oven.
  • As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in the microwave and heat until it’s pourable. I don’t have a microwave oven (still) so I heated the sauce on the stove. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt flakes. Cool completely. Use a sharp knife and cut into 12 bars or 24 squares.

 

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