browned butter apple skillet cake with dark chocolate chunks

all that is left after our night of feasting out of the pan...

all that is left after our night of feasting out of the pan...

it's my favorite time of year-- that delicious month or so when it is crisp and chilly, almost cold in the morning. bundles of sweaters, holding on to a big mug of tea while still holding out on turning on the heat. this slightly salty browned butter (how many of my recipes start with that phrase? and is that a problem?) skillet cake with apples and big ole chunks of dark chocolate is the perfect treat for this moment.

i want so much more of this in my mouth

i want so much more of this in my mouth

i made this cake the other night when j was away late for a parents' meeting at school. the house got cozy warm and filled with the smell of butter and apples and when he got home, we ate it straight out of the pan in bed.

i didn't have any leavening agent in the house, so this cake doesn't have any. it was perfect as such-- somewhere between a chewy cookie bar and a cake. true autumn perfection.

recipe
1 stick butter, melted and browned on the stove top (until it smells nutty and delicious and the milk solids sort of separate out on the top)
1 c sugar
1 T cinnamon
2 eggs
1 t vanilla                                                                                                                                              
1.5 cup flour
1 t salt (i used big Maldon salt flakes)
1 big apple, cut into hunky chunks (i used a ginger gold variety from a local farm)
1 cup dark chocolate chunks (fair trade, duh)
melt the butter. once browned & cooled, stir in sugar. then stir in vanilla and eggs. stir in flour, cinnamon, and salt. drop in the chunks of apple & chocolate, mix.

bake at 350 ish (we are just using a tiny awesome electric stove from the 50s that says "low to high" and you just guess...) and bake until it smells good. maybe 20-25 minutes? take it out when the center still looks soft and let it cool. it's actually a lot better cooled down and firmed up. underbaked is always better.

TA DA. you will the bake this cake on repeat every night for the next month.

flourless chocolate ganache cupcakes

i have a story for you today. about cake.

gold wrappers make everything extra fancy.

gold wrappers make everything extra fancy.

when jacob and i got hitched a year ago, we didn't have one wedding cake, we had about twenty. dear friends rolled in a week early, rolled up their sleeves, dove headfirst into the industrial mixers we had (for the school we worked and lived at-- man, i miss those big beauties), and helped bake, frost, and decorate the elaborate confections that i had been fantasizing about for months.

i spent countless hours daydreaming out all detailed flavor combinations, sketching up fancy fillings and shocking pink piles of frosting. s'mores cakes with graham cracker fluff filled my thoughts as i taught my students just war theory (sorry, students. i love you. i have more complex feelings towards you, just war theory.) vanilla raspberry meringue whips kept me up at night. i kept pestering jacob about what kinds of cakes he was going to make. his answer was simple: "mousse. mousse and ganache. that's all anyone wants."

this is pretty much it, ingredient-wise. see? almost paleo!

this is pretty much it, ingredient-wise. see? almost paleo!

he poked around the internet for recipe imitations of the best thing i've ever put in my mouth: tartine's fantastic chocolate souffle cake, and got to it. he made this cake in huge sheet pans-- the densest, chocolatiest, most decadent, perfect dessert imaginable. and just like that, he put all my months of cake-creations to shame. there was nothing to do but stand over the pan and eat this directly out, with a spoon. i ate bowl after bowls of creamy cake/mousse/ganache perfection.

three in one, one in three. something like that.

three in one, one in three. something like that.

last week was a friend's 33rd birthday--(what a decidedly lucky number!) she was feeling exhausted by the pulse of the spring season, trying to get plants in the ground, sheep shorn, and children fed, and when i asked her what kind of treat she wanted, she answered "the richest most chocolatey thing possible." i knew immediately what to do.

fold the good stuff in gentle-like.

fold the good stuff in gentle-like.

i made jacob's fool proof cake recipe in cupcake form and it was just as delish. it has no flour, so it's gluten free, and practically paleo, right? boom. health food.

i swapped duck eggs instead of chicken, because her son has an allergy to chicken eggs. since the duck eggs are bigger, i used one less egg than the recipe calls for. other than that, these bad boys baked up perfectly and i was instantly transported back to our wedding.

this looks like  karen 's amazing marbled paper to me

this looks like karen's amazing marbled paper to me

if you've got the best, why mess with anything else? (this clearly also applies to my feelings about jacs. though really, i'm talking about cake here. you can assume i'm always just literally talking about cake.)

these little sunken divets are perfect for filling. you could try pb frosting or jam or coconut cream as well...

these little sunken divets are perfect for filling. you could try pb frosting or jam or coconut cream as well...

the next day i filled in a few more of these cupcakes with  cream, salty peanut butter, and powdered sugar whipped together, to create a homemade reese's vibe. those munchkins didn't last long either.

fill them up, let them set, eat them all.

fill them up, let them set, eat them all.

jacs got the recipe from the blog afternoons in tablespoons. recipe here. so, so perfect and delicious. make them, eat them, love them.

ta da!! be 33 and fabulous for a whole year!!

ta da!! be 33 and fabulous for a whole year!!

salty salty chocolate toffee love cakes

sometimes you need to celebrate something huge and homey all at the same time. like when your baby brother is suddenly grown, and graduating high school, and going off to new york for film school in a mere matter of months. (!) some days you need to mark an occasion with a special treat, but are too deeply exhausted from crying as your amazing bean sprout of a brother gave a heartfelt speech to leave your own home where you and he can snuggle on the sofa all night. enter: salty chocolate toffee love cakes, the perfect mix of down home ease and classy style.

heartcakes.JPG

we make a lot of cake in my house. at least once a week we bake one, often with multiple layers, frost that bad boy, and dive in. we have ample data comparison points, and everyone, everyone declared this the best cake of. all. time. basically, we made our best chocolate sour cream layers from the rosie's bakery cookbook. then we made a salty caramel frosting, into which we whipped cream cheese for added delight. finally we sprinkled toffee bits on top.  we cut slices and toasted our little wonder bean, marveling at how fast eighteen years have gone by, and how sweet it is to be together to lick frosting off knives and day dream about all the oscars he will win.

this cake will not let you down. anything you are celebrating, do it with this mama. enjoy.

toffeeheartcake.jpeg

recipe:

chocolate sour cream cake layers from rosie's

4 oz unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 c ap flour
3/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 cup stong hot coffee
1/2 cup sour cream (or yogurt, which we used)
1/2 c veg oil
2 eggs

1. preheat to 345. grease two 8 or 9 inch cake pans (heart shaped preferable, obviously).
2. melt chocolate in double boiler. cool.
3. stir together dry ingredients: sugar, flour, baking soda, salt. set aside.
4. in another bowl, add liquids: coffee, sour cream, veg oil.
4. add liquids to dry ingredients, mix together. stop and scrape down a lot.
6. add in eggs. then, slowly add in chocolate.
7. pour into pans, bake around 35 minutes.
8. cool, then frost. then sprinkle with toffee. then eat until you have to hold your belly and complain. then go hug your baby brother and watch bad old bond movies all night.

salty caramel cream cheese frosting

1 stick butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup cream cheese
1 t vanilla
1 t salt

melt butter on the stovetop with brown sugar. stir and gradually bring to a boil. let roll for a couple of minutes until all sugars are melted down. pour into a mixer, and beat at medium speed. drop in  cream cheese and beat together. add in salt and vanilla. beat until thick.

spread over cake thickly. sprinkle toffee chunks on top (maybe 1/2 cup? but really as much as you can handle.)

repeat as necessary.