Category Archives: cakes

brown sugar pound cake

brown sugar pound cake on a spoon

I can’t believe I’ve gone so many months without mentioning Eric’s all-time favorite dessert. If he’s in the mood for a sweetie, it’s 9 times out of 10 going to be brown sugar pound cake.

It’s a rather popular old family recipe, and I can see why. Somehow, it’s even more rich than the buttery pound cake I made last year, but it’s about 100 times yummier. I think it might be the coconut extract. The smell is kind of intoxicating.

The recipe itself isn’t hard to follow; the trick is in making sure you pull it out of the oven at just the right moment. Too early, and it will be gummy inside. Too late, and you might as well have picked it out at the grocery store, from somewhere between the pre-packaged muffins and the bags of bagels.

My secret? Poking it with a sharp knife after an hour or so. You want it to come out pretty clean, with perhaps a couple moist crumbs clinging on.

brown sugar pound cake in pan

brown sugar pound cake

Pre-recipe note: Please try to take the time to bring your eggs and butter to room temperature before making brown sugar pound cake. You will be rewarded. (With better cake.)

3/4 lb. butter (that’s 3 sticks, or 1 1/2 cups)
1 lb. brown sugar (that’s around 2 1/3 cups, packed, I think)
1/2 c white sugar
5 eggs
3 c AP flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp coconut extract
1/2 c evaporated milk

Preheat oven to 300F.

It’s important to prep your bundt pan properly first to ensure your precious cake will not stick! Butter and flour it well. It should look like this:

buttered and floured bundt pan

buttered and floured up

In a large bowl, cream together butter and both sugars until fluffy and lightened. Add eggs one at a time.

In a separate bowl, whisk together flour and baking powder.

Add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix until just blended.

Add vanilla, coconut extract, and evaporated milk. Mix until well combined.

The batter will be slightly thick. Drop into the prepared pan and smooth out a little; bake for 1 hour, or until a knife inserted comes out clean. (Often mine needs about 10-15 minutes more.)

Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 10-15 minutes; invert the pan and tap out your fresh brown sugar pound cake. Let cool completely before covering well with plastic wrap, or sealed in an airtight container.

brown sugar pound cake and tea

so good with a cup of tea


chocohotopots

A couple years ago, we went on a cruise over Spring Break and Eric (and, okay, I too) became absolutely obsessed with the “Warm Chocolate Melting Cake” that was on the dessert menu. It’s just how it sounds: a warm cake with a gooey chocolate center. We ordered them every night at dinner. Sometimes he’d get two. I tried a different dessert one of the nights, but it didn’t even come close to the Melting Cake. I learned from that mistake. So after the cruise, we searched and searched for the recipe online. With the power of the internet, I discovered message boards where other Melting Cake devotees waxed poetic about their beloved dessert. There were even some postings of the actual cruise ship recipe. Really though, I wasn’t quite crazed enough to scale down the recipe from 600 (?!) servings down to four. And I didn’t even have any ramekins back then anyway, so I ended up forgetting about the whole thing for a while.

Then, a few months later, Eric’s mom pointed out this recipe that she saw Nigella making on TV. It’s not exactly the same, but we’ve come to love it even more than the cruise version. You can make them as gooey inside as you like, although we usually prefer them to be a bit more towards the cakey side, with just a hint of meltiness. At any rate, be sure to test them around the 20-minute mark and adjust the baking time accordingly.

This has become our go-to dessert for most dinner parties. Everyone always loves it — especially with a little scoop (or many scoops) of vanilla ice cream. We have a particular love for Blue Bell’s Homemade Vanilla with this, but I don’t think it’s available too far outside of the South. We especially love their Dutch Chocolate variety. Mm… Dutch Chocolate Bluebell…

Sorry, where was I? On the verge of chocolate overload? No, no… Impossible!

nigella’s chocohotopots
- from the food network website

1 stick butter, + 1 T for prepping the ramekins (it calls for unsalted, but then I’ll usually add a pinch of salt in to enhance the flavors anyway)
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, with 60% cocoa solids
2 eggs
3/4 c superfine sugar (regular granulated sugar works well too, really)
3 T AP flour
optional: 1 tsp of vanilla

You will also need 4 ramekins of 6-8 oz. capacity such as these found here. Ramekins are fantastic multitaskers — great for prepping ingredients or holding condiments like salsa. We like these, though, as they stack quite nicely. We’ve got such limited cabinet space, but these ramekins have absolutely earned their own.

On to the good stuff though.

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Make sure the rack is at a height where the the ramekins will be squarely in the middle of the oven. They will burn if they are too close to either the top or the bottom. Trust me.

Prep the ramekins with the extra tablespoon of butter. Make sure you grease all the way up the sides of the ramekins; it helps the cakes rise without sticking.

Either in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan over simmering water, melt the chocolate and stick of butter, then set it aside to cool a little. I prefer the microwave method — just be sure to use half power at short intervals so the chocolate won’t scorch.

measuring the flour

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs with the sugar and flour.

checking for sneaky flour or sugar lumps

Combine the sugar mixture and cooled chocolate.

it’s all coming together now

Divide the mixture between the buttered ramekins and arrange them on a baking sheet or in a roasting pan. It makes them much easier to handle, so you’re not trying to take the (very) hot ramekins out of the oven individually later.

ready for the oven

Bake for about 20 minutes (or a little longer, if you like them less gooey). The tops will probably crack a little, and that’s OK. It gives you an easy, unnoticeable place to stick a knife in and test the goo factor.

Once they’re done, carefully place each ramekin on a small plate, and warn people that these are hot. Serve with ice cream.

ready for your tastebuds

Notes:

  • If you don’t want to use up all your good and/or expensive chocolate, feel free to use half of whatever good stuff you can find, and half semi-sweet chocolate chips. It’s still just as good.
  • This recipe is easily doubled, and could probably be scaled up even further. Leftovers (if there are any) can be kept in the fridge and warmed up in the microwave for a treat later.
  • Also, you can make these ahead of time and leave the prepared, filled ramekins in the fridge. An hour or two before dinner, set them out at room temperature, and 20-25 minutes before you think you’ll be ready for dessert, bake them in the preheated oven. Easy!
  • Just try it! Even if they’re overbaked on your first go, at least you’re left with a yummy chocolate cake!

buttery pound cake

For such a die-hard chocolate fan, it’s a little strange to me that my first post (… ever!) is for a recipe that is so not chocolate. It is, however, a perfect example of eggs, sugar, flour, and butter coming together for a pretty fantastic dessert. Oh. And about that butter — be ready for some really thick, thick richness. Cut small slices. This is a pound cake after all.

It comes from Food Network’s very own butter queen, Paula Deen.

Ever-so-slightly adapted from
Paula Deen’s – Mama’s Pound Cake

3 sticks (3/4 pound) unsalted butter*, plus more for pan
3 cups sugar
5 eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Smear softened butter all over your baking pan (I used my trusty Bundt), then coat with flour. Your pan is prepped!

In a mixer, cream the butter. Add sugar, a little at a time. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each addition. Stir dry ingredients together in a bowl and add to mixer alternately with milk, starting with the flour and ending with the flour. Mix in vanilla. Pour into a greased and floured Bundt (or tube) pan and bake for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.  My inferno (i.e. apartment oven) only needed approximately 1 hour to have its way with this cake. You may need to check on your own cake accordingly. Begin checking on it around 45 minutes into the baking process. If the top is looking a little too brown for you, lay some foil across the top of the pan — this will keep it from getting too toasty.

*Ms. Deen calls for 2 sticks of butter and 1 stick of shortening … but all butter (ohhh baby) worked just fine.

a little chocolate couldn’t hurt, right?