August 24, 2008

Late Night Improv: Chocolate Berry Cake

The creative ideas expressed by fellow food bloggers inspire my taste buds on a daily basis. However, I usually find my cupboards to be lacking some of the essential ingredients needed to spontaneously recreate these dishes. Every time the title of a post unfurls its tendrils in my direction, I will grow dangerously excited: Honey Raspberry Semifreddo?! Lemon Almond Torta?! Avocado Coconut Ice Cream?! "Oh hell no," my brain will say when it hears of desserts such as these. Quickly that disbelief evolves into hyperactive desire: "Iwantthese-Iwantthese-Iwantthese!"

Then reality sets in.

When I read the list of ingredients, I usually realize that I don't have even half the stuff the recipe calls for. Since I make multiple trips a week to the grocery store to stock up on fresh produce, it’s usually not a big deal if I encounter a recipe for which I am missing an ingredient; what I don’t have today, I can surely hunt down tomorrow.

Sometimes, however, there arrives a late night desire to throw a recipe together, and we may find ourselves unable to gather all of the ingredients needed to satisfy that instant fix.

Such was the case for me tonight when I discovered a recipe titled “Chocolate Cherry Cake” on :pastry studio’s blog. Instantly, I was seduced by the images, ingredients, and soul of this cake. When my senses become seduced, my brain has little choice but to join them in their hypnotic donkey ride into bliss. “I wantthis-Iwantthis-Iwantthis,” my brain once again chanted. What could I do but offer my body this delight?

Still lost in entrancement, my eyes skimmed down to the list of ingredients, and I soon realized that this particular cake would be out of reach—at least for this evening. I was lacking bittersweet chocolate, cherries (hmmm…this could be a problem), lots of eggs, kirsch, and butter. In other words, I was screwed. After all, what’s chocolate cherry cake without chocolate…or cherries?

My body, however, remained in a state of yearning—it yearned for the marriage of bold cherry to courageous chocolate; it yearned for that soft pillow of vanilla, butter and milk whereupon cherry and chocolate would have their first make-out session; it yearned for the subtle, the delicate, the bitter and the sweet, all merging together into one, unified cloud of orgiastic delectation.

Translation of soap opera jargon: I was hungry.

So, what could I do? Well, I did have that quart of frozen blueberries (and a few blackberries) I stored a few weeks back: And, while I didn’t have bittersweet chocolate, I DID have Dutch-processed cocoa. (I know, I know—cocoa is a poor substitute for the real slabs of chocolate the recipe calls for, but I was getting desperate.)

After taking inventory of the few edible items my kitchen had in-stock, I finagled with the original recipe just a bit—well, a lot. I’m sure it’s not as delicious as the :pastry studio version, but it definitely held me over until tomorrow when I can finally purchase the ingredients for the original cherry-filled recipe. My blueberry version of the recipe follows:

Chocolate Berry Cake
(adapted from :pastry studio's adaptation of David Lebovitz's recipe)

Candied Blueberries (with a few random blackberries):

1.5 c. blueberries
1 c. sugar
1 c. water
¼ c. red wine (any ol’ kind--I used a cheap Pinot)


1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder (though I would probably use 1/2 c. were I to make this again)
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1/3 c. olive oil
¼ cup rice milk
4 Tbs. sugar
2 t. vanilla
2 eggs

1. Throw the berries, sugar, water and red wine into a 4-quart saucepan. Simmer on medium high heat for 20 minutes. Once a foam (so purple!) develops on the top of the mixture, bring heat down to medium. Stir occasionally. When mixture is done, berries will appear wrinkly and sauce will be slightly thickened:

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, stir together the oil, rice milk, vanilla and eggs.

4. When berries are deliciously soft & wrinkly, remove them from the saucepan with a slotted spoon. Set aside in a small bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. When berries are at room temperature, add to the oil mixture. Also add 1.5 cups of the syrup.

5. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients, making sure to stir quickly with a wooden spoon for 1-2 minutes. Pour into a greased 9” springform pan. Bake at 325 for 40 minutes.

6. When cake is done, allow to cool for 10 minutes. With a fork, make a few perforations on the top of the cake, and then pour 2 Tbs. of the remaining berry syrup onto the top. This will make the cake even more moist and flavorful!


Hadley Gets Crafty said...

Dude, wine in a cake batter? I'm going to have to try this one out.

Hadley Gets Crafty said...

Well, OK, the berries are candied with the wine. Still. Crazy. I think I may go try it now, actually.

Jada Ach said...

Let me know how it goes! I definitely want to experiment more with wine & batter. Maybe, oh, I don't know...white wine in a strawberry cake?!?!?!

thisblogsucks said...

Let's put our heads together when I visit and make a whopper-brand-spanking-new wine/cake combo.

Jada Ach said...

Dan--is that you? You have a blog, too? Man, we are like Internet twins.

When you visit, I'm sure we'll end up drinking all of the wine we buy for cake-making...