Archive for April, 2012


Chocolate-Cinnamon Cake

April 17, 2012

This recipe comes from a 2009 Bon Appetit issue and was the inspiration for a birthday cake for my brother’s girlfriend. She loves sweet, chocolatey desserts and coffee and, since this cake has some mocha flavor to it, it seemed a perfect cake for her. My parents didn’t have a Bundt pan, so we made it with a large cake pan. Use whatever you’ve got in house to make the tasty dessert!

You will need:

  • 1 c boiling water
  • 1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 t instant coffee, divided
  • 2 c all-purpose flour
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 2 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t salt
  • 2 1/2 c packed light brown sugar, divided
  • 1 c vegetable oil
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/4 c mini semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 2 T water
  • 1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

Then you will…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Generously brush 12- to 15-cup nonstick Bundt pan with oil.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the boiling water, cocoa powder and 2 teaspoons of the instant coffee.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the 2 cups of the brown sugar together with the vegetable oil and vanilla extract using an electric mixer (if you have one).
  5. Add eggs; beat to blend. Beat mixture until smooth, about 30 seconds longer.
  6. Beat in half of the flour mixture, then the cocoa mixture.
  7. Add remaining flour mixture; beat to blend.
  8. Fold in 1 cup of the chocolate chips. Transfer batter to the prepared pan.
  9. Bake cake until tester inserted near center comes out clean, about 50 minutes.
  10. Cool the cake 10 minutes. Invert cake onto cooling rack; cool 15 minutes longer.
  11. Meanwhile, stir remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, 2 teaspoons of instant coffee, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan over medium heat until sugar melts.
  12. Remove from heat. Add the butter and remaining 1/4 cup of chocolate chips; stir until butter and chocolate melt. Cool slightly.
  13. Using a spoon, drizzle the mocha icing over cake. Cool completely, before slicing and serving.


Pancetta-Wrapped Pork Roast

April 12, 2012

I recently started trying out Giada’s recipes, especially for celebrations. This recipe is a very simple preparation, but it  will make your house smell amazing and comes to the table looking very impressive. Please note: that it needs to be prepared at least one hour before you want to start cooking to give the spice rub and pancetta time to set on the pork roast.

If you aren’t familiar with it, pancetta is Italian bacon. It is pork belly that is salt cured and then seasoned with such spices as nutmeg, fennel, peppercorns, dried ground hot peppers and garlic before being dried for at least three months. Traditionally it is cut almost paper-thin and is oh-so-delicious.

You will need:

  • 8 large cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 T fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 1 T fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 (3.5 – 4 lb) tied boneless pork loin roast
  • Salt and pepper
  • 8 oz thinly sliced pancetta
  • 1 1/2 c chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 c dry white wine

Then you will…

  1. In a small food processor, blend the garlic with the rosemary, thyme and olive oil, scraping down the sides of the bowl occasionally, until the garlic is minced.
  2. Sprinkle the pork roast generously with salt and pepper.
  3. Arrange the pancetta slices on a work surface, overlapping slightly and forming a rectangle.
  4. Spread half of the garlic mixture over 1 side of the pork and between the two loins that meet in the center of the tied pork roast.
  5. Place the pork, garlic mixture side won, in the center of the pancetta rectangle.
  6. Spread the remaining garlic mixture over the remaining pork.
  7. Wrap the pancetta slices around the pork. Place the pork in a roasting pan. (I placed it on a metal roasting rack in the pan so it could have heat on all sides for crispy pancetta all around. If you have one, go for it; if not, don’t worry!).
  8. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
  9. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  10. Pour 1/2 cup of the broth and a 1/2 cup of the wine into the roasting pan. Add more broth and wine to the pan juices every 20 minutes.
  11. Roast the pork until a meat thermometer inserted into the center registers 145 degrees for medium-rarte, about 1 hour.
  12. Transfer the pork to a cutting board. Tent with aluminum foil and let stand for 10 minutes.
  13. Pour the pan drippings into a glass measuring cup and spoon off any fat that rises to the top (or use a gravy separator).
  14. Using a large sharp carving knife, cut the pork into 1/4-inch slices and serve with the pan juices.

Banana Raisin Bread Pudding

April 4, 2012

Bread pudding is one of my favorite comfort desserts. This version has lots of raisins and banana, which makes it fruity and creamy and extra yummy. I used some leftover challah after I made a brunch french toast, but it would work with almost any type of bread you have lying around.

You will need:

  • 4 c cubed day-old bread
  • 2 banana, sliced (and cut larger slices in half)
  • 1/2 c raisins
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 c milk
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 T bourbon (optional)

Then you will need…

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly coat a 9-inch by 13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
  2. Place bread cubes along with the raisins and banana in a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl,  beat together eggs and sugar. Add milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and bourbon (if using). Blend well.
  4. Pour egg mixture  over bread and stir. Allow to rest 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Evenly spread the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish.
  6. Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream.

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