Category Archives: Dessert

i8tonite with Salem’s Harbor Sweets Phyllis LeBlanc & Chocolate Sweet Sloops Cookies Recipe

i8tonite with Salem’s Harbor Sweets Phyllis LeBlanc & Chocolate Sweet Sloops Cookies RecipeCEO of Harbor Sweets Phyllis LeBlanc starts the conversation saying, “I started working with the company 39 years ago. There were five of us then and we were all candy-dippers.” Immediately, the statement brings to mind the hilarious “I Love Lucy” episode when the show’s namesake and her best friend Ethel wrap candy on a conveyor belt. That moment became  television history and a classic showcase much the way Harbor Sweets has aligned itself into the specialty chocolate world. Founded nearly 40 years ago under the ownership of Ben Strohecker, the candy factory has become world-renowned for making Sweet Sloops,  toffee dipped sweets with pecans, resembling a sailboat.

Ben Strohecker 1977. From i8tonite with Salem’s Harbor Sweets Phyllis LeBlanc & Chocolate Sweet Sloops Cookies Recipe
Ben Strohecker 1977

They’ve gone on to make a variety of unique confections, such as Salt & Ayre  and Dark Horse, cementing the Salem, Massachusetts-made treats as iconic as Tiffany’s blue box or Chanel’s logo. Ranked as one of the top women-owned business in the United States, under the guidance of Ms. LeBlanc, the staff has grown to nearly 100 people and a thriving food business.

At this year’s Fancy Food Show held in New York, Harbor Sweets unveiled their newest line, Gather. Says Ms. Le Blanc, “When I learned more about the plight of the honeybees and how important they are to our crops, our chocolates, and even our local economy, I started out on a mission to do what I could using Harbor Sweets…so we created Gather.” Gather is a flight of six unusual chocolates highlighted with the use of local wild honey. Partial sale proceeds will be given to the San Francisco-based non-profit Pollinator Partnership, whose work is carried out in North America via advocacy, education, and conservation of the bees and other pollinators.

i8tonite with Salem’s Harbor Sweets Phyllis LeBlanc & Chocolate Sweet Sloops Cookies Recipe

In the Harbor Sweets press release announcement, it quotes an alarming 2015 – 16 USDA Report stating that pesticides and parasites are seen as the foremost cause of a 44% drop in honeybee colonization in one year, making it the second highest annual loss reported in the past 10 years globally. Honeybee pollinators add more than $15 billion to America’s agricultural economy and are critical to the entire eco-system throughout the world. Ultimately, the true loss can’t be valued, since human beings thrive on our dependence of bees and pollinators like them such as bumblebees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, and wasps.

“We are always looking for something that people can relate to and it doesn’t stay the same,” says LeBlanc. “Part of what we are about is gathering friends. As much as we are about chocolate, we gather our local products with love of family and friends. It’s what we are about.”

Food People Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

What is your favorite food to cook at home?
I don’t cook, my husband does! He is an excellent chef.

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Half & half for coffee, ice cream, and wine.

What marked characteristic do you love in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
They eat slowly and appreciate the food

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a person with whom you are sharing a meal?
They are distracted by their cell phone.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Wine.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Lora Brody.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
There are tools in the kitchen?!? A spoon for sampling ice cream.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
Does dessert count? Chocolate!

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Chicken

Favorite vegetable?
Squash

Chef you most admire?
Julia Child – she took her food seriously, but not herself.

Food you like the most to eat?
Ice cream/gelato

Food you dislike the most?
Wow, can’t think of any food I dislike…

What is your favorite non-food thing to do?
Ride horses

Whom do you most admire in food?
Anyone who is a good cook

Where is your favorite place to eat?
By the water

What is your favorite restaurant?
Seasons 52

Do you have any tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
No, and none

Harbor Sweets Chocolate Sweet Sloops Cookies Recipe

Somewhere between a cookie and a brownie, this chewy goodness is dotted with crunchy Sweet Sloops pieces and toasted pecans!

Ingredients:
½ cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1 pound bittersweet chocolate, chopped
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
1 ½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
4 large eggs
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon pure almond extract
1 jar Sweet Sloops Ice Cream Topping (1 cup)
1 cup lightly toasted pecans chopped

Directions:
1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt in a small mixing bowl and stir to blend.
2. Place the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water and cook, stirring occasionally, until melted and smooth, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 15 minutes.
3. Place brown sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl and, using an electric mixer, beat on medium high speed until thick and light in color, 3 to 4 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and beat in the melted chocolate mixture and vanilla and almond extracts. Stir in the flour mixture, followed by Sweet Sloops topping and nuts. Cover and chill the batter for at least an hour an up to 24 hours to firm up.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking pans with parchment paper.
5. Drop heaping 2 T mounds of batter on prepared sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Bake until edges have browned but centers are slightly soft, 13-15 minutes. Let cool slightly and transfer cookies to a wire rack.

Keep cookies in an airtight container, Will stay fresh 3-4 days.

Adapted from NEW ENGLAND OPEN HOUSE COOKBOOK by Sarah Leah Chase
– The End. Go Eat. –

 

 

i8tonite: My Most Memorable Eats of 2015 & Moving to the Southwest

Grand Canyon_A. DuarteAt the beginning of 2015, if anyone predicted that I would be living  at year’s end in Phoenix — or starting my food blog for that matter, I would have howled with laughter. Me? In Phoenix? The American Southwest? Writing? Besides, press releases and commenting on Facebook? Yet, I am listening to my fountain cascade into the plunge pool and writing this lengthy post. I open the front door daily to walk the dogs and am awestruck with a view of Pietesawa Peak, crowned by blue skies and cottony clouds. Holly, our eleven-year-old Pitbull waddles past the security guard gate and the golf green, trying to keep up with J.J., our seven-year-old French bulldog, who likes to chase after rabbits. The bunnies hop around on our neighbor’s sixteenth golf hole, the nearby Frank Lloyd Wright-designed Arizona Biltmore – a mere five-minute walk to luxury pools and spas.  I look at all this splendor with gratitude. It’s also coming from a person who – 25 years ago — thought he could never leave  Manhattan, then the center of my Universe.

Kevin Dooley 2
Photo by Kevin Dooley

As I grow older, and I’m grateful I am,  the center of my Universe has expanded. Eventually, the Northeastern winters drove me to Los Angeles for 16 years, with 3 years in San Francisco for good behavior. Spiritually, I never felt either city was home though. They both seemed to be stopping points. I never really wanted meant to stay as long as I did. However, where do you go after Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco? These are our national hubs of entertainment, technology and finance. International culture is unsurpassed in these meccas.  You are supposed to want to be there. Did I think Miami? Paris?  Back to New York? Phoenix wasn’t even a thought.

Photo by Kevin Dooley
Photo by Kevin Dooley

After much discussion, Nick took the offered Phoenix position and we came out to look for a house. Instantly, we fell in love with the desert landscape, rich culture, sheer vastness and low-cost of living. Phoenix, in my eyes, is North America’s hidden gem, but it’s hard to hide the 6th largest city in the United States. However, it feels protected. Off the beaten path, waiting to be discovered. Tourists may come and visit one of Arizona’s 300 resorts but until you become a resident, hike the trails, meet the people, work and become a Phoenician do you understand the city’s natural splendor and sophistication.

I reckon The Valley of the Sun is physically the most attractive place I’ve ever lived. Red mountains are dissected by roads and Camelback, the dromedary rock formation casts its legendary shadow over the valley. It’s peaceful sentinel-like presence feels protective, calming and inspiring.

As we enter into the remaining days of 2015, and for the coming year, I urge you to allow change to happen. Step out of your comfort zone. The things you would say no to trying…try.  Explore new possibilities and never say, “Never.” I’m so glad I did.

Photo by Alan Stark
Photo by Alan Stark

Before I begin my 2015’s five – whoops, six most memorable food experiences, I need to let you dear reader know I still talk about these eats. That’s why I choose them. Some are new, some are not.  I would go back to eat them time and again. Additionally, I paid for each one of these meals. Nothing was given gratis or comped, so I have nothing to gain from telling you about them.

Let’s start:

Photo Courtesy of Carson Kitchen
Photo Courtesy of Carson Kitchen

Carson Kitchen, Las Vegas, Nevada: Chicken Fried Skins, served with Smoked Honey Dipping Sauce ($9). The late Chef Kerry Simon, who died early this year with complications related to Mulitple Sclerosis, was a master of New American cooking. He imbued his dishes with a sense of humor and surprise.  This dish is indicative of that experience. Who is going to order only chicken skins with a side of smoked honey? Well, I did. Three orders of the crunchy, salty, deliciously deep-fried morsels with the side of lightly smoked sweetness. I would never make this at home. Let’s definitely score points for that understanding.

Courtesy of Factory Kitchen
Courtesy of Factory Kitchen

Factory Kitchen, Downtown Los Angeles, California: Handkerchief Pasta with Almond Basil Pesto ($19). I was living in San Francisco when I ate at Farina which is where I first had Chef Angelo Auriana’s superb pasta. I was in the middle of a fight with an ex. I try not to remember him. However, the sheet-like folds of pasta expertly painted with a light basil pesto, I remember. It wasn’t until I went to Factory Kitchen did it come back hauntingly. This time, I was celebrating one of my best friends birthdays (Shelley Levitt) in Los Angeles. We ordered the Ligurian-style noodle with green sauce. One bite, I knew I had eaten it once before. It’s so good that even years later I remembered it, except with this experience, the atmosphere was much more light-hearted and loving to enjoy it.

Photo Courtesy of Tropicale
Photo Courtesy of Tropicale

The Tropicale Restaurant & Bar, Palm Springs, California: Brown Sugar-Brined, Double Cut Kurobata Pork Chop ($28). A little over a year ago, I discovered my longtime friend Chef Scooter Kanfer had encamped to this boisterous watering hole in the resort town of Palm Springs. About 10 years ago, she was the chef/owner of a stunning little place in LA’s Larchmont area called The House. Here, she received national accolades with her inventive takes on homespun items like macaroni and cheese and my favorite milk and cookies which is milk served in a whiskey shot glass accompanied by shortbread animal cookies. Now, she is under less pressure as the Chef de Cuisine of Tropicale but her food is still the best. I choose the Kurobata Pork Chop because she recommends it to me every time I see her. The only other place I ate this type of big, flavorful battering ram was at Cindy Pawlcyn’s Napa Valley-based Mustards Grill. I wasn’t in Napa this year but this may be the best pork chop in a restaurant ever.

Courtesy of Hollywood Pies
Courtesy of Hollywood Pies

Hollywood Pies, Los Angeles, California: The Hollywood Pie ($27). I was never a lover of deep dish Chicago style pies. I didn’t get it. And then, I ate from this blink-and-you-miss-it spot. Jesus made this pizza for me. Seriously, that’s one of the names of the pie-makers. Everything from the crust to the cheese, the pizza sauce, homemade meatballs is made in-house. Unfortunately, getting a pizza isn’t always easy. They take forever to make (up to an hour). Sometimes, they don’t even pick up the phone to order one. This deep dish thickly crusted – like a casserole – is from heaven. Chewy, hint of heat in the sauce, pull until it snaps mozzarella…..trust me, Jesus made it.

Courtesy of ICDC
Courtesy of ICDC

ICDC, Los Angeles, California: Salt & Pepper Caramel Doughnut/ Buttermilk Brown Butter ($2.50). ICDC, which stands for ice cream, donuts, and coffee, is a dream child of Amy Knoll Fraser and Pastry Chef Maria Swan. I don’t know Maria. I would love to know Maria. I would love Maria to make me  a donut every day for the rest of my life. The Salt & Pepper Caramel along with the Buttermilk Brown Butter are heavenly puffs of circled dough with a little richness (butter or caramel) and a surprise (salt & pepper and not just butter but browned butter). If you have never had a seasoned donut or a browned butter donut – it’s wrong. Just wrong. It’s like being a virgin and everyone around you talking about sex.

Courtesy of Breakfast Club
Courtesy of Breakfast Club

The Breakfast Club, Scottsdale, Arizona: Huevos con Masa ($9). On our first trip to Phoenix, we got hungry as people do at the beginning of the day. We had appointments to look at houses and needed to fortify ourselves.  We went to dine at place at 8 am. Twenty-minute wait. We left. Found another highly recommended eatery with a wait-time of twenty-minutes. Nick and I are starving, and it’s 9 am. On the third try, we arrive at Breakfast Club. They have a wait time too. We sit at the bar to avoid the wait time. It’s packed.  Maybe 9:15 am on a Wednesday morning. I order the Huevos con Masa, a creative southwestern version of eggs benedict. Instead of hollandaise sauce, a pork green chile is served with poached eggs and chipotle cornbread. Eating it, I thought it was worth waiting for the discovery. The chile, a little heavier than I normally would eat for breakfast, is rich but compliments the poached eggs runny yolks. The cornbread has just enough heat and is incredibly moist, with flecks of chipotle. The Valley of the Sun breakfast experience also prompted me to write a story on the area’s breakfasts.  (Note: If you like blonde, athletic women serving your food in skin-tight, black fitness wear, this is the place for you. Do not come if you want to see a brunette or red-head. Hell, I don’t think there was a curl in the place, either. Just sayin’.)

Places and dishes of note: Nobuo at Teeter House, Pork Belly  Buns (Phoenix, Arizona); The Original Breakfast House, Cinnamon Rolls (Phoenix, Arizona); Revolutionario, Falafel Tacos  (Los Angeles, CA); Khin Khao, Khao Mun Gai (San Francisco, CA); Pizzeria Bianco, Margherita Pizza (Phoenix, Arizona).

The End. Happy 2016.

i8tonite: Chef’s Questionnaire with World Chocolate Judge and Four Seasons Guangzhou Pastry Chef, Audrey Yee

This is a guest post from Dr. Jessie Voigts, creator of WanderingEducators.com

Four Seasons GuangzhouAudrey Yee was inspired to join the culinary profession by seeing her parents cook and helping them at their restaurant – the Mandarin, the first Chinese restaurant in Milwaukee. Now a Four Seasons Pastry Chef in China, she originally wanted the savory kitchen – but fate had other plans. Her first job was in a small restaurant in Philadelphia, where the owner suggested pastry first – because all chefs should know pastry! The culinary world is a better place for it.

She graduated from Cordon Bleu in London, and has worked at FourAudrey Yee Seasons Philadelphia, Four Seasons Santa Barbara, Four Seasons San Francisco, Four Seasons Singapore, and now Four Seasons Guangzhou.

This fall, she was a judge for the World Chocolate Masters, held in Paris. Follow her on instagram to see more of her spectacular desserts:  Audrey Yee on Instagram.

Chefs Questionnaire

How long have you been cooking?  Eighteen years.

@audreyyee • Instagram photos and videos - Google Chrome 1132015 71539 PMWhat is your favorite food to cook?  Apple pie.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Lemons, yogurt, eggs, salad, tofu, apples, and fruit.

What do you cook at home? Eggs, cereal.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? The look on their faces when they are eating their desserts.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Rude, condescending, and impatient.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Rubbermaid.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Gin and tonic. @audreyyee • Instagram photos and videos - Google Chrome 1132015 71410 PM

Your favorite cookbook author?  The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg and Grand Livre de Cuisine Dessert and Pastries by Alain Ducasse.

Your favorite kitchen tool? Spatula and piping tips.

Your favorite ingredient? Apples and vanilla.

Your least favorite ingredient? Durian. (Editor’s note: A very strong smelling fruit found in Asia. For people who love food, it’s a must to try.)

@audreyyee • Instagram photos and videos - Google Chrome 1132015 71702 PMLeast favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Cutting onions.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? American.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Chicken and tofu.

Favorite vegetable? Broccoli and salad.

Chef you most admire? Eddie Hales, my first pastry Chef.

Food you like the most to eat? All kinds of Chinese food, yogurt, salads, fruit, and French fries.

Food you dislike the most? Kohlrabi.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? No tattoos.

Recipe: How to Make Blueberry Muffinsblueberry muffins

  • 180 gr of butter
  • 6 eggs
  • 180 gr warm milk
  • 490 gr flour
  • 10 gr baking powder
  • 5 gr salt
  • 300 gr blueberries

Crumble

  • 50 gr brown sugar
  • 50 gr. Butter
  • 50gr. Flour
  • Combine butter and sugar
  • Then add flour

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs slowly until incorporated. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients. Mix warm milk in slowly. Fold in blueberries, by hand. Pre heat oven to 180c/360f. Scoop or prepare muffins into 12 molds. Top with crumble topping. Bake 20 minutes or when a toothpick comes out clean with no crumbly residue.

The End. Go Eat.

 

 

 

i8tonite’s Chef Questionnaire: Monica Glass, A Food & Wine’s Best Pastry Chef

Monica Glass via Eater Philly

It seems as if Monica Glass was always destined to become one of the best pastry chefs in the country given her oeuvre with some of the preeminent Northeast kitchens and chefs. After starting one career as a public relations executive, she transitioned into a more creative profession to become an award-winning pastry chef. Her first job was at the Gotham Bar & Grill, which has long been one of Manhattan’s top restaurants. She started off in an apprenticeship under Deborah Racicot and ultimately wound up working beside her.

10 Arts Lounge, Ritz Carlton. Courtesy of Ritz Carlton.

Her next station was under Executive Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis at Manhattan’s world-renowned and Michelin-starred Le Bernardin. Owned and operated by famed Chef Eric Ripert, Glass worked at perfecting her craft under these masters. Ripert seized the aspiring Glass to work directly with him at the opening of his restaurant 10 Arts at Philadelphia’s Ritz Carlton —   that’s icing on the cake for someone who deals in confectionaries.

Clio
Photo Courtesy of Clio.

Glass took on new challenges in the fall of 2012 — professionally and personally — by moving to Boston to take on the role of Pastry Chef     at the award-winning Clio Restaurant. The flagship restaurant of Ken Oringer and his famed use of avant-garde ingredients, tools and instruments, gave Glass the opportunity and ability to grow her knowledge of the pastry arts. At Clio, Glass created desserts that told a story and that served as a seamless finishes started by Clio’s savory meals. In 2013, she was awarded, by Food & Wine Magazine editors as one of five Best New Pastry Chefs for her delicious endeavors.

Glass is now back in the City of Brotherly Love working as the Corporate Pastry Chef at Starr Catering. However, it’s a testament to her ongoing pursuit of culinary challenges and Glass’s own personal battle with a gluten allergy to create a broader menu of gluten-free morsels. Indeed,  it seems that catering to others with celiac disease, the youthful pastry queen can experiment with an indulgent assortment of non-wheat sweets. We don’t care just as long as she never stops creating edible indulgences.

Chef’s Questionnaire with Monica Glass: 

Photo by Monica Glass
Photo by Monica Glass

How long have you been cooking? 10 years professionally, a lifetime for fun.

What is your favorite food to cook? Ice cream.

What do you always have in your fridge at home? Eggs, ketchup, cheese, yogurt or kefir, flax seeds, a bag of Reese’s peanut butter cups

What do you cook at home? Not much for just myself — eggs, smoothies, cereal. But I love to entertain and have people over for a nice dinner and wine! However, the oven at my new apartment doesn’t even fit a half sheet pan!

Photo by Monica Glass.
Photo by Monica Glass.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer? Glee! Giddiness over good food… excitement!

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? Rude, short-patience, assuming, condescending.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? Pyrex.

Beer, wine or cocktail? Rye whiskey, rocks

Your favorite cookbook author? Hmmm….it’s too hard to pick one: Notes from a Kitchen (Jeff Scott.) Alain Ducasse’s Grand Livre de Cuisine Desserts and PastriesThe Secrets of Baking, Sherry Yard. The Flavor Bible, Karen Page & Andrew Dornenburg. Nancy Silverton’s Pastries from La Brea Bakery

Your favorite kitchen tool? My hands. Baby offset.

Your favorite ingredient? Hmmmm…. so many! Probably cardamom, kaffir lime, finger limes.

Your least favorite ingredient? Blood.

Photo by Monica Glass.
Photo by Monica Glass.

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Anything to do with fabricating meat; hence I’m in pastry.

Favorite types of cuisine to cook? Comfort American, nouvelle, Spanish, French.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? Depends on what cut!

Favorite vegetable? Brussels sprouts. They have to be super crispy though.

Chef you most admire? Michael Laiskonis.

Food you like the most to eat? Ice cream, peanut butter, French fries, Doritos, Reese’s. Not all together though…that would be gross.

Food you dislike the most? I love foie when it’s seared properly but I can’t really do it creamy and cold, like foie torchon or even liver mousses.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? Two tattoos. One is a whisk with the worlds “vis ta vie” wrapped around it. For my mother.

Apples by George Polychrones

Favorite Apple Crisp Recipe by Monica Glass.

You’ll want to make the  streusel topping first. I put gloves on and mix together 75g dark brown sugar, 75g white sugar, 150g flour, a pinch salt/cinnamon/cardamom. Add in 150g melted butter and mix to thoroughly coat.

Next, peel 3 each Granny Smith and Honeycrisp apples. Slice each side into two pieces, moving around the pit and seeds. Dice each slice into small cubes. Toss the diced apples with about a half cup of sugar (more or less to your liking and the fruit’s natural sweetness), about two tablespoons of cornstarch, another pinch salt/cinnamon/cardamom and the juice of one lemon. Pile into a buttered ramekin and top with streusel. Preheat oven to 325 and bake until bubbly and browned, about 30-40 minutes. Devour with some ice cream!

The End. Go Eat. 

 

A New Cookbook Icon: “Twelve Recipes” by Cal Peternell

As I was reading “Twelve Recipes” by Cal Peternell, chef at Alice Waters’ famed Chez Panisse, lacking a father figure became an even more perceptible limp in my upbringing. Here was a father who was packing up kitchen gear for his son before he went away to college, useful items such as a knife, cutting board, measuring cups and spoon. When my father left me at the age of 7, he took the child-sized, baby blue golf clubs with him. I wished I had a father who took such care in my welfare but who also wanted me to cook as exceptionally as he did, using recipes he created or knew like the back of his hand, passing them down to his progeny.

The premise of the book was to give his son the tools to create great dinners for himself and for his friends. However, as a finished product he created a well-written story on how to take care of yourself in the great big world.

Cal Peternell: Photo by Ed Anderson

That’s what cooking is for me, it’s the ultimate in self-care. It’s like going to the gym, getting your car washed, and seeing the dentist bi-annually. It’s a time-honored rite of passage and I really felt the love of Peternell for his children in his writing.

Most of the recipes are fairly basic such as his recipes for “salsa verde” using olive oil, parsley, salt and garlic. Then making that into a traditional gremolata (exempting the oil) with anecdotes about how his family dry herbs: “Some kids have to wash the car; my kids have to wash the parsley, and here’s how: fill a big bowl with cold water and dip the whole bunch of parsley in, swishing it around like you mean it. Lift it, give it a preliminary shake, and then drip as little as possible on the floor as you walk quickly outside. Swing the bunch by the stems, flick it like a whip, spritz the sidewalk, the yard, the dog, the world. Bunches of basil, cilantro, or mint can be taken on the same ride. Set the bunch on a towel to dry for 5 minutes — herbs chop up nicer and fluffier and don’t clump when they are not wet.” Who doesn’t want a father who wants to spritz the sidewalk?

But it was his cake recipes that really sold me.I’ve now made two of them, Cake-Cake and the Pan Cake. The Pan Cake is so easy it’s like why would you ever think of a mix? It’s not too sweet and best part, you can use one pan! Seriously, no bowl, everything is mixed in the cake pan you are going to bake in.  With a good dollop of crème fraiche, homemade whipped cream or ice cream (if you have the ice cream contraption), it’s so simple to make for a daily treat or to impress dinner guests at the end of a meal.  This recipe should be as standard as boiling water, scrambling eggs and buttering toast.

Ingredients (adapted from Cal Peternell’s “Twelve Recipes”):

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa (the recipe says 1/8 but I wanted it a little more bittersweet).

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon finely ground coffee (optional…I also use 3 for more of a coffee/ cocoa taste)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon red or white vinegar

1 cup water

1/3 cup vegetable oil

Let’s make this puppy:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the all the dry ingredients in an ungreased 8 – 9 inch round cake pan and stir with a whisk. Make a crater in the center, adding all wet ingredients together. Whisk until all the dry goods are fully incorporated. Put in the oven for about 30 minutes but check for doneness at around 20. Insert a toothpick into the center to make sure it’s fully cooked.