Chocolate Pear Cake

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The recipe of this post comes from Emiko Davie’s Florentine cookbook. It is a one of a kind book that beautifully captures the magic of Florence’s markets, trattorias and streets. Emiko’s writing weaves stories of the city’s history and culture with an authentic collection of meticulous regional Italian recipes that are beautifully captured through photography.

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The Torta di Pera e Cioccolato cake particularly caught my attention since I’ve tried combining both of these ingredients in a dessert before and I was not very impressed with the result. So I decided to give it another try – mainly because Emiko’s recipes are meticulous and so reliable!

This is not a flourless cake as it contains almond flour, and it’s not as decadent as the flourless chocolate tahini recipe I posted a few weeks ago, but it does have a melt in your mouth texture that makes it really hard to just eat one slice. Remember, the quality of chocolate matters significantly – the better the chocolate, the better the cake!

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Recipe from Florentine by Emiko Davies

50g granulated sugar
500ml water
2 medium pears, peeled, cored and cut into eighths lengthways
150g dark chocolate
90g unsalted butter at room temperature, cubed
90g caster (superfine) sugar
90g almond meal
3 large eggs, separated
1 tablespoon cocoa powder for dusting cake pan
Icing sugar for dusting (optional)

1. Combine the granulated sugar with the water in a saucepan and set over medium heat. Add the pear slices and poach for 10-15 minutes, or until tender but not too soft (a knife should easily penetrate the flesh without any resistance). Drain and let the pear cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). Grease a 9″ round springform cake tin and dust with the cocoa powder.
3. Melt the chocolate over a bain-marie. When melted, remove from the heat, add the butter and stir until the butter has melted. Add the caster sugar and almond meal, stirring to combine. When the mixture is cool, add the 3 egg yolks.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites to firm peaks, then gently fold them into the chocolate batter. Pour the chocolate mixture into the cake pan. Arrange the pear pieces on the top of the batter, pushing them slightly in. Bake for 40 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean. Let cool completely before unmolding from the pan and dust with icing sugar before serving.

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Flourless Chocolate Tahini Soufflé Cake

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I have a particular weakness for flourless chocolate cakes. All you need to make this incredibly rich dessert is high quality bittersweet chocolate, sugar and eggs – that’s it! It’s simple enough to bake in under an hour yet fancy enough to impress your friends. When done right (I’m talking about whisking the eggs and gently folding in the ingredients), the intense chocolate flavor shines though a lightly textured center with a crackling crisp top and chewy edges.

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Recently, I’ve begun tampering with Claire Ptak’s chocolate sunken soufflé cake and I found that the addition of tahini to the cake batter takes it to a whole other level. The creamy tahini turns the originally dense cake into a silky and velvety consistency that melts in your mouth. Don’t worry about the savory/nutty notes of tahini, they’re very subtle and do not overpower the indulgent chocolate flavor.

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Recipe adapted from The Violet Bakery Cookbook

Ingredients:
100g bittersweet chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
100g dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids)
150g unsalted butter, cut into large cubes
60ml (4 Tbsp) high quality tahini
4 eggs separated, at room temperature
160g caster sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
Dutch processed cocoa powder (for dusting on top)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F). Butter a 9″ (23cm) springform cake pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.
2. Melt the chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and stir occasionally. Once they’re melted, remove the pan from the heat but keep the bowl over the pan of water to keep it warm. Stir in the tahini.
3. Measure 75g of sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer, add the egg yolks, and whisk for 4 minutes on medium high speed until the mixture has doubled in volume.
4. Set the bowl of melted chocolate on your work surface and gently fold in the whisked yolks. Do not mix until homogeneous, the mixture should be marbly.
5. Wash the mixer bowl, dry thoroughly and add the rest of the sugar (75g) with the egg whites. Whisk on high speed until medium-soft peaks form (do not over-whip). Then fold the whites into the chocolate until just mixed. Slowly pour the batter into the cake pan.
6. Bake for 25 minutes, until the top of the cake is puffed and just started to crack. Place the cake pan on a wire rack and let it cool for 20 minutes. To serve, remove the sides of the pan and slide the warm cake on a plate. Dust with cocoa powder.

Chocolate Roll with Chestnut Cream and Marrons Glacés

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I named this cake “Chocolate Roll” because first I’m very kind of late to post a Bûche de Noël recipe and second, the cake is so fabulous that there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t make it any time this winter season.

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When I was a kid we always had Chestnut yule logs during the holiday season and it was my favorite thing to eat. I decided to recreate that exact cake for this year’s annual family Christmas Eve dinner. However, I couldn’t find chestnut paste in any local Lebanese market – so I looked up a couple of make-from-scratch recipes and the process turned out to be so much easier than I expected! It’s basically a mix of roasted chestnuts and sugar syrup puréed in a food processor. The most time consuming part is roasting and peeling chestnuts but I didn’t mind it because the taste is absolutely divine. I went with Yossy Arefi’s flourless chocolate cake recipe that I found on Food52 and filled it with the homemade chestnut cream and chopped marrons glacés. The last step is to cover it with rich dark chocolate ganache and refrigerate it for a couple of hours before serving.

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I’ve baked this cake three times in the last two weeks. The combination of the airy bittersweet cake, cold sweet chestnut cream, and unexpected marrons glacés pieces got me completely hooked. It also looks so elegant when sprinkled with powdered sugar and decorated with some leaves.

Chestnut Paste is incredibly rich and delicious when made from scratch and it can be used in countless ways from pastry filling to mousse and ice cream. Now that I’m done writing this long post, I’m going to have another slice of cake with a shot of espresso.

Enjoy!

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Ingredients and Directions:

Roasting and Peeling Chestnuts (for this recipe you’ll need 200g peeled and roasted high quality chestnuts, approximately 20 whole chestnuts.)

1. Preheat your oven to 425° F (220°C). Carefully make a long slice across the rounded top of the chestnuts with a sharp serrated bread knife. Be sure to cut through the shell only.
2. Place cut chestnuts in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a simmer.
3. Once the water begins to simmer, remove the chestnuts from the water using a slotted spoon or a strainer and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.
4. Roast for 20-25 minutes, or until the shells begin to peel back where you cut into them.
5. Remove sheet from the oven, place roasted chestnuts in a bowl and cover with a towel for 15 minutes to allow them to steam. Then proceed to peeling them.


Chestnut Cream Filling
• 200g peeled, roasted chestnuts
• 90ml (1/3 cup) milk
• 68g (1/3 cup) granulated sugar
• 80ml (1/3 cup) water
• 2 tablespoons Brandy
• 1 Vanilla Bean
• 120ml (1/2 cup) cold heavy cream, whipped to firm peaks
• 3 whole Marrons Glacés cut into small pieces

1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, simmer chestnuts with milk until soft about 10 minutes.
2. To make the sugar syrup, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer until the sugar dissolves.
3. Drain chestnuts and puree in a food processor with the sugar syrup until smooth. Transfer to a medium bowl and chill in the refrigerator until cool, 30 minutes.
4. Fold in the rum, de-seeded vanilla pod, and whipped cream.


Flourless Chocolate Cake
• 6 egg yolks
• 150g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 40g (1/2 cup) cocoa powder, sifted
• 5 egg whites

1. Preheat oven to 375° F (180°C) and line a 9″x13″ (25 x 35 cm) jelly roll pan with parchment paper. Grease the paper.
2. In the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the egg yolks with half of the sugar on high until the mixture is pale and very fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the salt and vanilla then the sifted cocoa powder.
3. Wash and dry the bowl and whisk, then beat the egg whites on medium high until soft peaks form. With the mixer running, gradually add the rest of the sugar and beat until stiff peaks form.
4. Stir 1/4 of the egg white mixture into the egg yolks to lighten everything up. Then gently fold in the remaining egg whites.
5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared jelly roll pan and bake until the cake springs back and is dry to the touch, about 12 minutes. Let the cake cool in the pan for 5 minutes (the cake will deflate).
6. Turn it out onto a clean kitchen cloth that has been dusted with cocoa powder. Using the edge of the towel, gently roll the cake into a long cylinder. Let the cake cool completely in the towel while you prepare the ganache.

Dark Chocolate Ganache
• 170g (6 oz) dark chocolate, finely chopped
• 180ml (3/4 cup) heavy cream

Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Heat the heavy cream to a bare simmer, then pour it over the chocolate. Stir until smooth and let sit at room temperature until it cools to a spreadable consistency.

Putting it all together
1. Gently unroll the wrapped cake.
2. Spread the chestnut cream over the top and dot with marrons glacés.
3. Using the towel, roll the cake back into a tight cylinder and transfer to a large plate.
3. Spread the cooled ganache over the cake.
4. Drag your spatula or knife over the surface to give it a “barky” look.
5. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving. Finish by decorating the plate with a generous dusting of powdered sugar.

Chocolate Fudge Brownies

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Today’s recipe is slightly adapted from Flourless: Recipes for Naturally Gluten-Free Desserts. I stumbled upon this book while shopping at Anthropologie and I completely loved the idea of baking desserts that rely on simple ingredients, natural sweeteners, and bold flavors – minus the flour. Oh, and the food photography is absolutely gorgeous.

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Slightly underbaked, these chocolate brownies really melt in your mouth as soon as you take a bite. I threw in a teaspoon of orange zest to the batter, because who doesn’t love that flavor combination? It’s my absolute favorite.

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It’s too tempting to have them around the house, so I whipped up a few batches for two dinner parties last week to avoid eating the whole thing by myself. I also look for any excuse to bake.


Ingredients:
(Recipe adapted from Flouless) – Makes about 16 brownie squares

5.3 oz (150g) high quality dark chocolate (I used Green & Black’s organic Dark 70%)
½ cup (155g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup (50g) Dutch process cocoa (such as Droste) + more for sifting
¼ tsp salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp orange zest (optional)

Directions:
1. Heat the oven to 350°F (180°C) and line an 8″ x 8″ (20 cm x 20 cm) square pan with parchment paper.
2. In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the dark chocolate and butter, stirring until smooth and shiny.
3. Remove from the heat and transfer to a large bowl.
4. Add the brown sugar, eggs, cocoa powder, salt, vanilla, and orange zest. Stir well to combine.
5. Spread the batter in the pan, smoothing the top with a spatula.
6. Bake for 30 minutes, until the brownies are dry on top. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 1 hour.
7. Gently lift the parchment paper out of the pan after cooling to remove the brownies then refrigerate for another hour.
8. Remove from the fridge and cut into 16 squares using a serrated knife.
9. Dust with cocoa powder and serve at room temperature.

Chocolate Cookies Stuffed with Nutella

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I grew up in a very health conscious household and I always preferred healthy food over junk food or packaged snacks. It’s no wonder why I never tasted Nutella during my childhood. I bought a Nutella jar the other day, but I wasn’t going to eat the whole jar all by myself! So I decided to bake these cookies.
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First I looked up the history of this yummy chocolate spread (typical me). It was first manufactured in 1946 by Pietro Ferrero in Italy, under the name “Pasta Gianduja”, but it wasn’t until 1963 that “Nutella” was introduced to the market. It is so popular today to the point that the number of jars sold annually (if lined up) would wrap around the moon four times! … Impressive huh?!
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The cookies turned out delicious, especially when they are warm and oozing with pure Nutella filling. It’s the texture that truly won me over: slightly crisp on the outside and soft and chewy on the inside.
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Don’t these look ridiculously irresistible?
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Assembling the cookies take more time than making the dough itself. I also found it much easier to show you a step-by-step tutorial on how to stuff the dough with Nutella:
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First, roll out a teaspoon of dough into a ball.

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Then form an indentation with your index finger

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Spoon Nutella on the dough – as much as it can hold 😉

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Take another teaspoon of dough and flatten it with the palm of your hands to seal the cookie. Then bake for 10 minutes! These rich cookies should be soft when you take them out of the oven. They will firm up as they cool, so be careful not to over-bake them.

Did you try baking these? Do you have another favorite recipe for Nutella cookies? I’d love to hear your comments!

Ingredients:
1/2 cup (110g) butter
1+1/2 cups (350g) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (55g) cocoa powder, sifted
2 large eggs
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 cups (260g) all-purpose flour, sifted
1/2 cup Nutella (more or less)

Directions:
1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Melt the butter in a saucepan then take off the heat (you could microwave the butter instead).
3. Stir in the brown sugar, cocoa powder, eggs and salt until well combined.
4. Add the baking soda and flour and stir until just combined.
5. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes at least (it becomes easier to work with)
6. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (350 F)
7. Roll 1 teaspoon of dough into a ball, use your finger make an indentation in the center.
8. Fill the indentation with Nutella (approx. 1/2 tsp), top with a flattened teaspoon of dough, and pinch the edges.
9. Bake for 10 minutes. (Do not over-bake, the cookies will firm up as they cool). Let cool for 2 minutes on baking sheets before transferring to a wire rack.

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Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

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This chocolate chip cookie recipe is way better than the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag recipe. Believe me.

I adore making chocolate chip cookies, it’s a classic household favorite – eat it warm or cold, with milk or icecream, for breakfast or a midnight snack – I don’t think anyone can resist chewy bakery style cookies. I’m so glad I tried this recipe because these cookies right here are big, beautiful, rich, buttery, chewy, fluffy…Need I say more?!
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After reading several recipes online, I collected a few tips to end up with thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies, just the way I like it. (I know you do too). The secret is to increase the ratio of dark brown sugar to white sugar for a richer flavor of molasses, add cornflour/cornstarch for a fluffy texture, and under-bake the cookies (yes, have faith please!). So why cornflour? Both cornflour and flour are cereal starches but flour contains gluten which reduces the thickening power. That’s why cornflour is often used with flour to add a lighter structure to baked goods and increase tenderness (such as cake flour).
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Like I said earlier, underbaking the cookies is a must. As soon as the outsides are set and the centers are still puffy, remove them immediately! The cookies will continue to bake on the hot cookie sheet even after being taken out of the oven. If your cookie sheets are too small, refrigerate the batter in between batches. I assure you, the cookies will retain their chewy texture even the next day – that’s IF there are any cookies left 😉

I also tried a new way of forming cookie dough balls instead of just dropping tablespoons on the cookie sheet. If you want to create jagged cookies don’t roll the dough into a perfect round shape. Just pull the dough apart with your fingertips to create an uneven surface then jam the pieces together to form a ball. You can see the difference here:

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LOOK at the oozing chocolate! Oh my.
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Just a closer look.
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It’s official – this is chocolate chip heaven! Every bite melts in your mouth and the chocolate chips literally explode on your taste buds especially when the cookies are hot from the oven.

Ingredients: (makes around 25 cookies)

  • 3/4 cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:
1. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed until fluffy and light in color.
4. Mix in egg and vanilla.
5. On low speed, mix in flour mixture.
6. Stir in chocolate chips.
7. Preheat oven to 350 F/175 C.
8. Drop 1 tablespoon of dough onto cookie sheet.
9. Bake for 8-9 minutes, until slightly golden around the bottom edges. (Do not exceed 10 minutes).
10. Let cool for 3 minutes on the cookie sheet.
11. Transfer to cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Chocolate Truffles

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Starting a baking blog is much harder than it seems. With a full time job during the week, the only free time I have to bake and write is at night or over the weekend. I’m always looking for easy recipes to satisfy my sweet cravings, and these chocolate truffles are so easy to do! The recipe does not require any baking, and it only calls for 2 main ingredients that you probably have in your kitchen right now. That’s right, no baking and no electric mixer! So simple.

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All you have to do is heat some heavy cream, pour it over finely chopped chocolate, add some liqueur (optional), and whisk until smooth and glossy.

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Refrigerate the ganache for a couple of hours, and roll into balls. Yumm who doesn’t love chocolate?!

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And finally garnish with cocoa powder!

Ingredients: (Makes about 40 truffles)

  • 1 cup (250 grams, 9 oz) liquid heavy cream
  • 300 grams (11 oz) high quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon Grand Marnier (orange-flavored cognac). Optional
  • Unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted for garnish. (you can also use confectioners sugar or chopped nuts)

Directions:

1. Finely chop the chocolate (to allow it to melt completely without having chunks of chocolate in the truffles). Place in a mixing bowl.
2. Heat the heavy cream in a saucepan until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan.
3. Pour half of the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 30 seconds to melt the chocolate. Then slowly whisk until homogenous. Add the remaining cream gradually and mix until smooth and shiny.
4. Add the Grand Marnier and mix until fully incorporated. Now you have a chocolate ganache!
5. Cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.
6. Using a melon baller or a teaspoon, roll out balls of the ganache and place on a sheet pan.
7. Place in the fridge again for at least 20 minutes.
8. Roll the balls in your hands to make perfect round shapes (the chocolate will melt from warm hands, so a good trick is to dip your hands in ice water for a few seconds, dry them, and proceed).
9. Roll the truffles in cocoa powder, confectioners sugar, or chopped nuts. If the truffles melt again, put them back in the fridge for a few minutes before enrobing them with the garnish.
10. Keep them refrigerated up to 12 days.