Espresso and Dark Chocolate Scones


 
Overflow gently—
don’t drown.
— Albert Camus
 

One thing that I have always had a problem with is giving myself much more to do than I know I can handle. I always find myself juggling twenty things at once and end up falling behind on it all. I was finding myself stressed out constantly and never feeling like I could catch my own breath. And to be honest, I started to feel a little broken.

I decided that I didn’t want to, that I couldn’t, spend my time that way anymore. I needed to feel calm again. I needed to feel whole again.

Recently I have been making a very conscious effort to slow down and not overload myself and I am still struggling with it. Every week I try to do only what I have time for and forget about the things that aren’t completely necessary.

Luckily I have a wonderful husband who helps me and provides an amazing level of support that I have never been given before. I am a very independent person and I always have been, but it has been so wonderful having someone to experience it all with.

I would like to end this by saying, don’t overwhelm yourself. Take your time and enjoy every moment.

Now onto this weeks recipe. Espresso and Dark Chocolate Scones. These scones are tender, flaky,, buttery, have hints of espresso, and have gooey pockets of dark chocolate.

They are simple and quick to make, coming together in under an hour! In this recipe I chose to use a stand mixer because I don’t have a pastry cutter and I have naturally warm hands, not good when making pastry. If you don’t have a stand mixer a pastry cutter will do just fine.

As always, I recommend using high quality dark chocolate bars and chopping them up into medium-large chunks. The chocolate in this recipe is very important because it provides gooey pockets of chocolate throughout the scones. It creates the perfect balance of textures.

The next ingredient is Espresso Powder. A simple ingredient but often times people get it wrong. Do NOT use instant coffee as it is a completely different thing. Try finding a good quality one which you should be able to find at most grocery stores, specialty shops, and online (Amazon). The espresso in this recipe is subtle but important. Chocolate and Espresso compliment each other so you don’t want to skimp on this ingredient.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks recipe. If you try it please share your photos with my on Instagram (@acommonkitchen). I would love to hear from you! Have a wonderful and well balanced week everyone. Xx


Espresso and Dark Chocolate Scones


Ingredients:

  • 4 Cups All Purpose Flour

  • 2 Tablespoons Baking Powder

  • 2 Tablespoons White Granulated Sugar

  • 2 Teaspoons Kosher Salt

  • 24 Tablespoons (3 Sticks) Cold Unsalted Butter, cut into ½” cubes

  • 4 Eggs, lightly whisked

  • 1 Cup Cold Heavy Cream (very cold)

  • 1 Teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract

  • 8 Ounces Dark Chocolate, roughly chopped

  • 2 Teaspoons Espresso Powder

  • 1 Egg + 1 Teaspoon Heavy Cream, lightly whisked (for the egg wash)

  • 2 Tablespoons Coarse Raw Cane Sugar (for dusting)

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºf and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt and mix on low speed to evenly combine the dry ingredients. Stop the mixer and add in the butter. Mix on low speed until the butter is broken up into pieces that are pea-sized. Do not let the butter get smaller than pea-sized.

  3. In a large measuring cup (you can also use a bowl), combine the four eggs, heavy cream, and vanilla extract and mix until combined. With the mixer off, add in the egg/cream mixture all at once. Turn the mixer on to low and mix just until the dough comes together. Stop the mixer and sprinkle in the chocolate and espresso powder. Mix on low again until just combined— do not over mix!

  4. Heavily flour a clean work surface and dump the dough out onto it. Knead the dough 3-4 times just until it comes together. Using a 3 inch round biscuit cutter, cut out as many rounds as you can and place them about 2 inches apart. Once you have cut out as many rounds as possible, carefully knead the dough together once more and cut out as many more as you can. Only re-knead the dough one time or else the butter will become too soft and melt.

  5. Once all of the scones are on the baking sheets, brush them with the egg wash and sprinkle with the raw cane sugar.

  6. Place the baking sheets into the oven and bake the scones for 30 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

  7. Let the scones cool slightly before serving. Enjoy!

Cardamom French Hot Chocolate

 
In the depths of
winter,
I finally learned
that within me
there lay
and invincible
summer.
— Albert Camus
 

This week has been a difficult week for me in many ways, and a good week in other ways. I am not used to change and to be honest, I don’t like change. Change can be good and I know that, but up until this week I had a very set and precise schedule that I had adhered to for nearly three years. It feels odd to be working the complete opposite schedule and not being able to see my husband nearly as much, which has been the worst part to be honest.

Jake is the taste-tester of all A Common Kitchen recipes, the one who encouraged me to start and stick with this blog when I considered giving up on it, and most of all, he is the most important thing in my life. It’s discomforting not being with him as much as I used to be, but hopefully all of these changes will be worth it in the end.

Anyways, on to this weeks recipe. This Cardamom French Hot Chocolate is a perfect hot drink for the recent cold weather. If you have never had French Hot Chocolate before, you are missing out on a truly delicious drink! It is a thick, rich, and decadent version of hot chocolate, made by using a short list of high quality ingredients.

Basic French Hot Chocolate contains only milk, dark chocolate, and a little bit of sugar. To make this recipe my own, I decided to add a special twist; Cardamom. Cardamom is a very aromatic and warm spice that adds spicy and citrus notes that pair perfectly with dark chocolate. In this recipe I use whole green cardamom pods as well as ground cardamom powder. It creates a subtle cardamom flavor that makes this French Classic all the more delicious.

A couple notes on this recipe:

The Milk and Heavy Cream: use a good quality whole milk and heavy cream. Yes, whole milk people. We don’t want to use something as rich and fatty as heavy cream but we also don’t want to go the polar opposite and use skim milk, 1%, or even 2%. Whole milk will produce a perfectly rich decadent hot chocolate. In addition to using whole milk, I always prefer to consume organic milk. I have found that organic milk is more creamy and has a “cleaner” taste than regular milk. Although I exclusively buy organic milk, I know that not everyone cares to. However, since this recipe requires so few ingredients, I highly recommend using the best quality milk you can get your hands on. If you can get organic grass-fed whole milk, even better! That is the best of the best.

Next, the dark chocolate. Again, this recipe uses very few ingredients and chocolate is the main ingredient in this recipe. This is Hot Chocolate and you don’t want to use a cheap one. Now this is not to say that you have to spend $10 on one chocolate bar. I honestly wouldn’t spend that much on chocolate myself! I always buy Ghirardelli 70% bittersweet chocolate bars or the 73% Trader Joe’s brand chocolate bars which cost less than $4 per bar. For this recipe, I highly suggest only using barred chocolate and roughly chopping it up. Chocolate chips contains high amount of stabilizers (ever seen ‘Soy Lecithin’ on a label?) and chocolate bars have less amounts of these. You can use chocolate chips in a pinch, but I recommend bars if you have the option!

As for the topping of the Hot Chocolate, I made a simple Cardamom Whipped Cream that perfectly balances the rich hot chocolate.

This Cardamom French Hot Chocolate is simple yet decadent. It is creamy, chocolatey, and is the perfect drink to enjoy on a cold fall day. If you want something more than a simple water and chocolate powder combination, this is the recipe for you. Trust me, once you make this recipe you will never be able to go back to those packages of hot chocolate.

If you try this recipe, make sure to take a photo and share it with me on Instagram (@acommonkitchen) because I would love to see your creations and talk with you. Thanks for visiting the blog this week everyone! Xx



Cardamom French Hot Chocolate


Makes Four Small Cups

Ingredients:

For the Cardamom Whipped Cream

  • 1 Cup Heavy Cream

  • 2 Tablespoons Powdered Sugar

  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cardamom

For the Hot Chocolate

  • 1 ½ Cups Whole Milk

  • ½ Cup Heavy Cream

  • 4 Whole Cardamom Pods, lightly crushed

  • ½ Vanilla Pod, sliced in half and seeds scraped out

  • 1 Tablespoon Raw Cane Sugar

  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 6 Ounces High Quality Dark Chocolate (70% is what I use), roughly chopped

Directions:

To make the Cardamom Whipped Cream:

  1. In a medium sized bowl, add the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and ground cardamom. Use a whisk to whip the cream into medium-soft peaks. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.

To make the Hot Chocolate:

  1. In a medium sized saucepan add the whole milk, heavy cream, cardamom pods, vanilla bean seeds and pod. Turn the heat to medium-low and, stirring occasionally, bring the milk to a simmer— do NOT let the milk boil or it will scorch! Once the milk is simmering, place a fine mesh sieve over a large measuring cup (or bowl) and pour the milk through it to catch the cardamom pods and vanilla bean pods. Discard the pods.

  2. Add the chocolate into the hot milk and let it sit for one minute. After the chocolate has heated up, whisk the mixture until there are no lumps of chocolate and the mixture is silky smooth.

  3. Divide the hot chocolate evenly between for smaller mugs (or two larger mugs) and top with a big dollop of the cardamom whipped cream. Enjoy!

Brown Butter "Pumpkin" Chocolate Chip Cookies

 
Seize the moments of happiness, love and be loved! That is the only reality in the world, all else is folly. It is the one thing we are interested in here.
— Leo Tolstoy
 
 

Welcome back to A Common Kitchen this week everyone! You may have noticed that I was absent last week from posting my regular recipe. I was busy studying for a state licensing exam for my new job. I took the test earlier this week and… I passed! And like this blog, it was a lot of work but worth it.

Now, with a whole month of craziness behind me, I am very excited to get back in the kitchen and bake some fall recipes! This week on the blog I am sharing my recipe for Brown Butter “Pumpkin” Chocolate Chip Cookies. You may be wondering, why the quotation marks around the pumpkin? The secret is… there is no pumpkin in these cookies!

I will let you in on a little secret: I hate pumpkin. I really have never liked anything pumpkin. Pumpkin pie, pumpkin cakes, pumpkin scented candles and lotions, and most of all, pumpkin spice lattes. There is, however, ONE pumpkin dessert that I surprisingly have always enjoyed and that is a good Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Last year I baked a few desserts for Thanksgiving Day dinner and I wanted to try a Pumpkin Pie because I know that most people like it. However, I just couldn’t force myself to open a can of pre-made pumpkin purée. I did a little research and found an amazing recipe for a Butternut Squash “Pumpkin” Pie recipe from Serious Eats. The recipe uses homemade butternut squash purée and I was blown away! I actually liked a “pumpkin” pie for once! It made me rethink all of those recipes throughout the years that I thought I didn’t like. I realized that it was just the horrible canned pumpkin purée that I didn’t like.

So when I got the idea to do a recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies, I had to try them with homemade butternut squash purée. And the result, the most delicious, moist, and perfectly spiced “pumpkin” chocolate chips cookies I have ever had! There are a few key ingredients that makes these cookies as amazing as they are.

The first ingredient is of course the Homemade Butternut Squash Purée. It is extremely easy to make and is well worth it. All you do is cut a butternut squash in half and roast it until it’s very soft. You then scoop the insides into a food processor and pulse until silky smooth. And that’s it, Homemade Butternut Squash Purée! This recipe is unique because it uses the butternut squash purée in place of the eggs that you would usually use as a binder in a cookie recipe. I actually got this idea last year when I was trying to experiment with vegan baked goods to give away as Christmas gifts to some family members. I was trying to find egg substitutes and found that you can use certain puréed or mashed-up fruits and vegetables and butternut squash was one of them. I then looked up the approximate number of tablespoons that make up one egg which happens to be three tablespoons. I then just used the equal amounts of butternut squash to replace the eggs. And to my surprise, the substitute actually worked! It did not alter the texture or any other aspect of the cookies.

The next ingredient is browned butter. I use browned butter in a lot of my recipes. It adds nutty/toasty notes to the butter that gives it a more complex flavor than regular butter. I also keep the browned butter melted when I add it to the cookie dough which results in a soft chewy texture that is perfect for these cookies.

The final ingredient(s) that make this recipe amazing is the blend of spices that I developed. I use a simple mix of ground cinnamon, ground cardamom, and ground cloves. The spices are subtle but pair perfectly with the butternut squash and browned butter. I don’t like heavily spiced desserts and I think I found the perfect balance of spice for this recipe.

These Brown Butter “Pumpkin” Chocolate Chip Cookies are truly my favorite version of these cookies I have ever had. Jake and I ate the the entire first batch of these and all within two days! They are perfectly moist, chewy, and full of delicious homemade butternut squash purée. These cookies are sure to please anyone you make them for— even if they’re just for yourself ;).

If you try this recipe be sure to take photos and share them with me over on Instagram @acommonkitchen. Have a great week everyone!



Brown Butter "Pumpkin" Chocolate Chip Cookies


Makes about 24 Cookies

Ingredients:

For the Cookies

  • 8 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter

  • ¼ Cup Brown Sugar, tightly packed

  • ½ Cup Granulated White Sugar

  • 1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

  • 6 Tablespoons Butternut Squash Purée (recipe to follow)

  • 1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour

  • ¼ Baking Soda

  • ¼ Baking Powder

  • ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cardamom

  • ¼ Teaspoon Ground Cloves

  • ¾ Cup Dark Chocolate Chunks

For the Butternut Squash Purée

  • 1 Butternut Squash

Directions:

Make the Butternut Squash Purée

  1. Preheat oven to 400ºf. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

  2. Wash and dry the butternut squash. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds out with a spoon and discard. Using a fork, poke a few holes all around the cut surface of the squash.

  3. Place the squash cut-sides down on the baking sheet. Bake the squash for 1 hour. One the squash is done baking, let it cool down until it is cool enough for you to work with it.

  4. One the squash is cool enough, scoop out the insides and place in a food processor. Pulse the squash until it it is silky smooth and no lumps remain. Store in an airtight container in the fridge. The Butternut Squash Purée should keep in the fridge for up to a week or you can put it in ziplock bag with all the air pushed out and it should keep for a few months.

For the Cookies

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºf and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

  2. In a small saucepan, add the butter and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook the butter, swirling around the butter occasionally, until it begins to brown and smells nutty, about five minutes.

  3. In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the melted browned butter, brown sugar, white granulated sugar, vanilla extract, and butternut squash purée until fully combined. Set aside.

  4. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, kosher salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves until evenly combined.

  5. Add the wet ingredients straight into the dry ingredients and mix with a rubber spatular just until combined— do not over mix or else the cookies will become tough.

  6. Add in the chocolate chunks and mix just until evenly distributed.

  7. Using your hands, take a small amount of dough (about 2 tablespoons) and roll in to a loose ball and place onto the baking sheet, spacing the balls of dough about 2 inches apart as the cookies will spread as they bake. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough.

  8. Bake the cookies for 13-14 minutes or until the cookies are just slightly brown around the edges. The cookies will be very puffy and might look a little under-baked, but don’t worry! They are fully baked. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets and then transfer them to a cooling rack.

  9. The cookies can be stored in an airtight container and kept at room temperature for 3-4 days or in the fridge for up to a week.

Mülled Wine (Glühwein)

 
Wine is one of the most civilized things in the world and one of the most natural things of the world that has been brought to the greatest perfection, and it offers a greater range for enjoyment and appreciation than, possibly, any other purely sensory thing.
— Ernest Hemingway, from "Death in the Afternoon"
 
 


Although I have never read Death in the Afternoon by Ernest Hemingway, I got the idea for this weeks recipe, Mülled Wine (Glühwein), while reading another one of his novels, A Farewell to Arms. In this book (actually, in all of his books that I have read so far) the characters are always drinking wine. It seems odd to think that there was a point in time when people drank wine at the café for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Different place, different time I suppose.

While reading Hemingways’ books, I personally find them to have no real point at all. However, they have a romantic feel to them that is quite enjoyable. That’s not to say that there is absolutely no point to the books, I just don’t feel as if I gained anything of value from them. They are just simply a good story.

This weeks recipe comes from a drink described in Hemingway’s book, A Farewell to Arms, he says, “…We sat inside warmed by the stove and drank hot red wine with spices and lemon in it. They called it gluhwein and it was a good thing to warm you and to celebrate with.” I immediately was intrigued so I wrote down the name on a sticky note and went back to reading. A couple weeks later, I found the note tucked away in my recipe development notebook.

Jake loves red wine and we usually have a bottle or two around each week. Glüwein or Mülled Wine is a warmed wine beverage that is most commonly served during colder seasons. It is made with a full bodied red wine as well as citrus, mulling spices, and a bit of sugar. The kind of citrus and spices you use can really be whatever you like. I found that its easiest to use plain old navel oranges because they are very accessible all year round. I chose a blend of warm spices including cinnamon sticks, cloves, star anise, and cardamom pods that create a lovely depth of flavor. I also added raw cane sugar to sweeten and half of a vanilla bean because I just love vanilla.

This recipe is also extremely easy and quick to make; even better! All you do is toast the whole spices in the pot, add the remaining ingredients, and cook over medium-low heat until the wine is heated through, not boiling. You then turn the heat off and let the wine steep for 10 minutes. This step allows the flavors of the aromatics to release into the wine and create even more depth of flavor. After the steeping process, I run the wine through a fine mesh sieve to get out all of spices and zest and return the wine to the pot and heat again just until warm. It is very important not to let the wine boil (or get too hot) because we don’t want the alcohol to cook out of our Mülled Wine, this is, however, an alcoholic beverage everyone! All in all, this recipe takes only 20 minutes to make! It is perfect to whip up right before your dinner party or holiday guests arrive.

And you guys, This Mülled Wine is so good. I like wine but I don’t like drinking very much so I keep it to a minimum but I just kept wanting to drink more of this wine. The Mülled Wine was perfectly sweetened and the combination of citrus and spices reminded me perfectly of the holiday season. I will be making this recipe very often throughout the coming cold months.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks recipe for Mülled Wine (Glühwein) and thank you so much for visiting A Common Kitchen this week. Go follow me on Pinterest and Instagram (@acommonkitchen) if you want to see more lovely photos and interact with me, I would love to hear from you!

-Bella


DISCLAIMER: This recipe does contain alcohol. It should not be consumed by children or anyone under the legal drinking age (21 in the United States), pregnant women, or anyone else with conditions that prohibit them from consuming alcohol.


Mülled Wine


Makes about four glasses

Ingredients:

  • One (750 mL) Bottle of Red Wine (I used Beaujolais)

  • 1 Large Orange

  • ½ Cup Raw Cane Sugar

  • 2 Cinnamon Sticks

  • 2 Star Anise

  • 5 Cardamom Pods

  • 5 Whole Cloves

  • 1 Piece of Fresh Ginger, peeled and cut into quarter-sized rounds

  • 1 Vanilla Bean Pod, cut in half lengthwise, seeds scraped out

  • For Garnish (Optional): Orange slices, cinnamon sticks, star anise

Directions:

  1. In a large pot, add the cinnamon sticks, star anise, cardamom pods, and cloves. Toast over medium-low heat for 2-3 minutes or until the spices start to give off a slightly toasted aroma and then turn off the heat. Using a “Y” peeler, peel the zest into large strips off the entire orange and place in the pot. Cut the orange in half and squeeze out the juice into the pot.

  2. In the pot with the spices and orange, add the wine, ginger, and vanilla bean pod and the seeds. Turn the heat to medium-low and stir occasionally until the wine is heated through but not boiling and the sugar is completely dissolved, about 10 minutes. Remove the wine from the heat and cover with a lid and let steep for 10 minutes.

  3. Pour the wine through a fine mesh sieve to catch all of the aromatics. Pour the wine back into the pot and heat over medium-low until the wine is just heated through— do not let it boil! Once heated, carefully pour the mülled wine into a carafe or pitcher. Pour the wine into glasses and garnish with orange slices, star anise, or cinnamon sticks… or all three! Enjoy.

The Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream

 
There is nothing better than a friend,
unless it is a friend with chocolate.
— Charles Dickens
 

Hello everyone! Welcome back to A Common Kitchen this week. I was feeling a little ‘lazy’ this week so I thought I would share a classic yet simple dessert, Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream. And this is the Best Chocolate Cake that I have ever had.

I love this chocolate cake recipe because it is extremely easy to make and is pretty much fool-proof and it always results in a perfectly moist and tender cake. The ingredients are basic, flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder & soda, salt, and espresso powder. The wet ingredients include milk, coconut oil, eggs, vanilla, and boiling water.

When making this batter, it will seem very runny but don’t worry, that is how it is supposed to be and that’s why it’s so moist. You will have three delicious 8 inch chocolate cake layers that pair beautifully with my perfect chocolate buttercream frosting.

Speaking of the frosting, this is my all time favorite Chocolate Buttercream. It is light, fluffy, and perfectly chocolaty. This recipe is a classic American Buttercream and is surprisingly hard to get perfect. Often times it ends up overly sweet, grainy, or too runny. I have found the perfect balance of ingredients as well as a few techniques to get a perfectly sweet and silky Chocolate Buttercream.

A couple notes on the buttercream recipe:

  1. This is one of the most common mistakes when making buttercream; If the butter in the first step is not whipped enough, the frosting will end up being very dense. When whipping the butter, make sure to whip it on high speed for a full five minutes, stopping every so often to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. This step is crucial and will result in a light fluffy buttercream.

  2. When adding the powdered sugar and milk, it is crucial to mix the buttercream on low just until powdered sugar isn’t flying everywhere and then increasing the speed to medium-high and whipping for about 30 seconds in between each addition. Once all of the powdered sugar and milk is added, you need to whip it on medium-high speed again for a full two minutes. We have all had a grainy buttercream and it’s not pleasant. This happens because the powdered sugar isn’t given enough time to dissolve. Powdered sugar is very fine but it still have mini-granules that your tongue can feel if not whipped long enough. Mix mix mix!

  3. My last tip is in regards to the cocoa powder. I decided to do a fun ‘watercolor’ design with my buttercream. This is simple to do and it just consists of adding varying amounts of cocoa powder to the frosting to create different tones of brown. I made a vert light brown, a medium brown (the base color for the entire cake), and a super dark brown. You will only use a total of 1 ¼ cups of cocoa powder for this frosting and if you don’t care to do the ‘watercolor’ effect, you can simply add all of the cocoa powder and just have a simple chocolate buttercream. You can decorate the cake however you prefer!

DSC_0937.jpg

This Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream is a favorite in my house. Jake always requests it and I have made it hundreds (slight exaggeration) of times and everyone has absolutely loved it. If you are looking for a simple and easy dessert that everyone will love, you just found it! It’s true that you can’t go wrong with a simple Classic Chocolate Cake.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks recipe and thank you for visiting the blog this week everyone! -B



The Best Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Buttercream


Makes One 8-inch Three-layer Cake

Ingredients:

For the Chocolate Cake

  • 3 Cups All-Purpose Flour

  • 3 Cups White Granulated Sugar

  • 1 ¼ Cups Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder *See Note

  • 3 Teaspoons Baking Powder

  • 2 ¼ Teaspoons Baking Soda

  • 1 ½ Teaspoons Kosher Salt

  • 2 Teaspoons Espresso Powder *See Note

  • 1 ½ Cups Whole Milk

  • ¾ Cup Coconut Oil (or any other neutral oil)

  • 3 Large Eggs

  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

  • 1 ½ Cups Boiling Water

For the Chocolate Buttercream

  • 2 ½ Cups (5 Sticks) Butter, room temperature

  • 1 Teaspoon Espresso Powder

  • ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract

  • 7 Cups Powdered Sugar, sifted

  • ½ Cup Milk

  • 1 ¼ Cups Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder, divided

Directions:

For the Chocolate Cake:

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºf

  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder and mix on low until evenly combined.

  3. In a large measuring cup (or small bowl), whisk together the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla until fully combined. With the mixer on low, add in the wet ingredients (not including the boiling water) and mix just until combined— do not over mix! Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

  4. With the mixer on the lowest speed, slowly drizzle in the boiling water. Mix just until combined and then turn off the mixer. Immediately divide the batter between the three cake pans.

    Bake the cake layers for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in their pans for 10 minutes then remove them and place them on a cooling rack to cool completely.

For the Chocolate Buttercream:

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy— a full five minutes, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add in the espresso powder, and salt and turn the speed to medium-high and whip for 30 seconds until combined. In a measuring cup, whisk together the milk and vanilla extract.

  2. Stop the mixer and add in two of the powdered sugar and a couple tablespoons or so of milk and mix on low speed until combined and then increase the speed to medium-high and whip for a full 30 seconds. Repeat with the remaining powdered sugar and milk, working in batches, until all of it is gone. The amount of milk you will need will vary based on the temperature of you butter, so just eyeball it, adding more or less as needed.

  3. Once all of the powdered sugar and milk is added, stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn the speed to medium-high and whip for 2-3 minutes or until the butter cream is smooth and no longer grainy from the powdered sugar.

  4. The following step is optional— you simply can add all of the cocoa powder at once and make it a single-color chocolate buttercream. Add ¼ cup of cocoa powder and mix until combined. Remove about ¼ cup of the buttercream and place in a bowl and set aside. Add ¾ cup of the remaining cocoa powder and mix until fully combined— this will be your main (or base) color of frosting. Remove a ¼ cup of frosting and add place it in another bowl. Add the remaining ¼ cup of cocoa powder and two tablespoons of milk and whisk until fully combined and no lumps remain.

  5. To layer and frost the cake: Place one layer of cake on an 8” round cake board that is on a cake decorating turntable and top. Working with the main base color of frosting, add ½ cup of frosting and use an offset spatula to completely level it out. Top with the second layer of cake. Top the second layer with another ½ cup of frosting and level it out evenly with the offset spatula. Now, add the third cake layer, flipping it upside down so you have the flattest side facing up. Using about 1 cup of frosting, lightly frost the entire cake (this is called a crumb coat) with a large straight icing spatula, keeping the spatula straight up so you get nice straight sides. Use a small offset spatula to evenly level out the frosting on the top of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 15-20 minutes or until the crumb coat is completely cool.

  6. To frost: Remove the cake from the fridge and place the cake back on to the cake decorating turntable. Using the rest of the base color frosting , apply a thick even layer of frosting to the sides and top of the cake using the large straight icing spatula and level out the top with the offset spatula. Once that layer of frosting is done, place the cake back in the refrigerator for 30-40 minutes until completely chilled. You want the frosting to be very hard for the next step.

  7. To do the watercolor frosting: Using a small offset spatula, apply random blobs of your different tones of frosting all around the cake. Now, use a flat bench scraper held parallel to the side of the cake, turn the turntable (not moving the bench scraper at all) to gently even out the blobs of frosting, creating a “watercolor” effect. You can do this multiple times, adding more of the different tones of frosting. I suggest only doing this 3-4 times though because the colors will start to blend together too much and not have very much distinction between the tones. Refrigerate the cake again for 15-20 minutes.

  8. Slice and serve the cake! Enjoy!

Notes:

  1. Dutch Processes Cocoa Powder: I have mentioned this is many other recipes but it is crucial to use Dutch Processed cocoa powder in this recipe. Dutch Cocoa Powder is darker and more rich than natural cocoa powder and it will give your chocolate desserts more depth of flavor. You should be able to find it at most grocery stores as well as on Amazon or King Arthur Flour.

  2. Espresso Powder: I like adding espresso powder to my chocolate baked goods because it really enhances the flavor of the chocolate. However, if you prefer not to consume it or simply don’t have it on hand, feel free to completely omit it; it won’t make a very big difference but I highly recommend adding it if you can!

Classic Tiramisu

I must admit, I am a sucker for the classics. Classic desserts in particular. There is one dessert that I have been making for years and will continue to make for the rest of my life and that is the Italian Classic Tiramisu. If you have never had a slice of Tiramisu before, to put it simply, you are missing out on one of the finer things in life.

If you haven’t had Classic Tiramisu, it is a coffee flavored Italian dessert consisting of layers of lady fingers dipped in espresso and coffee liqueur, a creamy mascarpone filling, and dusted with cocoa powder.

In my opinion, there are two keys to getting the perfect tiramisu:

  1. Use quality ingredients.

  2. Let the Tiramisu rest overnight.

First, the ingredients. Tiramisu is actually a very cheap dessert to make. The only ingredients are espresso, coffee liqueur, egg yolks, sugar, salt, mascarpone, heavy cream, and cocoa powder. All cheap ingredients but they all make the biggest difference in the final taste of your Tiramisu.

The first two ingredients, espresso and coffee liqueur, are the hardest two to get right. I make espresso at home with a Moka Pot. However, I know a lot of people don’t have one of these handy machines so the next best thing is to go to your favorite local coffee shop and get freshly brewed espresso there. You will need two full cups of espresso in this recipe. The nest ingredient is coffee liqueur. You can use any brand you prefer, most liquor stores carry various brands at various price points. I picked up a bottle of Cafe Lolita at my state liquor store for only $6.99! Other good options would be Kahlúa or Patrón Xo Coffee Liqueur, which most stores should have. If you need help picking one out, ask an employee at the store and they should be able to point out some good options. If you can’t have or prefer not to consume alcohol, you can omit it completely and replace with an extra half cup of espresso. It will taste just as delicious!

The next component to a great Tiramisu is the creamy mascarpone filling. Mascarpone Cheese is basically just Italian Cream Cheese but less tangy. You can find Mascarpone at most grocery stores nowadays. The key is to check the ingredient list, there should be three ingredients; milk, cream, and citric acid. Any other ingredients and it’s probably not a good quality product. Trader Joe’s has one and it’s only $2.99.

The last ingredient that you want to be the best quality possible is the cocoa powder. I highly suggest using Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder which has more depth of flavor and is darker than natural cocoa powder. You can also find this at almost any grocery store nowadays.

And as for the second tip, it is crucial to let the Tiramisu rest overnight. Doing so allows the individual layers of the dish to develop a better flavor and if cut into too soon, the Tiramisu will fall apart. If you are in a pinch, you can refrigerate it for an absolute minimum of four hours, but I highly suggest overnight.

This Tiramisu is a classic dessert and it never lasts long because everyone enjoys it so much. It is a perfect dessert for anytime of the year and if you are looking for a crowd pleaser, this is your dessert.

I hope you enjoyed this weeks recipe and if you did let me know on Instagram (@acommonkitchen) because I would love to hear from you!


Classic Tiramisu


Makes one Tiramisu

Ingredients:

  • 6 Large Egg Yolks

  • 1 Cup White Granulated Sugar

  • ¼ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 1 ¼ Cups Mascarpone Cheese, softened

  • 2 Cups Heavy Cream

  • 2 Packages Lady Fingers *See Note

  • 2 Cups Freshly Brewed Espresso, chilled completely

  • ½ Cup Coffee Liqueur *See Note

  • 3 Tablespoons Dutch Processed Cocoa Powder

Directions:

  1. Combine egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl and place over a medium sized pot that is at a gentle simmer over medium heat (this is called a double boiler!). Whisk the eggs constantly for 8-10 minutes or until the yolks register 165ºf on an instant read thermometer. The yolk mixture should be slightly thickened and it should leave a ribbon on the surface when you drop some of the mixture back into the bowl. Remove from the heat and whip until the mixture is thick and a pale yellow color and cooled down. Add in the mascarpone and mix until fully incorporated.

  2. Add the heavy cream to a bowl and whip on medium-high speed until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in the mascarpone/egg mixture with a rubber spatula until no streaks remain. Transfer ½ of the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a large round piping tip. Set aside.

  3. Pour the espresso and coffee liquere into a shallow dish and dip the lady fingers into it, about one second on each side (you do NOT want to over-soak them) and arrange them in a single layer in an 8x8" baking dish, cutting any down with a knife to fit the the dish.

  4. Spoon ½ (half of what is in the bowl since half is already in a piping bag) of the mascarpone filling on top of the lady fingers and spread it out into an even layer with an offset spatula. Repeat with the second layer. For the third and final layer, add a single layer of lady fingers and pipe large blobs of the mascarpone filling on the top to cover it completely. This step is optional and you certainly can just spread a flat layer of the mascarpone filling on top, I just like the way it looks piped on.

  5. Refrigerate the tiramisu for no less than 4 hours and preferably overnight. *See Note

  6. Once the Tiramisu has chilled, remove it from the fridge and place it on top of some plastic wrap, parchment paper, or paper towels. Using a tiny fine mesh sieve, dust the entire top of the Tiramisu with the cocoa powder.

  7. Slice and enjoy!

 

Notes:

  1. You can find Italian Lady Fingers at most grocery stores nowadays. I know that Whole Foods usually has them and most chain grocery stores do, usually in the isle with the pasta or Italian foods. If you can't find them at any local grocery stores, try calling a local Italian deli, they almost always have them. If all else fails, Amazon has some right here

  2. You can buy any brand of coffee liqueur that you prefer. I used Café Lolita but Kahlúa works just fine and is probably the most common brand. If you don’t or can’t consume alcohol, feel free to completely omit the alcohol all together,I have made it both ways and it will still taste just as delicious. Just replace the liqueur with equal amounts of espresso.

  3. Without a proper rest in the fridge, the tiramisu will fall apart when you cut into it and try to remove a slice.

Honey & Fig Cake

 
Life is unpredictable.
It changes with the seasons.
Even your coldest winter happens for the best of reasons.
And though it feels eternal, like all you ever do is freeze,
I promise spring is coming,
and with it, brand new leaves.
— Ernest Hemingway
 

After the many months of summer heat, the fall is very much welcomed. And with cooler temperatures, crisp air, and changing colors of leaves comes all of the wonderful fall recipes! 

We are in the season of hot drinks, pies, and warm spices. I will be utilizing all of what the fall season offers and sharing many recipes with you over the next few months. 

One of my goals that I had for myself and as part of starting this blog was to challenge myself each week. Big or small, do something new or uncomfortable. One way of accomplishing this goal has been to use an uncommon ingredient or kitchen technique. Each recipe I have shared on A Common Kitchen has been somewhat of a challenge for me but a welcomed one at that. 

One ingredient that I had never used before this week was Figs. Newly discovered, I quickly fell in love with this little fruit. I first saw them at Trader Joe's a couple weeks ago and made a mental note to do some research and use them in a recipe. 

I decided to make a delicate honey butter cake that has just a hint of freshly ground nutmeg in it. This cake tastes delicious and is perfectly moist. I chose to do a single layer cake because although I am excited to bake more fall oriented recipes, I still want to keep things fairly simple and a  triple layer frosted and decorated cake isn't exactly my definition of easy...

The frosting a simple crème fraîche buttercream. I chose to use crème fraîche because as I was doing research for this recipe I noticed that it is was common to pair figs with something tangy, such as a goat cheese or cream cheese. I have used crème fraîche in a lot of previous recipes and it is one of my favorite ways to add a slight tanginess to desserts. I highly recommend using Vermont Creamery Crème Fraîche. I specifically recommend this brand because the texture of it is the same as cream cheese, making it ideal for adding to buttercream. I have tried a few different brands and have found that some are the texture and looseness of sour cream which is too thin for a buttercream. You can buy Vermont Creamery's Crème Fraîche at Whole Foods as well as most chain grocery stores

This recipe is great because it is a single layer cake. As I mentioned above, I didn't want an overly complicated recipe this week. Layer cakes are beautiful and fun to make, but they are a lot of work, therefore we have the single layer cake this week. All you do is top the single layer with the crème fraîche buttercream, figs, pistachios, and honey. That's all. Slice and serve. 

The Honey Cake is moist and has a subtle honey flavor. The Crème Fraîche Buttercream has a perfect balance of tanginess and sweetness. And the Figs on top give the cake a fresh pop of flavor and look absolutely beautiful. 

I hope you enjoyed this weeks recipe as much as I did. If you try this recipe or any other from A Common Kitchen please share your photos with me on Instagram (@acommonkitchen, #acommonkitchen) or on Pinterest. Thanks for visiting the blog this week everyone!                     

-B

 


Honey & Fig Cake


Makes an 8 Inch Cake One Layer Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake

  • 1 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour

  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder

  • ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

  • 1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg

  • 1/2 Cup Buttermilk

  • 1/4 Cup Local Honey

  • ½ Teaspoon Vanilla Extract

  • 8 Tablespoons Butter, softened

  • ¾ Cup White Granulated Sugar

  • 2 Large Eggs, room temperature

For the Frosting

  • 12 Tablespoons Butter, softened

  • 8 Tablespoons (half of an 8 ounce tub) of Crème Fraîche, softened slightly

  • 2 Cups Powder Sugar, sifted

  • ⅛ Teaspoon Freshly Ground Nutmeg

  • 1 Tablespoon Milk

  • 3 Tablespoons Local Honey

  • ⅛ Teaspoon Kosher Salt

To Top

  • ½ Pound Fresh Figs, washed, dried, cut into quarters *see note

  • ¼ Cup Roughly Chopped Pistachios or Nut of Choice (optional)

  • Local Honey for drizzle

Directions: 

For the Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350ºf. Grease, flour, and line with parchment paper a 8 inch round (2 inch deep) aluminum cake pan.

  2. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg. Whisk together and set aside.

  3. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, honey, and vanilla extract. Set aside.

  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 4-5 minutes.

  5. Add in the eggs, on at a time, mixing for 30 seconds in between each.

  6. Stop the mixer and add in ⅓ of the dry ingredients and ½ of the wet ingredients. Mix on low speed just until combined. Add the next ⅓ of the dry ingredients and the remaining ½ of the wet ingredients and mix on low until just combined. Now add in the final ⅓ of the dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until combined. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Turn the mixer on to medium speed and mix for 15-20 seconds to ensure everything is fully combined but do not over-mix. You need to alternate between the dry and wet ingredients, beginning and ending with the dry or else the cake batter may separate.

  7. Pour the cake batter into the cake pan filling it ¾'s of the way full. (If you have any extra batter just pour it into some greased ramekins and enjoy an extra mini cake like I do sometimes!)

  8. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

  9. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20-30 minutes and then remove the cake from the pan and transfer it to a cooling rack to finish cooling completely.

For the Frosting

  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and crème fraîche on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about five minutes.

  2. Stop the mixer and add in the powdered sugar, salt, and nutmeg. Turn the speed on to the lowest setting and mix until the powdered sugar is no longer creating a powder cloud. Slowly drizzle in the milk and the honey and turn the speed to medium-high and whip for 2-3 minutes or until the frosting is no longer grainy from the powdered sugar. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Mix again on medium-high speed for 30 seconds to ensure everything is combined fully.

To Assemble

  1. Place the cake layer onto a cake stand or serving plate.

  2. Scoop all of the frosting into the center of the cake and use a large spoon or offset spatula to swoosh around the frosting all the way to the edges of the cake.

  3. Top with the quartered figs, chopped nuts (if using) and drizzle with a little bit honey.

  4. Enjoy!

This cake is best if eaten the day it was made but I found that if stored in a container in the refrigerator, it still tastes delicious 4-5 days after. 

Notes:

* There are three main varieties of figs; Brown Turkey, Black Mission, and Green. You can use whichever variety of figs you have access to. I used Black Mission Figs from Trader Joe's.