Sunday, February 9, 2020

Two New Maida Heatter Books Out in April

Voracious Publishers (an imprint of Little, Brown & Co.) will publish two new books by Maida Heatter on April 7, 2020. Thanks to NetGalley, I was given the opportunity to review digital copies. Like last year's Happiness Is Baking, both books are compilations of her most popular recipes.

The first is Cookies Are Magic: Classic Cookies, Brownies, Bars, and More. The recipes in this book have been assembled from Maida Heatter’s previously published books, including Happiness Is Baking, Maida Heatter's Cakes,  Maida Heatter's Cookies, Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts, Maida Heatter's Book of Great Desserts, Maida Heatter's New Book of Great Desserts.

There are chapters on Drop Cookies, Bar Cookies, Icebox Cookies, Rolled Cookies and Hand-Formed Cookies. A More! chapter includes recipes for macaroons, crackers, marshmallows and other items that don't necessarily fit into any of the previous categories.

The book includes some of the recipes that I have tried and shared on the blog here, such as Palm Beach Brownies, Pennies From Heaven, Pinwheels, and Positively the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. The large majority, however, are recipes that I haven't tried so I have my work cut out for me. Some of the ones that I need to try are Mrs. L.B.J's Moonrocks, Norman Rockwell's Oatmeal Wafers, Johnny Appleseed Squares, Lebkuchen, Vienesse Marzipan Bars, Maxines and the list goes on. 

The book contains a foreward by Deb Perelman which was unavailable on the galley. The colorful illustrations are by Alice Oehr, who also did the ones for Happiness is Baking. Maida Heatter's notes on equipment, ingredients and how-to's are included in the preface.

The book appears to be designed exactly like Happiness Is Baking, which has a very attractive layout. My only gripe with it was that it is impossible to keep the book open so you have to use a weight to hold the pages down.

Chocolate Is Forever: Classic Cakes, Cookies, Pastries, Pies, Puddings, Candies, Confections, and More  follows the same format and features Maida's chocolate delicacies.  The recipes in this book are compiled from the same titles listed above.

Chapters include Simple Cakes, Special Occasion Cakes, Cookies & Bars, Pastries, Pies, Puddings & More and Candy, Fudge and Chocolate Drinks. I have made many of these recipes and they include some of my all-time favorites, such as 86-Proof Chocolate Cake, St. Louis Chocolate Layer Cake, Country Fair Chocolate Cake, Frozen Chocolate Mousse and Rocky Roads. But there are also a number that I haven't tried, chief among them are the September 7th Cake, Robert Redford Cake, Queen Mother's Cake, Hungarian Seven Layer Cake, Mocha Velvet, Chocolate Bread and a host of others. Just seeing the list of contents reminds me, that despite blogging her recipes for the past decade, I still have tons of recipes to go!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Chocolate Applesauce Cake

Chocolate Applesauce Cake
Source: Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2006 ed.), pg. 79.

You will have to forgive me for veering slightly off track with this recipe. I normally make everything exactly as written. There is a popular recipe website that I refer to often and I always read the user reviews because they have helpful tips from people who have actually made the recipe. Often, however, a person will have changed so many ingredients that it no longer resembles the original recipe. It drives me nuts!

I made 2 changes for this and I feel they are slight ones. First, I decided to use chocolate chips instead of raisins. So many of Maida's recipe call for raisins but after all the holiday baking, I was sick of them. The second change made me wary but I decided to cut the sugar back and substitute applesauce. I do this on other non-Maida recipes and it works fine. This recipe calls for 2 cups of sugar (a lot!), so I used 1 1/4 cups of sugar and 3/4 cups applesauce. Of course, this is additional applesauce with the 2 cups already called for. In all, 2 3/4 cups applesauce. The recipe supplied below, however, is the original recipe as supplied in the book. Do with it what you will.

The results were spectacular. Like she says in the introduction, this is a very moist, pudding-like cake that slices beautifully. I've even made super thin slices from it and there is no crumbling or collapsing whatsoever. The cake has a mild chocolate-y flavor and it is not overly sweet. Now, if you use the 2 cups of sugar called for, perhaps it would be sweeter? Not sure - if you make it with all the sugar, let me know. It was sweet enough for me and you also get the slight kick from the cinnamon and nutmeg.

And, as for the chocolate chips, they provided occasional soft spots with chocolatey goodness. I liked it!

3 oz. raisins
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 cup plus 1 TBS. unsweetened cocoa (preferably Dutch process)
6 oz (1 1/2 sticks) butter
2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 1/2 cups walnuts or pecans, in medium-sized pieces
Optional: Confectioners sugar for garnishing

Preheat the oven to 350. Butter a plain tube pan that measures 10 inches across and line the bottom with parchment paper. (Note: I used a Bundt pan for this and did not line in, just sprayed it with a baking spray and heavily dusted it with bread crumbs. I had no issues with sticking).

Cover the raisins with boiling water and let them stand for about 5 minutes. (Or you can skip this step and use chocolate chips!)

Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cocoa powder. Set aside.

Cream the butter and add the sugar, beating well.  Add the eggs one at a time. Beat at high speed for one minute after adding the last egg.

Lower the speed and slowly add the sifted dry mixture in three additions, alternating it with the applesauce. The mixture will have a curdled look.

Remove from the mixer and stir in the nuts and the raisins. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 70-85 minutes. The cake will come away from the sides and spring back lightly when pressed when it is done. 

Cool for 15 minutes on a wire rack and carefully remove the cake from the pan and allow it to cool completely. 

Sprinkle with confectioners sugar, if desired.