Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Espresso Date-Nut Loaf


Espresso Date-Nut Loaf
Source: Maida Heatter's Best Dessert Book Ever (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 1997 ed.), pg. 94.
If you like dates and nuts, you should like this. It is packed. The cocoa powder gives it a slight chocolaty taste. However, this has a very light and mild flavor. It is perfect for a breakfast bread with coffee or perhaps served with some whipped cream (I haven't tried that yet). 
It is very easy to put together. The baking time was way off - she recommended 1 hour and 10 minutes. Mine was done in 50 minutes. Be aware of that and check accordingly.
This would be a nice recipe for the holidays!
10 oz. (1 1/4 cups) pitted dates
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup boiling water
2 cups sifted unbleached flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 TBS cocoa powder
3 TBS instant espresso powder
2 large eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or canola)
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup raisins
1 1/2 cups walnuts, broken into medium-sized pieces
Preheat the oven to 350.
Butter or spray a loaf pan with 8 cup capacity (9"x5"x3"). I used a long pan for this (12"x 4") and it worked well.
Cut the dates into 1/2 inch slices (scissors work well for this). Place them in a bowl. Stir the baking soda into the boiling water. Pour over the dates and let them stand until cool or lukewarm.

Stir together the flour, salt, baking powder, cocoa and espresso and set aside.

Beat the eggs slightly. Add the oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat only to mix.

Add the date mixture and beat just to mix.

On low speed, add the dry ingredients until mixed.


Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir in the raisins and nuts.

Turn into the prepared pan.

Bake until a tester comes out clean (this took 50 minutes for me - Maida says 70 minutes - I would beginning testing it at 45 minutes.)
Let stand for 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Countess Toulouse-Lautrec's French Chocolate Cake


Source: Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts (Andrews & McMeel Publishing, 2006 ed.), pg. 45.

I've wanted to make this recipe for a long time. I don't know why it has taken me this long to get to it. The recipe is very unusual. Just a few ingredients and it only bakes for 15 minutes.  It is not difficult to make at all but not a fast recipe and it needs to chill before serving.

Anyway, who was this Countess Toulouse-Lautrec? Of course, I immediately thought that it must be the artist Toulouse Lautrec's wife but no. She was Marie Pierre "Mapie" de Toulouse-Lautrec (1901-1972), a French journalist and food writer. She was related to Toulouse-Lautrec by marriage. According to Wikipedia, she invented the detachable recipe card that you find in magazines when she was a writer for Elle magazine. She introduced this recipe to American audiences in McCall's magazine in 1959.

The cake is dense, somewhat like a cheesecake, but not really. It is very chocolaty and rich. A small portion goes a long way. It can be served without the whipped cream or you can substitute a fruit topping. The cake needs a topping because it sinks in the middle and isn't that great looking when bare.

1 lb. semisweet chocolate (bar chocolate or chips are both fine)
5 oz. butter, at room temperature, cut into small cubes
4 large eggs, separated
1 TBS. all-purpose flour
Pinch of salt
1 TBS. granulated sugar

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line an 8-inch spring-form pan with wax paper to cover the bottom. Butter the top of the wax paper as well as the sides of the pan.


Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over hot water. This is a lot of chocolate. Here is how I do it - I bring about an inch of water to a boil and then turn off the heat. Place the double boiler with the chocolate in position and cover it with a plate. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. Remove the plate and stir. If the chocolate still has not fully melted, it might be necessary to heat the water again.

Add the butter a little at a time to the chocolate, stirring and making sure it completely melts before adding more. Set aside to cool.

Beat the egg yolks at high speed for 5 minutes. Add the tablespoon of flour and mix it in.

Add the chocolate into the batter.

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold a soft shape. Add the sugar and continue to beat until they hold a definite shape. Fold one half of the mixture into the chocolate (just enough to mix). Then fold the chocolate into the remaining whites. Fold until blended.

Transfer the batter to the pan. Level the batter by briskly turning the pan back and forth.

Bake for 15 minutes. When you remove the pan from the oven, the cake will look deflated. Do not worry.

 Let the cake sit in the pan until it comes to room temperature. Slide a sharp knife around the perimeter to loosen the cake but do not open the pan. After coming to room temperature, refrigerate the cake for several hours or overnight.

After the cake has chilled, remove it from the pan. Carefully use a long sharp knife to remove the cake from the pan bottom. Peel off the wax paper.

If you so desire, prepare the whipped topping to garnish.

Whipped Cream

(Note: I divided this by half and still had plenty).

2 cups heavy cream
3 TBS. confectioners sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract or 2 tsp. kirsch or framboise

In a chilled bowl with chilled beater, whip all the ingredients until it reaches the stiffness level you like.