Sunday, February 24, 2013

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coconut Oil

Apologies for the underwhelming photo. I think I need to read up on food styling... 

When a few last minute things popped up and I couldn't make it to CBN's Oscar party at Nellcote, to say that I was disappointed would be an understatement. So I did what any rational girl would do with a night alone, a mile-long list of things to take care of, and plans to be out of town the whole week: I baked a cake.

And not just any cake, a flourless chocolate cake that I topped with almond butter frosting. I think I could start an entire cookbook of recipes entitled, "Recipe Alterations That Don't Require Me To Leave My Apartment", because I made some interesting substitutions in the name of laziness that somehow resulted in a really good end product. It was fudgy, dense, and not too sweet (until I covered the whole thing with a sugary almond butter frosting.)

This was very loosely adapted from Nigella Lawson's chocolate olive oil cake.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Coconut Oil

  • 1 3/4 C + 2 Tb cocoa powder

  • 1/2 tsp baking soda

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 C coffee, cooled

  • 3 eggs

  • 2/3 cup coconut oil, melted

  • 1 C white sugar

  • 1 1/2 Tb vanilla

  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F and prepare an 8x8" pan by lining it with parchment paper. If you don't usually use parchment paper, tear a piece big enough so that it hangs over the edges of the pan a bit so that you'll be able to lift the cake out by pulling up the edges of the paper later. Parchment paper makes baking infinitely easier both in terms of cleanup and in the dreaded step of removing baked goods from the pan!

  2. Sift together your salt, baking soda and cocoa powder, then set it aside.

  3. In a new bowl, whisk together the eggs, coconut oil and vanilla, then add your sugar and mix until its smooth, creamy and custardy.

  4. Now pour the coffee into the egg and sugar mixture, and stir until its completely combined.

  5. Next, slowly add the cocoa powder into the wet ingredients, stirring it in bit by bit. Take your time or it'll get clumpy and harder smooth out!

  6. Once it's all mixed together and very smooth (it'll be really liquid-y!), pour the batter into your pan. Bake for about 35-40 minutes, or until you can stick a toothpick in the middle and it comes out clean.

  7. Lift the cake out of the pan by the parchment paper and set it aside to cool. Once it's cooled for about 20 minutes (be patient!), you're ready to frost! You could eat it plain, but what's the fun in that?

For my frosting, I combined 1/2 cup of almond butter with 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil, 1 cup of sugar and 1 tsp of salt. Powdered sugar would have resulted in a smoother frosting, similar to a buttercream, but I didn't have it and didn't mind the grainier texture... it reminded me a bit of Reeses filling!

Off to put my sugar high to good use and finish up my work.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Roasted Tomatoes




This isn't really so much of a recipe as "put them in the oven" isn't exactly a novel concept. But I thought it might be worth sharing, anyway, since sometimes something so simple as putting them in the oven makes the painfully ordinary surprisingly good.

With the particularly evil combo of negative windchills and post-vacation food guilt, cold salads are not exactly cutting it when I literally dreamed of macaroni and cheese last night. I can't roast cheese for you (OR CAN I?), but I can improve on the cold salad business.

Roasted Tomatoes

  • Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

  • Cut your tomatoes into evenly-sized pieces and place on a foil covered pan for easy clean-up.

  • Sprinkle to taste with salt, pepper, sugar, and seasoning. On 5 tomatoes, I used about 1 tsp of salt, 1 tsp pepper, and one Tb of sugar. Skip anything else, but don't skip the sugar -- it's what'll make your tomatoes caramelize a bit!

  • Drizzle with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle with any other seasonings you like - I used a bit of oregano.

  • Roast for 30 minutes. If you'd like them a bit extra crunchy and black on top, pop them in the broiler for 2 minutes at the end for charred edges.

  • Serve with other roasted vegetables, on top of your salad to warm it up, or as a side dish.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Things I Did Not Know About St. Louis





















  • St. Louis' mascot is the Billiken. The Billiken is actually NOT Robin Williams' face on a fluffy cloud body, believe that or not. Instead, it's a figure that represents "things as they ought to be." I love that.

  • Nelly is not as easy to find as one might believe.

  • St. Louis is home to the second biggest Mardi Gras, only bested by New Orleans. Who knew? We were there the weekend just prior to the big celebration, so I blessedly got to experience some of the great music and decor without the crazy. Though who are we kidding, I would love to go back for the crazy.

  • Budweiser is the only beer to go through a beechwood aging process. Beechwood chips are added to the tanks the beer is brewed in to increase the surface area for yeast cells to rest on and ferment, which adds flavor compounds. Phew. Basically, there's a reason it tastes different than Miller Lite or other domestic lite beers. This is not technically a St. Louis fact, but the Budweiser Tour is a blast and should not be missed.

  • Budweiser does not enforce the 2-drink maximum on their tour.

  • St. Louis is awesome, and I can't wait to go back.


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Langham Chicago

The word "slack" does not even approach the piles of neglect we've heaped on our poor little blog here. But I've been a travelling machine lately (not complaining! Just, you know, making excuses...) and here we are, a week later again.

On a flight recently, I saw a mention of The Langham, a new hotel slated to open in Chicago in summer of 2013. You may remember my love of luxury hotels from this post on Public Hotel, and it's looking like The Langham is certainly going to hold its own here (even with it's next-door location to the Trump!). They're moving into the  first 13 floors of the IBM building, which sounds, well, less than appealing -- but the building is actually a Chicago landmark thanks to its design by famed architect Mies van der Rohe.

With it's River North location off of Wacker, I'm guessing there's going to be a cocktail lounge or restaurant with some pretty serious river views and (fingers crossed!) patio seating.

But, to the important part -- the design, by Richmond International. The muted grey, the Greek key patterns, the soft golds... too beautiful for words. Can I just move in now? Can I be the 28 year old Chicago-based Eloise here, please? Or even the Nanny?

Did that get weird? Sorry. Enjoy!



tlchi_2 tlchi_3 tlchi_4 tlchi_5

// All photos from The Langham's Website

More on The Langham:


Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Photos: Ali's Birthday








This post is so belated that if this were 20 years ago, Ali would already be declaring herself twentysevenANDAHALF!

Editing and uploading these photos made me so happy - lobsters, champagne, birthdays, smug cats and family... what could be better?

Wait, there might be one thing! This gif of a look I have been on the receiving end of many a time. "Seriously, Laura?" Love you, Al!