Black and white cake

So, what are you giving your sweetheart for Valentine’s Day? (You do know it’s tomorrow, right?)

Sure, you could buy a big box of chocolates or a huge bouquet of flowers. Maybe some aftershave or a big honkin’ piece of jewelry. But what says “I love you” more than making something with your own two hands?

He Who Must Be Fed is getting this black and white cake, a recipe I found in the Food Network Magazine.  I happen to know he’ll love it. (I know because I made it a couple of weeks ago. I don’t like to take chances with Valentine’s Day, my friends.)

The cake was moist and just chocolate-y enough without being overbearing. The frosting was light and creamy, but had rich undertones of white chocolate. I think it’s the best white frosting I’ve ever tasted.

Ingredients:

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus more for the pans
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus more for the pans
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the frosting:

  • 8 ounces white chocolate, chopped, plus shaved chocolate for topping
  • 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Shaved dark chocolate, for topping

Heat your oven to 325°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and dust with cocoa powder, tapping out the excess. Combine the butter, milk and 1/2 cup water in a saucepan and bring to a simmer. Transfer to a large bowl, add the cocoa powder and granulated sugar and whisk until smooth. Let cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
Whisking
Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; set aside. Whisk the eggs and vanilla into the cocoa mixture, then stir in the flour mixture in two additions until just combined (it’s OK if there are a few small lumps).Frosting

Divide the batter between the prepared pans; tap the pans against the counter to remove any air bubbles.BatterInPansBake until a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out with a few moist crumbs, about 35 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in the pans, then run a knife around the edges and invert onto a rack to cool completely.
CakesCooling
For the frosting, put the white chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring until smooth, then let cool. Beat the butter and salt in a large bowl with a mixer on medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the melted white chocolate until combined. Gradually beat in the confectioners’ sugar until smooth and fluffy; beat in the vanilla. (Your frosting may be too soft to spread – mine was – so chill it about 15 minutes.)

MakingFrosting

Frost your cake and add shaved white and dark chocolate. Then present it to your sweetie and be prepared for an onslaught of love in appreciation.

FinishedCake

CakePiece

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Best Potato Soup Ever

Make. This. Soup.

I love soup, particularly when the weather here is hovering around 20 degrees (or lower) and I need something to warm my soul. I’ve shared several great soup recipes with you, from clam chowder to sausage and lentil.

But this one, my foodie friends, is awesome. I got this recipe  from my friend Patty, who loves to cook, so I knew it was going to be a winner. And it was. He Who Must Be Fed and I ate every last bit and were left wanting more.

Ingredients:

BaconForSoup

  • 1 pound of bacon (you had me at bacon)
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minces
  • 8 potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 to 4 ½ cups chicken stock
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until done. Remove bacon from pan, and set aside.  Drain off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon grease. Cook celery and onion in reserved bacon drippings (hmm bacon drippings) until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes. Add cubed potatoes, and toss to coat.PotatoesForSoup

Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Return bacon to the pan, and add enough chicken stock just to cover the potatoes. Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.

RouxIn a separate pan, melt butter over medium heat. Whisk in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in the heavy cream and tarragon. Bring the cream mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Stir the cream mixture into the potato mixture. Puree the soup in batches and return to pan. Salt and pepper to your taste.

If you try this let me know if you loved it. I really want to know.

FinishedSoup

 

Full-recipe disclosure: If you access the original recipe, you’ll see it suggests pureeing only half of the mixture and returning that to your pot with the diced potatoes. As I mentioned, I pureed it all, and it had a lovely, smooth consistency. (Oh, and I didn’t add any cilantro. He Who Must Be Fed isn’t a fan.)