Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Orangey Goodness

This is my new specialty cake. I give you:

Orange Chocolate Chip Pound Cake (with Coconut Rum Whipped Cream)

I went trolling the 'nets, and I found a base recipe really close to the one I use for my adapted pound cakes. It's from a bloke named Will Barber, and I found it here. (The one I use makes a larger cake. That's the only difference.)

Anyway, here you go.

Ingredients for cake:

1/2 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 c flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 c sour cream or plain yogurt
1 tsp orange juice
Zest from two large oranges
3/4 c chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with foil; grease the foil with butter and set aside.
2. Cream butter and sugar together until the mixture is light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Your batter should now be a rich yellow and slightly thick.
3. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Alternate adding this dry mixture and the sour cream or yogurt to the batter. Stir after each addition until the ingredients are just mixed.
4. Zest two large oranges into batter and squeeze 1 tsp of juice from one of the oranges into the bowl. Stir until just blended.
5. Add the chocolate chips. Don’t overdo it with the stirring, or your cake will end up dense and rubbery, and nobody wants that.
6. Pour batter into pan and bake for 40-50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the cake cool entirely before cutting, and then serve it with dollops of coconut rum whipped cream on top (recipe below).

For coconut rum whipped cream:

1 c baker’s heavy cream
1 Tbs coconut rum

Pour cream and coconut rum into a chilled glass bowl. Beat on medium-high speed until cream holds stiff peaks. (I highly recommend licking the bowl, the beaters, and the spoon when you’re done.) Refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.


Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Building a Better Carmelita

Carmelitas: they are delicious bars of chewy, nutty, chocolatey goodness, and I just made some.

I took this recipe and changed it around a bit so that it better suits my particular tastes. For example, this recipe doesn't call for nuts, but a carmelita cannot, in my opinion, be a carmelita without nuts. Since I'm not a fan of walnuts (too crumbly!) and I think that pecans are too close in flavor to caramel, I decided to use chopped hazelnuts. Those are my favorite nuts anyway, so I'll toss them in just about wherever I can. I'm also not particularly keen on caramel, so I've added a bit of cinnamon to offset its sticky sweetness.

Cinnamon Hazelnut Carmelitas:

crumbly carmelita "crust":
1 1/2 c flour
1 1/2 c quick oats
1 c brown sugar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 c melted butter
1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional - but I like the slight zing that the cinnamon adds)

gooey carmelita middle:
1 1/2 c chocolate chips
1 c chopped hazelnuts
1 c caramel ice cream topping
2 Tbs flour


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 13 x 9-inch pan with foil.
2. Combine all ingredients for the crust in a large mixing bowl. Stir until a crumb mixture is formed.
3. Press half of the crumb mixture into the bottom of your 13 x 9-inch pan and bake for 10 minutes.
4. Remove from oven after 10 minutes and immediately sprinkle with chocolate chips and chopped hazelnuts. Drizzle caramel topping over chips and dust with the 2 Tbs of flour (if you skip this bit, the caramel will melt into the top layer of the crust and sort of disappear into it, leaving you with an oddly hard, slightly chewy top layer and no gooey caramel center to speak of. As this would be a tragedy and defeat the purpose of making carmelitas, I wouldn't skip this step...).
5. Top with the remaining crumb mixture (I usually flatten palmfuls of the mixture between my hands and place them on top of the caramel like a jigsaw puzzle).
6. Bake for an additional 15-20 minutes. Cool and cut into bars. Note: it's easier to cut these suckers into bars if you refrigerate them first.

You can always leave out the cinnamon or hazelnuts, or you can substitute a different kind of nut, should you so desire. I made them exactly to the original recipe the first time, and while those carmelitas turned out well, they weren't very interesting in either their texture or their taste. Hence my need to "build a better carmelita."

I hope you enjoy!