Saturday, October 27, 2007

Low-Fat Chocolate Marble Cake...

I had first seen this recipe about a year ago on my favourite blog - Nicole's Baking Bites! What first attracted me to this recipe was the fact that it was low in fat. At the time I was skeptical about just how good any low-fat dessert could be - Of course, now I know better! I gave it a try despite my skepticism and I was NOT disappointed!

Since discovering this recipe, I have made it countless times (and again this weekend!). I love it because it's so versatile. Topped with a chocolate glaze, it's elegant enough for a dinner party. Yet by itself it's non-fussy enough to bring to a casual get-together like a BBQ or picnic. It's also easy to make which puts it high on my list of desserts I turn to when I have no idea what to make and when I'm strapped for time. Besides the convenience of it, it is also SUPER DELICIOUS and I always get recipe requests whenever I make it. The cake itself is moist and fluffy. The chocolate cake swirl has an intense chocolate flavour. The white cake has a great tang from the yogurt! Together they are heaven!

I make a few changes though. I use vanilla yogurt in place of the plain kind. I use 1 tbsp. of instant coffee instead of the instant espresso since I can never find it. Lastly, I only measure out 1 cup of the yogurt batter instead of 1 1/2 cups.


Chocolate Marble Cake
By Alice Medrich "Chocolate and the Art of Low-Fat Desserts"
Serves 12

2 cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon instant espresso
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1-1/3 cups sugar
1 whole egg
1 egg white
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup nonfat plain yogurt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Have all ingredients at room temperature. Position the rack in lower third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Spray 8- to 10- inch tube pan with vegetable oil spray.Use a wire whisk to combine the flour with the baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Sift together. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine espresso powder, cocoa, and 1/3 cup of the sugar with 1/4 cup water. Whisk until smooth. Set aside.

In another small bowl, whisk whole egg with egg white. Set aside.

Cut the butter into pieces and place in an electric mixer bowl. Beat for about 1 minute to soften. Gradually add remaining 1 cup of sugar and beat at high speed for about 3 minutes. Dribble eggs in slowly, about 1 tablespoon at a time, beating constantly for about 2 minutes. On low speed, beat in a third of the flour mixture. On medium-high speed, beat in half of the yogurt. On low speed, beat in half of the remaining flour. On high speed, beat in the rest of the yogurt and the vanilla. On low speed, beat in the remaining flour.

Measure out 1-1/2 cups of yogurt batter and mix into the cocoa mixture; set aside.

Use a large spoon to fill the bottom of the pan with about three quarters of the white batter placed in dollops. Cover the white batter with dollops of chocolate batter. Top the chocolate batter with small dollops of white batter spread so that the chocolate batter shows through. Use a table knife to marble the batters together with a circular or zigzag motion; be careful not to blend them too much.

Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, or until cake begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake in several places comes out clean. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes on a rack. Unmold the cake. Cool completely before serving or storing. Serve cake upside down or right side up. Cake may be stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for 3 to 4 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

Nutritional Information: 230 calories and 6.9 grams of fat per serving.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Cream of Broccoli Soup

What do you do when you have a whole bunch of broccoli to use up, it's chilly outside and you're craving something comforting like soup? You make cream of broccoli soup, of course!

I originally wanted to make a recipe I found in the Everyday Food mag but I didn't have any potatoes so I took out my trusty "How to Cook Everything" cookbook and found a recipe that called for my choice of rice or potatoes - perfect! What I love about this cookbook is that you can adapt any recipe and personalize because almost every recipe has add-in's, substitutions, and tips...I keep wondering why I don't use this cookbook more often! Maybe I need to do a little more cooking and a little less baking - yeah right!

So the verdict: OH MY GOD, AMAZING! Not only is it super tasty, it was ridiculously easy and fast to make! The soup is a little chunkier than the soups I've had at restaurants but I think it has to do with the fact that my blender isn't the best in the world. Regardless, the taste is out of this world! I'm glad I decided to add some garlic and onions to the original recipe - this is really a keeper recipe!


Picture Courtesy of Everyday Food


Cream of Broccoli Soup
Adapted from recipe from "How to Cook Everything"

1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups loosely packed broccoli
1/2 cup rice
4 cups low-fat reduced-sodium chicken stock
sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/4 cup half-and-half

1. In a small saucepan saute the onion and garlic until the onions are translucent and fragrant. Set aside.

2. Combine the broccoli, rice, and stock in a large, deep saucepan or casserole and turn the heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to medium and cook until the vegetables are very tender, about 15 minutes.

3. Cool broccoli mixture slightly, then puree with garlic and onion mixture in batches in blender (you may prepare the soup in advance up to this point. Cover, refrigerate for up to 2 days, and reheat before proceeding.).

4. Return to the pot and reheat over medium-low heat. Season with salt and pepper, then add the cream; heat through again and serve.

Friday, October 19, 2007

In Seach of the Perfect Chocolate Cake Recipe....

I really hate making baked goods from a boxed mix or using premade frostings! No matter how good they taste, I get soooo turned off when I read the ingredients and see the list of chemicals, preservatives, and weird-sounding ingredients (the organic versions are not bad at all but they are $10.00/box!). Honestly, I must say, I've never had a cake that was as moist or as soft or as fluffy (Marc's birthday cake last year was close but not quite) as the boxed mix versions. This is what led to my quest in search of the best recipe for an everyday chocolate cake. The criteria: the recipe had to be super easy, the cake had to be moist and fluffy, and the icing had to be as good as the premade versions!

My first try was the Texas Sheet Cake from Cooking Light. It was very good for a low-fat version but it was neither, super easy to make (it was easy but it wasn't effortless) or what I was looking for in an everyday recipe. It was fluffy but not as moist as I would have liked it and Marc and I did not like the addition of the cinnamon at all.

My second try was the Hershey "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake recipe that was suggested on the Cooking Light message boards. It is very moist and fluffy, perfect amount of chocolate flavor and sweetness, the frosting is to die for, and the recipe is super easy - a one-bowl recipe! The perfect recipe - the texture and flavor was exactly what I was looking for - like the boxed versions but just a little less sweet! I used the one-pan cake variation and the cake was done after 35 minutes. After a tip from my mom, I sifted all the dry ingredients - I'm not sure how much of a difference that made in the recipe but I'm sure it contributed to the fluffy/moist factors!


Picture Courtesy of Cooking Light

HERSHEY'S "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" Chocolate Cake

Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING(recipe follows)

Directions:
1. Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9-inch round baking pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks.

Cool completely. Frost with "PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING. 10 to 12 servings.

VARIATIONS:
ONE-PAN CAKE: Grease and flour 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Heat oven to 350° F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Frost.
THREE LAYER CAKE: Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. Frost.
BUNDT CAKE: Grease and flour 12-cup Bundt pan. Heat oven to 350°F. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 55 minutes. Cool 15 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Frost.
CUPCAKES: Line muffin cups (2-1/2 inches in diameter) with paper bake cups. Heat oven to 350°F. Fill cups 2/3 full with batter. Bake 22 to 25 minutes. Cool completely. Frost. About 30 cupcakes.

"PERFECTLY CHOCOLATE" CHOCOLATE FROSTING

1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla. About 2 cups frosting.

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Texas Sheet Cake
Cooking Light

Ingredients
Cooking spray
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
2 cups granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa, divided
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract, divided
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup fat-free milk
3 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Preparation

Preheat oven to 375°.

Coat a 13 x 9-inch pan with cooking spray, and dust with 2 teaspoons flour. Set aside.
Lightly spoon 2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 2 cups flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Combine 3/4 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/4 cup cocoa in a small saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add to flour mixture. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until well blended. Add buttermilk, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs; beat well. Pour batter into the prepared pan. Bake at 375° for 22 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack.

Combine 6 tablespoons butter, fat-free milk, and remaining 1/4 cup cocoa in a saucepan; bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Gradually stir in powdered sugar and remaining 2 teaspoons vanilla. Spread over hot cake. Sprinkle cake with pecans. Cool completely on wire rack.

Yield: 20 servings (serving size: 1 slice)

Nutritional Information: CALORIES 298(30% from fat); FAT 10g (sat 5.5g,mono 3.2g,poly 0.7g); PROTEIN 3.1g; CHOLESTEROL 44mg; CALCIUM 25mg; SODIUM 188mg; FIBER 0.5g; IRON 1.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 49.8g

Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2007