Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Linguine with olives, thyme and lemon

Linguine with olives, thyme and lemon

Some people hate Martha, but I’m one of those who love her. :)

I got this recipe from her website; the original version calls for pappardelle, but I chose to use linguine (one of my favorite pasta shapes). I think the substitution worked well.

It is a quick, easy to put together sauce and it smells wonderful, but one thing that didn’t please me much was finding large pieces of zest in my pasta – as much as I love lemons and oranges, I’m sure that the result would have been a lot better if grated zest had been used instead of chopped.


This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by the adorable Anh, of Food Lover’s Journey.

Linguine with olives, thyme and lemon

½ teaspoon coarse salt– I used sea salt
225g (8 oz) linguine
16 Kalamata olives, pitted
½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
zest of 1 lemon, coarsely chopped
one 3-inch piece orange zest, coarsely chopped
¼ teaspoon crushed red-pepper flakes

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add salt and the linguine, and cook until pasta is al dente, following label directions. Drain in a colander.
While pasta is cooking, combine salt, olives, parsley, olive oil, thyme, lemon zest, orange zest, and red-pepper flakes in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until a chunky puree forms. Transfer to a warm serving bowl large enough to accommodate cooked pasta.
Add pasta, and toss to combine.
Serve immediately.

Serves 2, or 4 to 6 as an appetizer

Monday, April 28, 2008

Marbled pound cake

Marbled pound cake

When I was younger, many of my friends at school had nieces and nephews – I thought it was so cool! Being older than my brother (back then, Jessica hadn’t been born yet) I knew that it would take me a while to be called an “auntie”.

My brother is single and still don’t have kids, but my problem has been solved – Joao already had 1 niece and 1 nephew when we started dating and 1 girl and 2 more boys have been added to the family since I became part of it. :)

One of the girls is Rafaela – a full of energy 3 year old. She loved the orange and lemon cake I baked last week and wanted me to bake another cake for her. A simple cake was the idea – no filling or frosting – that’s why I went for the perfect pound cake recipe from this book. Since Rafaela adores chocolate, I followed Dorie’s instructions to make a marbled cake.

The recipe is easy and doesn’t call for many ingredients. The cake was tender and my niece loved it – I think that in a few years I’ll have a new helper in the kitchen. :)

Marbled pound cake

Marbled pound cake
from Baking: From My Home to Yours

2 cups (280g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
226g (2 sticks/8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup (200g) sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
112g (4oz) bittersweet chocolate, chopped – I used 60% cocoa solids

Melt the chocolate over a double boiler and set aside to cool.

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 165ºC/325ºF. Butter a 9x5-inch (22.5x12.5cm) loaf pan or an 8-½x4-½ inch (21x11cm) loaf pan*. Put the pan on an insulated baking sheet or on two regular baking sheets stacked one on top of the other.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, a full 5 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and beater and reduce the mixer speed to medium. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 to 2 minutes after each egg goes in. As you're working, scrape down the bowl and beater often. Mix in the vanilla extract. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, mixing only until it is incorporated - don't overmix. In fact, you might want to fold in the last of the flour, or even all of it, by hand with a rubber spatula.

After the batter is fully mixed, transfer half of it to another bowl and gently blend in the melted, cooled chocolate. Alternate large spoonfuls of the light and dark batters in the pan, then run a kitchen knife in a zigzag pattern through the batters to marble them. Smooth the top.

Put the cake into the oven to bake, and check on it after about 45 minutes. If it's browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. If you're using a 9x5 pan, you'll need to bake the cake for 70 to 75 minutes; the smaller pan needs about 90 minutes. The cake is properly baked when a thin knife inserted deep into the center comes out clean.

Remove the cake from the oven, transfer the pan to a rack and let rest for 30 minutes.

Run a blunt knife between the cake and the sides of the pan and turn the cake out, then turn it right side up on the rack and cool to room temperature.

*I used a 26x10cm loaf pan and my cake baked for 75 minutes.

Wrapped well, the cake will keep for 5 to 7 days at room temperature (stale cake is great toasted) or up to 2 months in the freezer.

Serves 8-10

Friday, April 25, 2008

Ricotta gnocchi with lemon thyme butter sauce

Ricotta gnocchi with lemon thyme butter sauce

I know that many people frown at the simple mention of the name “ricotta” - right, C.? :)

I’m not one of those. I really like ricotta and find it very versatile. You can use it in both sweet and savory recipes and jazz it up with a diversity of flavors.

Valentina posted this gnocchi recipe a while ago on her blog in Portuguese and it sounded so easy I had to try it myself. Another use for the wonderful lemons in my fridge and also for my newest addiction: fresh thyme.


This is my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Margot, from Coffee and Vanilla.

Ricotta gnocchi with lemon thyme butter sauce

Ricotta gnocchi with lemon thyme butter sauce

250g ricotta cheese
¼ cup (25g) grated parmesan
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup (70g) all purpose flour
¼ cup finely chopped parsley
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
extra grated parmesan, to serve

80g unsalted butter, room temperature
pinch of salt
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice

Start with the sauce: place all the ingredients in a small saucepan and cook over low heat, stirring, until the butter melts completely. Remove from heat and set aside.

Now, the gnocchi: place the ricotta, ¼ cup parmesan, egg, flour, parsley, salt and pepper in a bowl and mix well until smooth – the ricotta cheese we have here in Brazil is a bit dry, so I started by breaking it with a fork and then added all the other ingredients. You'll see specks of ricotta in the gnocchi because I did not want to overmix the dough.

Transfer the mixture to a lightly greased or coated with cooking spray surface and shape into a long log; cut the gnocchi – they should be about 2cm.
Make indentations in each dough ball with a fork – I did not do that.

Cook the gnocchi in a large saucepan with boiling salted water – as soon as the balls come up to the surface, they will be almost ready; let them cook for another 30 seconds then remove them carefully from the pan, using a skimming ladle.

Heat the sauce, pour over the gnocchi, sprinkle with parmesan and serve at once.

Serves 2

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Ranger cookies

Ranger cookies

According to Allen, I am a cookie monster. I think he’s right – I absolutely love baking cookies!

Not only they taste delicious and are great for those times when the urge for something sweet hits us, they’re also easy to share. Pop a few into a plastic bag, close with a beautiful ribbon and you’ll make someone’s day extra special.

I have hundreds of cookie recipes just waiting to be baked, but these had been on my mind since Lisa posted them. Walnuts, coconut, chocolate and oats combined in wonderfully golden little packages – just what I needed to make my Sunday even better.

She has some amazing baked goods on her blog, so check them out and get inspired, too.

Ranger cookies

Ranger cookies

8 tablespoons (112g/4oz) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
½ cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt – I used sea salt
¼ cup unsweetened coconut
½ cup (56g/2oz) unsalted roasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
½ cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and the granulated and brown sugars until smooth and creamy. Stir in the vanilla extract and the egg. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Add the salt. Stir the dry ingredients into the butter mixture. Stir in the coconut, walnuts, oats, and chocolate chips.

Using about 1 ½ tablespoonfuls for each cookie, place mounds of the cookie dough 3 inches apart on the prepared sheets. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes – mine needed 14. Let the cookies cool to room temperature before removing them from the pans with a spatula.

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on size – I got 26

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Orange and lemon cake

Orange and lemon cake

I was going through the huge pile of recipe print outs I have at home and was stunned by the amount of paper there. It made me feel really guilty. So I chose some of those recipes to make on the weekend. And will try to cut the pile down a bit before adding more paper to it.

I picked 2 savory recipes and 2 sweet. To kick things off in a great way, I baked this out of this world cake, which I got it from an equally out of this world blog, Ivonne’s.

Most of you know I’ll pick citrus over any other flavor. Yes, even over chocolate. That’s why choosing this cake was not a difficult task. It had been there for over a year – you read it right, Ivonne posted it on January, 2007. I don’t know why it took me so long to try it – talk about a waste of time.

The cake rose beautifully and smelled so heavenly that I couldn’t wait for it to cool completely. I never thought a burned tongue would make me so glad. :)

Orange and lemon cake

Orange and lemon cake

3 cups (420g) all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 orange
¾ cup (180ml) milk (preferably whole)
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups (300g) granulated sugar
5 large eggs, at room temperature
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF; butter and flour a round 25cm (10-in) cake pan or springform pan.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Once sifted, add the orange and lemon zests and mix well. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, using the paddle attachment on medium speed, combine the butter and sugar and mix for 2 to 3 minutes until the butter is light in color and appears fluffy.
Combine the lemon juice, orange juice and milk and stir.
Add the eggs to the butter/sugar mixture, one at a time, on medium speed, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition.
Begin adding the dry ingredients, in three additions, and then alternating with the milk/juice mixture. You should begin with the dry ingredients and end with the dry ingredients.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 50 minutes to an hour. Check the cake after 50 minutes by inserting a toothpick or cake tester into the centre of the cake. If it comes out clean, it's done. If not, continue baking the cake. In my oven the cake took an hour so the baking time may vary based on your oven.
Once done, remove the cake from the oven and set on a wire rack to cool completely. Once cool, unmold the cake and dust with icing sugar before serving.

Orange and lemon cake

Thursday, April 17, 2008



Besides the cake, I made savory snacks for the boys’ birthday get together at my house last month. Simple yet good food, easy and quick to put together, because they’d arrive at lunch time and I would not have much time to cook. So I went for mini carne louca sandwiches and sfihas.

As much as it sounds like a big cliché, Brazil is a melting pot and we have been influenced by many different cultures. Our food is a great example of that. Italian, Portuguese, Japanese – you’ll find all those flavors in our menu. Not to mention the dishes we inherited from the indians (Brazil’s first habitants) and from the slaves that came from Africa centuries ago.

There’s also a large Syrian-Lebanese community here (at least in Sao Paulo), so sfihas are extremely popular. These are so delicious, I’m sure you’ll love them – I did, even though I can’t stand beef. And my Italian/Portuguese/German family loved them, too.



½ kg (17 ½ oz) ground beef
2 ripe tomatoes, seeds removed, finely diced
½ onion, finely diced
½ cup chopped parsley
2 teaspoons salt
juice of 1 lime
freshly ground black pepper*

30g fresh yeast
500ml warm milk – I used 1% fat
3 tablespoons sugar
1 ½ teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 ½ cups (about 780g) all-purpose flour – I used only 730g

Start with the filling: place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well until smooth. Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 220ºC/428ºF.

Now, the dough: place the yeast in a large bowl and add the milk. Mix well with a fork until the yeast is dissolved. Add the sugar, salt and oil. Start adding the flour, gradually, mixing with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough forms. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and let it rest for 5 minutes. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead it for about 5 minutes. Take small portions of dough – the size of a walnut – and make them into balls. Place onto a floured baking sheet, cover with a kitchen towel and set aside for another 5 minutes.
Using your fingers – I used a rolling pin, it was a lot easier – open each dough ball into a circle. Place ½ tablespoon of beef filling** into the center of the circle. Fold in the lower third of the circle towards the center of the sfiha, then the left and right thirds of the circle, forming a triangle. Pinch the ends together to seal the filling inside.
Place the sfihas, 1 inch apart, onto an oiled baking sheet.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden.

If you prefer your sfihas softer, place them inside a pot right after they’re out of the oven and put the lid on (I did not do that).
You can also use an egg wash on the sfihas before baking them, which I think is completely unnecessary.

* the original recipe calls for 1 teaspoon bahrat; I didn’t have any in my pantry, that’s why I used black pepper instead.

** the ground beef is used raw in the filling and releases water and blood after being mixed with the other ingredients. To prevent the dough from being watery, I placed the filling inside a colander over a bowl and squeezed the small portions of filling between my fingers to get rid of any excess liquid before putting them in each dough circle.

Makes 60


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cocoa Fudge Cookies and Picnik

Cocoa fudge cookies

I learned about Picnik reading this blog – I highly recommend it, even though it’s not about food; I found it while searching for good home décor ideas – my house could use some color right now.

It is a fun, easy to use tool. My sister absolutely loved it – she’s 14 and has tons of photos of her teen friends and dogs. You do the math. :)

I made these cookies ages ago, but wasn’t pleased with the photos. I kept postponing the recipe until I thought that it was good and deserved to be shared. I don’t have much experience with low fat baking but I want to learn more about it. If you are interested in that too, my friend JB has wonderful recipes on her blog.

Cocoa Fudge Cookies
from The All-New Complete Cooking Light Cookboook

1 cup (140g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons butter
7 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
2/3 cup (140g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (60g) packed brown sugar
1/3 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF; line 2 baking sheets with baking paper, lightly coated with cooking spray.

Lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Sift together flour, soda, and salt; set aside. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat; stir in cocoa powder and sugars (mixture will resemble coarse sand). Add yogurt and vanilla, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture, stirring until moist. Drop by level tablespoons 2 inches apart onto prepared baking sheets.

Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until almost set. Cool on pans 2 to 3 minutes or until firm. Remove cookies from pans; cool on wire racks.

Makes 2 dozen – I got 28 even after eating loads of dough (1 cookie = 78 calories)

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Taste of Yellow: Orange Poppy Seed Madeleines

Orange Poppy Seed Madeleines

The lovely Barbara is hosting “A Taste of Yellow” for the second time and it’s an honor for me to take part in this event again.

Last year, my entry was a lime polenta cake; this time, I felt like making something with a Brazilian flair. I chose quindim but unfortunately it was a disaster. I don’t know if it was me or the usual lack of details in traditional, old Brazilian recipes, but my attempt didn’t work out. It was an eggy mess that I’d rather forget about.

Luckily, I had a plan B – these wonderful madeleines, a recipe from the Washington Post. I finally got the famous bumps but I thought I’d ruined the madeleines when I saw they were very dark on one side. There’s was no bitter flavor, thank heavens.

My mind was still on my quindim failure and I did not pay attention to the correct side before glazing the madeleines. I don’t think that’s much of a difference, anyway.


Please, join us in “A Taste of Yellow”. Cook or bake something containing an element of yellow food and send your entry to Barbara until April, 19.

Information about cancer can save lives – let’s kick this disease in the a**!

Orange Poppy Seed Madeleines

Orange Poppy Seed Madeleines

1 cup (140g) flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 medium orange
5 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup (200g) sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 stick (4 oz/113g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
½ teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon poppy seeds

1 cup (150g) confectioners' sugar, sifted
¼ cup (60ml) juice of the reserved orange, strained

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF. Lightly grease two 15 ½-by-9-inch (38x22cm) nonstick madeleine pans.

In a separate small bowl, combine the sifted flour and baking powder. Set aside. Finely zest the orange, and set the zest and the orange aside.

In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar and brown sugar. Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients until just combined; the batter will be slightly stiff. Add the butter, honey, poppy seeds and half of the orange zest, mixing until just combined (do not overmix). Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Spread a heaping tablespoon of the batter evenly into each madeleine cup and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until a hunchback has formed on the cookies and they are golden brown. Unmold them immediately onto a wire rack and allow them to cool completely.

While the madeleines are cooling, make the glaze: in a small bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, the orange juice and the remaining half of the orange zest and whisk until the mixture is smooth. Brush some glaze onto the ridged side of each madeleine and let the glaze set for about 5 minutes before serving or storing – I dipped each madeleine into the glaze and shook off the excess.

Makes 2 dozen – I got 15 small madeleines + 24 large ones

Orange Poppy Seed Madeleines

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Artichoke and lemon linguine and I've won a book!

Artichoke and lemon linguine

Food bloggers are the best, aren’t they?

The talented Allen had his first book giveaway and I won! Yay!!
He’s sending me this amazing book, which comes with a DVD. I can’t wait to start making recipes from it!
Thank you, Allen!

I once tried a no-carb diet. Needless to say, it was a huge failure. I avoided rice and potato and bravely resisted cakes and cookies. But there are two things I can’t live without: bread and pasta.
Even those who are not that crazy about pasta will admit that, if you need a quick meal, that is the way to go. And to make it even faster, sometimes you don’t even need to cook the sauce.

If you decide to give this fabulous recipe a try, I promise you that dinner will be on the table in 10 minutes. Maybe 12, if you grill some bread with olive oil and serve along. :)

Recipe found on Fernanda’s beautiful blog – she used coriander in her pasta, but I did not have any around and went for parsley instead.


This will be my entry for the Weekend Herb Blogging, this time hosted by Jai and Bee, from Jugalbandi.

Artichoke and lemon linguine

Artichoke and lemon linguine

200g linguine
8 canned artichoke hearts – rapidly rinse them to remove any excess brine
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1 large handful of parsley
fleur de sel
freshly ground black pepper
4-5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
grated parmesan, to serve

Cook the linguine in a large saucepan of salted boiling water until al dente; drain and set aside.While the pasta cooks, make the sauce: place the artichoke hearts, lemon zest and juice, parsley, fleur de sel, pepper and olive oil in a food processor and process until you get a smooth mixture. Stir the sauce through the pasta, top with the parmesan and serve at once.

Serves 2

Artichoke and lemon linguine

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Orange and Pecan Sugar Cookies

Orange and Pecan Sugar Cookies

As much as I love my cookbooks and magazines, there are times when only a recipe posted by one of my favorite foodies will do - times when I need to be 100% sure about the result of my cooking adventure. My fellow food bloggers’ opinions mean a lot to me and I know I can rely on them.

I felt an urge to bake and that urge included oranges – I don’t even know what happened to me that day, since I’m never that specific. I usually think of a hundred different things to make, then I go back and forth with flavors.

When I saw Nic’s orange and pecan sugar cookies I knew my search was done. Her recipes are amazing and work out beautifully every time.

If you are a citrus lover like me, do yourself a favor and bake these. I mean, bake these NOW.

Orange and Pecan Sugar Cookies

Orange and Pecan Sugar Cookies

1 medium orange (any kind)
½ cup (113g) butter, room temperature
1 ½ cups (300g) sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 ½ cups (350g) all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (100g) pecans, toasted and finely chopped

Preheat oven to 190ºC/375ºF and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar. Zest orange and add grated zest (about 1 tablespoon)* to butter mixture, along with 3-4 tablespoons fresh orange juice (squeeze from remaining orange). Beat in eggs one at a time, followed by vanilla.
In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture, blending it in at a low speed until no streaks of flour remain. Stir in pecan pieces.
Drop dough onto prepared baking sheet in rounded ½ tablespoon-portions, leaving about 2 inches/5cm between cookies. Bake for 9-12 minutes, one baking sheet at a time, until edges of the cookies are lightly browned.
Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 3 dozen

*I halved the recipe and still added 1 tablespoon of zest; it yielded 32 cookies

Orange and Pecan Sugar Cookies

Monday, April 7, 2008

Crispy sage and brown butter pasta

Crispy sage and brown butter pasta

I love growing my own herbs. I have been doing that with basil and parsley for over 2years now, rosemary and chives for a little less time and a couple of months ago I started growing sage and oregano.
After cooking with sage for the first time, I felt like trying it again, using a recipe from the same article (DH magazine #32). One of the quickest pasta dishes I have ever put together, this is absolutely delicious. And Joey seems to think so, too. :)

There’s only a handful of ingredients here, so use the best and freshest you can find.

Crispy sage and brown butter pasta
from Donna Hay magazine

200g (7oz) spaghetti
50g (1 ¾oz) unsalted butter
1/3 cup sage leaves
1 tablespoon lemon juice
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
grated parmesan, to serve

Place the pasta in a large saucepan of salted boiling water and cook until al dente; drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter and stir until melted. Add the sage and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the sage is crispy and the butter is browned.
Stir through the lemon juice, drained pasta, salt and pepper and toss to combine.
Top with the parmesan and serve.

Serves 2

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Chocolate cola cake with toasted coconut-almond frosting

Chocolate cola cake with toasted coconut-almond frosting

I usually write about my sister, Jessica, but rarely mention my brother, Joao Paulo – he’s the funniest person I have ever met. Even though sometimes I think he’s 12, he turned 27 last week, on the 26th.
Jessica’s brother from her mother’s first marriage (wow, that was complicated), Julio Cesar, celebrates his birthday a day before – it’s such a coincidence. He’s 29 now, like me, and is the sweetest guy one can possibly meet.
Both boys have a very special place in my heart, so I baked them a cake, made some finger food and we celebrated their birthdays at my place.

I chose a recipe from this beautiful book – as much as I love the idea of baking a 3-layer cake, our group was pretty small and I did not want cake lying around after my guests were gone; that’s just too dangerous. That’s why I halved the recipe and made a two layer cake, using two 20cm (8-in) round cake pans.
I was out of pecans and used flaked almonds instead. The cake turned out delicious – my dad had 3 slices and he doesn’t like birthday cakes – but I believe that it would have been better with the pecans.

I also used store-bought dulce de leche to speed things up, but I’m posting the complete recipe in case you want to make it like the book.

Chocolate cola cake with toasted coconut-almond frosting

Chocolate cola cake with toasted coconut-almond frosting
adapted from Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

42g (1 ½ oz) unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped – I used 72% cocoa
2/3 cup (160ml) buttermilk*
3 eggs
1 ¾ cups + 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (400g) sugar
2 ¾ cups cake flour**
½ cup (45g) unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
2/3 cup (160ml) cherry cola or Dr Pepper – I used regular Coke

1 cup (90g) sweetened flaked coconut – I used unsweetened desiccated coconut
1 cup (about 4oz/112g) flaked almonds
2 cans (395g/14oz each) sweetened condensed milk

For the cake: preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF. Butter three 9-inch round cake pans or coat with vegetable cooking spray. Line the bottom of each with parchment or waxed paper and grease the paper.

Combine the chocolate and buttermilk in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Heat, stirring often, until the chocolate melts, about 7 minutes; do not let the buttermilk come near a boil, or it will curdle. Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs lightly. Beat in the oil and vanilla. Gradually whisk in the sugar until well blended. Stir in the melted chocolate mixture and whisk until smooth and homogenized.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and cinnamon. Set these dry ingredients aside. In 2 or 3 alternating additions, add the dry ingredients and cola to the chocolate mixture, beating well between additions. Divide the batter among the 3 prepared pans.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes (mine baked for 35) or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let the layers cool in their pans for 10 minutes then turn onto wire racks to cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Make the frosting: preheat the oven to 175ºC/350ºF. On a baking sheet, spread out the coconut in an even layer. Toast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, tossing once, until the coconut is very lightly browned. Transfer to a dish and let cool. Repeat the process with the almonds. Leave the oven on.
Spoon the condensed milk into a heatproof glass baking dish, cover tightly with foil and set the dish in a roasting pan or larger baking dish. Fill the pan with enough hot water to reach about halfway up the side of the smaller baking dish. Bake for 2 hours, stirring once or twice, until the milk is a light caramel color. Carefully remove the dish from the water bath and remove the foil with caution; the hot steam can burn.
Transfer the caramelized milk to a bowl and whisk until smooth. Stir in the toasted coconut and almonds (I saved a little to sprinkle the cake). Let cool slightly. Cover the frosting with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface, then refrigerate until cool but not set, 1 to 1 ½ hours.

To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake plate or stand. Cover the top with about ¾ cup of the frosting, spreading evenly to the edge. Repeat with the second layer and another ¾ cup frosting. Finally, spread the remaining frosting over the top of the cake, allowing the excess to decoratively down the sides.

Refrigerate the cake, uncovered, for at least 1 hour, until the frosting sets. Then cover with a cake dome, large bowl or plastic wrap until ready to serve. This allows the moisture to even out and prevents the frosting from forming a crust. Chilling also makes the cake easier to cut, something that’s best done with a hot, wet serrated knife – this is an unbelievable tender cake.

* we can’t find buttermilk here in Brazil, so I used the following mixture instead: 1 tablespoon white vinegar plus enough milk to equal 1 cup for 1 cup of buttermilk; let stand 5 minutes.

** the same thing happens with cake flour, so I used the following: 1 cup cake flour = 7/8 cup all purpose flour + 2 tablespoons corn starch

Serves 16-20

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