1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, less 1 tsp
1 tsp espresso powder
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 cup sour cream
5 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 F. Butter a 9 1/2 by 5 inch loaf pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on an insulated baking sheet.
Stir together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
Working with the stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together at medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for 1 minutes after each one goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and mix in the sour cream. Still working on low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix only until they disappear into the batter. Give the batter a last stir with a sturdy rubber spatula and scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake for 60 to 70 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the cake comes out clean. If, after about 45 minutes, the cake looks as if it's browning too quickly, cover it loosely with a foil tent. Transfer the pan to a cooling rack and let the cake rest for about 5 minutes before turning it out onto the rack. Cool to room temperature.
To make the frosting; Fit a heatproof bowl into a pan of gently simmering water, add the chocolate and warm, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is melted. Still working over the hot water, stir in the sour cream. Don't be concerned if the cream tightens -- just keep stirring gently and the frosting will become smooth and glossy. Remove and cover the heat and cover the sidesand top of the cake with the still-warm frosting.
1 cup red raspberries
1 1/2 TBSP sugar
Put the berries and sugar in a blender or food processor and whir until pureed. Taste and mix in more sugar if needed. Press the coulis through a strainer or a food mill to eliminate seeds.
Notes: The original recipe calls for a raspberry jam-based filling to be layered into the cake. Instead, this had a raspberry coulis, also from the same cookbook. This was a dense cake with a rich texture. The espresso powder was also an addition to give it a richer, deeper flavor. Yum.
1 1/4 cups fresh orange juice
1/8 cup fresh lime juice
1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup (preferably dark amber or Grade B)
1/2 tablespoon finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo
1/2 (3- to 4-inch) cinnamon stick
1 tsp ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
2 (7- to 8-oz) Long Island (also called Pekin) duck breast halves with skin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Boil all sauce ingredients in a 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, skimming foam occasionally, until syrupy and reduced to about 1/2 cup, 30 to 40 minutes. Let stand until duck is ready.
Preheat oven to 300 F. Crosshatch skin of duck breasts. Sprinkle duck with salt and pepper. Heat heavy large skillet over high heat. Add duck breasts, skin side down, to skillet. Cook until skin is well browned, about 4 minutes. Turn duck breasts over; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Set rack in roasting pan. Transfer duck breasts to rack (reserve drippings in skillet). Roast duck to desired doneness, about 20 minutes for medium-rare. Remove from pan and let rest 5 minutes.
Before serving, deglaze skillet with sauce and add any drippings from the roasting pan.
Notes: I wanted something a little different for my birthday dinner. I'd settled on duck breast as a treat, but though I love Duck Breast with Orange Tea Sauce, I wanted to spice things up a bit. And this did the trick. At first bite, this is a little sweet and tangy (the lime juice), but then the heat starts to kick in. The recipe originally calls for the duck to be broiled, but I prefer this method. Served with Alton Brown's Perfect Fingerling Potatoes.
Alton Brown's Perfect Fingerling Potatoes
1 1/4 pounds kosher or rock salt
2 quarts water
2 pounds small fingerling potatoes, cleaned
4 tablespoons butter, optional
Freshly ground black pepper, optional
1 tablespoon freshly chopped chives, optional
In a large pot, combine the salt, water, and potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, approximately 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from the pot to a cooling rack and let stand for 5 to 7 minutes. Serve as is or with butter, pepper, or chives.
Notes: The lovely thing about this recipe is the good clear taste of the potatoes. These came from a local farmers' market, and this was a great way to appreciate them.