How It All Started

Bob Phillips

The title of this blog was inspired by one of my Spanish professor's at Miami University of Ohio, Dr. Robert Phillips, who died in the e...

Friday, September 28, 2012

Stirring Up Mocha Cake

This week's recetas nuevas are variations on two favorite recipes of long standing, made all the better with secret ingredients from our friends at L.O.V.E. -- the Lebherz Oil & Vinegar Emporium in Frederick, Maryland. As regular readers may know, this culinary treasure was recently established by a fellow alumna of UMBC, where Pam and I met a few years back. And don't worry: the "secret" ingredients are about to be revealed!

The first modification was a simple one. We were pleased to get some late-season eggplant, so of course made a bonus round of ratatouille (we thought we had put the season finale in the freezer a couple weeks ago). By adding a small hot pepper from our farm box and chipotle-infused olive oil from L.O.V.E. and cooking for four hours, this weapons-grade tomato stew was even more scrumptious than usual.

The genius part of the evening was the addition of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar -- along with a few other modifications -- to our favorite pound cake recipe. Our new creation is based on the Mocha-Swirl Pound Cake on page 191 of Mollie Katzen's classic Moosewood Cookbook (just try to find another two-word title with eight Os!). The result is a perfect use of Marley Coffee from Jamaica!

Our modified version requires
  • Butter (or Crisco or Pam) and flour for a Bundt pan
  • 1 pound (hence the name) of butter, softened. Yes, that is four sticks. I'm going rowing in the morning.
  • 2 cups unbleached, granulated sugar, preferably fair-trade organic, which is available from Costco, believe it or not!
  • 6 eggs, preferably from a local chicken. Ours were from Hanson Farm.
  • 4 cups white flour (use the healthy stuff on another recipe)
  • 1 Tbs. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup Buffalo Soldier Marley Coffee, strongly brewed. I used medium-roasted La Orchidea from my friend's farm in Nicaragua, because I did not have time to order the Marley Coffee, but I think the medium-dark Buffalo Soldier would be even better for this recipe! (Reserve the rest of the pot of coffee -- I used a Chemex -- to serve with the cake.)
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla (also available from Costco, by the way)
  • 1/2 of a 3.5-ounce Ibarra Mexican chocolate disk, which lends just a hint of cinnamon  The next time I plan to use exotic pepper from Mad├ęcasse, which I happened to try the day after making this, and I think it would be even better. Melt the chocolate in microwave or on stove top.
  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 2-3 Tbs. dark chocolate balsamic vinegar (see above)
To prepare, first make the batter:
  • Beat together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat eggs into mixture, two at a time.
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Alternate mixing dry ingredients and coffee into the butter mixture, until blended. Do not beat or over-mix.
Then prepare to swirl:
  • Separate one-third of the batter to a small bowl, blend in melted chocolate.
  • Prepare Bundt pan with butter and flour and pour in plain batter.
  • Dollop chocolate batter in clumps onto pan, and then use a knife to swirl gently into the plain batter. 
Bake and glaze:
  • Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes, or less if using convection. Remove to wire rack to cool, and overturn gently onto a plate, using a spatula if necessary.
  • Meanwhile, sift confectioners sugar and whisk in 2 Tbs. chocolate vinegar. It will be difficult at first, but avoid the temptation to add too much liquid. Eventually, a thick glaze will form, which will drip off the whisk. Use this to drizzle glaze onto upright cake.
  • Use bread or cake knife to slice modest servings -- this is rich cake!
  • Garnish with espresso beans and/or mocha chips (ours were from Hilliard's)

Serve with Marley Coffee and try to contain yelps of true bliss, as the tart glaze melts perfectly into the rich mocha cake!

UPDATE: Having a professional photographer involved in the baking means a lot of cool shots of Stirring Up Mocha Cake in progress. Enjoy!

FURTHER UPDATE: We actually won this contest!

We were modifying a fairly complicated recipe, so all members
of the team had to study the original version!
Yes, a pound cake does have a full pound of butter.
But not in each slice!
It's all about Jamaica.
Jamaica, coffee, and chocolate, that is!
The chef hat does not help the coffee,
but hand grinding does!
While going to the trouble of baking
from scratch and using good Marley Coffee,
one might as well use a Chemex or
other pour-over brewing method.
Two hats are better than one for adding the coffee!
Coffee-infused batter!

And the cocoa batter

Swirl the two batters -- with and without cocoa.

Dark Chocolate Basalmic Vinegar glaze is the secrete ingredient.
The final presentation -- with espresso and mocha chips!

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