Chocolate Stout Cake

If you love deep, rich chocolate then this cake may be for you.  Low-fat it is not, but heavenly it is.  Although it contains stout, this cake does not taste like beer.  It simply uses the roasted malt flavor from the beer to lend to the intense character of the cake, the crumb of which is very dense and moist.  I’ve baked this many times over the last few years and find that while it’s great to eat just a few hours after baking, it’s superb the next day.  So if you have the ability to make and ganache the cake the day before, I think that you’ll be pleased with the outcome- not that I think you’ll ever be let down if you eat it the first day.

chocolate stout cake with espresso ganache


1 cup stout (I generally use a chocolate stout like Young’s Double Chocolate or Brooklyn’s Black Chocolate, Southern Tier’s choklat even made an appearance once)
1 cup unsalted butter
¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (my favorite is valrhona)
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1½ teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
6 tablespoons sour cream (I’ve used non-fat without adverse effects)
6 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chunked
6 tablespoons heavy cream
¾ teaspoon ground espresso

Cake prep:

  • Preheat oven to 350°F
  • Grease a bundt pan
  • Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in a saucepan over a medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly
  • Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and ¾ teaspoon salt in large bowl
  • Using a mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend
  • Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine
  • Add flour mixture and beat briefly on a slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold the batter until it’s completely combined
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 35 minutes (but sometimes as long as 50)
  • Transfer cake (in the pan) to a rack; cool 10 minutes
  • Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely

For the ganache, melt the chocolate, heavy cream, and espresso in a heat-proof bowl over simmering water in a sauce pan until smooth, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of the cooled cake.

Inspired by this post on


Cowboy Cookies

Can I just say oh-my-goodness YUM!  Let me start by pointing out that I am a huge fan of cookies of all kinds.  The dry and crumbly shortbread, the chewy molasses spice, the sweet and chunky almond-blueberry, the cocoa-rich chocolate sugar cookie, the tart and creamy lemon ricotta cookie,   the colon-cleansing Rocky cookie– I love many cookies of quality.  Upon a recent visit to one of my favorite artisan coffee roasters I spied in their pastry case a cookie by the name of “cowboy”.  This piqued my interest.  A few days later one of my favorite cookbook authors posted a recipe for this cookie.  I couldn’t not try it.  It’s like a chocolate chunk cookie on steroids: a rich and dark sugar profile, chunks of bittersweet chocolate, hints of espresso, and bits of crunchy, salty pretzel.

the cowboy cookie


1¾ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
¾ tsp sea salt
2 cups rolled, old-fashioned oats
14 Tbsp butter ( 1¾ sticks) at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg and one yolk
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp espresso
12 oz.  bittersweet chocolate chunks
¾ cup crumbled pretzels, divided


  • In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and espresso. Add the oats and stir.  Set aside

dry ingredients

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy

super-creamy butter & sugars

  • Add the egg and egg yolk, beating until the mixture looks light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl, add the vanilla, and beat again

beautiful, local brown eggs

  • Add the dry ingredients a little at a time, mixing until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and fold in the chocolate chunks and ½ cup of the pretzel pieces

12 ounces of chunked bittersweet chocolate

  • Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate the dough for a few hours or overnight
  • Preheat the oven to 350° F. Line your baking sheet(s) with parchment paper
  • Measure out dough in two-tablespoon-size balls and press each ball into a dish of remaining crushed pretzel pieces
  • Place the dough balls on the baking sheet about 2 inches apart and use the palm of your hand to press the dough down lightly; just enough to slightly flatten the ball and push the pretzel pieces into the dough
  • Bake for 11-13 minutes, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown or just begin to darken
  • Set the pan on a wire rack for 10 minutes to cool

cooling on the baking sheet

  • Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool completely

cooling on the wire rack

I’m thinking that these are great for folks who can’t have nuts ’cause you get the crunch profile without the nut-issues 😉


Recipe adapted from a post on Jonesing For…

Peanut Butter Brownies

Which kind of brownie-lover are you?  Is your favorite high and cakey?  Or skinny and fudgey?  Sicky-sweet?  Or rich with cocoa?  There are so many different kinds.  Personally, I like a bittersweet chocolate brownie.  I like them fudgey, but not undercooked.  I don’t like too much sweetness.  I adore the additions of sea salt and espresso alike.

This recipe takes my favorite plain-ole brownies and dresses them up with natural peanut butter.  I made them for a party recently and a friend commented that they reminded him of Thai food.  If you execute the swirling technique properly they look like a beautifully striped tiger.

Peanut Butter Brownies


5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chopped

6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

¾ cup sugar

2 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup flour

1/3 cup natural, dark roasted peanut butter


  • Preheat the oven to 325
  • Line an 8-inch square pan with foil and butter the foil
  • Set a medium-sized heatproof bowl over a saucepan of water on a medium-low heat
  • Put the butter in the bowl along with the chocolate and stir until they are melted- be careful to not overcook or to leave too long without stirring as the chocolate will scorch, then remove the bowl from the pan
  • Using a whisk stir the sugar into the chocolate mixture
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition
  • Add the vanilla and whisk again
  • Stir in salt and flour
  • Using a rubber spatula, scrape the batter into the foil-lined pan and smooth to the edges
  • Dollop peanut butter by the teaspoonful over the top of the batter and use a butter knife to swirl
  • Bake for 30 minutes, then transfer the pan to a rack to cool completely
  • Once cooled, turn the loaf out onto a cutting board, peel off the foil, and flip over for cutting: you’ll get 16 even squares

If peanut butter’s not your thing, a dark berry jam would do nicely for swirling- raspberry or blackberry or bilberry.


Cranberry Pecan Chocolate Chunk Cookie Bars

I don’t know about you, but when I was young my Mom used to make chocolate chip cookie bars every once in a while and they were a thing of beauty.  Thick, chewy, sweet, and addictive.  The tops were kind of crunchy and if you had one while they were still warm, the chips were gooey.

This month’s Food and Wine issue had a recipe in it for cookie bars which cut way back on the sugar & butter content, used whole wheat pastry flour instead of white, and added dried cranberries for chewiness.  I was all in!  Who can say no to lightly toasted pecans and chunks of bittersweet chocolate?  Not this girl.


1 cup pecans

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 tablespoons canola oil

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup bittersweet chocolate chunks

½ cup dried cranberries


  • Preheat the oven to 350° and line the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking pan with parchment paper
  • Spread the pecans on a cookie sheet and toast for about 8 minutes, until golden (this can be done in a toaster oven too). Chop the pecans and let cool
  • In a mixing bowl beat the butter and oil with the granulated sugar and brown sugar until creamy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until smooth
  • In a small bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and salt; add the dry ingredients into the mixer at low speed.
  • Add the chocolate chips, cranberries and pecans; beat until just incorporated
  • Transfer the dough to the prepared baking dish and press into an even layer. Bake for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned and nearly set in the center
  • Let cool completely, then run a knife around the edges and invert the yumminess. Peel off the paper, cut and serve


Banana Cocoa Cake with Toasted Coconut top

I love to bake, and I love to eat desserts.  What I do not love are overly-sweet and/or rich desserts that make my teeth ache and my conscience wish that I had said “no” after I begin digestion.  That is where this recipe comes in: a moist cake, rich with cocoa flavor, made indulgent by the addition of coconut milk and flakes, and sweetened with nothing but fruit, but won’t cause a heart attack.

I will admit that the batter is a bit on the thick side which can make it a bit difficult to work with.  Knowing this ahead of time allows you to set aside extra patience for this very deserving indulgence.  Topped with toasty bits of crunchy coconut I think that it would make for a great breakfast with a cup of coffee or snack with a glass of milk.


1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
4 very ripe medium bananas
8 dried mission figs
1/2 cup light coconut milk
2 tablespoons water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut


  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Line an 8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper and set aside.
  • In a large bowl, whisk together cocoa, both of the flours, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Whisk or sift thoroughly to eliminate any lumps. Set aside.
  • Put the bananas, figs, coconut milk, water and vanilla into a blender. Blend until figs are chopped very small and the mixture is thick and smooth, about a minute.
  • Fold the wet ingredients into the dry until just combined, taking care not to overwork the batter. This batter will be very thick.  Pour/scoop the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top evenly with a spatula. Sprinkle the coconut on top. Bake until the top is firm and a toothpick inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.
  • Let the cake cool in the baking pan on a rack for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan and cool completely.  Slice into 16 even pieces.