Saturday, 29 September 2012

Post-Birthday Cooking

Dark chocolate toasted marshmallow smores cake
On Wednesday, the calendar once again marked yet another year of my life and quite naturally food just had to be a part of it. However, this year I found myself in the unusual (but necessary) mode of fort builder as I've been lately dealing with pesky rodents (#firsttimehomeownerproblems) and coupled with the unusual (but not surprisingly) hectic start to the school year, I eventually decided to save the cooking experiences to after my birthday. And so on Thursday--yeah, it didn't take that long to move onward--I started off my day pairing my fermented cabbage with bratwurst and ending the day with glee (literally) and a chocolate cake I'm definitely ready to make again in the near future!

In response to my previous post recapping last Saturday's fermented foods program, I wanted to share with you that the red and green cabbage I pounded together yielded a wonderfully sauerkraut-y sauerkraut with a hot pink tone. As a warning, and depending on how much you pack in the eventual sauerkraut, have a bunch of paper towel/napkins on hand as quite a bit of the liquid will fizz and spill over due to the built-up carbon dioxide pressure created by the lactobacilli.

To pair with the sauerkraut, I cooked up some bratwurst with some of my reserved rendered bacon fat, and used the rendered fat from the bratwurst to create an accompanying béchamel. It's important to note to be sure to cook the bratwurst thoroughly; it turns out the batch I cooked earlier on Thursday was a bit too pink, so I had that go through a microwave ride to finish them off. And voilà, a replated version out of some leftovers! The combination is somewhat homey yet sharp, as the acidity of the sauerkraut cuts through the fat and heaviness coming from both the bratwurst and béchamel.

As for that cake.. Gathering some pantry ingredients I had been dreaming of using lately, I decided to adapt the chocolate cake recipe I concocted earlier in the week and bake a cake to bring over to a faculty colleague's house prior to watching this past week's episodes of "X Factor" and "Glee" with her and her husband. Again mixing well with each addition, I added off-heat to 1/4 c melted unsalted butter: 1/2 c light brown sugar, less than 1/2 c dark cocoa, 1/2 c chocolate milk (in honour of National Chocolate Milk Day), 1 tsp vanilla extract, 1/2 c hot (nearly boiling) water, 1 c all-purpose flour, 1.5 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp salt.

To this lot, I added two heaping spoonfuls of a chocolate smores dip (the main inspiration for this cake) which I purchased quite a while ago from Birch Run, whisking this in as best as possible.

In a separate, smaller bowl, I lightly coated 1/2 c chocolate chips with about 1 tsp all-purpose flour (as previously suggested by one of my friend's parents) and topped off the batter with these once poured into a bread loaf pan. (This helps to suspend the chocolate chips, rather than leave them to sink in the otherwise thin batter. Additional note: any excess flour won't cook and can be brushed off after the cake has baked.) All of this went into a preheated 350°F oven for about 30-35 minutes until it passed the knife test.

While still warm, I sprinkled over the top a handful of mini marshmallows and got this under the broiler to toast on high for about 2-3 minutes (do have the vent going or a window open as this will create quite a bit of smoke). As if I couldn't have enough chocolate, I topped all of this off with a handful (or two) of more chocolate chips.

Following great conversation around food and identity (such natural topics indeed) over wonderful bacon, pepperoni and sausage pizza from nearby Elm's, I plated dessert with a quenelle of espresso brownie frozen custard. What a wonderful start to my 24th, and the many days of food already planned for the near future! For the complete photo album, click here.

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