I was going to blog about the peach preserves I made a couple of weeks ago. But these little babies are so much more exciting, and I've got a few things to celebrate!
First off, Jeff and I saw my family over the weekend at my cousin Jamie's wedding, and that was wonderful. I miss them so much. More photos are at the end of the post. Also last week, two good art things happened.
1. My Mushrooms painting was accepted for Small Waters, a national juried exhibition featuring watercolors no larger than 144 square inches. The Illinois Watercolor Society puts on this show every couple of years. It will be at the Oak Park Art League during September. I put so much work into this painting, particularly the dark sticks and decaying leaves. I'm glad it's receiving some recognition!
2. Ye Olde Glasse Gemmes is going to be a mural! Back in June I entered it in Urbana's public art competition called Murals on Glass. Artists were asked to submit images that, if selected, would be printed hugely on adhesive vinyl and adhered to some of the giant windows in downtown Urbana. Mine was one of three winning entries! The murals will be installed in early August and will stay in place for a year. Mine is going to be at street level on the windows of the Urbana Business Association (across the street from the Cinema Gallery, if you're going to be in town). I really wanted to win this one and am beyond thrilled. I was interviewed about the project here if you'd like to know more about it, and the other winners can be seen here.
So not to boast, but I've been having a good couple of weeks and wanted to treat myself to some chocolate! Let's see that thing again.
This recipe is from The Splendid Table's How To Eat Supper, a cookbook I've had for a while. It has yielded some winners, a few losers, and a handful of who-caresers. So I wasn't sure if its Little French Fudge Cakes would be quite as good as their recipe's pre-ingredient hype paragraph promised ("Gooey chocolate pockets stud the cakes, while the cake itself is nearly as dense as fudge"). But I had been curious about the recipe for a long time, and it looked easy.
It was easy! And the cakes were ridiculously fudgy. I've been inhaling lots of fruits and vegetables this summer, so maybe I'm not used to eating rich food these days, but I'm telling you, last night I could barely finish mine, and it wasn't even that big! Its effect on my system was akin to this (I apologize for the language--no, I don't--Pulp Fiction is part of who I am, and if you can't take it, I feel sorry for you):
I took the above photo of the L.F.F.C. an hour ago, drooling over it the entire time, before putting it back in its container to save for later tonight. Not eating it nearly killed me, even though I had a backup chocolate snack to get me through the afternoon. Don't let the precious, fey name fool you: Little French Fudge Cakes are dangerous and should be considered a controlled substance.
Let's make 'em!
You're going to need one of those cupcake tins that have 6 cups instead of 12. I used a similar mini-bundt pan, and each of the bundts has a 1/2 cup capacity. The Splendid Table asks that the pan be dark, not black. If you have a silvery one, add a few minutes to the baking time. OR you could turn this into a big cake by baking it in a greased, 9-inch springform pan lined with parchment and bake it for 35 minutes.
Please know that you will have to grease the bejesus out of whatever tin you're dealing with. I thought I did so with mine, using butter as instructed, but 5/6 of the cakes were stuck in the pan. I had to run a knife around the perimeter, which was hard to do because the mini-bundts had ridges, and even then getting them out was a struggle. I found myself banging the pan against a cutting board to remove the last stragglers. So I'm not sure what to do next time: maybe butter and flour the pan? use baking spray, perhaps the kind with flour? butter and cocoa? were the ridges an unsurmountable problem here? If anyone has ideas, please comment. The majority of my cakes came out unscathed, but a couple were kind of sloppy.
Rest assured that all were more than edible. WAY TOO EDIBLE.
- One 3.5- or 4-ounce bittersweet chocolate bar (Lindt Excellence 70%, Valrhona 71%, Scharffen Berger 70%, or Ghirardelli 70% Extra bittersweet, in order of our preference), broken up <--none of these were available; I used Ghirardelli 60%
- 1-1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken up
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon <--didn't use; I generally dislike cinnamon and chocolate together
- 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs plus 1 yolk (for a double recipe, use 5 eggs)
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Half of a 3.5- to 4-ounce bittersweet chocolate bar, broken into bite-sized pieces <--I used 2 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Butter a dark metal 6-cup cupcake tin. Majorly butter it.
Combine the broken-up bittersweet and unsweetened chocolates with the butter in a medium-sized microwave-safe bowl. Melt them for 2 to 3 minutes at medium-low power. Mine was melted in three 30-second bursts on high power (stirring in between). Check by stirring, as chocolate holds its shape when microwaved. Or melt it in a heatproof bowl over simmering water.
In a medium to large bowl, whisk together the cinnamon, vanilla, eggs and yolk, sugar, and salt until creamy. Stir in the flour to blend thoroughly. Then stir in the chocolate/butter mixture until smooth. Finally, blend in the bite-sized pieces of chocolate. Pour the batter into the cupcake pan, filling each three-quarters full. I'm going to say that mine were more like 2/3 full. This does not make a lot of batter.
Bake the cupcakes for 18 minutes. Timing is right on. Insert a knife into the center of a cupcake. It should come out with some streaks of thick batter. If you have any doubt about doneness, press the top of a cupcake to see if it is nearly firm. Remove them from the oven. Cool the cupcakes in the pan on a rack for 5 to 10 minutes to serve warm, or for 20 minutes to serve at room temperature.
Poof and Tyler. Poof was so fabulous that night that I started referring to her as Beyonce.
Mom and Dad. How cute are they?
Jeff and me. I bought that necklace at a record store years ago. The bottom of this dress is so much cuter than the top part--photos like this make it seem like I'm just wearing a P.E. uniform or something. And fox Jeff! I love that he smiled in this one!
Poof and my brother Ryan, a.k.a. Feep, who was hilarious all night.