Chocolate Strawberry torte… with tofu

yesterday was Charlotte’s 25th birthday… my favourite female chef (and the new head chef at The Whalesbone) finally turned the big 2-5! I wanted to make her a delicious dessert – full of butter, cream and chocolate – all things I know that Charlotte enjoys. I got inspired by Mich Turner’s recipe in his book party cakes.

I wanted to stay true to myself as well… so I decided to change up the buttercream icing with a chocolate tofu icing… I still used whipped cream between the layers, and butter and cream in my ganache and lots of butter and chocolate in the actual cake recipe… so I think both Charlotte and I were happy with the end result.

Although there are a few steps to making this dessert, it’s really not that difficult – and I can finally say that I made my own GANACHE! Use good quality chocolate and you’ll enjoy every bite. Enjoy! (oh – and the pictures on this blog are thanks to me, myself and I… which is why they’re a little lame… but try mixing whipped cream while taking a picture! HA)

Charlotte’s Chocolate Tofu Torte

1 1/4 c. dark chocolate, broken into pieces (I used the disks so they’re already broken up)
1 1/4 c. unsalted butter, room temperature and cut into cubes
2 c. light brown sugar
5 eggs, beaten, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour

pint of strawberries, washed and sliced
1 1/4 c. heavy cream, whipped

Chocolate tofu “buttercream”
1 x 500g silken, firm tofu, patted dry
1/4 c. maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. milk chocolate chips

200 g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
3/4 c. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 c. heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Temper your chocolate over a simmering pot of water, allow to cool.

Grease and line a 9-inch cake pan.

Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the beaten eggs (in 3rds) until they’re all incorporated.

Pour the cooled melted chocolate slowly into the creamed mixture, beating the batter the entire time. Stir in the vanilla extract and then fold in the flour.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for about 1 hour (until it’s risen and lightly set) – the cake will wobble a bit when shaken lightly. Remove the cake from the oven and allow to cool before turning it onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

Once cooled… (I let my cake sit overnight) cut the cake horizontally (use a large knife, and wet the blade with warm water – makes it easier to slice through)… place the strawberries over the base. cover with whipped cream. cover the whipped cream with the remaining strawberries. Place the other layer on top of the base.

Stand the cake on a wire rack over a piece of wax paper (this is important because of the final stage – pouring the ganache over cake makes a bit of a mess).

To make the tofu icing: melt the chocolate over simmering water. Once the chocolate has melted, remove from heat. Place the tofu in your food processor and puree it. It’ll become really smooth. Add the maple syrup and the vanilla to the tofu and blend well. Add the chocolate and combine everything.

Now, cover the cake with the tofu frosting – use a palette knife, spread it from the top centre of the cake and over the sides, filling in all the gaps. Refrigerate for 60 minutes.

Once the cake is ready to be glazed, place the chocolate and butter in a bowl. Bring the cream to a bowl and pour it over chocolate. Stir everything with a wooden spoon until it’s well combined and smooth. While it’s still warm, pour the glaze over the prepared cake.

Use a palette knife to spread the chocolate over the top and sides of the cake. The end result is a rich dessert – not too chocolately because of the berries in the centre… and I topped it with a 1/2 pint of blackberries.

Well worth the effort. I really enjoyed making this, and Charlotte I hope that you enjoyed it! Happy 25th beautiful!


cake turned into… biscotti (aka dried out cake)

I wanted to try out a cake from the 101 cookbooks websiteSalt-kissed Buttermilk Cake Recipe… only the baking dish I used wasn’t large enough, and by the time the middle of the cake was baked the rest of it had dried out.

Gigi got to be the guinea pig for this one… and we both agreed that it made a good “biscotti” – super to dunk into the tea we were drinking. Next time I’ll use a bigger baking dish, likely a rectangular dish instead of a tart dish – and make this more of a square rather than a slice of tart.

BUT even with the dryness of this one, I’d make this again – it’s a great take on a pound cake – berries, brown sugar and coarse sea salt top this buttermilk cake. A great treat to have when you want something not too sweet or heavy.

Salty-Berry Buttermilk cake

2 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 tbsp. b. powder
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla salt (or plain salt)
2 eggs
1 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. butter, melted and cooled a bit
zest of two lemons
1 c. of mixed berries (or whichever berry you have on hand)
3 tbsp. large grain brown sugar
1 tsp. coarse sea salt

Preheat your oven to 400 F, racks are in the middle. Line the bottom of your pan with parchment paper.

Combine the flour, b. powder, b. sugar and salt in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, whisk the eggs and the buttermilk (buttermilk is 1 c. milk to 1 tbsp. lemon juice – let sit for 5 minutes). Whisk in the melted butter and the lemon zest. If you really want to punch up the lemon flavour, add a tbsp of lemon juice at this point too.

Pour the wet mixture over the dry mixture and stir until just combined – don’t over mix… otherwise… you could end up with biscotti :0)

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan, push it out toward the edges. Drop the berries on top (I placed them in the centre in the batter). Then you get to sprinkle the b. sugar and the salt over the top. Bake for about 20 – 25 minutes or until the cake is set (golden on top… the brown sugar gets a little brûlée)

The salty and sweet combo on this cake really compliment the lemony taste of the cake. I think you’ll really enjoy this, Gigi and I certainly did!

gluten free brownies for a gluten free birthday girl…

Allison’s birthday was midway through the month of January… and it was a big one (the Big 3-0). Since Al’s discovered she’s gluten intolerant she’s been tasting gluten-free versions of her favourite things… and always says “it’s not the same, but it’ll do.” I didn’t want her birthday dessert to be another one of those things.

I discovered another blog – and hit the jackpot! The recipe I borrowed from is probably the BEST brownie I have EVER tasted. SERIOUSLY. chewy and gooey and perfectly sweet.

I made this brownie recipe twice – once for Allison’s actual birthday dinner – following the recipe. And then again for her birthday party; I changed it up using mint chocolate, Limoncino and by melting white chocolate to drizzle over the cooled dessert…

seriously… this recipe is worth the bother of actually melting chocolate and eating all those calories. ignore any guilty feelings and indulge…

Minty Chocolate Gluten-free Brownies
8 tbsp unsalted butter, cut into little cubes
200 g mint chocolate (two large lindt bars)
1 c. brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. Limoncino
1/4 c. brown rice flour
1/4 c. tapioca flour
1/2 c. white chocolate

Preheat the over to 400 F. Grease either a square pan or use mini muffin tins (I know, I’m a little obsessed with using this pan… but so easy to hand out to people when you make them into two bite brownies) – you should be able to make 4 dozen two bite brownies.

Now it’s time to melt the chocolate. Place a metal/glass bowl over a simmering pot of water (make sure that the water doesn’t boil and touch the bowl). Place the chocolate and butter in the bowl and continually stir while they melt (chocolate melts faster if divided into squares). Once melted, remove the bowl from the heat and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the two gluten-free flours.

In a large bowl mix the sugar and eggs together. You’ll want to whisk them really well – I use my hand-held mixer and cream everything together. Once silken looking add the Limoncino. Stir it up and then add the flours. Stir well.

Time to add the melted chocolate – combine the batter with a large spatula. The mixture gets really gooey looking right off the bat.

Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and bake about 25 minutes (12 minutes for the two bite brownies)… keep an eye on these – you don’t want them to burn!

Once you take them out of the oven – cool them in a bath of ice water.. yep that’s right, ice water. I put about an inch of cold water in my sink – and add lots of ice cubes. the pan can sit on the ice cubes – and cool your brownies completely that way. strange – but it works.

Finally – over simmering water, melt your white chocolate. Once it’s melted, remove from heat, and use a spoon drizzle the white chocolate over your brownies. The white against the dark brownies looks really pretty. Do this before you’re going to serve. You could even add some raspberries and freshly chopped mint onto the brownies to decorate.

If you make these brownies classically (instead of the mint chocolate, use 1/2 c. semi sweet dark chocolate and vanilla extract rather than Limoncino) and you’ll be just as happy. I swear – BEST BROWNIES EVER!