Slightly sweetened whipped cream is a great way to add some extra comfort to your hot cocoa, balance out the sweetness in a rich chocolate cake, or to lighten up some pastry cream for a pie filling (banana cream pie, anyone?).
All you really need to do is add a tablespoon of powdered sugar to a cup of heavy cream. Unlike baking, the proportions are approximate, depending on how sweet you want it. You don’t really need a recipe for this, but I’ll provide one in case you are a rule-follower like me.
On a recent email thread with friends, someone asked us to share a favorite memory from the past year. One person responded with, “Jo brought… some kind of banana cream pies to eat with fresh whipped cream once. It was delicious.” That’s gotta count for something!
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April 2, 2020: I originally wrote this post in February, before COVID-19 really turned our world upside down. Let’s pretend it’s February, and that we might actually be celebrating a friend’s birthday soon and have a reason to make a whole cake.
(Or, we can just be like me and make yet another chocolate cake (or two…) to eat at home JUST CUZ. Because boy, if there were ever a time to treat yourself, this is it. I’m already wondering when the next okayest time to make another one of these is…)
My phone lit up and I saw the happy message from my mom:
"I'm enjoying the birthday chocolate cake right now. So yummy Jo. This is the kind I want every year for my birthday until I die, :) hehe"
That’s what my mom just texted me about this cake that I just made her a few days ago. And I have to agree–it’s a pretty bomb cake. The bottom is made of a dense, fudgy, flourless dark chocolate layer that hits all those deep dark chocolate cravings. The top layer is essentially a whipped dark chocolate ganache, which means it is a huge quantity of rich, dark chocolate truffle spread out in a thick layer and called “cake.” No objections here.
Dorie Greenspan created this elegantly simple and decadent cake, and I’ve been eating multiple slices a day since Thursday, when I first delivered the cake to my mom. I ate two at her birthday dinner, and then I made a whole new cake that very night after putting the kids down. My college friend had invited us over for dinner the next evening, and I wanted to bring something delicious because she’s the kind of person who does everything with excellence and I wanted to bring something excellent for her! This cake did not disappoint.
Having made it twice in 24 hours, I naturally started to look for some shortcuts. Nothing that would compromise the amazing texture and flavor of the cake, but time-saving (and dish-saving) shortcuts to make it easier to make this heavenly concoction even more accessible in the busyness of life. So, grab your favorite springform pan and give this cake a go. If you love chocolate, you will not regret it!
P.S. If you want to go the extra mile, I’d recommend serving it with a simple raspberry sauce like this one.
I was wasting away on Facebook yesterday when this lovely video popped up in my feed:
Mmmm… fluffy, lightly sweetened, bouncy souffle pancakes. Some people commented that they had tried them before in Taiwan and Japan and said it was like eating a cloud, and that it was airy like cotton candy. The stuff of daydreams.
I watched all the way through wondering how well the inside got cooked and how fluffy it would taste in my mouth. So I went searching for recipes and videos online. I couldn’t seem to find the right kind of recipe when I searched “Taiwanese Fluffy Pancake,” but there was a lot out there for “Japanese Fluffy Pancake” and before I knew it, I landed on the familiar pages of Nami’s blog at Just One Cookbook and was quickly convinced that her recipe held the key to a perfect fluffy pancake experience in my future. It looked very similar to the fluffy ones in this video- maybe with a little less bounce, but just as tantalizing.
Bacon, brie, and basil waffle at The Waffle Window
After years of watching my friends eat their way through Portland, I got the chance to go up this past weekend with a good friend to enjoy a sunny and delicious weekend there!
Multnomah Falls. Pro tip: Get there early (by 9am) for parking, and go for the hike to the top! It’s a little over a mile and mostly uphill, but there’s a fun creek with climbable rocks to reward you at the top.
We hiked and shopped and even stopped to smell the roses (literally), but one of my favorite activities was definitely the food. Yes, eating is one of my favorite activities :]. Here are some of the tastiest places I’d love to recommend to anyone else who is thinking of planning their Portland trip around their tummy, too!
Gorgeous croissants with fun flavors at Nuvrei.
While I was gone, my parents and Ben watched the kids back at home. That’s when he discovered, through trial and error, that I made a crucial error on my recent recipe for delicious pan-fried chicken. I accidentally wrote 1/3 tablespoons cornstarch instead of 1/3 cups, which matters since there are only four ingredients! If you tried making it, PLEASE TRY IT AGAIN with the correct amount of cornstarch! It will totally change the texture, and you will love it!
Okay, back to Portland eats :D. Warning: This is going to make you hungry!
At first, I had big dreams for all the traditions we would keep each year with each new holiday, season, and event. Balloons for birthdays, gingerbread houses each Christmas, planting seeds in the spring, camping every summer, pumpkin patches in the autumn. I had lists of food to go with each season, imagining a feast to ring in each bloom, sweltering afternoon, falling leaf, and raindrop (aka winter in California).
But Groundhog Day would come and go, and no garden would be planted. We have yet to go camping as a family, and we only finally made it out to a pumpkin patch this past autumn. I felt like I was failing at traditions, and didn’t want to set anymore tradition-y goals lest I disappoint anyone (mostly myself) by not continuing them the following year.
Then one cool autumn afternoon, I decided to set my bar to very achievable, but still delicious and came up with this idea: We’d celebrate every new season with a beverage! Lemonade for summer, spiced apple cider in the autumn, hot cocoa in the winter, and… I’m still working on the spring drink. Any suggestions? I only have a month left!
Because it’s 100 degrees.
And because it tastes wonderful.
And because there is no Serendipity 3 near my home.
And who doesn’t want frozen hot chocolate made the way it’s done in an ice cream parlor?!
And did you know you were paying $8.95 for 6 oz. milk + cocoa + sugar + ice?! Cuz that’s all it takes to make this incredibly satisfying, throat-cooling, hit-the-chocolate-spot treat!
Thanks for letting me go on vacation for a week :). (And thanks for not unsubscribing! :D) Here’s one more photo of what I’m enjoying today here in Paris!
Guys, I’ve been getting some serious writer’s block. I have plenty of material. Plenty of ideas… so many ideas. On teaching, on parenting, on marriage… and of course, food. I have stories and even some portions written out… but my brain is just not up for the task of pulling it all together into coherent pieces right now. PLEASE FORGIVE. Please stay. It’ll come back to me soon!
In the meantime, can I just share a super easy and super delicious recipe for salted caramel hot cocoa? It’s the ultimate warm-ya-to-yer-toes, rich, luxurious bowl of comfort. Mmmm.
I still remember the first time. I was a college student. We were at Crepevine in Berkeley, and I probably should have gotten something off the savory menu. It was, after all, dinner time. But I couldn’t resist, and instead I selected The Jamaican: Bananas in Caramel Rum Sauce.
I was intrigued. Caramel? Rum? Bananas? What on earth would that taste like? Soon, I found out.
It was spectacular. I had never really had cooked bananas before this, but cooking them in a buttery caramel sauce was definitely the way to go. I wasn’t sure if that addictive flavor was the caramelized banana, the buttery browned caramel, or maybe… the rum? It didn’t matter. When you melded them together and then topped it on smooth, vanilla bean ice cream and a touch of whipped cream, it was magic. My taste buds swooned over the new notes of delicious, and I felt like Remy in Ratatouille as he explained the beauty of food to his brother in the alleyway, fireworks and all. Mmmm.
So of course, the next step was to make it. It wasn’t very hard, actually. There was obviously butter, sugar, rum, and bananas in it. I’d figure out the rest.