Thursday, January 28, 2010

Finding Solace in the Kitchen


Food is a solace for me. Taking a break from a busy day and sitting down for a meal, especially a meal with people I care about, is a way to recharge - even more so, if I am preparing that meal myself. I can spend hours in the kitchen working on a dish and feel like 20 minutes have passed. I have heard people say that cooking is their meditation and while I wouldn’t go that far, the singleness of purpose I find in the kitchen is very soothing.

I first discovered these little cakes when I was in need of some solace. My life had gotten busy again and I had not written anything for Apples and Butter in weeks. I was missing the comfort of both cooking and writing about food.

I turned to my favorite magazines and some fellow food bloggers for inspiration. Without fail, these sources will light a fire under me. I always find a dish that piques my interest and gets that little voice saying, “I have to make this – right now.”


These chocolate snack cakes are from David Lebovitz, one of my favorite pastry chefs. Deb over at Smitten Kitchen posted about them which is how I came to know of them and how that little voice got switched on. It didn’t hurt that Deb used a specialty kitchen pan to make these, one that I did not own. Inspiration in the kitchen that called for a trip to Sur La Table? I was in.

Make sure you don’t overcook these. The second time I made them, I let them go just a bit too long and they were dry and not nearly as delectable as the almost under-cooked first batch. When not overcooked, they provide a perfect dose of chocolate in a little package. Not too rich and not too filling. Perfect for an afternoon snack paired with tea or coffee.

I’m sure these will work just as well in a cupcake pan if you don’t have a mini-cheesecake pan and don’t want to purchase one. Just be sure and keep an eye on them. Cooking times will vary if you’re using more batter for each cake.


Chocolate Yogurt Snack Cakes
Adapted from David Lebovitz via Smitten Kitchen

7 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup plain yogurt (whole-milk is important here)
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 t vanilla bean paste (or extract)
1/2 t almond extract (I didn’t have any so I skipped it)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t coarse salt

Preheat oven to 350*
If you’re using a cupcake pan, line it with paper liners. If you’re using the mini-cheesecake pan, just spray it with cooking spray. Melt the chocolate with 1/4 cup of the oil in a double boiler. Stir until smooth and then remove from the heat. In a separate bowl, mix together the other 1/4 cup of oil with the yogurt, sugar, eggs, vanilla and almond extract if you’re using it. In another bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the yogurt mixture to the dry ingredients and stir just until combined. Add the melted chocolate and stir until smooth.

Divide the batter between your mini-cheesecake pan or cupcake pan, filling each about a 1/4 inch below the rim (you may have leftover batter). Bake for 20 – 25 minutes (remember note about not overcooking). Let cakes cool slightly before unmolding. These can be served immediately while still warm or later at room temperature.


Chele said...

You've got my little voice going now too hehehehe

Mary Bergfeld said...

These look and sound beautiful.

Maggie said...

These look amazing. And delicious.

Unknown said...

Love the beginning of the entry. These are some great looking pastries.

Victoria said...

My kitchen is my escape! There is something so comforting about chopping...I could chop and prep for hours and be perfectly content!

Your little cakes looks so yummy! Perfect for the drizzle and grim weekend ahead here in the UK!

Hungry Dog said...

I was just ogling this recipe in DL's book (Sweet Life in Paris) which I recently finished. Your little cakes look absolutely perfect. Ok, I need to get one of those little pans, ASAP.

pigpigscorner said...

aww the little things are so cute!

azelia said...

Hi Jessica - there must be a chocolate vibe across the Atlantic because I'm into the third and failed batch of chocolate brownies! Keep overbaking them just by 5mins and missing out on the gooey important middle.

They look gorgeous and perfect with my cup of coffee although I could not just stick to one :-)

Anonymous said...

I've been tempted by that recipe myself - I might have to break down and bake them in silicone molds. And I'm with you, I find cooking completely enjoyable when I'm at home, relaxed, and just cooking. (It's a different story at work.)

colorchic said...

These look delicious, to bad I'm trying to be health conscious for a bit. I'v added you to my watch list so I'll definitely be back!

Hopie said...

I agree with you about taking solace in the kitchen. It's always where I go when I'm stressed. I like it because it's both soothingly repetitive (peeling, cutting, etc) and creative. I don't have that kind of pan, but I have a muffin top tin that might do the trick. Those sure look delicious!

jenious said...

Kitchen solace found in chocolate treats and Sur La Table, what more does a gal need? :)

Eliana said...

these look like little pieces of chocolate heaven :) and now i must get myself one of these pans.