Chocolate Stout Cake w Brown Butter Frosting

This decadent chocolate Guinness cake slathered with a speckled, deeply nutty brown butter Swiss buttercream and doused in a whiskey caramel sauce is truly a celebration cake that is sure to make you feel happy! 30 is not the birthday that launches you harshly into your middle age. 30 is the birthday where you celebrate the end of an era - the 20s – where mistakes were made (lots of ugly ones), lessons were learnt (mostly in a bad way), discovering who you are felt impossible and highs of first real job, first serious relationship, first real apartment, first independent foreign travel were only dimmed by the lows of those ‘firsts’ not living upto their expectations. But there is a delicious excitement in goofing up and blaming it on lack of experience and naiveté. There is mystery and intrigue and desperation in finding out how your life will turn out when you are a grown up. When I turned 30, I told everyone that next year I will celebrate 29 and subsequently keep moving the clock backwards. Well, I didn’t do that. Forgot to buy 2 and 9 numbered candles. So here I am 31! Anyhow, who wants to repeat the absurdities of the 20s. Sure it was fun and exciting times. 20s or any fun time is just that only because there is a limited period to it. Just as clearance sales are exciting because, they are on for only a week! So, I celebrated my 31st birthday, trying not to fight it too much, with a grown-up chocolate cake with brown butter frosting – a bit more elegant than chocolate on chocolate (which by the way is always my first choice of cake) If it is my birthday celebration cake, there had to be booze in it. So instead of making my most favorite chocolate cake, I went with a Stout Cake adapted from Epicurious only in the method. I used Nigella’s slightly easier method of adding everything into the same pan. The can of Guinness had been sitting in my pantry forever and I wouldn’t let Steve drink it because I was storing it for ‘baking purposes’. My cake tops cracked, I think because I baked it in 5inch pans and poured a lot of batter into them. So 6 inch would do the trick. Anyway, I simply chopped off the cracked tops, it did not affect the taste. These cakes are lip-smacking delicious. Earthy and intense and a dark chocolate lovers dream. A brown butter buttercream only seemed appropriate because it is my new love and I like to make beurre noisette just for the nutty fragrance it makes in my kitchen. There seems to be Whiskey caramel sitting in a jar in my refrigerator at all times so I was more than happy to add an additional boozy element to this cake. Finally the pile of crushed chocolate cookies on top because as a baking blogger there is always some cookies or cake leftovers in the fridge which you can throw on top of a cake for extra goodness and no one can stop me from eating pure indulgence in this form on my 31st birthday! Celebrate! Chocolate Stout Cake w Brown Butter Frosting Ingredients – Makes one 6 inch 4 layered cake For the Cake 1 cup stout 1 cup, 2 sticks unsalted butter – cut into pieces ¾ cup Dutch cocoa powder 2 cups flour 1 ¾ cups granulated sugar ½ tbsp. baking soda ¾ tsp salt 2 large eggs ½ + 2tbsp sour cream Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and line two 6” round pans with parchment paper. Make sure the parchment paper sticks out to form higher walls. Pour the stout into a large saucepan and place on medium heat. Add butter pieces and heat till melted. As soon as all the butter has melted, add in the sugar and cocoa powder and whisk till fully incorporated and smooth. In a measuring jug or small bowl, beat the eggs and sour cream thoroughly and add to the stout mixture. Mix well. Finally add the flour and baking soda and whisk till completely mixed. Pour into prepared pans and bake in the lower third of the oven for 35 – 40 minutes or till a skewer toothpick comes out clean. Remove from oven. Let cool till safe to handle. Turn cakes onto a wire-rack and let cool completely. Stick in the freezer for atleast one hour before frosting. For the Brown Butter Swiss Buttercream 1 ½ cup butter 1 ½ cup fine granulated sugar 4 egg whites 1/4 tsp salt Heat butter in a small saucepan on high heat. Once it starts to bubble, stir intermittently with a rubber spatula and keep a eye. Once you see specks of dark brown and smell deliciousness in the air take it off the heat. As it cools, stir it once in a while so that it solidifies evenly or all the good brown bits will settle at the bottom. It should be completely cooled (slightly chilled) and solidified but still a little soft. Whisk sugar and egg whites together and set it on a double boiler over simmering water. Using a candy thermometer is recommended for accuracy. Whisk occasionally and heat the mixture to 140 – 160F. Test the mixture between your thumb and index finger to make sure the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture feels silky smooth between your fingers. As soon as it reaches this temperature, take it off the heat, transfer to a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment and whisk on medium-high for a good 7 -8 minutes till peaks form and the mixture is cooled. Once this meringue mix is completely cool, replace the whisk attachment with the paddle attachment and run on medium high. Start adding the butter in pieces. Keep whisking till fully incorporated and the buttercream is smooth, glossy and stiff. Whiskey Caramel Sauce – ½ cup Assembly When the cakes are completely cooled, cut of the tops evenly with a serrated knife. Then cut both cakes into halves to make 4 pieces. Here is a great video showing how to cut a cake in layers. Place one layer on a cake stand. Spoon butter cream into a piping bag fitted with a plain nozzle and pipe a border on the cake layer. Spoon some Whiskey Caramel onto the cake within the piped barrier. With a offset spatula, spread some buttercream on top of the caramel and smooth it. Repeat two more times. Place the topmost layer of the cake. Spread some buttercream on the top and sides with the spatula to frost lightly. Spoon some caramel sauce on top and along the edges. IF you have some leftover chocolate cake or cookies, crush and pile on top for extra indulgence. Best enjoyed at room temperature in shockingly large pieces.

This decadent chocolate Guinness cake slathered with a speckled, deeply nutty brown butter Swiss buttercream and doused in a whiskey caramel sauce is truly a celebration cake that is sure to make you feel happy! 30 is not the birthday that launches you harshly into your middle age. 30 is the birthday where you celebrate the end of an era – the 20s – where mistakes were made (lots of ugly ones), lessons were learnt (mostly in a bad way), discovering who you are felt impossible and highs of first real job, first serious relationship, first real apartment, first independent foreign travel were only dimmed by the lows of those ‘firsts’ not living upto their expectations. But there is a delicious excitement in goofing up and blaming it on lack of experience and naiveté. There is mystery and intrigue and desperation in finding out how your life will turn out when you are a grown up. When I turned 30, I told everyone that next year I will celebrate 29 and subsequently keep moving the clock backwards. Well, I didn’t do that. Forgot to buy 2 and 9 numbered candles. So here I am 31! Anyhow, who wants to repeat […]

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Curry Leaf Scones with Tomato Coconut Chutney

Curry Leaf Savory Scones with Tomato Coconut Chutney

If you love chutney, these South Indian spiced, savory scones act as excellent vessels to scoop up the goop. Made with coconut oil and lightly spiced with curry leaves, mustard seeds and pepper, these savory scones are a delicious break from sweet breakfast and brunch options. I know this blog is full of recipes that cater to the sweet tooth. Heck! I even say in my side bar About Me “This blog is for anyone who has ever skipped dinner just to have an extra portion of dessert” It is true. It is firstly a dessert / cake / cookies blog. But that doesn’t mean I should throttle my creative juices and not try something savory if the inspiration strikes. By some stroke of luck if it actually tastes good, I can’t not share just because I subtly proclaimed that this is a dessert lovers blog. Sharing is good. Sharing encourages all sorts of good and bad exchange of ideas. When we share, we contribute to the collective consciousness of this world. I feel blessed and inspired to be part of a time when sharing knowledge, creativity, ideas is a click of a button away. I open my Instagram or […]

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One-Bowl Breakfast Brownie

Breakfast Banana Brownie

Banana breakfast brownie is all your favorite breakfast things in a delectable brownie form! Banana, peanut butter, chocolate, coconut –simply throw everything in a bowl, whisk it and you have amazing chocolate – banana brownies!  Oh yes, it happened! No point in living in denial anymore. We started with scorn, which gradually turned to surprise, which soon turned to shock and disbelief and has culminated in anger and disappointment. The long news channel speculations are over. Facebook and fake news have been blamed. The angry SM tirades and repartees are done. It gave us numerous new GIFs and a series of Women’s Marches which will go down in history. Now we keep vigil. Meanwhile personally, I had a nice week where I celebrated by X bday (Yes, I am at that age where I feel I must censor it in public!!) which was basically an excuse to get dressed up and go for a super nice 3 course dinner and make a 4 layer cake of Guinness, chocolate, brown butter and Whiskey caramel. Yes, it was boozy themed since I don’t go out to drink and party as much anymore, and so this was my way of jamming 90% of […]

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A Very Grapefruit-y Trifle

Grapefruit curd

Grapefruit is in season and many of us may have a bitter-sour relationship with it, but in dessert form it transforms into a sweet, tart, bright fruit that is far from the diet-food version of itself. Full disclosure – I struggled with this one. In my very first FBC newsletter I came across the call for recipe round-ups for January. It is citrus month and by the time I saw the mail, the deadlines for lemon and orange had already passed. Ofcourse I wanted orange. Who doesn’t want orange! Grapefruit and lime were still open opportunities so after giving it a thorough thought, I decided to go with grapefruit. Primarily because I have this hate-hate relationship with the fruit that began in Dubai when I went through a crash diet phase where I force-fed myself half a grapefruit every morning, before coffee! Yikes. I had held on to that for way too long. It was time to let go. Challenge myself and all! I had this amazing idea of making grapefruit kulfi. I did make grapefruit kulfi after grilling and pureeing the fruit and cooking the milk down to half and freezing the weird concoction that seemed wrong even before […]

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Blackberry Chocolate Cookie Cups

lackberry Chocolate Cookie Cups

If you love bite sized desserts, these mini chocolate cookie cups filled with blackberry mousse are perfect for you. Slightly tart and deliciously chocolatey, these are super handy on movie nights or for entertaining a crowd. After an extremely slow start, I have switched into 2nd gear and can feel some momentum gathering where getting work done is concerned. You can tell by this next recipe which is super easy and involves a leftover component, that things have picked up, but not really in full acceleration. Last week, we watched La La Land which was fun and a little sad and rather Bollywoody with dancing and singing, bright colours, a good dose of romance and the beautiful City of Stars which plays in the movie atleast 20 times and I could have listened to it 10 more times. We also watched Howl’s Moving Castle at TIFF which was more challenging with the themes and the Japanese treatment which is different than the lighter American animation I am used to. Besides watching movies, binge-watching Gilmore Girls, and finishing the first season of The Crown, I also got myself to raid the refrigerator and getting rid of leftover bits from the holidays. […]

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Golden Milk Cake

Golden Milk Turmeric Cake

Golden Milk Cake is the ‘cake’ version of golden milk or turmeric spice milk. It is warming and cozy and light and fluffy and full of aromatic spices. The cardamom glaze is sweet and sticky with a heady fragrance. To be honest, I am feeling like I am going back to office after two weeks of fun, awesome, indulgent holidays. You know, like it is my very first day at my first job and I know nothing, I am clueless about what to do, how to do and so I switch on my assigned computer, grab a mouse and rotate it on the screen or click random folders frantically to look busy. I feel the pressure of 2017 on me! Especially for the blog, like I need to give it more validation by investing more time and energy into it. And often, with stress comes, turmoil, indecisiveness, nail biting, day-dreaming and total blanket blankness. I planned to work on my new calendar – nothing, I planned to do a couple of recipes in advance – blank, I planned to study and experiment with Pinterest – nada. From time to time I find myself in this state of blank immobility. I […]

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Brown Butter Skillet Cake

Brown Butter Coffee Cake

Brown butter gives this cake a nutty aroma and a buttery crumb. Baked in a cast iron skillet, it has wonderfully chewy, caramelized edges.   OMG, can you believe all the amazing things popping up on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest in prep for Christmas?? Since I am only a few months into blogging – following a thousand food bloggers and watching all the social media platforms – I am mostly filled with awe at the effort that all the awesome bloggers take, the abundance of creativity, the hard work that shines through. I spend most of the time with my mouth open in amazement and pools of saliva forming over the awesome creations. I want to be invited over to everyone’s house to share their meals and be on all the cookie-exchange lists so I can sample everything! Does everyone feel the same way? Even the seasoned bloggers? What I have here is not a Christmas-sy cookie, a festive cake, a spiced libation, a rich fancy dessert to feed a crowd or a cute house made of cookie! It is a ‘slow-down’ cake – a simple, quick to make cake, ideal for all those who work so hard to make Christmas […]

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Thyme Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies

Christmas Cookies - Thyme and Poppy seed Shortbread

Butter is infused with thyme.  A little sweet, a little savory, these thyme poppy seed shortbread cookies are great for gifting or simply to make your home smell festive. While growing up, we did not really have the tradition of receiving gifts from ‘Santa’. We got a new dress, lots of good food and Santa would visit along with church carolers to do a merry dance and give us candy. My mom and aunt would make lots of homemade sweets and we distributed that amongst friends and neighbours. Keeping that tradition, while I was in Dubai, I started giving my friends homemade chocolate truffles. There is something so special about homemade / DIY style gifts. Whether it is fancy craftsy stuff from talented DIYers or just cookies or truffles or cake. Simple, sweet, made with love and care. And you avoid all the frenzied holiday shopping! This year I decided to give truffles a rest and make cookies instead for gifting. Steve’s aunt makes a really good gingerbread, his mom makes delicious eastern European crescent cookies. So, I combined flavors I like and made these thyme poppy seed shortbread cookies I was inspired by Teresa Floyd’s recipe for pink peppercorn […]

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Caramelized Pear and Mixed Berry Skillet Pie

cast iron skillet recipes - piears and berry pie

Finally, here it is! I got myself to bake in my cast iron skillet, instead of just removing it from the oven drawer, gazing at it lovingly and feeling its weight in my hands. Its not that I haven’t done any cooking in it at all, I seared chicken once to very satisfying results. But mostly in the 6 months or so of having owned it, it has mostly lived packed up in cartons while we were moving around or in my oven drawer. So why did I name my blog the The Baking ‘Skillet’? Because it was an ideal. Every time I saw the amazing pictures of gorgeous dessert in cast iron skillets I went ‘awwww’. But having never used and never known anyone who used it, there was quite a bit of apprehension around it. Then there are so many articles on the internet on the correct usage and what to do, what not to do. Seemed so daunting, like dating a high-maintenance gorgeous model. I know that in the western world, there is often sentimentality attached to these pans because maybe your grandmother or ‘that aunt who cooked so well’ used it. Maybe you inherited it. Maybe […]

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Apple Butter Pie Dough Roll Ups

Apple Butter Pie Dough Roll up Cookies

This is the scrappy baby of leftover pie dough and apple butter. Once you have made them, you will be happy you didn’t throw away the pieces of pie dough after making the gorgeous pie! Last evening we went for a walk and realized that while the US is preparing for Thanksgiving, the Canadians have already moved on to Christmas. String Lights are up, little bushes on front lawns have been tinseled, garlands have been hung up on doors. Obviously, I got a bit worked up about putting up our Christmas decoration – which don’t exist. I used to put up a teensy, very artificial looking Christmas tree in Dubai which I bequeathed to my cousin before leaving for Canada, because I knew that on my first white Christmas, I would put up a big-ass tree with shimmering lights and all my gifts sitting under it. Just like in Home Alone! So soon there will be a frenzy to buy a tree (no clue how to pick one), collect the assortment of ornaments from various sources – Steve’s old possessions, his family, online and in-store. The target is to have everything up and pretty by the first week of December. […]

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