Archive | December, 2010

Chocolate Beet Cake

17 Dec

For Thanksgiving I made a chocolate beet cake with cream cheese frosting.  I put it in a bundt cake pan, which made it look fancy and festive.  Sure I could have baked it in a sheet pan, but this extra effort was not difficult.  The recipe, with my modifications, is from Boistfort Valley Farms, which is one of the many farms at the Olympia Farmer’s Market (700 Capitol Way N, Olympia).  I did not procure my beets from Boistfort because I was lucky enough to receive some from Farmer Don, my loving father, who stealthily drops of produce bags in the wee hours whilst I slumber.

The Farmer’s Market is open December 22nd – the 24th if you need to pick something up for your neighbor, your difficult to shop for dad or a colleague who unexpectedly left a gift on your chair.

Please enjoy:

Chocolate Beet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

1 T vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt (or less)
1 1/2 cups cooked, peeled, and puréed beets
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate
3 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup oil (I like safflower)

Boil quartered red beets in water.  Drain and cool.  Carefully use an immersion blender to puree them.  You might use a very high sided pot or fashion some kind of beet projectile skirt out of a paper plate for your immersion blender so you don’t have beet meat plastered on the walls or your favorite apron.  Set thoroughly mashed beets aside.Preheat oven to 350°F. Melt chocolate in a double boiler; remove from heat and cool slightly. Or, you can do this in one minute rounds in the microwave.  Be forewarned that the bowl and the chocolate will get really hot.  In a large bowl, lightly beat the eggs. Add sugar, oil, vanilla, melted chocolate, and beets, stirring well after each addition. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Combine dry ingredients with chocolate mixture and beat until just blended. Pour into a greased and floured 9×13″ cake pan and bake for about 35 minutes. Cool and frost as desired.  I garnished mine with beet chips, but while they looked lovely, they wilted.  If you choose to decorate the cake as I did, I recommend adding the beet chips right before service.

Cream Cheese Frosting

4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a large bowl, beat together the butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer. With the mixer on low speed, add the powdered sugar a cup at a time until smooth and creamy. Beat in the vanilla extract



Wine and Chocolate in Walla Walla

9 Dec

This fall, Lucienne and I ventured across the state for a couple of days of wine tasting in the adorable town of Walla Walla, Washington. We met our lovely friend Gen, who recently moved to Idaho, for a relaxing and indulgent girls’ weekend.

None of us had ever visited Walla Walla, but as a college town surrounded by a seemingly countless number of wineries was a “Yes, please!” on the local travel list. We checked in to the hotel and promptly went in search of food. Downtown, we started out with a trip to the candy shop (not the 50 cent variety), enjoying mouth-watering chocolate covered pistachios from Bright’s Candies.  The sugar high was followed by a calorically redeeming beet and fennel salad at Brasserie Four, a French restaurant where the menus were printed on pieces of lined school paper. Très charming.

After a bit wandering, we made our way to dinner at Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, where we tried Scallops “Mano de Leon” (yes friends, that’s scallops with beef tongue) and chatted with our server Boe, who provided generous pours of delicious wine and shared that he has so many stories from the restaurant that he should start a blog. Maybe someday.

After dinner, it was time for dessert, and we’re not talking leftover candy from Bright’s. A few blocks from Boe and beef tongue was an inviting pastry shop that also served coffee and wine. As soon as we entered Colville Street Patisserie, we knew we’d stumbled upon a Walla Walla sweet spot.  Not only were pastries beautiful, they were delicious. Chocolate caramel tart with a chocolate swirl and a chocolate, coconut, passion fruit bite of heaven has us all swooning.

The next morning it was off to wine country where we discovered a few gems:

Tertulia Cellars was the first winery we visited. We were asking the concierge for directions when a friendly Tertulia wine club member overheard us offered to let us follow her to the tasting room. So friendly! The tasting room was warm and inviting and the wine was yummy. Gen liked the dry reds and I enjoyed the Viognier. Lucienne loved the dessert wine. It was mighty tasty.

Rulo Winery owned by a former anesthesiologist, and his wife, who liked making wine more than being in a hospital. The tasting room is inviting and unpretentious, and the Syrah is fantastic. I discovered that they sell it at Trader Joe’s too!

Olive Marketplace was our second favorite dessert spot in downtown Walla Walla. The cozy atmosphere pairs nicely with the yummy seasonal baked goods.

Though our stay was in Walla Walla was fairly brief, the fruitful sampling of the town left a happy taste in our mouths, with only mildly wine stained teeth.



Congrats to The Radical Cupcake Organic Bakeshop and Bakery Nouveau!

6 Dec

The Radical Cupcake, an organic bakery with an eye (or stomach?) for different dietery needs, earned a place at number 5 on King 5’s The Best of Western Washington’s list for wedding cakes! Marissa, the woman behind The Radical Cupcake, can do it all. I have eaten her cookies and cupcakes, but she also makes chocolates very well. She books up very quickly, so if you would like to commission her to prepare sweets for an occasion, contact her as soon as possible. The Radical Cupcake is a Green Bride Guide approved vendor.

Our friends at Bakery Nouveau in West Seattle won first place for bakeries!  I really enjoy their twice baked chocolate croissants.  They are divine.  The selection of breads and other fancy treats is almost endless.  Please visit the website, which is gorgeous, and plan a trip for your bread for the week, lunch with a friend or a special confection.  The staff will take great care of you.