Results tagged chocolate cake from David Lebovitz

Juveniles Wine Bar

Juveniles Wine Bar & Restaurant in Paris

My interest was piqued the other day when I was reading a popular user-generated review site, and came across a review for a restaurant in Paris. The author said they could tell they were in a good place because when they walked in, nobody was speaking English. In an international city like Paris, I don’t mean to be Déborah Downer (pronounced dow-nair), but a lot of people in Paris speak English. And I find it curious that tourists don’t want to go to a restaurant where there are other tourists. (Good thing they don’t feel that way about hotels – I doubt there’s be any place to sleep!) It’s as if the presence of foreigners equals bad food.

I, for example, am often a tourist and I love eating well when I travel. I hope the presence of me and my friends dining in a restaurant, say, in Palermo or Vancouver, don’t portend to potential diners poking their heads in, that a restaurant sucks.

Juveniles Wine Bar & Restaurant in Paris

Restaurants in Paris often offer menus in English for a couple of reasons. One is that it makes the servers lives easier as the servers (who often has their hands full), don’t have to stand there and translate a menu for each and every diner. (You’ll notice dining rooms in most small restaurants in Paris don’t have busboys, runners, hosts, etc. The servers do it all.) And other reason is that it’s easier for the diners, too.

And for his or her host as well. Such as in my case, since I often translate menus when dining with out-of-town guests and friends who don’t read French. While I’m happy to run through the menu the first time for everyone, no one seems to pay attention. Then I have to go back and explain things item-by-item again. (And people always want to know things like, “If it says poulet fermier, what piece of chicken will I get?” or, “Is there going to be a sauce on that?”) And by the time I’ve read it all through for someone, I need a glass of wine — which at this point, is a priority.

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Chocolate-Prune Cake

chocolate cake

A while back, there was a spate of books about how to ‘sneak’ ingredients that are ‘healthy’ into food for your kids, to trick them into eating better. (Raymond Sokolov wrote an excellent rebuttal to that.) And recently there have been a few books written about how kids in France eat, and behave, better than their counterparts elsewhere. I can’t really comment on them in-depth because I haven’t read the books, but I do know two things from my own observations.

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Baked Apricot Bars

chocolate frosted cake renato of baked

I’d been planning for this trip for years, ever since I first laid my hands on a copy of Baked, the cookbook. Quite a few baking books come out and a lot are really good, but this one spoke to me. I mean, each and every dessert sounded like something I not only wanted to bake, but wanted to eat. As in right away.

As I read through the pages, I have to say that I fell in love with everything in there, from the Baked brownies to the Sweet and Salty Chocolate Cake. With those swirls and swirls of shiny, dark chocolate, I just wanted to dive right into that cake headfirst. And I know this might get me into a little trouble, but I found I had a sweet spot for the authors as well.

cupcakes at Baked

I was entranced because Renato Poliafito and Matt Lewis of Baked share with me a similar sensibility about desserts: we seem to agree that forceful, dynamic flavors, trump elaborate presentations, and prefer to let just a few great ingredients shine. Unfortunately it took me about a year after I read their book (and an interesting bus ride from Manhattan) to get there, but it was worth the wait.

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Chocolate Mousse Cake

chocolate mousse cake

There are two things hard about living in France. The first is ….well, let’s not get into that today. The second is getting recipes from French women. It’s not because they closely guard their secrets, but it’s because they frequently use recipes as guidelines rather than making them by rote.

So if you ask a question, the response is often—”Because that’s always the way I did it.” Which was what I was told when I read the instructions on the hand-written recipe I snagged, that said to dip the bottom of the bowl of melted chocolate in a larger basin of cool water to bring down the temperature, where lazy old me would just let it sit on the counter until it was cool. Who wants to empty all those dishes out of the sink?

chocolate mousse cake recette

They often refuse to specify exact quantities. “Just add enough flour until the dough looks correct” is a fairly common response when I press for things like ‘details’, and I keep imagining how much easier writing a cookbook (and a blog) would be if I could give instructions like that.
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Caramelized White Chocolate Cakes

white chocolate cakes

Laura Adrian is half of the team behind Verjus, a wine bar in Paris that she runs with her partner Braden. With a little help from an adorable Boston Terrier that pops his head into the action every once in a while.

Laura worked for one of my favorite bean-to-bar chocolate makers in America, Theo chocolate in Seattle, before moving to Paris. Due to word-of-mouth, and because of the innovative yet familiar cooking, their supper club Hidden Kitchen (which they ran before opening Verjus) was deservedly booked months in advance.

Laura of Hidden Kitchen whisk

One night I was having dinner there, and Laura leaned over and said, “I’ve been making a cake with the caramelized white chocolate recipe that’s on your site. It’s pretty amazing.”

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The Chocolate Cake Recipe I Found on a Men’s Room Wall

cake

I was having dinner at Racines a few weeks ago, and excused myself during the meal to run upstairs and use the facilities. While up there, I had a few minutes to stare at the wall in front of me, which was covered with pictures and pages of text from various books. One page stopped me mid-moment, it was are recipe for something called Gâteau Zoë.

It was a pretty simple-looking recipe and when I finished up and went back downstairs, I noticed it on the menu, so we ordered it. And it was delicious! Because I’m a terrible journalist and never seem to carry either at the same time—and obviously, inspiration can strike in the most unlikeliest of places…at the most unlikeliest of times—I ran back up to the bathroom to jot it down.

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Warm Spiced Chocolate Cake Recipe

xocopili

Earlier this year I was sent some of the new chocolates from Valrhona to play around with. While I made quick work of the rest of them, one stood out in particular: Xocopili, smooth balls of chocolate flavored with a myriad of spices, including a heavy dose of cumin.

Frédéric Bau, a professor and head chocolatier at the fantastic Ecole de Grand Chocolat Valrhona, developed this blend. Except for the life of me, I had no idea what to do with it.

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Devil’s Food Cake Recipe

Whenever an American friend in Paris has a birthday, I invariably offer to make the cake for the big fête. Not that there’s a lack of great bakeries in Paris, but Americans always seem to crave the same thing: a big, tall, all-American chocolate cake with an overabundance of swirls and swoops of chocolate frosting.

And who am I to deny them?

The Icing On The Cake

And what better to make than a dark, moist Devil’s Food Cake with thick, shiny ganache swirled all over the top and smoothed around the sides?

This Devil’s Food Cake is a happy compromise between those richer, flourless kind of chocolate cakes which would be too intense and inelegant stacked one on top of the other, and those jumbo, three-tiered extravaganzas which might shock a few folks around here with its all-American excess.

(Although the Rice Krispy Treats I made a couple of weeks ago were quite a hit. I tried to explain their cultural appeal to my Parisian friends, but decided just to them do the ambassador work themselves. I’m willing to let someone else carry the cross-cultural mantle around here for a while.)

This one has the heft and smoothness of a larger cake without scaring anyone anyway, and will appease everyone with it’s on-the-spot dark chocolate flavor. It’s delicate crumb is perfect when paired with a scoop of homemade ice cream or a pour of super-cold crème anglaise, but it’s also sturdy enough to weather a trip across the Paris, since if you remember, I don’t have very good luck carrying cakes on the métro amongst devil-may-care Parisians.

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