Back in the day, when we still lived in Manhattan (and by back in the day, I mean 14 years ago . . . ), I went to City Bakery as often as possible. And whether it was breakfast time, the lunch hour, or even close to dinner, I always got the same thing: the baker’s muffin. Truth be told, we called it the “bubble muffin,” for its “bubbly top” and the fact that as you pulled it apart, small, individual, round(ish) pieces of dough (aka “bubbles”) came off in your hand.
A truly delicious chocolate loaf cake is a thing of beauty and everyone should have a recipe for one in their back pocket. Because many of us have this one in said pocket, and can find versions of it here, and here, and elsewhere truth be told, I am not now going to try and reinvent the wheel. Instead, I am providing you with another chocolate loaf, for your other pocket, and this one includes carrots.
I promise you are not alone if the idea of baking a loaf of chocolate bread gives you pause. I totally get it. Honestly, it hadn’t even occurred to me until I had a piece of chocolate bread (or was it a roll – memory does not serve, if you must know) at Blue Hill at Stone Barn this fall. The bread wasn’t remotely sweet, but had this subtle cocoa tang, combined with a deeply yeasty flavor, and was the most gorgeous deep dark brown color. I was smitten.Recipe research/development began in relative earnest, but I discovered very few recipes on the beloved intra-web. I knew I wanted my bread to be of the no-knead variety and figured I would just riff off of my go-to no knead recipe from the NYT, by substituting a bit of cocoa powder for some of the bread flour – and maybe throwing in some chocolate chunks, for good measure. I wasn’t exactly sure how much cocoa powder to use, however, but as luck would have it, I bumped into my neighbor who happens to own one of the best bakeries in NYC, and he generously shared the percentage of flour to cocoa powder that he uses in the bakery for his own chocolate bread. Shockingly, I was right on the mark.I added a cup of chopped chocolate to my bread – for just a little extra “sweet.” And although, I tried a few loaves with bittersweet, I ended up adding milk chocolate (I know: not the most sophisticated of chocolates), which works beautifully with the tangy, almost sour, flavor of the bread. Feel free to substitute a fancier chopped chocolate in its stead, though, for those of you with a more grown-up palate than mine. But no matter what you do, please serve slices toasted with cream cheese (my personal fave).
What’s a girl to say about this cake except that it is pretty darn close to perfect. And I say this for the following reasons: it is chocolate cake, it is easy to make, it has very few ingredients, it calls for oil instead of butter, it comes from an awesome new cookbook, the Cherry Bombe Cookbook, but is a recipe that has been around for forever, and the frosting is pink. When I looked through the Cherry Bombe cookbook musing about what to bake from it, and stumbled upon the photo of a slice of this cake, my musings came to a screeching halt, and the baking began immediately.
Pavlovas are meringues baked (or more accurately “dried out”) until the outside hardens, but the inside remains soft. They are traditionally relatively large (about 8 to 10 inches in diameter) and served with whipped cream and berries. I like to make mini pavlovas (as I hate sharing) and in this instance, have flavored them with chocolate.
Mini chocolate pavlovas have so many attributes going for them, I hardly know where to begin. First, I love the textural contrast of the crispy exteriors and soft, marshmallow-y, slightly chewy interiors. They are deeply chocolate-y which is just a win-win (obvs). They use up extra egg whites which (because I am so fond of adding yolks to cakes for extra richness) I always have a stash of in my fridge. And only call for a minimum of ingredients which you likely have lying around (egg whites, sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, vanilla, cocoa powder).
Finally, if you are into some kind of low-carb/low-fat thing, they can check those boxes for you, too (I’m not for the record, but I like to please the health-conscious masses, when possible). Here’s what I don’t love about making pavlovas – they take a lot of time – both a long bake time and a long rest post bake, so plan accordingly. The recipe for these tasty treats can be found here.