Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake

Yesterday, the Smith clan decided to celebrate the birthday of Grandpa and Uncle Elliot in one big shin-dig.There was food.There were festivities. Oh and there was wine. Lots and lots and lots of wine.

In celebrating a total combination of 138 years, I figured we needed one hell of a cake!

I happened across a few recipes and decided to whip up something ingenious. Something wintery and minty while not leaving the mouth with that gross toothpaste aftertaste (if you’ve ever had a bad Thin Mint, you know this all too well). Thus, I settled on a Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake to wow the holiday tastebuds. While a bit lopsided, the resulting creation was perfection.

While it may take a bit of time to make, you won’t regret crafting this cake!

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Cake

inspired by this recipe! 

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1.5 cups sugar
  • ¾ cup cocoa
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1½ teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup milk (can be soy, lactose-free, etc.)
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup boiling water

For the frosting:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  •  4 cups powdered  sugar
  • 1 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • pinch of salt
  • dark chocolate for garnish

Directions

Dark Chocolate Cake: 

  1. Preheat oven to 350º F and prepare two 9-inch cake pans.
  2. Add flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl. Whisk thoroughly to combine.
  3. Next, in a separate bowl, combine milk, vegetable oil, eggs, and vanilla. Add to flour mixture and mix together on medium speed until well combined. Reduce speed and carefully add boiling water. Beat on high speed for about 1 minute to add air to the batter but be sure not to over mix .
  4. Distribute cake batter between the two pans. Bake for about 30 minute or until a toothpick  inserted in the center comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool for about 10 minutes, then remove from the pan to cool completely before frosting.

Peppermint Buttercream Frosting:

  1. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter on a medium setting until it is smooth and lightened in color, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add  sugar, ½ a cup at a time. After each cup has been incorporated, turn the mixer onto the highest speed setting and mix for about 10 seconds
  3. After all the sugar has been incorporated, add peppermint extract, salt and mix until well-incorporated.
  4. Frost cake. When finished, grate dark chocolate over the top and serve!
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Coconut Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Kalua Glaze

Well, it’s rained about 40 days and nights here in Lausanne and things are looking a bit dreary. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love a good excuse to be all pensive, turning on the big blonde brain machine, staying indoors whist sipping a cup of tea, good book in hand while contemplating my existence. Let’s be honest though even that gets tiring after a while (am I even real? what does the word “banana” even mean?  why do we call them “toucans” and not rainbow-beaked birds?!)

To liven spirits here and elsewhere, here’s a recipe sure to find a special place in your heart, belly AND transport you to a land of tropical paradise (personally, my idea of a paradise is a land where 5’2 is a perfectly tall height and breakfast is served 24/7 but let’s not get crazy here)

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Last week, my pal David celebrated his 21st birthday and I made this cool cake, inspired by David’s love of yogurt. Absolutely loves it. I swear that kid will live to be 312 with all those probiotics floating around.

So without further ado, I present to you the aaaaaaaamazing Coconut Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Kalua Glaze

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Coconut Chocolate Chip Pound Cake with Kalua Glaze

Serves 8-10 people

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 1 1/2 cups white wheat flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup coconut yogurt
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup chocolate chips

For the glaze:

  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons Kalua
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons milk

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and grease a loaf pan.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, and oil.
  3. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the chocolate chips into the batter.
  4.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20-30 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  5. While waiting for the cake to bake, prepare the glaze. In a small bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Next, add Kalua and milk in small increments, stirring until mixed together thoroughly.
  6. When the cake finishes, remove it from the oven and set on a cooling rack. Using a fork or toothpick, poke small holes over the top of the cake and drizzle with the frosting. Serve with lots of love!

Pat’s Sydney Sider Breakfast

Yesterday morning, I was lucky enough to witness an Aussie in his natural kitchen habitat. Doing what, you ask? Creating the most intricate breakfast feast I’ve seen since I had an Ulster Fry (and figured out what black pudding was– the hard way). While I often get to reap the culinary benefits of having this food wizard as a flatmate, Pat’s “Sydney Sider Breakfast” was out of this world! Forced on principal to grab my camera before chowing down like a madwoman, this breakfast is as delicious as it looks! Thanks Pat!!!

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Pat’s Sydney Sider Breakfast.

Serves about 4 people

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of sourdough bread
  • 4 eggs
  • 12 truss tomatoes, on the vine
  • 8 large brown mushrooms
  • 3 avocados
  • 1-2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • pepper
  • salt

Directions

1.Peel avocados and mash in a large bowl. Add lemon juice, a large pinch of salt, a dash of pepper and olive oil and mix together to taste. Set aside

2.In a large skillet, cook tomatoes and mushrooms over medium high heat with a dash of oil, stirring occasionally until lightly crisp.

3. Meanwhile, begin to poach eggs using your preferred method (for me, I like to use the old measuring-cup-in-water-bath-method [you can read about it here!] but the old trick of cracking them in boiling water with vinegar works just as well!)

4.While eggs are poaching, slice bread into thick slices and toast ’em.

5. When ready to serve, spread toast generously with the avocado. Top the toast with a poached egg and add a few tomatoes and mushrooms on the side. Enjoy!

Home is where the French Toast is.

Sometimes we all feel out of place even if we go somewhere of which we’re sure we’ll fit in this time. That people will totally “get” you, understand you, like the same mélange of music, think it’s cool you take your coffee with a bit of cinnamon sugar rather than cream and totally get the fact that you rarely finish a book because you’d rather learn something new than finish something for good.

Unfortunately, I’ve come to conclude that while this place sounds real good on paper, it might not exist all of the time

Even if you’ve found it, this dream place might not last either because the people could change or you may change or maybe a little bit of both or, you know, the place gets hit by a random space rock that destroys most of the town and even though the people are fine everyone has to move away anyways for fear of space bugs. It could happen.

Coming to Switzerland did a little of this for me I think. While not in a bad way, all I wanted to do was leave the States for a long, long while. Maybe I read too much and didn’t finish enough books to realize that adventure doesn’t necessarily mean, well, permanence.  I thought in coming here I would leave my weird American roots behind for good, I’d learn to pronounce a few things correctly and drop my occasional Texan drawl, I’d escape past events I wasn’t proud of or people I still hadn’t fully forgiven, and most importantly, I’d cook all these new crazy, beautiful dishes with my spare time because of my new “European” way of living. So posh and pensive, right?

All of this is actually hilarious because since I’ve been here, the only thing that’s been on my mind more than some great ribeye with a side of mashed potatoes or someone that’ll talk about baseball with me is my mom’s French Toast.

Growing up, this was my personal breakfast of champions. I could take on anything with a belly full of French Toast­– tests over fractions and decimals, piano recitals, soccer games. I could go to a friend’s house and have their mom’s French Toast or try to order it in a restaurant but of course it wouldn’t be the same because it wasn’t my mamas.

Don’t get me wrong– I absolutely love it here. I love that great skiing is just a train ride away, the history, the cool cobblestoned streets and window shutters, the fact that people in their cars actually stop for pedestrians at cross walks and that freshly baked bread is a stone’s throw away.

But sometimes it takes leaving home to figure out exactly where it is and the people that make it up. And while the French Toast I make over here is pretty good, it’ll never compare to that delicious breakfast dripping with maple syrup and cinnamon that can only be found in my mama’s kitchen.

Mama Smith’s French Toast

Serves: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 2/3 cup milk (non-dariy works fine!)
  • 2 teaspoons of cinnamon
  • 8 thick slices of whole wheat bread
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • butter, maple syrup, powdered sugar, and extra cinnamon to serve

Directions

1. Whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon and sugar in a medium sized bowl. When finished, pour the mixture into a shallow bowl or container (my mom always used long, rectangular Tupperware for better bread coverage)

2. Melt butter over a large skillet on medium high heat. Dip each slice of bread into the egg mixture, for a few seconds on each side and add to the skillet. Cook until lightly brown on both sides, flipping the bread when necessary.

3. Serve with ample amount of maple syrup, powdered sugar, cinnamon and, of course, love!

Yield: Serves 4-6