Baking, like math, is a science. When I’d sit down to take a math test, I’d do my best, turn it in, like tucking a cake in the oven, and think, “That went well.” I was always surprised when it came back with a big red “C-” on the top sheet. “What did I do?” I would wonder.
Bread, cake, pie crusts, cinnamon rolls… they elude me. I am by nature an artist, one who tinkers until the magic happens. But once the heat is applied to the pan, there can be no more adjustments, no tastings, no second checks to see whether you’ve forgotten the salt. I own enough baking cookbooks that even I should have figured it out by now. But for me, it’s like the munchkin’s engineering calculators, more of them do not make a better engineer.
So, I slide the pan in the oven, set the timer, and forget about it. If it turns out, there will be a lovely extra after dinner. If not, there’s always ice cream.
I found a forgiving chocolate recipe at the sophisticated gourmet this weekend and tried it out for the munchkins for a Valentine’s treat. Now, I’m not going to give you all of his wonderful tips, as I really think that you should read them at his site, and they are good tips, so really do go there. (Including a link on how to bring your egg and sour cream to room temperature.) However, I did make the recipe up twice with slightly different ingredients and I wanted to point out the difference between them here. I used coconut sugar instead of white granulated sugar. That rarely makes a difference in baking, only adding a very slight coconutty flavor to the end product. It also reduces the sugar hit to your body as it’s easier to digest and process.As far as I have seen, it behaves the same as cane sugar in the end product, so I’m happy.
Second, I used whole wheat pastry flour as it’s just a bit healthier and as this recipe doesn’t require a yeast rise, it doesn’t affect the rise either. Third, I don’t like using oil in my recipes as it tends to come out heavier and I’m all about light fluffy baking products. I use apple sauce for 3/4 of the oil and finish the rest off with oil. Fourth, the first time I made this, I was out of sour cream. I experimented (usually earning myself a C-) with soured half and half and skipped the boiling water. The result was a denser, more intense chocolate mouth feel with a crisp candied edge. When I made it the second time, with sour cream, it was a bit more molten and was especially lovely a ‘la mode. Either way, it’s chocolately goodness. Oh, and I’m not really an icing girl, so if you wish them iced, you can print his recipe for frosting as well. (Though I’m going to be trying out a chocolate cream cheese mocha frosting on these next time.)
- 1 cup coconut sugar
- 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbls whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbls natural unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 3/4 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 egg room temp.
- 1/2 cup soured half and half
- 1/4 cup applesauce and oil (fill a 1/4 cup 3/4 of the way full and finish off the 1/4 cup with oil)
- 1 Tbls vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350. Butter ramekins and then coat them lightly with flour, shaking off any extra. Mix together all dry ingredients, sugar through salt. Add wet ingredients and stir just until mixed. Spoon 3 tablespoons of batter into each silpat cupcake liner or 8 tablespoons into each large ramekin and set on silpat lined baking sheet.
Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate pan and bake for an additional 5. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Serve warm with ice cream or fresh raspberries.