A Baker's Odyssey

By AM Northwest Staff


Makes 24 Individual Cakes

Cake: Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups bleached all-purpose flour, plus more for the pan
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 12 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole milk

Chocolate Sauce: Ingredients

  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tablespoons salted butter, melted
  • 2/3 cup boiling water
  • 3 to 4 cups shredded unsweetened coconut


To make the cake:

1. Adjust an oven rack to the lower third position and preheat the oven to 350*F. Grease a 13 x 9 x 2 inch baking pan, dust it with flour, and knock out the excess flour. Whisk the flour and baking powder together in a medium bowl.

2. Beat the butter in a large bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of sugar and the vanilla and beat for 30 seconds. While beating, gradually add the remaining 1 1/4 cups sugar. Scrape the bowl and beater, then beat for 5  minutes on medium high speed. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. On low speed, add the flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with the milk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients and beating only until smooth. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

3. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the cake is golden brown and pulls away slightly from the sides of the pan and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack for 15 mins, then cover the cake pan with a wire rack and invert the two. Remove the pan, cover the cake with another rack, and invert the cake again to cool completely right side up.

4. Drape the cake loosely with a kitchen towel and leave at room temp. overnight.

5. With a sharp serrated knife, trim the crusts from the sides of the cake. Cut the cake into 24 squares.

6. To make the chocolate sauce, in a medium bowl whisk together the confectioners' sugar, cocoa, butter, and boiling water until smooth. Set the bowl into a pan of very hot water to keep the sauce fluid. Spread the coconut in a shallow dish or pie plate. Drop a piece of cake into the chocolate sauce and use two long tied forks to turn the cake quickly in the sauce to coat all surfaces. Lift the cake out of the sauce, letting excess sauce drip back into the bowl, and transfer the cake to the bowl of coconut. Use your fingers to sprinkle the cake with coconut, rolling it around to coat all surfaces will. Remove the cake from the coconut and set it on a wire cooling rack. Repeat with the remaining cake. Leave the cakes on wire racks to dry for 1 to 2 hours before serving.


Roman Chocolate Cookies

Makes 36 cookies

Dough: Ingredients

  • 2 cups plus 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped medium fine
  • 1 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips

Icing: Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temp.
  • 2 tablespoons whole milk, plus more if needed
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • Colored or chocolate sprinkles


1. To make the dough, in a medium bowl whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice.

2. In another medium bowl, beat the eggs with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 1 minute, until frothy. Gradually add the sugar and beat until the eggs thicken slightly and become very pale in color, 2 to 3 minutes more. While beating, slowly drizzle in the olive oil. On low speed, beat in the milk and vanilla extract.  With a wooden spoon, add the flour mixture in 2 installments, stirring until smooth after each. Stir in walnuts and chocolate chips. The dough will be soft and slightly sticky. Cover the bowl loosely with a kitchen towel and let the dough rest for 20 to 30 minutes.

3. Adjust an oven rack to the center position and preheat the oven to 350*F . Line two heavy 17 x 14 inch cookie sheets with silicone baking pan liners or cooking parchment.

4. To shape the cookies, roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough between your palms into smooth balls measuring about 1 inch in diameter. Set the balls about 2 inches apart on the prepared sheets, 18 cookies to a sheet.

5. Bake one sheet at a time until the cookies smell fragrant and their tops feel dry and have numerous cracks, 10 to 12 minutes; they will almost double in size. Do not overbake-the cookies should be tender, not dry. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets for 3 to 5 minutes, then transfer them with a wide metal spatula to wire cooling racks to cool completely.

6. To make the icing, in a small bowl combine the confectioners' sugar, butter, milk and vanilla extract and beat with a hand-held electric mixer until smooth and thick, the consistency of heavy cream. If necessary, beat in more milk by droplets.

7. Set the racks of cooled cookies over waxed paper. One at a time, dip the tops of 5 or 6 cookies in the icing, then set them upright on the cooling rack and dust them immediately with colored sprinkles or chocolate jimmies. Repeat with the remaining cookies.


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