Chocolate mud cake with chocolate ganache

One of my most favourite girls in the world, Larissa, just celebrated her “Citizen Me!” party last night. She is now officially an Australian citizen and what better way than to eat, drink and be merry on a cold Autumn night in Sydney? And what better way to celebrate this than to eat at one of the best culinary places in Sydney: Leichhardt!

Oh just think of all the hearty meals offered: pasta, pizza, seafood, soups, rice dishes… I could go on and on. I was at a loss with what to order, but I knew that when in Rome Leichhardt, eat what Leichhardt-ians eat: pizza and pasta!

Seafood risotto with tomato sauce, cannelloni with ricotta and mascarpone and tomatoes, Leichhardt AND Norton St special pizza, penne sicilliana, penne arabiatta, AND penne napolitana. Ahhhh! I think about them I start to drool already.

Sadly, I forgot to take photos of the scrumptious meals, but let me tell you this… never underestimate the powers of authentic Italian cuisine!

After the big, hearty, heavy, delicious meal, we all trekked it back to the girls’ place a few streets down the road for some drinks and desserts. I brought my own little surprise (which wasn’t really a surprise because Larissa requested it) which I baked the night before to give the chocolate time to set and harden a bit.
Introducing… the chocolate ON chocolate ON chocolate mud cake (yes, I said chocolate three times).

Ladies and gentlemen, meet the chocolate mudcake with chocolate ganache middle layer, frosted with chocolate ganache and topped with chocolate buttercream and strawberries.

If that won’t scare away the chocolate-haters (if there exists any!), I don’t know what will.

Larissa is a huge chocolate fan and this was a tribute to her chocolate-ness, and I don’t think anyone would complain if chocolate was the last dish served before calling it a night.

Chocolate Mud Cake

Adapted from Exclusively Food
Makes 10-12 big servings

150g salted butter
200g dark cooking chocolate
1/2 tsp espresso powder
1/3 cup water
1 cup + 1 tbsp all purpose flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate soda
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 cup caster sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp canola oil

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 deg C. Grease and line a 20cm springform pan with baking paper.
  2. In a saucepan, melt the chocolate, 250g butter, espresso powder and water under low heat. Stir occasionally until all has melted and amalgamated. Set aside to cool for a few minutes.
  3. Sift together flour, cocoa powder, and bicarbonate soda (I used the mixer to mix this so everything’s even). Add the caster sugar.
  4. In a measuring jug, combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil, and vanilla extract. Add this to the flour mix and combine.
  5. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the batter intermittently in 3 batches.
  6. Pour batter on to prepared pan and bake for approximately 1 hour. Test the middle layer with a skewer until it comes out clean to ensure cake is cooked.
  7. Without removing from the pan, let cake set and cool for about 10 minutes. Remove the spring ring and again, let cool for another 20-30 minutes (it was a cold night so cooling wasn’t a big problem – hurrah!). Even out the top by slicing the cracked bits using a serrated knife. Cut cake in the middle to create 2 whole cake disks.
  8. Frost middle layer with ganache (see recipe below), place the top cake layer, and frost the top and sides with remaining ganache. Decorate as desired (I decorated it with some leftover chocolate buttercream and strawberries).

Chocolate Ganache
1/3 cup thick cream
200g dark cooking chocolate
2 tbsp icing sugar

  1. In a saucepan, melt chocolate and cream together on very low heat. Do not take your eyes off this as burnt cream or chocolate or BOTH could ruin the whole ganache. Mix occasionally until the chocolate has just melted, and remove from heat.
  2. Whisk in icing sugar (if using dark chocolate) until everything’s well amalgamated. Cool for a few minutes before frosting cake.

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Vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream

The weekend was filled with baking. 1 dozen vanilla cupcakes with vanilla buttercream, 1 dozen vanilla cupcakes with chocolate buttercream, and 1 dozen scones. My oven did not even have time to cool down because I was baking one batch of cupcakes after another – and I loved every minute of it!

I wanted to redeem myself from last weekend’s baking disaster, but I was nervous and scared to attempt even the simplest of recipes like buttercream and vanilla cupcakes. But cupcakes were expected for 2 parties, so I had to hold my breath, turn the oven on, prepare the mixer, and hope for the best.

The end result? Cupcakes as how they should be:

I was so worried that they might flop, but they turned out pretty much how I remember my cupcakes to be. It’s more of relief than anything else that they turned out normal…

I used this vanilla pastel cupcake with vanilla buttercream recipe for the vanilla cupcake bases, and added a tablespoon of cocoa powder to the buttercream frosting to give it a bit of a chocolate hit.

After baking, I went to the gym and then to DFO to do some window shopping. By some strange reason, I found myself being dragged on to the kitchen shops… and immediately drawn to the cupcake stand. It was on sale, it was lipstick red, and it was perfect!

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Baked Lemon Pasta

Growing up in the Philippines, I have been accustomed to eating really sour dishes. There are a number of sour Filipino dishes that I can think of at the top of my head, but the king (or queen) of all sourness is the tamarind-based soup known as sinigang. Chicken, pork, fish, even beef – sinigang is one of those dishes that gives you a warm feeling of home and mum’s hugs and tropical breeze and everything that Philippines stands for.

So whenever I reminisce about Filipino sourness (the food, that is!), or whenever I crave for something sour, I snack on lemons.

Yep – big, fat lemon wedges. With salt. Lots of it.

Or sometimes when there’s no lemons around, I opt for lime. Or the smaller, more sour version we call calamansi. I snack on about half a lemon… and then a few minutes later I get an upset stomach. Such is the story of my life!

Ah but I digress.

Filipino food isn’t as popular as Thai, Malay, Chinese, Indian, and even Indonesian. I really don’t know why the popularity hasn’t grown much – maybe because Filipino food is a fusion of many different food bases that it somehow lost its origins and uniqueness along the way? Maybe.

I plan on featuring a few Filipino dishes here to introduce the wonderful, likeable, even loveable Filipino dishes that has graced my dining table the past 24 years of my food-filled life. But for the meantime, let me show you the lovely dinner I had last night…

Ta-da! Pioneer Woman’s Baked Lemon Pasta!

This is the ultimate in speedy, speedy meals. Meals on wheels! Meals on turbo charge nitro! Meals on.. never mind.

Yesterday at work I was knacking my brains out on what I was going to cook for dinner. I didn’t want the usual salad, pasta, Chinese, nutella sandwich…. I wanted something different. With an extra kick of.. something. So I go to the one trustful website for all your meal problems and voila! Pioneer Woman saved the day.

Garlic, lemon, parsley, butter, cream, pasta, parmesan. That’s all you need. How easy was that?!

Baked Lemon Pasta

Adapted from Pioneer Woman’s Baked Lemon Pasta

Makes 2 – 3 servings

250g spaghetti

2 tbsp butter

1 tbsp olive oil

Juice and rind of half a lemon

3 cloves garlice, minced

1 cup thick cream (the recipe called for sour cream, but I only had thick cream at home so I substituted it)

Pinch of salt

Chopped fresh parsley (I only had continental parsley at home, but flat leaf parsley would’ve been better)

Grated parmesan cheese

  1. Pre-heat oven to 175 deg C.
  2. Cook spaghetti until al dente (mum taught me to add a pinch of salt and a drop of olive oil in the pasta water for flavour and so the pasta won’t stick – so that’s how I cook my pasta).
  3. In a pan, melt butter with olive oil. Add garlic and the squeeze the juice of half a lemon.
  4. Remove from heat and add the lemon rind and cream. Stir until combined. Add salt to taste.
  5. Add cooked spaghetti to cream sauce and stir stir stir! Transfer to baking dish.
  6. Cover dish with foil, and bake for 5 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes.
  7. Add chopped parsley, parmesan cheese and squeeze a lemon wedge before serving. Enjoy!

Serve with a slice of buttered toast for that finished touch (I cut my toast in triangles – just like what mum used to do!). If you want an amalgamation of all the different flavours of garlic, parsley, and lemon, then this dish is for you. Seriously. This is that one dish that you need to have in your winter menu. It’s seriously addictive – so much that I had to force myself to leave some to take to work the next day (which is today!).

Mmm I predict a yummy lunch at work today. Beats buying food any day (saves me money too!).

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