From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Today was a truly bizarre, died and gone to heaven kind of day. The Silver Fox and I had planned to pick strawberries at a local farm, but heavy rain last evening had battered the crop so badly that it made no sense to slog through muddy fields for badly bruised berries. Unfortunately, that conclusion was reached in the middle of a field where we stood knee deep in mud. Having determined that berry picking would have to be postponed for another week, we decided to drive through the Lorane Valley, which is beautiful at this time of year. We had a late, but lovely, lunch at King Estates and started home. That's when things got really strange. Now, the Fox and I live in a community that fosters free spirits and cherishes individuality. Demonstrations are commonplace here and it takes a lot to raise eyebrows. We encountered a demonstration as we headed home that would have raised my eyebrows to my hairline had I not been laughing so hard. We got caught in a traffic jam caused by the World Naked Bike Ride protest, which,while new to me, apparently is a yearly event here. And yes, most of them, about a hundred strong, were buck naked except for the helmets on their heads. These modern day Godivas ride naked through the street to remind drivers that cyclists are vulnerable when sharing the road with automobiles. Noble, huh? Local police are not particularly concerned with the annual WNBR protest because the group is peaceful and law abiding and there are certainly no concealed weapons to arouse concern. Photos of the event from prior years can be seen, here. We Oregonians are a peaceful lot, though we tend to view laws as suggestions rather than fiat, so, if ever you have the urge to ride your bike au natural, join us for the convention next year. Pack a fig leaf and I might even feed you.
I had planned to make strawberry shortcake for dessert tonight, but had no berries to work with. I decided to try a recipe that I had found in Bon Appetit magazine. It combines a dense chocolate cake with a peanut butter buttercream frosting. The combination is hard to beat and the cake did not disappoint. The cake layer is very similar to the Wacky Cake of WWII, but the buttercream, an Italian meringue, is in a class of deliciousness that is all its own. I urge you try this when you have some time. You won't be sorry. Here's how it is made.
Chocolate and Peanut Butter Snack Cake...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Charlotte Druckman via Bon Appetit magazine
Chocolate CakeNonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup finely chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (3-1/2 ounces)
Peanut Butter Buttercream1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup egg whites (from about 2 large eggs)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
Topping1/4 cup chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (about 1 3/4 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts
1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 x 2-inch pan with nonstick spray; line bottom of pan with parchment paper.
2) To make cake: Whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda together in a large bowl. Add oil, vanilla, and 1-1/4 cups water; whisk until smooth. Fold in chopped chocolate. Scrape into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center, 35–40 minutes. Let cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
3) To make peanut butter buttercream: Combine sugar and egg whites in a medium metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar dissolves and mixture is hot to the touch, 3–4 minutes. Remove from heat; using an electric mixer, beat on high speed until cool and thick, 5–6 minutes. Beat in vanilla, then peanut butter. With mixer running, add butter a few pieces at a time, beating to blend between additions. Season with salt.
4) To finish: Run a thin knife around pan to release cake. Invert cake onto a serving plate. Spread peanut butter buttercream over top. Garnish with chopped chocolate and peanuts. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. Cut into 2-inch squares. Yield: 16 servings.
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