Category Archives: Sweet Thursday

Sweet Thursday – Chocolate/Pistachio Torte

Music: Would I lie to you – The Eurythmics

This was made with love for my dear friend Brian on his birthday.  He made a similar torte for James many years ago and I thought I would return the favor.  It’s a Martha Stewart recipe (and one I could actually follow!). I’m not a baker, we know this – but this came out soooo well! (and it was really pretty, although you’d never know that from the pictures).

What you’ll need for the Torte:
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
3/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
What you’ll need for the Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup shelled, unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • Make cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan; line bottom with parchment or waxed paper.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder. Set aside.
  • In a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water, melt butter and chocolate, stirring frequently, 4 to 5 minutes.
  • Remove bowl from pan. Whisk in sugar and vanilla, then eggs, buttermilk, and pistachios. Fold in flour mixture just until combined.
  • Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached, 60 to 70 minutes.
  • Let cool in pan 5 minutes; run a knife around edge, and invert onto a wire rack.
  • Remove paper, and let cool completely, about 3 hours. (To store, wrap in plastic, and keep at room temperature, up to 3 days).
  • Make ganache: In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer; remove from heat.
  • Add chocolate, and let stand 5 minutes; whisk until smooth. Let cool until mixture falls back in ribbons when lifted with a spoon, 2 to 6 minutes.
  • Set cake on a serving platter; tuck strips of parchment paper under edge of cake to prevent ganache from dripping on platter.
  • Pour ganache onto center of cake; using a table knife, spread evenly over the top and down the sides. Let set, about 30 minutes.
  • Remove paper from under cake; sprinkle top with pistachios.


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    Madeleines – Sweet Thursday

    Music: Don’t Fear the Reaper – Blue Oyster Cult

    I’ve always wanted to try Madelieines.  I always thought they were something too difficult to perfect in the home.  But thank goodness for my trusty guide through Parisian pastry, The Sweet Life of Paris (and a thank you to David Lebovitz for moving to France).  We recently purchased a Madeleine pan having always wanted one (does food that requires special tools intimidate you? – It intimidates me…).

    There is a longstanding debate on whether or not to include baking powder in ones Madeleines (I did).  It has nothing to do with affecting the taste, just the appearance.  That signature “bump” is not necessarily historically accurate and when you speak with Frenchies, they might disagree about the bulbous shape an American Madeleine has taken on (I sense a social commentary brewing).  It is entirely up to you if you want a pregnant Madeleine.

    We made these little treats for our Massachusetts road trip. I was shocked by how good they were straight out of the oven – so spongy and sweet.  Admittedly, they didn’t really taste the same a day later, but they were still good dipped in rich hot chocolate while sitting in a cozy 17th century home in New England (jealous?). Here are the sweet results!

    What you’ll need:

    3 large eggs, at room temperature
    2/3 cup granulated sugar
    1/8 teaspoon salt
    1 1/4 cup  flour
    1 teaspoon baking powder (optional)
    zest of 1/2 a lemon
    9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds

    • Preheat the oven to 425 degrees
    • Melt butter in a small pot.

    • Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with sifted flour, tap off any excess, and place in the freezer.

    • Let the rest of the butter cool to room temperature.
    • Using an electric or hand held mixer, whip the eggs, granulated sugar, and salt for 6 minutes until frothy and thickened (seriously, that long)

    • Spoon the flour and baking powder, if using, into a sifter or mesh strainer and use a spatula to fold in the flour as you sift it over the batter.
    • Add the lemon zest to the room temperature butter, then teaspoon the butter into the batter, a few spoonfuls at a time.  Continue folding to incorporate the all butter.

    • Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours.)
    • This is kinda the tough part.  Remove Madeleine pan from freezer and add enough batter in the center of each indentation to fill it 3/4 of the way. Do not spread it.

    • Bake for 9-10 minutes or until the cakes are golden brown around the edges nearest the pan.
    • Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack.

    • Eat immediately.

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    Chocolate Cupcakes Revisited – Sweet Thursday

    Music: Hole – Rock Star

    This is my mothers recipe for the cupcakes I posted a few weeks ago. It comes from McCall’s Cooking School published in 1973.  They were legit the tastiest cupcakes I’ve had in a long time.   We don’t have any of the “process” pictures but you’ll get the idea. Those little sugar flowers are only decorative and about 25 years old…kinda awesome? Kinda gross?  My Grandmother made them for her cakes and used to put them in mason jars.  She’d line them all up in her pantry and it was really pretty.

    Regular Version

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    Chocolate Cupcakes – Sweet Thursday

    Two weekends ago my mother made this scrumptious chocolate cupcakes! I was so excited to share them with you but I didn’t write down the recipe…wah wah.  So, I have some pictures and I will make her send me the recipe as soon as humanly possible (that will probably be tonight since she’s at work right now).  The frosting was kind of a fluke, but really yummy.  Here are some pictures.

    Hipstamatic Camera version

    Regular Version

    Great Cafe au Lait on oilcloth table cloth - has nothing to do with cupcakes.

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    Grandma’s Wedding Cakes – Sweet Thursday

    Music: Famous Blue Raincoat – Leonard Cohen

    My grandmother, Rose, is a domestic goddess of mythic proportion in my mind.  She could do everything.  She made dresses for my mother that I am still able to wear.  She hosted dinners for over 50 people on a weekly basis. Everything she created in the kitchen was extraordinary and the best I’ve eaten  – even just spaghetti with meatballs (which was really the only thing I ate as a kid, earning me the nickname “the spaghetti wrangler”).  She hosted pea parties where only dishes with peas were served (and it wasn’t gross!).  She left her Christmas tree up all year long.  She could knit an afghan, read a book and watch “Days of Our Lives” all at the same time. She had a built-in brick oven in her kitchen.  She used to buy me gold lamé bathing suits and took me to the diner with her friends.  Maybe it was her special Grandma touch, but she could do no wrong.

    She also used to make the most remarkable wedding cakes.  I was sorting through some old photographs with my mother this weekend and we found these pictures of cakes she made in the late 60’s to the early 80’s.  They aren’t in the greatest condition but you’ll get the picture.  These are the wedding cakes of yore – you’ll be hard pressed to find a baker who still makes them like this (except for maybe in the Bronx?) and, although, it’s not necessarily an aesthetic that’s stood the test of time – you can certainly appreciate the artistry that goes into them.  They have electric fountains and angels and sugar roses for crying out loud!  I don’t know who they belonged to.  I wish I did.  Even though they were promptly eaten on someone’s wedding day I am happy that I can share them with you here.

    My Parents' Wedding Cake

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    Bright Star – Sweet Thursday

    Music: The Boy With The Thorn In His Sides – The Smiths

    This posting has absolutely nothing to do with food…but we didn’t make anything dessert-like this week.   This movie is visually stunning and I can’t get enough of it (yea, yea 10 minutes late to the party as usual)…so think of this as eye candy for this sweet thursday!

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    Lemon Squares – Sweet Thursday

    Music: Love Will Tear Us Apart – Broken Social Scene

    Maybe it’s the promise of Spring that’s got me thinking about lemons.  My mom made lovely lemon squares growing up and I wanted to replicate them for our post lobster bisque dinner (made from leftover lobsters from Southampton!). I got the recipe from the trusty Tartine cookbook.

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