CHOCOLATE COFFEE PISTACHIO LOAF CAKE

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I was fooled into making this recipe. Here’s the story. I subscribe to PureWow e-newsletters and a recent recipe was for Chocolate Bread. Chocolate. Bread. Chocolate and bread. When I opened the email, I was thinking “These are my two greatest weaknesses,” but that’s not completely true. I would probably only say one is a serious weakness, the other is a sporadic temptation. Can you guess which one is the weakness? It’s the bread. I love bread. Which is funny b/c I don’t eat it very often but good bread? With butter or olive oil? AND SALT?? OH MAN that’s tough to turn down. Chocolate on the other hand? That depends on what it is. Something warm and gooey from the oven? Yes. Whatever it is, a chocolate warm gooey something sounds AMAZING. But random chocolatey candy? Meh. Whatevs.

Anyway, according to this recipe, chocolate and bread make a delicious baby and I couldn’t have been more excited. However, after doing some recipe comparisons and reading the comments, the PureWow version seemed like a bad idea. For one, there’s no sugar in the recipe. Does that seem strange to anyone else? Perhaps if it was truly bread-like, but there is no yeast! It’s a quick bread! Maybe even verging on cake-like. But no sugar? Seemed too dicey.

Instead this “bread” made me crave a long lost love of mine which is probably what I was wanting all along. Nigella Lawson’s Dense Chocolate Loaf Cake. The cake is just exactly that. Dense as all get out. So the cake pictured above? Yes, it actually is supposed to sink like that. That is not a cake fail (or “cake wreck!”) but a definite cake win. It’s that dense and moist and delicious that it just can’t handle itself. It gets weak in the knees just thinking about how fantastic it is. So of course, I can’t NOT put my own spin on it. Heaven forbid. My version involved using ground pistachios as a substitution for half of the flour. Nut flour would be better, but this was spontaneous so I wasn’t quite prepared for that. Using nut flour will give you a smoother homogenous texture, while ground nuts (even finely ground) will give you a “studded” texture. I also added coffee grounds. Coffee grounds are one of my current favorite add-ins. It’s so simple, but such an effective way of really getting the coffee flavor to tickle your tongue with a sassy little “Oh, hello, there!” So let’s stop rambling and get to the goods. I included both flour measurement options so you can make it according to your preference (100% flour vs 50% flour/50% nut flour). Sounds good? Yeah, I thought so.

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::: CHOCOLATE COFFEE PISTACHIO LOAF CAKE :::

Prep Time : 20-25 minutesBake Time: 50 minutes

1 cup softened unsalted butter
1⅔ cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1½ tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp  vanilla extract + 1 tsp orange extract)
4 oz bittersweet chocolate
1⅓ cup AP flour -OR- ⅔ c AP flour + ⅔ c nut flour or finely ground nuts
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp coffee grounds
1 cup + 2 tbsp boiling water

Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease and line loaf pan with nonstick spray (or butter) and parchment paper or a loaf-pan paper liner. The parchment is extra helpful because the cake is so dense. It makes for a better removal from the pan.

Mix the flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. Cream the butter and sugar for 2 minutes. Then add eggs and extract, beating well. Next, fold in the melted, slightly cooled chocolate. Blend well, but do not overbeat, as you don’t want the mixture to be very airy. Gently add the dry ingredients a little at a time, alternating with the boiling water until mixture is smooth and fairly liquify.

Pour the batter into the lined and greased loaf pan and bake for 30 minutes. After that time, turn the oven down to 325°F and continue to cook for another 15 minutes. As Nigella says, “The cake will still be a bit squiggly inside, so an inserted cake tester or skewer won’t come out completely clean.” I just love that she used the word “squidgy,” and it’s totally appropriate for this cake!

After baking, place the loaf pan on a cooling rack and let is cool completely. Though I will admit, I’m pretty sure we sunk out teeth into it while it was still warm because warm baked goods are just that much more delicious! To remove the cake from the pan, either turn it out on a large plate and flip back over, or gently pull it out by the liner paper. And yes, it will sink in the middle because it’s so dense and damp. Nigella says that’s okay, so I’m going with it. 🙂

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