Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Miss You & Chocolate-Walnut Cake with Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

One of the hardest things about being in a long-distance relationship is how much I miss him--terribly; feeling like passengers' being driven in the car of a six-hour time difference and, the way his hand feels holding mine, craving that. This week he's been so busy readying the new flat closer to Paris, when we do speak, our conversations are relegated to the trifle and the essential. He's too exhausted for the usual in between incidentals that typically span hours. I've been trying to alleviate any guilt I feel about not being there to help by keeping myself busy with books, movies and, of course, cooking.

I also watch this video I didn't know he was filming of me, until he said so, taken on one of our last days together in November, and smile.

I received a beautiful letter and card from him today celebrating our premier anniversaire (that's one year anniversary in English), It smells like his cologne. Immediately, I was flooded with chills and the memory of the rush of our first hug in the airport.
The olfactory is a great and magical wonder, possessing a myriad of abilities, chief among them, the ability to transport. Good food posseses the same talent. Although I cooked for him nearly every day Mon Amour was visiting Boston, one of my biggest regrets is that I didn't bake. I promise to correct that when I visit him this summer. In the meantime, he visits my blogs and drools over my cupcakes.

One of the movies I spent some time with this weekend happened to be 'Chocolat', with Juilette Binoche. It was a sweet confection about a chocolate shoppe owner who has an aptitude for seeing what her patrons were missing in their lives and delivering it to them through the alchemy of the chocolate she selects especially for them.

I imagine, for me, she would have selected something rich, but also delicate; sweet, but nutty. As it happens, like this cake. The moistest, yummiest chocolate cake I've had to date.

How was that for a segue?

Fact: This is the best chocolate cake I've ever had. My grandmother seconds that!

Chocolate-Walnut Cake

Recipe courtesy and Adapted from: Ina Garten/ Beatty and Hershey's


Butter, for greasing the pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder, not Dutch-process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken (I made my own. Directions directly underneath ingredients)
1/2 cup canola oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 & 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
3/4-1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Remember when we made our own buttermilk for Strawberry Buttermilk Ice Cream using lemon juice? This time we're using Vinegar. To 1 cup of whole milk, add 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar, stir and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, until curdled. Stir again before adding to wet ingredients.


Chocolate Buttercream, recipe follows

Set your oven to preheat at 350 degrees F. To act as a sort of glue, butter 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line bottom and sides of 2 pan with parchment paper, butter again then flour. Shake out excess flour.
Into a large bowl or bowl of an electric mixer (fitted with paddle attachment), sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. On low speed, mix until combined. In a separate smaller bowl, add buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla, gently stir to combine with fork.
Slowly add wet ingredients to dry ingredients and mix on low speed until combined. With mixer still on low, Add coffee and mix just until combined. Scrape down sides of bowl. If using walnuts, add 1/2 cup and stir in with fork.

*Batter will be very wet. That's normal.

Allow batter to rest in bowl for 10 minutes. Into the prepared pans, pour half of the batter into one and the remaining half into the other.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until tester inserted into cakes comes out clean. Cool cakes in pans for about 30 minutes, then carefully turn pans over individually and, using your hand to support cake, turn cake onto cooling rack and allow to cool completely before handling or frosting.

*When the cakes are nearly completely cooled, start making your frosting. *See below for instructions. Once cakes are cooled, turn one layer over, bottom side up, on large flat plate or cake pedestal. With an offset spatula or knife, spread top of upside down cake with frosting, sprinkle with small handful of chopped walnuts, if using nuts. Place the second cake on top of bottom layer this time, rounded side up. Top with generous mound of frosting and evenly spread down sides and over top of cake.

For decoration, Add chopped nuts to edges of circumference of cake (optional).

Whipped Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Recipe courtesy and Adapted from

1/2 cup butter (no substitutes), softened
2-1/4 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup and 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup milk

Sift confectioners' sugar and cocoa power (do not skip this step). In large heat-safe bowl, Microwave butter for 30 seconds or, in a pan over medium heat let butter just start to melt. Remove from heat and, with hand mixer on medium, cream butter for two minutes. Slowly add in sifted confectioners' sugar and cocoa power. Mix until combined. Still mixing on medium, Add in vanilla and, slowly add in milk. Continue to mix for 3-5 minutes, until frosting is light brown in color and fluffy.

Flip one cake botton side up and add a layer of frosting

After the bottom side of one cake has been frosted, place second cake on top, rounded side up and Add generous mound of frosting

When I began making this cake, despite the rain, it was day and there was natural light. By the time I was putting it together, it had begun pouring and turned completely dark outside. Just for the kitchen, I need to switch from energy saver bulbs to brighter lighting.

Share & Enjoy!


  1. Aw, long distance relationships are so hard! It's even hard for me when my husband travels during the week but at least he comes home on weekends, I still miss him though. This cake is sure to make you feel better! it looks amazing!

  2. Sorry to hear you are having a hard time but don't they say absence makes the heart grow fonder or something like that?
    anyway, love your cake! I could dive into it and gobble it up~

  3. i'd love a slice. so you are going to Paris eh?! pretty cool. love the video in the T.

  4. aw your post gave me the chills. i see my bf on weekends only for the most part. living an hour away for 3+ yrs.... one day. one day. the important thing is to really cherrish the time spent together. you do that well, i can see! baking will be apart of the cherrished times in PARIS! :) chocolate, champagne, paris. done, done, done.

  5. I love this Ina Garten cake! It is my favorite chocolate cake. Your version looks sooo good that I am now considering making this again. I wish you and your significant other the best of luck.

  6. Those long distance relationships can work, I know! You said it all with the olfactory sense! Chocolat is one of my favorite movies and your cake certainly looks delicious with the walnuts and that awesome frosting! Good with the video! You are very pretty and have a beautiful smile!!!

  7. 5 Star Foodie: I think missing the one you love makes the time you get to spend together so much more special, don't you? I feel much better. I'm keeping myself busy...and eating. *giggles* The cake was divine!

    TasteofBeirut: Nice to see you. Thanks for visiting my blog. It's true, my heart is over-flowing with fondness. *smiles*

    Daisy: Hopefully by the end of this summer. Soon I'll be living abroad. I need to learn! A slice? I'll make you a whole cake! Thank you. We were waiting for the train at The Hills, headed to Faneuil. =)

    Simply Life: Of course. Any time! =)

    Corinne: And cheese. A lot of cheese.
    Thank you so much. I think it would be much easier if we were in the same country, but we really do try to make the best of it. Soon enough I'll be living in Paris and we'll look back on this time feeling grateful for what it taught us about patience. I know you know exactly what I mean.

    MsMeanie: You've made this one before?! How cool! Isn't Ina great? Her personality isn't as big as other FoodNetwork stars so I think she gets looked over, but man, her recipes are fantastic! I think she's awesome. This is a cake I can see myself making A LOT. It tasted professioanl, it was so good. Let me know if you make it again. Thank you so much for the well wishes. I appreciate that. =)

    Hi Pam: Thank you so much. We're staying busy on our respective ends of the world and working towards being together again soon. I definitely believe long distance relationships can work if two people are willing to work hard enough at them.

    'Chocolat' single-handedly is responsible for me making this cake. I woke up the following day after watching it with a purpose: Find and make very special chocolate cake. It was just what I needed.

    For your kind words, thank you so much. I'm smiling more and more everyday. Life is beautiful! Love, even love across the miles, gives me a reason.

  8. all your responses here are so sweet. (and your comments on my blog always make me laugh!) that PETER GRIFFIN sucks. hahaha. I bet your bf could teach you french!!

  9. Awesome beans! This looks so delicious.
    Nicely done, Ree!

    My husband is going to have a field day with this thing. Definitely have to try this out one of these days. Not much of a competent cook yet, but I'm learning.

    Binoche is wonderful, and she was stellar in Chocolat. It's one of my fave movies. I remember watching it back in college (ah, where has the time gone?).

    Have a great week ahead!

  10. Aw, how sweet (no pun intended)!!! Well, you know I love this movie...and I'm looking forward to seeing if it inspires you to bake up anything else sweet ;) This cake sounds absolutely divine!!!

  11. This is a very wonderful looking cake! wish I could ice my cakes like this...I am very bad at it! Glad to see you are hold well in your long distance relationship..that reminds me of another movie currently showing in the local cinema, acted by Drew Barrymore:). Must find some time to go watch it.


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