Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Steak and Chocolate Cake: Valentine's Day Dinner

It all started with a sauce. A gorgeous, burgundy colored sauce that does not photograph nearly as well as I would like it to. I found it in this month's Bon Appetit magazine. It was a spicy blackberry barbeque sauce. The question was what should I serve it on? Steak.

Again, the picture didn't come out as well as I had hoped. I guess I my hand was a bit unsteady in my excitement. That is a grilled tri-tip steak slathered with the sauce, if you can't tell. I love this sauce. I'll make it again.

Spicy Blackberry BBQ Sauce
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (and thawed) blackberries
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (Franks)
Combine all ingredients in a foor processor and process until smooth. Strain mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat - stirring regularly - until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste while it's cooking.

For dessert, I made a chocolate cake. I was going to make Gale Gand's Chocolate Heart Throb cake that Kelli posted about the other day, when I stumbled upon EatingWell's Died and Went to Heaven Chocolate Cake. I opted to make it instead of Gale Gand's recipe for two reasons:
(1) I didn't have to rescale the recipe to fit my pan
(2) I already had buttermilk in the fridge.
The third reason, and arguably the best reason, is that this cake is fabulous. Moist, fluffy, easy to make and easy to handle.

The only change I made to the original recipe was to use all white sugar instead of half white and half brown sugar. I've seen very similar versions of this recipe all over the place. Some with a bit more oil, some with a bit more milk. Here's the recipe I made:

Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cups ap flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot strong black coffee
Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Let the buttermilk mixture come to room temperature. Sift all dry ingredients together in a very large bowl.
Whisk buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients. When combined, carefully whisk in hot coffee.
Pour into greased pans, either 2 9" round cake pans or 1 11x13 pan.
Bake until tester comes out clean, 45-55 minutes depending on the pan (the less batter, the more cooking time).

Note: Do not be fooled by the relative thinness of the batter; it really puffs up as it bakes! Do NOT fill any pans more then 2/3 of the way full!