oscar dinner party

Oscar dinner party | A Brown Table

If there is an event, I'd like to attend in person at least once in real life, it will have to be the Oscars. From what I've seen on TV and in the news, it always looks like one big party that continues through the night even after the award ceremony. And while it's true I'd like to meet a few actors (though I can envision myself, entering into a momentary paralysis while being starstruck from the glam) I've always wondered about the food. They always have something interesting and tasty to eat. I remember reading somewhere once, that they had 9 different menus for the night! 

Now while, I think 9 separate menus might surely be overkill to entertain at home, this menu I've created for Pottery Barn (Recipes in link) is simple yet pretty delicious and glamorous!

Here's what I'm serving on my Oscar menu this Sunday:

Start with this Apple Cider Hibiscus Ginger Cocktail made with champagne.

For small nibbles choose between or make both; Cannellini Bean and Blood Orange Crostini and/or Ancho Chili and Coriander Steak Crostini with Horseradish Mayonnaise.

And For dessert, this dark chocolate raspberry cake with a chocolate ganache frosting.

And now with our plates and glasses full, we can all focus on who is going to win!!!

cannellini bean and blood orange crostini for @potterybarn oscar dinner party| A Brown Table
cannellini bean and blood orange crostinifor @potterybarn oscar dinner party | A Brown Table
crostini for for @potterybarn oscar dinner party| A Brown Table
raspberry chocolate ganache cake for @potterybarn oscar dinner party| A Brown Table
apple cider ginger and hibiscus ginger cocktail for @potterybarn oscar dinner party| A Brown Table

Disclaimer: Thank you to Pottery Barn for sponsoring this post. All opinions expressed here are solely my own. 

black forest ice cream cake

black forest ice cream cake | A Brown Table

This week marks the four year anniversary of this blog. It's been one amazing journey and I'm grateful for all the friendships and opportunities it has brought along the way. The start of this week also marked an important "holiday" one that I hold dear to my heart,  National Ice cream day and though, I'm two days late, an ice cream cake seemed the perfect way to celebrate. And of course, I'll do anything to stay cool in this hot weather. 

This black forest cake, is an ice cream version and it uses the cherry labneh kefir ice cream I shared last week. I took a lot of liberty with the flavor combinations so it's not one hundred percent a black forest cake by definition. At first I was tempted to layer the cake with chocolate ice cream and throw in some chopped cherries but that would overwhelm the strong chocolate flavor of the cake and it would be flat. But with this flavor combination you can taste the chocolate and cherry flavor in every bite... and the ice cream has chunks of chocolate.

The buttermilk based chocolate layer cake recipe is from one of my favorite baking books, The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book. The cake has a soft crumb and is very moist and is a great recipe to use when making other chocolate layer cakes. This cake is also loaded with a good amount of chocolate flavor and the best part, it's relatively easy to make at home.

In other news, I'm also writing a new column at Food52 on easy Indian cooking at home and besides recipes, I will also share tips and hints on what you need to have in your kitchen to cook a tasty Indian meal. 

black forest ice cream cake | A Brown Table
black forest ice cream cake | A Brown Table
black forest ice cream cake | A Brown Table
black forest ice cream cake | A Brown Table
black forest ice cream cake | A Brown Table
black forest ice cream cake | A Brown Table

Here are some of my kitchen tips that you might find useful when preparing this cake;

  • Both the cakes and the ice cream can be made a day in advance. If you assemble the ice cream cake the morning of and then let it sit in the freezer to set for several hours before serving. 
  • I didn't do this but you can spray the chocolate cakes with a little kirsch to bump up the cherry flavor. There is no need for simple syrup to moisten the cake as it will crystallize
  • This chocolate buttermilk cake has a very tender crumb but it is also easy to handle. For an even layer trim the tops of the cakes with a serrated knife to create a flat surface. 
  • You can also fold 1/2 cup of chopped maraschino cherries into the ice cream to add more fruit.

Here are some other recipes you might like:

 
black forest ice cream cake | A Brown Table

black forest ice cream cake

yields: one 9 inch layer cake

cherry labneh kefir ice cream - one batch

chocolate buttermilk layer cake (from The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book)

yields: 2 x 9 inch cakes

ingredients 

4 ounces unsweetened dark chocolate chips (65% cacao)

1/4 cup (21.26gm/ 3/4 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa powder

1/2 cup boiling hot water

1 3/4 cups (347.28gm/ 12 1/4 ounces) fine-grain sugar

1 3/4 cups (248.06gm/ 8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon fine-grain salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon kirsch

4 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, room temperature

12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature

1. Place a wire rack at mid level in the oven and preheat to 350F. Grease and line two 9 inch circular cake pans with parchment paper, keep aside until ready to use. 

2. Place the chocolate and cocoa in a medium-size mixing bowl. Pour the boiling hot water into the bowl and stir with whisk until all the chocolate has melted. Add 1/2 cup sugar to the melted chocolate mixture and stir until combined. Keep aside until cool.

3. In a medium mixing bowl, dry whisk the flour, baking soda and salt. In a small bowl, stir the buttermilk, vanilla and kirsch together. 

4. Add the eggs and yolks to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whisk on medium-low speed until just combined for around 10 seconds. Pour in the remaining sugar and increase the speed to high. Whisk the eggs until light and fluffy but pale yellow, for about 3 minutes. Remove the whisk and replace with the paddle attachment. 

5. Add the cooled chocolate mixture from step 1 into the bowl and mix on medium-low speed. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed with a silicone spatula. Then add the butter, one teaspoon at a time and mix for 10 seconds after each addition.

6. Add the flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the buttermilk mix in the last two additions. Mix at medium-low speed until completely combined and no visible flecks of flour can be seen. Divide the batter equally between the two prepared pans and bake them in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, rotating them halfway through the baking process. The cakes are done when a skewer comes out clean from the center after insertion. 

7. Allow the cakes to cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove the cakes from the pan by running a knife along the edges of the cake. Cool completely for at least two hours. Wrap the cakes individually in parchment paper and then aluminum foil. Freeze for at least 4 hours before using.

To assemble the cake:

1. Leave the ice cream outside to soften for at least 10 minutes. It should be soft enough to manipulate but not runny.

2. Line a 9 inch springform cake pan on the bottom and sides with parchment paper. You can also use an acetate sheet cut to size to get a smoother finish. Unwrap one of the frozen cakes and place it at the bottom of the springform pan. Layer the surface with about 2 cups of the softened ice cream. Quickly place the second cake over the ice cream and repeat the layer of ice cream. Smoothen the layers of ice cream using an offset spatula. Cover the entire cake with aluminum foil and freeze for at least 6 hours before serving. Store in the freezer.

3. Pop the springform mechanism to release the cake and peel the parchment paper off. Decorate the cake with fresh cherries and semisweet dark chocolate shavings. The cones are optional. 

flourless chocolate cake with orange blossom water and strawberry champagne sauce

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Blossom Water and Strawberry Champagne Sauce | A Brown Table

Last week was a week to celebrate. My birthday and then our one year wedding anniversary. I can't believe that it's already been a year and we still have to plan our reception and for that matter even pick a date. The big move last year took most of our time and energy and this year involved work and career changes. Thankfully, neither of us have been pressed to plan a wedding in a hurry but I know it needs to be taken care of. I'm leaning towards something small with family and close friends with a lot of food, drinks and fun.

Renee of Will Frolic for Food had a wonderful idea to celebrate spring with an edible flower virtual potluck. Do check the collection of recipes on her site, so many wonderful sweet and savory takes that all include edible flowers in some sort of delicious way. 

To celebrate all these milestones in my life, I made a flourless chocolate cake that's infused with orange blossom water. Orange blossom water is one of the most delicate floral flavors to work with and it is delicious! Since the flourless chocolate cake has a deep dark chocolate flavor, I've balanced it with lightly sweetened whipped cream flavored with orange blossom water. And of course, since it was a celebratory occasion, champagne and strawberries in a sweet sauce seemed very fitting!

Flourless cakes are pretty easy to make, I think of them as sweet chocolate frittatas. Eggs, butter and chocolate. Few ingredients with a rich flavorful outcome. 

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Blossom Water and Strawberry Champagne Sauce | A Brown Table
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Blossom Water and Strawberry Champagne Sauce | A Brown Table
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Blossom Water and Strawberry Champagne Sauce | A Brown TableFlourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Blossom Water and Strawberry Champagne Sauce | A Brown Table

Here are some of my tips when preparing this cake,

  • Use good quality dark chocolate and orange blossom water (that's less than 6 month's old) for the best flavor. 
  • Though you can use frozen strawberries to make the sauce, I recommend using fresh because you can taste how sweet they are and then you can adjust the sweetness of the sauce by adding less sugar. 
  • I like dark chocolate in this combination because it is not too sweet. The strawberry sauce will give that pop of sweetness along with the light floral flavor of the orange blossom water in the whipped cream and cake.
  • I've spoken to a few people about flourless chocolate cakes and some use a water bath to bake the cake, as chocolate can burn easily. However. I did not have any issues baking it directly in my oven when I skipped the water bath. 
Flourless Chocolate Cake with Orange Blossom Water and Strawberry Champagne Sauce | A Brown Table

flourless chocolate cake with orange blossom water (adapted from Alice Medrich's Sinfully Easy Delicious Desserts)

yields: one 9 inch cake

ingredients

8 large eggs, cold

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter cubed at room temperature 

11.5 ounces dark chocolate chips ( I used Guittard 63%)

1 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoons orange blossom water 

1. Place a wire rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350F. Line a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil. Grease with butter and keep aside until ready to use.  

2. Place the eggs in the bowl of a stand electric mixer and using the whisk attachment, whisk the eggs on high speed for about 6 to 7 minutes until the eggs have doubled in volume and appear pale yellow. Keep aside. 

3. While the eggs are whisking, place the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and place it over a saucepan containing simmering hot water. Stir with a silicone spatula until it is completely mixed. 

4. Pour half of the whisked eggs into the bowl containing the chocolate and using an outward to inward movement, fold the mixture to incorporate. Add the orange blossom water and the remaining whipped eggs and fold until combined and no visible flecks of the eggs can be seen. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 20 minutes until the center of the cake is firm to touch. Allow the cake to cool to room temperature in the pan. Then using a sharp paring knife run the knife between the cake and the pan and release. Serve the cake chilled with orange blossomed infused whipped cream and strawberry champagne sauce. 

orange blossom infused whipped cream

yields: about 2 cups

ingredients

1 cup heavy whipping cream

2 teaspoons orange blossom water

1 tablespoon sugar (you can add one more tablespoon if you like it sweeter)

1. Place all the ingredients in a medium sized mixing bowl. Whisk the ingredients using an electric mixer for about 5 minutes on medium-high speed until the cream becomes stiff. (Do not over-whisk or you'll end up with butter).

2. Served chilled with the cake

strawberry champagne sauce 

yields: about 2 cups

ingredients

1 1/2 cups champagne

2 cups strawberries, diced (frozen or fresh)

2 tablespoons sugar 

1. Place all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 4 minutes with occasional stirring until the strawberries have become soft.

2. Remove from stove and using an immersion blender or  food processor blend until smooth. Strain the mixture to remove any seeds. Taste to adjust sweetness if desired and then return the liquid to the saucepan and boil for 1 additional minute. The sauce will be thick. Refrigerate and serve chilled with the cake and orange blossom infused cream.