Sachertorte Fail

It’s always really hard for me when I spend hours and hours on a recipe and it ends up poorly. It might sound like I’m overstating my sorrow but it is such a disappointment when all my hard work comes to naught. Especially when I am hoping to have a recipe worthy of an epic blog post… and all those ingredients!

Sigh. So let me tell you the story of this failed sachertorte. I took it upon myself to make a sachertorte, because, it’s just a chocolate cake, right? Wrong. It’s not just a chocolate cake. It’s a chocolate cake that has been embroiled in a legal battle and it’s really hard to make.

Why I failed at making this cake:

1. Not having an electric mixer when trying to beat egg whites to stiff peaks is really hard. I hand-whisked the egg whites for at least 20 minutes, and although they at least tripled in volume, they never achieved the consistency of stiff peaks they were supposed to. This subsequently probably resulted in the dense and dry texture of the cake, which had no other leavening apart from the egg whites.

2. The chocolate glaze recipe was one for this Boston cream pie, because I didn’t have heavy cream and I didn’t want to go out to get some. The glaze ended up more like a solid chocolate chunk that shattered as I cut into it after refrigeration. The glaze, if you’re to use this recipe, should probably be applied immediately before serving.

3. I really should have sifted the flour before baking it, because it resulted in flour pockets in the final result. I didn’t own a sieve, but now I do.

If you are curious, this is the recipe I used. It’s too bad the cake I made wasn’t so good, because I even used Austrian 80-proof Stroh rum for the apricot jam glaze. Sigh. I am sad.

Pistachio White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I went to the new Maison Kayser on the Upper East Side, and I was pretty inspired by the pistachio white chocolate chip cookie they had. It was chewy and soft, so soft that it couldn’t stay whole. It had a slight lemon fragrance, which I thought added interest to the cookie.

I searched for a recipe online, and adapted one by replacing the vanilla essence with lemon essence. I also liked that this recipe used oats to add chewiness – I’m personally really fond of oats in cookies, and it’s less caloric too. I used whole wheat flour in place of plain flour without any problems. This is a really easy recipe. I recommend using good quality white chocolate.

It was rather therapeutic de-shelling these pistachios while watching a movie.

Pistachio White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 6 dozen
Adapted from Simply Recipes

Ingredients

1 cup of unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tablespoons of milk (I used water instead of milk)
2 teaspoons of lemon extract
2 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of kosher salt (regular salt will suffice)
1 cup of rolled oats
1 1/2 cups of coarsely chopped pistachios, raw and unsalted
1 1/2 cups of white chocolate chips

Method

1 Preheat the oven to 350 F. Cream the butter and sugars together on high speed for three minutes.

2 Add the eggs, milk, and vanilla and beat for 3 minutes, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl to ensure even mixing.

3 In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and rolled oats. Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture slowly, being sure to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl once or twice to ensure even mixing.

4 Fold in the pistachios and white chocolate chips. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls onto parchment lined cookie sheets, add an extra pistachio or two on top of each bit of dough for decoration if desired.

5 Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to set up on the cookie sheets before moving to a baking rack to cool completely.

Allrecipes Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies


Although my favorite variety of oatmeal cookie is thick and chewy, this incredibly popular Allrecipes baked up more thin and lacy for me. It’s probably because I used old-fashioned oats instead of quick oats (whose wood shaving-esque texture I cannot abide) and that might have caused my cookies to spread out more. Nevertheless, the cookie dough itself acquired a caramelized taste and texture from the extra surface area and was quite a delight to eat. The occasional bits of chocolate were superfluous, but that’s just because I’m the kind of person who’d be happy with a cookie that is just straight up cookie dough. Now, that’s another recipe idea…

Allrecipes Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Allrecipes

Ingredients

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used whole wheat flour)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3 cups quick-cooking oats (I used old-fashioned oats)
1 cup chopped walnuts (I omitted)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
In a large bowl, cream together the butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt; stir into the creamed mixture until just blended. Mix in the quick oats, walnuts, and chocolate chips. Drop by heaping spoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 12 minutes in the preheated oven. Allow cookies to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Alton Brown’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie


I had a little bit of down time today, and as a matter of principle I find it nearly impossible to have free time and not do anything. I always feel the need to convert free time into productive energy, so I decided to bake some chocolate chip cookies today. (I also baked some oatmeal chocolate chip cookies) While I already have a standby chocolate chip cookie recipe, I know there are tons of chocolate chip cookie recipes out there that claim to be the recipe that end all recipes. So I decided to try one from Alton Brown. This recipe is unusual in that it employs bread flour instead of all-purpose. Since bread flour has a higher gluten content, I expect these cookies to be more solid structurally and bake up thicker – but my scientific knowledge of differing gluten levels in flours ends here.


Chewy as an adjective for these cookies are a misnomer – I thought they were more fluffy and airy, almost cake-like but not quite. I loved how the recipe is clearly catered for those with a kitchen scale. I hemmed and hawed over getting my digital kitchen scale, but it is by far the best purchase I’ve procured for my baking expeditions to date. It has saved me a good many dishes to wash by hand.

This recipe is easy enough to bake up, but I would much rather use another recipe that I can halve easily: the single egg and egg yolk in this recipe makes that tricky.

Alton Brown’s Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie
Adapted from Food Network
Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

8 ounces unsalted butter
12 ounces bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 ounces granulated sugar
8 ounces light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ounce whole milk (I used water because I didn’t have any milk)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda onto a paper plate. Pour the butter into your stand mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

Using the paper plate as a slide, gradually integrate the dry ingredients, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the flour is worked in, drop the speed to “stir” and add the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven.

Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-ounce portions onto parchment-lined half sheet pans, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake 2 sheets at a time for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven, slide the parchment with the cookies onto a cooling rack and wait at least 5 minutes before devouring.

Notes: The darker the sugar you use, the chewier your cookies will be.

Chocolate Stout Beer Bread

Sundays as a full-time student and Sundays as an intern are worlds apart. During the school semester, Sundays is when I scramble to finish my homework that I’ve left neglected over the weekend. However, now Sundays are for me to contemplate what I’d like to bake and what creative concoctions I can conjure. (Guttural alliteration!) The idea for this was actually somewhat fortuitous. I was cycling to Chinatown for my weekly groceries on the cheap, and I thought about how I could incorporate the chocolate stout I randomly bought into a baked good. I thought back to the whiskey bread I had at Gwynnett Street, and I was like, hey, beer has yeast. Bread needs yeast to rise. I should make a beer bread!

Of course, beer bread isn’t an original idea. Google yielded hundreds of beer bread recipes, all in various incarnations: with ale, with cheese, with scallions, etc. Me being me, I decided to put chocolate and bacon in my beer bread. I know, I’m starting to get a little bit predictable on this front and I’m also five years behind the bacon trend, but you really can’t go wrong with bacon. I also converted the recipe into muffin form because it’s so much easier to freeze individual portions and reheat each one when the munchies strike. I loved how simple the recipe was: it really is a matter of just mixing everything into one bowl and then baking it. No complicated mixing techniques, no compulsory order of ingredients: just slosh everything into a bowl and go. While the concept behind beer bread is that the yeast in beer will help the bread rise, I think the rising action is more a consequence of the liberal amount of baking powder that went into it. This is definitely more a bread than a muffin, so don’t be disappointed if it isn’t as much of a dessert as you’d hope it might be. The texture of the bread is more like a healthy breakfast muffin. Feel free to spread butter or cream cheese onto this slightly stout-tasting bread.

Chocolate Stout Beer Bread
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

3 cups flour (sifted)
3 teaspoons baking powder (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1 teaspoon salt (omit if using Self-Rising Flour)
1/4 cup sugar
1 (12 ounce) cans chocolate stout
1/2 cup melted butter ( 1/4 cup will do just fine)
Chocolate chips or bacon bits, optional

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.
Pour into 12 muffin tins.
Bake 15 minutes, remove from pan and cool for at least 15 minutes.