By Cal Orey, The Writing Gourmet
It's February and I'm feeling the vibe of Valentine's Day and Heart Health Month. At Lake Tahoe we have snow covered ground but it doesn't feel like a harsh winter. It's a time for romance and staying heart healthy. Today, after swimming (yes, I love the Mediterranean-type atmosphere of the resort pool) and a treat of the private women's bubbly hot tub, I came home. The change came asap as I put on my winter garb and walked the Brittanys. Very odd going from warm temperatures to a colder climate. But it's good for the body and soul...
Tonight, as an author-intuitive I've got love on my mind. I realize, though, that love comes in many forms: pets, family, friends, lovers, places--and chocolate.
So, glancing through my book The Healing Powers of Chocolate, my eyes keep going back to the chocolate cake with a heart. In other words, the ingredients in this recipe--wheat germ, cocoa, olive oil, and vegetables--are all heart healthy. And, one of my fave bakeress friends Gemma Sciabica created the sweet cake--and it's in her cookbook Sensational Sweets and California Olive Oil. I love this book--and her other ones, too.
Also, last week I baked a batch of Chocolate Zucchini Muffins after I had a fun and dangling phone converstation with Gemma. I told her I wanted to try my hands at using little chunks of the veggie rather than keep 'em shredded. Caution: That idea works with apples but zucchini? Not so much. I ended up doing a redo and bananas did the trick. In retrospect, I should have followed this Chocolate Zucchini Cake recipe--but better late than never. FYI: It's carrots this time for me.
Chocolate Carrot Cake
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1/4 cup wheat germ
1/3 cup Dutch cocoa
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup buttermilk, nonfat
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Danish Pastry Extract (Watkins)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups zucchini or carrots, shredded
1/2 cup Marsala Olive Oil
1 cup cake flour
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
Preheat oven to 350 degrees; grease a 13 x 9 x 2-inch baking pan or coat it with cooking spray. Combine dry ingredients in mixing bow; make well in center.Add remaining ingredients; blend; pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean from center. Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with confectioners' sugar. [I am going to frost it with my Cream Cheese Frosting and sprinkle it with dark chocolate shavings topped with cinnamon sticks (I found them a local gourmet shop in town.] Serves 16.
Cream Cheese Frosting
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1/2 cup European Style butter
1/2 cup whipped cream cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract.
Melt butter. Stir in cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla.
* * *
This version of Gemma's heart-healthy recipe makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside because it's good for you. (Plus, it reminds me of the romantic scene in When a Man Loves a Woman.) Gemma's dishes are made with the heart in mind. Her latest cookbook is chock-full of heart healthy recipes. I love her sweet creations. This cake is a perfect cake to bake this week--for the heart's sake.
Meanwhile, I sit here working at my computer. Both lovable pooches (and devoted dog-loving black cat) are sleeping side by side under my feet as I sit in my warm study. I wish I was out in the kitchen baking this lovely Chocolate Carrot Cake. Tommorow is another day. A small snowstorm is on its way and this cake with frosting, chocolate and cinnamon will be a warm welcome paired with the new Italian Roast.
P.S. I miss San Francisco, a city to love (with past pets, family, friends, lovers, and chocolate spots) and that has a place in my heart year round.