Apologies for already (!) being a delinquent blogger... but Valentine's Day turned out to be quite the hubbub up here in Hood River. No wild pronounciations of love or romantic drama, just the onset of six lovely ladies visiting my new hometown, coupled with a few busy days at the winery and sharing a home with the petsitting challengers of the decade, Shredder and Tank. More about them later....
It was a glorious week though, good times, good memories and of course, plenty of good food and wine. I'm sorry I didn't have the forethought to share with you, but I will give a shout out to Anna's amazing handmade samosas we ate on Valentine's night, an amazingingly perfect and moist carrot cake whipped up by Steph and a fabulous showing of cocktails at the Sapphire Hotel in Portland. If you make it, try the 'Going Up?' It was like a taco in a glass. Goodness all around.
We also had this... Prune & Chocolate Cake.
A snack cake that uses no butter and relies on dried fruit and olive oil for moisture. We could call it 'guilt-free' cake or 'heart healthy,' but I'll just call it "Tasty, tasty," as my Dad would sing off-key about anything chocolate or cake. I prefer something like this for breakfast, but for those who don't swing that way, enjoy it as a hearty dessert topped with fresh whipped cream or a simple whiskey sauce. Enjoy!
Prune & Chocolate Cake
(adapted from zucchiniandchocolate.com)
10 oz. dried prunes
1/3 c brandy
1/2 c buttermilk or plain yogurt (I always prefer yogurt if its on hand, then buttermilk. If you have neither, add 1T white vinegar to 1c milk, let stand 5 minutes and substitute.
2 T olive oil
6 T brown sugar, packed
3 T maple syrup
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/4 salt 3 T unsweetened cocoa powder, heaping
6 oz semi or bittersweet chocolate chips
Pour brandy in saucepan and add half of your prunes. Heat over low heat until warm then set aside until cake is ready to go in the oven. Put remaining prunes in your food processor (sorry, I will always assume you have a food processor!) along with buttermilk and puree.
In a large mixing bowl whisk your egg, add maple syrup, brown sugar, olive oil (xtra virg not necessary!) and prune puree. Mix with a fork until consistent. In another mixing bowl measure dry ingredients, add dry to wet and mix just until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. * (Roughly chopped chocolate will work as well, but for some reason I always like chips better. They're just the perfect size for a real chocolatey bite.)
Butter and flour your baking pan of choice. One 9" layer cake pan works well, but I found 2 mini loaf pans were adorable. Pour batter into pan(s). Return to reserved prunes and slice in half. Push prunes into batter in a pattern of your choice. Bake at 350 for ~ 35 min for the 9" pan and 45 min for the loaves. Allow to cool, remove from pan and invert so prune side is face up. Enjoy!
You didn't think I'd forget a new pic of Lula, did ya?
This was snapped earlier this week during the rainshower of sunshine we've had in the Gorge. She was pretty wiped during this afternoon's baking sesh', given all the harassment from Shredder and Tank over the past weeks. We are housesitting for two of the most indpendent, free-spirited, self confident (those are not the adjectives we use around the house) dogs I've ever met. Dog one, Shredder*, has consumed, mouthed destroyed the following in ten days time: JJ's Valentine's cigars, a new wine stopper from my dear uncle, socks upon socks, other people's socks, other people's underwear, Lula's bottle of Tums, a banana, JJ's sweater, Anna's glasses case, a wine glass (he's ok), a chocolate bar (still ok) and about four pieces of firewood. He's hell on wheels. Tank* on the other hand lives to consume more sophisticated fare. Her entire existence revolves around the rapture of hearing kibble rattle into her bowl, so much to the point that I have to drag her out of the house to even go pee.... so hopeful is she that I may bless her with another scoop of weight watcher kibble. They are quite a pair, Shredder and Tank, and I'm relatively nervous their parents may never return from the Caribbean. Until then, JJ and I are enjoying the hot tub and the convection oven with abandon. Ah, housesitting...
*To protect identities, real names have not been used.