Baking with Julia – Strawberry Bourbon Upside-Down Cake

IMG_0272Again, just like yesterday – so late. Supposed to have this baked and blogged by Tuesday but whatever. It is what it is. I made this last night and I’m really pleased with how it turned out. Not only is this late, but it’s actually supposed to be several small little cakes and they’re supposed to be made with rhubarb, not strawberries. Obviously I took a slight detour. I’m all about working with what I’ve got these days.

We had a long winter here in WI and unfortunately rhubarb is not readily available yet. When I went to the grocery store I used my points (does anyone actually believe this saves $$? Obviously things are more expensive all the time to make up for these random freebies right?) to get some free strawberries and thought they might make an apt substitute. I’ll take any excuse to use my cast iron skillet so that’s what happened.

IMG_0254Sliced strawberries nestled in bourbon-laced caramel? Yes, please! The butter cake came together with no issues although I did have to substitute Greek yogurt in for the creme fraiche since I didn’t have that or sour cream. But really, there’s not a whole lot to say about this little cake. You can really use any fruit you have on hand (clearly) and as long as you don’t burn it or really mess up on turning it out onto a cake plate, you’re golden man.

IMG_0275Topped with a little homemade whipped cream and fresh mint from the garden, this simple cake is dessert perfection. The simplicity was especially nice for me since I’m coming off a weird stomach bug and haven’t eaten much of anything in the last week. Somehow I did manage to eat a small piece last night and another one for breakfast today. When you’re sick you can do things like eat cake for breakfast. It’s a thing. If you want to try your hand at this one, visit Erin’s blog for the recipe.

A final note: bourbon helps cure what ails you.

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Baking with Julia – Boca Negra

IMG_0155Anyone who read my previous post knows that my Valentine’s Day this year was less than perfect. Adding to the general haze of misfiring cooking abilities and time management issues was this little gem. I had actually planned to make it the day before Valentine’s Day but had neglected to read the instructions and didn’t realize that the white chocolate bourbon cream topping needed to sit in the fridge overnight. Whoops. So I thought “Well I will just have two decadent desserts for Valentine’s Day.” I mean, it is a holiday after all. I usually make AT LEAST two pies or desserts of some sort for Thanksgiving and Christmas so why should V-day get the shaft? So on the morning of Valentine’s Day I assembled this seemingly simple and easy little guy. Everything goes into the food processor for a little whirl and then into a bain marie in the oven for a measly half hour. Easy squeezy, right? Yeah, whenever I’m overconfident it always backfires. Always.

IMG_0143Mmmmmmm bourbon and sugar are cozying up together on the stovetop. Actually, that looks like peepee but it smelled really good. Like much better than it should have at 8 in the morning. I wonder if I should be worried about that?

IMG_0144As you can see, I took the lazy lady way and used bittersweet chocolate chips for the majority of the chocolate in this. I really hate chunking up chocolate bars for some reason. But they got the job done. The yummy, sugary bourbon got poured over this chocolate mess, some butter and eggs joined the fun and away we go!

IMG_0146Turns out that not only is my braiser awesome for things like, oh I don’t know….braising, but it is also the perfect pan for doing a bain marie! I never had a roasting pan that was wide enough for any of my round baking pans before so I am much more excited about this than I rightfully should be. Now a whole new world of cheesecake making is opening up right at my feet. I am scared for my thighs and ass.

So things look pretty good in that pic right? Looks like I have everything under control. Here are the directions (paraphrased, mind you) for the next step: Immediately take the pan out of the water bath and dry it with a towel. Lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top of the pan and invert the cake onto the plastic wrap. Remove the parchment round from the bottom of the cake, then invert it back onto a flat plate to cool. Does that sound easy to you? Well here’s a newsflash for you, it’s not! I cannot even count the number of expletives that came out of me during this process. In one of the flips I kind of broke the boca negra in half because it went half onto the plate and half off and I sort of burned my finger and……..it was just not good. Consequently I did not have time to blow-dry my hair and felt very disheveled for most of the day. I realllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly hate this whole flip it out and then invert it business. Why do so many recipes ask this of me?

So I was feeling a milder form of my Bitch Cake anger for most of the day and then the Coeur a la Creme was a flat pancake booby and we didn’t eat dinner until 9 – not a great day for me all around. Even though this dessert did not look the greatest, it tasted amazing. Super rich and decadent and the bourbon cream? I can’t even talk about it. When I was making it I may or may not have drunk the last few drops of it right out of the food processor bowl. That probably happened. I know the dollop of cream on the top of the piece is enormous but I was kind of proud of my almost-quenelle shape and I didn’t feel I could destroy it. Until it went in my mouth. Then I destroyed it utterly and completely.

IMG_0158How does everyone feel about bourbon? I had never tried it until this last spring when I made mint juleps for a party and I gotta say, I’m a fan. Bourbon = yum.

IMG_2571If you want to give this super chocolatey, super bourbon-y treat a try, visit Cathy at Frederick Food Garden for the recipe.