Category Archives: baking


Friday Night Dessert: French Fondant Cake Recipe (Lava Cake)

It’s the weekend! After you’re done with work, the gym, and happy hour, let’s talk dessert! Tonight: French Fondant Cake with Ganache Center, or, fondant au chocolat.

lava cake fondant au chocolate

Gooey, super-chocolaty, warm and delicious, a French fondant au chocolat looks very similar to the American Lava Cake, but it’s actually a bit different (and more delicious, we think!). The American version is based on the French Moelleux cake. The main difference? Fondant cakes have a piece of chocolate or ganache in the middle, which melts into liquid chocolate goodness. Think of it as the Lava Cake, reloaded.

lava cake fondant au chocolat

The beauty of the lava cake is that it only LOOKS complicated to make. In reality, it couldn’t be easier. There are no mysterious, hard-to-find ingredients or complicated, intricate techniques. We know, the results look so professional and restaurant-quality, it’s hard to believe, but it’s true!

lava cake fondant au chocolat

All you really need in terms of “special equipment” are ramekins or pudding moulds (also called darioles). The batter is simple (and delicious!): chocolate, eggs, butter, sugar, and a tiny bit of flour to give it body and texture. The only semi-tricky part is melting the chocolate, which needs to be done in a double boiler or “bain marie”. What that really means is that you melt it slowly so you don’t burn it.

lava cake fondant au chocolat

In our recipe, we go one step further and teach you how to make your own chocolate ganache. Don’t be intimidated! It’s really quite simple and gives the molten cakes an extra layer of yumminess. However, if you’re short on time (or energy), just ignore those steps and replace the home-made ganache with a piece of regular baking chocolate, it will work just as well.

Prepping these ahead is a total breeze – you can even make them one day ahead and keep them in the fridge or freezer. The cook in about 15 minutes, so you can turn the oven during appetizers, pop them in the oven while you’re clearing the plates, and voila, have these stunning little cakes on the table before any of you guests even say, “what’s for dessert?”!

Serve these with a scoop of ice cream, and your favorite sauce. It’s Friday and we love a boozy sauce, so we whipped up a Caramel Frangelico Sauce to accompany them. A guaranteed crowd-pleaser, this is the dessert of dreams!


Chocolate Fondant Cake (Lava Cake)

Rating: 51

Yield: 4

Serving Size: 1 cake

Chocolate Fondant Cake (Lava Cake)



  1. Place the 2 oz. of chopped chocolate in a medium heatproof mixing bowl.
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until just boiling. Pour it over the chocolate, mixing until the chocolate is fully melted and the cream is integrated.
  3. Let cool at room temperature, then take to the fridge for 30 minutes, then further cool it in the freezer for another 15 minutes.
  4. Preheat the oven to 400ºF.
  5. Grease the ramekins or molds by brushing them with butter, using a kitchen brush and using upward motions. Reserve in the fridge.
  6. Melt the remainder 7 oz. of chocolate with the butter in a Bain Marie or double boiler, mixing gently until fully melted. Reserve warm.
  7. Whisk the eggs, yolks and sugar until the mix is frothy and pale. Sift in the flour; add the melted butter and chocolate, mixing with a spatula using gentle, enveloping movements to fully blend all the batter ingredients.
  8. Fill about 2/3 of the molds with the batter.
  9. Take the (now solid) chocolate ganache out of the freezer and cut 4 small cubes (about 1 inch square). Insert one into the center of each mold, and then cover with the chocolate batter until the mold is full.
  10. Place the molds on a baking tray and bake for about 12 to 15 minutes at 400 F (you’ll see that will rise).
  11. Remove from the oven, and carefully unmold by tipping over a plate or bowl.
  12. Serve with a scoop of ice cream, and some Caramel Frangelico Sauce. Sprinkle with cocoa powder or icing sugar for decoration.


This recipe also includes directions to make your own chocolate ganache for the center, If you're short on time - or energy - use a piece of baking chocolate instead, and start the recipe at Step 4.

olive oil cake recipe

The Classics: The Case For The Olive Oil Cake

olive oil cake recipe

Rosemary and Chocolate Olive Oil Cake. Ph: The Vanilla Bean Blog

Spongy, light, and delicious, the all-star classic olive oil cake definitely gets less play than it deserves. For some, it’s has a bit of a vintag-y, Old Italy feel that’s so en vogue right now. To us, it’s a wonderful cross between an angel cake and the most incredibly moist sponge cake. It’s rich and dense but still surprisingly airy, with a crisp and crunchy crust that adds interesting textural contrast.

Famously served at iconic NYC eateries Maialino’s (if you want their recipe, the amazing gals at Food52 have a great how-to right here) and Mario Batali’s Babbo Ristorante, olive oil cake is beautifully simple and still amazingly delicious.

Olive oil cake uses of course, olive oil, instead of butter, giving it not only a lighter flavor, but also a lot less saturated fat, calories, more antioxidants from the oil…overall, just much healthier approach to baking. The trick to a fabulous olive oil cake is choosing a mild and subtle olive oil, nothing too strong or too peppery, so that the cake still tastes like, well, cake!

We love how adaptable it is, a great blank slate of sorts, a moist backdrop for all sorts of other flavors, which can vary according to your moods, tastes or just what’s in season at the time. Add lemon or orange zest in the winter, blueberries and raspberries in the summer, and chocolate, well, any time of year is good for chocolate! The end result will always be delicious.

orange olive oil cake

How do you like them orange olive oil cake! CC Image courtesy of Uterior Epicture on Flikr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Olive oil cake is great as a dessert, but you can also enjoy it with your cup of morning or afternoon coffee. Make it in a cake or loaf pan for a traditional look, or in a muffin pan for mini olive oil cakes that are modern and more minimalist.

olive oil cake

Make olive oil cake in muffin tins for a more modern minimalist look. CC Image courtesy of Ulterior Epicure on Flikr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

The recipe for Rosemary & Chocolate Olive Oil Cake we’re sharing below combines rosemary and chocolate, a matching that is made in culinary heaven. It’s been adapted from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain. She uses spelt flour, but you can substitute for all-purpose if you want. 

Rosemary & Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

Rating: 51

Yield: Serves 8-12

Rosemary & Chocolate Olive Oil Cake


  • 3/4 cup whole spelt flour
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 2 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finally chopped
  • 5 oz. bitter chocolate (70% cacao) pistoles, or bar cut into 1/2 inch pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 350.
  2. In a large bowl, add the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and whisk together.
  3. Take another large bowl and whisk the eggs. Add the olive oil, milk and rosemary, and whisk. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the flour mix, gently mixing just until combined.
  4. Stir in the chocolate.
  5. Grease an 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with olive oil. Pour the mix into the pan, spreading it evenly and making sure the top is smooth and not lumpy.
  6. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top golden brown. To test for doneness: insert a skewer or knife into the center of the cake; if it comes out clean, the cake is done.
  7. Let the cake rest for a 5 minutes before removing from the pan.
  8. Serve warm or cool.

A bite of autumn...Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spice Bread

A Preview Of Fall: Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing Spice Bread

Summer is still in full swing, but doesn’t it feel like we’re getting whiffs of fall here and there? Maybe it’s the back to school sales, or the “clearance” signs popping up on beach towels and umbrellas. Whatever the reason, there’s definitely signs that fall is just around the corner.  And to give you a preview of what’s to come, we’re giving you a taste of autumn with a new favorite recipe:  Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Icing Spice Bread, by Faith Gorsky of

A bite of autumn...Pumpkin Cream Cheese Spice Bread

A bite of autumn…Photo by: Faith Grosky

A Fortunate Find

We stumbled across this amazing recipe the way we usually do, by salivating over delicious-looking pictures on Pinterest and the web. The first thing that immediately called out to us was the perfect-looking cream cheese icing at the top of the loaf of the beautifully shaped mini loaf. It just looked so, so, perfect, we had to absolutely try it out and share it with you.

Aromas of Fall And Sinful Cream Cheese Icing

The ingredients of this Pumpkin and Cream Cheese Icing Spice Bread are all evocative of fall, from the spicy aromas of the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves, to the warm comfort of vanilla, to the muted orange reminiscent of fallen leaves. And, one might even fantasize that the layer of white cream cheese icing is a harbinger of the snows of winter? This is definitely a seasonal recipe, ideal to practice now and perfect for autumn afternoons with a warm cup of tea or coffee.

warm tea and pumpkin cream cheese icing spice bread

A steaming mug of tea and a slice of Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing Spice Bread…heavenly fall!


Pumpkin Cream Cheese Icing Spice Bread by

Rating: 51

20 minutes

40 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 3 Mini Loafs


  • 8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 large egg, room temperature, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon cloves
  • Butter, to grease the pans


  1. For the Cheese Batter: Use a handheld electric mixer to beat together all ingredients until smooth and creamy.
  2. For the Pumpkin Spice Batter: Preheat oven to 350F; lightly grease 3 mini loaf pans with butter.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and eggs until light and fluffy, then stir in the pumpkin, canola oil, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, whisk or sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Gradually stir the dry ingredients into the wet, being careful not to over-mix. Divide the pumpkin batter between the 3 loaf pans, then pour the cheese batter on top.
  4. Bake until golden around the edges, about 35 to 40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted inside comes out clean or with just a couple crumbs. Cool 10 minutes in the pans, then remove from the pans and transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Baking The Season

So while we’re fully enjoying the last stretch of summer, we’re also enjoying the taste of what’s to come, and preparing for a new, exciting culinary season! Thank you, Faith, for sharing your wonderful recipe with us! Let us know what you think of this recipe in the comments.

About Our Feature Recipe

Faith Gorsky is a food blogger who calls upstate New York home, although she has travelled extensively and declares Damascus, Syria, her favorite city. Her book, An Edible Mosaic: Middle Eastern Fare with Extraordinary Flair, is a smorgasbord of flavorful exotic middle eastern recipes, all imparted with a young, modern point of view. You can find all of her fabulous recipes on her blog –

Interested in sharing your recipes with us? Just send us an email to

valrhona cacoa

Tips and Essentials For A Busy Baking Season

Valentine’s Day is only a few short weeks away, and if you’re a baker/crafter like me, you’ve probably taken to Pinterest with a vengeance to find out the latest and greatest in V-day treats. There’s clearly no shortage of great ideas, but there’s nothing worse than embarking on the ultimate baking project only to find you’re missing some key ingredients. So, the key to face this busy baking season is to do like the Boy Scouts, and “be prepared”, and below I tell you how.

The Basics

chocolate chipsThere are certain items that every baker should have handy, as they’re the basis of most recipes. In the pantry: all-purpose flour, dark and white sugar, baking powder and baking soda, yeast (for bread and rolls), vanilla extract, and chocolate chips are absolutely essential. In the fridge: milk, salted and unsalted butter, eggs, oranges and lemons (for flavoring). Keep in mind this is just a very basic list, there are many recipes that get much more intricate and will have your running to a specialty store. Most, but not ALL of these things can be found in any supermarket, but there are some items where you shouldn’t be scrimping on.

The Splurge

An ingredient where quality really matters is baking chocolate. Invest in a great quality, gourmet bittersweet chocolate with high cacao content. No offence to the local supermarket, but chances are high you probably won’t find this on grocery store aisles, but you can shop at gourmet stores online and have it delivered. My favorite is from Valrhona, a French chocolatier that specializes in high quality chocolate for baking. Valrhona designs their chocolate for baking specifically. This distinction is super important, because it means they’ve chosen their cacao beans and developed their chocolate to perform the best when heat is applied. I’m talking about truly decadent, mouth-melting cacao, with a nice bouquet of aromas and a full-bodied flavor profile. Their chocolate selection reads like a fine wine list, with unique and exotic gourmet chocolates to choose from. This is where you should splurge!

The Décor

Cake DecoratingOnce you have your pastries baked, you’re going to want to decorate them, so you should also have some pastry decorating items handy for that. Powdered sugar is a must, of course. For cake and cupcake decorating, a super simple option is marzipan shapes. Keep some pre-made marzipan in your pantry, along with some basic food coloring for tinting. Marzipan is really versatile; you can mold it into basically any shape you want, just like if you were using play-doh (really delicious, sugary play doh!), and you can color it with any food coloring. It’s just a great, creative way to give your pastries a fun, colorful touch. Separate it in small batches, use some food coloring to tint each batch, and then start playing! If you have cookie cutters you can use those, but they might be too big to use on smaller pastries like cupcakes or muffins, so see if you can find miniature cutters for those. One tip when working with marzipan: dust the surface with powdered sugar so the marzipan doesn’t stick.

Desperate Times, Delicious Measures

Pain au ChocolatFor super last minute baking, and other desperate times, I have a delicious dirty little secret, a “cheat” of sorts: pre-made frozen gourmet pastries from Bridor. For occasions when pastry-baking seems to exhausting, and going out to a bakery, impossible, I have a selection of Bridor’s ready-to-bake gourmet pastries (the selection includes pain-au-chocolat, croissants, and Danishes)on hand. You’ll love: the pain au chocolat; it always bakes to flaky, buttery perfection, and the chocolate heart melts evenly every time. Pop in the oven for freshly baked pastries in minutes, enjoy, and save your strength for your next baking challenge!