The Perfect Chocolate Loaf Cake

Monet was to the art of painting as Nick Malgieri is to the art of all things confectionery. Author of nine cookbooks and Director of Baking Programs at The Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), Malgieri has established himself as the foremost authority on delectable desserts. From Supernatural Brownies to Chocolate Chunk Zucchini Cake, this man was born to bake.

This past Saturday I had the chance to whip up a selection of his all-star recipes while attending ICE’s Old-Fashioned Chocolate Desserts class. And what would a confectionery throwback be without an ode to the ever popular loaf cake? Whether you’re baking up childhood memories, or just baking for the first time, satisfy your inner chocoholic with The Perfect Chocolate Loaf Cake.

A Bruni Blockbuster

I sped through Frank Bruni’s latest novel Born Round faster than a chocolate-dipped cone at Dairy Queen. One minute I’m flipping open the cover, and the next thing I know my eyes are glancing over the final words of this shockingly realistic portrayal of a man and his relationship with food. And while I realize I’m about six months late to the Bruni book craze, I figured I’d share some thoughts as I sit here brainstorming my next recipe post.

Bruni’s latest release is more than a food novel. It’s an intimately exposed diary. And like all diaries, it contains a series of giddy highs and crashing lows dictated in a way that make the reader feel as if they’ve been leaked access to a man’s deepest, darkest secrets. There were the binges, and then the purges. There were the pills, and then the crash diets. It was a never-ending war waged between a man’s calorie-obsessed psyche and his ballooning weight.

Lightened Pastry Cream

I have been eagerly awaiting Module 4 of my culinary arts program, as it signals the start to four straight weeks of intensive pastry and baking. From cream puffs and croissants to pâte à choux and palmiers, we will be covering every inch of sugar-topped and butter-stuffed glory.

We’ve made the transition from culinary lessons, where I measured by taste, to the pastry realm, where the difference between a teaspoon and a tablespoon is the difference between perfectly puffed and depressingly deflated. Seeing as I have what I like to call “a healthy dose of OCD,” I am loving every minute of perfection required to brush, bake and pipe my way to my golden brown goal.

I made the above Fruit & Cream Tartlets last week in class, and I couldn’t wait to share the Lightened Pastry Cream recipe we used. And don’t let the use of gelatin scare you off! I was skeptical at first, but it is incredibly easy. So get in touch with your inner OCD self and blend your way to the perfect pastry cream that can be spread onto tarts, pies and in my case, spoons (for instant satisfaction).

Wine Essentials: Part 5

I’ve always dreamed of touring the California coast, stopping at wineries to taste the fruits of Napa and Sonoma. Thanks to last night – and in all honesty, a recent episode of The Bachelor (go Team Tenley) – my desire to sip my way through California’s vineyards just got a bit stronger.

The 3,000-mile stretch between myself and my home state of California shrank with a sip, as I tasted five whites and 6 reds during last night’s Wine Essentials class. As we sipped we learned about the history of wine production in California and I was fascinated to learn that despite being so well known, Napa Valley only produces roughly 3 percent of the wine that comes out of The Golden State.

Coconut and Oatmeal Toffee

Get ready for Valentine’s Day with a simple shortcut to homemade toffee, no candy thermometer required! What better way to celebrate one of the sweetest days of the year than by layering chewy oats with semisweet chocolate. Toasted coconut and chopped pecans add a final touch of crunch to this quick-fix candy that’s guaranteed to be a sweet treat for your sweetheart.