In Wonderland Kitchen, recipe research almost always equals Google searches and Evernote-taking. I rarely crack an actual, physical cookbook when looking for knowledge and inspiration, and yet I cannot seem to stop buying them! And those that don’t arrive on my doorstep via UPS show up skillfully wrapped in the hands of generous friends or as orphan cast-offs schlepped home from some musty church basement book sale.
Now, here they all sit in precarious stacks around my office, their beseeching gaze rivaled only by the CDs I have yet to split the cellophane on and review for work.
And so, as a 2014 self-improvement project that does not require public exercise, I’m on a mission to review each book in turn, to sit down and get to know it a little, and select a recipe which I will make and share here with my kitchen crew. Which is to say I’ll be doing this for me, but hopefully you’ll get something out of it, too.
Real world cookbooks present challenges
I’m starting out with The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook. Now, this is honestly a very lovely book featuring beautiful but not-too-precious photographs and charming writing. But while I follow their blog, lust after their farm house, and appreciate a balanced collection that won’t break my toe if it slides off the counter, really it’s leading out of the gate because my awesome mother-in-law gave me an autographed copy for my birthday and I still haven’t made anything from it!!!
Now then, this is one of those books helpfully (if you’re into that kind of thing) arranged by season, starting with winter and a cozy list of baking projects. Though the recipe for “Snow Cream with Sweetened Condensed Milk” was tempting, I’m not sure that there’s any snow in Baltimore I’d feel safe serving to guests. As I paged through my options, I did appreciate that the desserts each seemed possible to execute without a professional pastry chef on stand by. A few of the recipes included commercial candy, which is not something I’d ever considered, and so usually being all DIY and kale and whatnot, I decided this was the way to go. Malted Milk Chocolate Cake: come to mama!
The cake came together just as easily as the one-page recipe implied, and the 9×13-inch pan serving 12-16 is no joke—this is a homey yet decadent chocolate cake-brownie of a treat, so you may want to keep your pieces quite small. I didn’t find it dry in the least, but offering coffee or a tall glass of milk to balance out the richness would not be amiss.
Malted Milk Chocolate Cake
from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Dessert Cookbook
1 1/3 cups whole milk
1/2 cup malted milk powder (I could only find chocolate flavored, and just went for it)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups AP flour
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup coarsely chopped malted milk balls
(If you can promise not to eat more than three balls before baking, you can buy the 5 oz box. All others might want to consider purchasing more. I roughly halved the milk balls and just gave the pile an extra whack or two at the end for minimal rolling-to-the-floor.)
Butter a 9×13-inch cake pan and line the bottom with parchment. Butter the paper as well and flour the pan. Set aside.
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Measure out the milk and add the malted milk powder and the vanilla. Stir to combine.
Into a medium bowl, measure out the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Run a whisk around the bowl several times until evenly incorporated. Set aside.
Using a hand or stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars on medium until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, thoroughly mixing in each addition and scraping down the bowl as needed. Lower the mixer speed and add the remaining dry (excepting the milk balls) and liquid ingredients in several alternating portions, starting and ending with the dry. Scrape down the mixing bowl and make sure all the ingredients have been evenly incorporated. (I failed a little here–learn from my mistakes!!)
Pour the cake batter into the prepared baking pan and even out. Sprinkle the milk balls across the top.
Bake for about 40 minutes, until a cake tester (I’ve been loving using left over kabob skewers for this) comes out clean and the cake pulls away from the pan edge.
Cool completely on a wire rack. Cake can be served from and stored in the pan.