Friday, 30 March 2007

Torta al "Ferrero Rocher"

Posted by Bonita

Well, it finally happened. My computer finally died on me after six months of constant instability in our relationship. Thus, I have been unable to update my blessed blog, but it certainly didn’t stop me from being productive in the kitchen, even as I attempt to spew out four papers at the same time.

As per usual, Sundays are usually my days for self-indulgence in the kitchen, and this past Sunday was no exception. Not only did I make an actual meal (after a week of pulling out my pre-made frozen meals and reheating it) AND dessert. Sometimes it’s nice to remind yourself to love yourself.

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With my busy schedule though, I still wanted to keep things easy, simple and fast for now. My mom used to always make this pork chop dish with gravy and onions, and it was definitely a Hong-Kong-ized version of Western food. This dish is so easy to make. For one serving, take a pork chop cutlet (I tend to use a center-loin cut, but feel free to use whatever cut you like. If it’s a thick cut, it might be best to butterfly it so that it’ll make the cooking process faster and easier) and season with salt and pepper. Heat a frying pan with some oil on medium-high heat and brown the chop until there’s a nice, golden crust, about 3 to 4 minutes on each side. While the pork chop is cooking, slice one medium onion. Measure out 1 cup water with about 1 tablespoon cornstarch, a couple of drops of soy sauce (about 1-2 tablespoons), some ground black pepper and stir together. Once the pork chop has been browned, set aside and thrown in the onions into the still-hot pan. Stir until softened, about 2 to 3 minutes, and then add the water and soy sauce mixture and let it thicken. Once it starts bubbling, add the pork chop and let it rest in the simmering sauce until thoroughly cooked through (or until reheated if it was already cooked through). Turn off heat and serve with rice, potatoes or pasta.

It’s a super easy dish, and while the gravy sauce is really simple, it definitely tastes great and compliments the pork chop well. I served my pork chop with whipped roasted garlic potatoes and some steamed broccoli.

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Flipping through my Muffin book earlier in the week, a recipe for a Chocolate Coffee Cake caught my eye. I mean, it’s cake AND it’s chocolate…what’s not to love about it? However, I did change the streusel topping, deciding that a hazelnut streusel topping would compliment the chocolate cake nicely and jazz up an otherwise simple cake. The use of hazelnuts was definitely a good idea; my friends loved it and Nicole even said it reminded her of Ferrero Rocher chocolates! The streusel topping is definitely my favourite part of this cake, but the cake itself is just right in its chocolatey-ness and is moist. This cake an easily become my new favourite coffee cake, perfect with a cup of coffee or tea.
Chocolate Coffee Cake with Hazelnut Streusel
Adapted from The Williams-Sonoma Collection: Muffins
Makes one 9-by-13 inch (23-by-33 cm) cake

For the streusel:
2/3 cup all purpose flour
½ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon (see N.B.)
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
¾ cup hazelnuts, toasted and finely chopped

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
½ cup cake flour
2/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
1 teaspoon each baking soda and baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 ¼ cups sour cream
11/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and flour a 9-by-13-inch baking pan or dish.
2. To make the streusel, stir together the flour, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut the butter into small pieces and add to the bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingers, cut or rub in the butter until coarse crumbs form. Stir in the hazelnuts until evenly distributed. Set aside.
3. In a bowl, sift and stir together the all-purpose and cake flours, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
4. In another bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the dry ingredients in 2 or 3 increments, alternating with the sour cream and vanilla. Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
5. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel.
6. Bake until the topping is golden brown, 40-45 minutes. A tooth-pick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Cut into squares to serve.

N.B. I accidentally put in 1 teaspoon rather than 1/2 teaspoon, which only makes it more cinnamony. I definitely didn't mind the extra spice!

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