Wednesday, October 7, 2009

DARK CHOCOLATE INDIVIDUAL BUNDT CAKES WITH CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

LAUGHTER – AND FOOD – IS THE BEST MEDICINE


The shock and hurt of losing a loved one has been tempered by the sweet memories of times shared with him. Some people may think us crass, but laughter is indeed the best medicine. Would our brother have wanted us to sit around and pound on our chests, wailing over our loss, or would he rather watch us from above sharing stories and laughter, jokes and fond memories? He can surely inspire us with his life: he was an amazing person who truly lived his life to the fullest, grabbing at everything he wanted. Gourmet cook, fabulous piano player, jazz singer not afraid to take to the stage whenever one of his favorite New York Jazz Clubs opened the mic to passionate amateurs, art collector, clothes designer, he was the true connoisseur: good food and wine, music and art, passionate traveler. My brother is someone to inspire us with the way he lived his life, the way he faced everything with a sense of humor and a good joke, advising and helping others, generous and caring, fun to be with, doing everything he dreamed of. His loss has left a gaping hole, but one we try every day to fill with laughter.

Me and Michael, the ultimate big brother.

So the hours and days after the funeral, mom, Sue, Andrew and Carolyn, Simon and I shared stories and memories, tears mingled with laughter, lots of laughter, and food. The day after, we sat around the large wooden table overlooking the river, watching the wind toss around the palm fronds, in an old-Florida seafood restaurant, the kind he loved, plates piled high with coconut fried shrimp, scampi and crabbed stuffed mushrooms and drank a toast to him with the best bottle of Pino Grigio on the wine list. Our voices occasionally drowned out by the rambunctious crowd mixed with the Southern Rock floating out of the bar, we thought of him as we ate, as we talked, as we drank.

One year ago, the last time we all met in Florida and ate out together.

The following day, Sue and I jumped into the car to make our traditional trip to the grocery store, good intentions overflowing with thoughts of healthy meals. And of course, our sweet tooth and silliness prevailed and as we stood at the cash register watching items scoot by one by one, I pointed at the array of goodies flowing back into our waiting cart and said “Find the nutritional value in that!” Ice cream bars, lemon meringue pie, donuts, ice cream sandwiches, cookies, frozen pizzas and chips, not to mention Fruit Loops for Simon. Peels of laughter and Sue said “You have got to take a picture of our haul when we get home!”



Pizza ordered in and eaten while setting up the board games, hours of noise and teasing as we tossed down cards or tiles into the center of the table or evenings spent eating fried chicken and playing Wii Golf, madly whacking invisible golf balls, dreading the imaginary splash of the ball into the water, or exulting with that impossible hole in one, or tossing down weightless golf clubs as we watch the ball veer off course and land with a plop into the sand or get caught in the trees. A cool swim in the pool, the Florida heat beating down on our backs, taking a break for chilled drinks or a huge slice of cake hidden under scoops of ice cream.


Dinner out with friends, fried fish sandwiches on the river with Judi, burritos with Ellen and Mike under umbrellas as the wind whips through our hair, reliving our wild youth together or add Frank to the trio and laughter over perfect pistachio-crusted salmon and lavender-spiked chocolate pudding cake. Pizza night with Lee, sitting at home so we could comb through 30 year old photo albums and laugh and cry together. Magic!


Food and laughter bring us together, giving us a chance to relive the best of times and tighten the bonds we have with each other. Family and friends, we prop each other up through tough times and exult in all the good that comes our way, cheering each other on. Our memories and shared stories intertwine, beautiful braids of lives woven together to make one. Michael has helped bring us that much closer. Sweet indeed.


My lovely friend Meeta of the incredible blog What’s For Lunch, Honey? created the Monthly Mingle event, a wonderful place for food bloggers to get together and share food and good times like the best of friends. This month, another wonderful friend, Aparna of My Diverse Kitchen is the hostess (with the mostess!) and has chosen the theme High Tea Treats and this is the perfect chance for me to hop aboard the Monthly Mingle train. Everyday I sit in front of my computer and, often over a cup of coffee and a slice of whatever baked good I have on hand, I twitter chat with these beautiful women and a few more friends, so much like we are all sitting around the virtual tea table (or koffee klatch) sharing laughs and baking tips, adventures and desires. Aparna is a fabulous cook and her creations are both exciting and mouth-watering; diverse indeed! I have made these delightful tiny teatime treats to share with my friends at the Monthly Mingle, knowing just how important these heartfelt get-togethers are. And I do thank this wonderful group of friends who has helped me through this rough time with their kind words and thoughts, virtual hugs and support and as I pass around a delicate, chocolatey mini-Bundt cake to each, I raise my tea cup to you all and clink to our friendship.


DARK CHOCOLATE LIGHT-AS-AIR INDIVIDUAL BUNDTLETS
Adapted from Heirloom Baking with the Brass Sisters

½ lb zucchini
1 ½ cups unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 ½ cups flour
1 ½ cups cocoa powder
2 ½ tsps baking powder
1 ½ tsps baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 ½ tsps cinnamon
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 tsps vanilla
½ cup milk


Wash and trim the zucchini. Grate the unpeeled zucchini finely into a small colander and set over a bowl. Allow to drain, without squeezing it, for about 10 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Lightly butter and flour either a large Bundt pan or a 12-cup mini Bundt pan.

Measure out 2 cups of grated zucchini without squeezing it and discard liquid left in bowl. Set aside.

Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.


In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, beating just until blended. Beat in the finely grated zucchini. Blend in the vanilla.


Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with the milk added in 2.


Pour batter into the pan(s). As I was using my brand new mini-Bundt pan, I found it easiest and cleanest to use a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip. Just pipe in the batter about halfway up, maybe a tad more, but not too full as these mini cakes (Bundlets!) rise quite a bit.


Bake in the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn. One large Bundt cake should bake for about 55 minutes.


Allow to cool on a rack in the pan for a few minutes before turning or popping out, turning right side up and allowing to cool completely on a cooling rack. If you pop the cakelets out too soon, you risk breaking them.


Using my mini-Bundt pan, I made 24 Bundtlets and still have batter in the fridge for maybe another dozen.


These cakes had a dark chocolate flavor while being extremely, astonishingly light and airy, perfect to serve at Tea Time or breakfast. Strangely enough, the second day, though far from stale, they did seem a bit dryer, so if not all eaten the same day, serve with something that will help moisten them a bit, whipped cream, ice cream or a fresh berry coulis. I am curious to know if made in one large Bundt pan would it come out denser and thus stay moister longer?



CHOCOLATE WHIPPED CREAM

1 to 2 cups heavy whipping cream or as needed
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder

Whisk together the sugar and cocoa powder in a bowl until blended and no more lumps remain.

In a chilled bowl using chilled beaters, whip the heavy cream on high speed until it starts to thicken. Add the sugar-cocoa mixture tablespoon by tablespoon until you have the desired sweetness and darkness. (I used just under 1 cup of cream and beat in almost 4 heaping tablespoons of the mixture as I wanted a lighter chocolate flavor to offset the dark chocolate flavor of the cake.) Continue to beat until thick.

55 comments:

Aparna said...

This is indeed the best way to remember your brother, Jamie.
Now you never told me this was coming to High Tea!:)
Thanks for those really sweet words. Yes, we do tend to have our own virtual parties, don't we?

So new pans and lights (yes?) have been inaugurated? Btw, is bundtlets a word? Doesn't matter I like it. ;)

Jamie said...

@Aparna - I think I mentioned to Meeta that I was coming to High Tea! And fun it will be. I do believe that Bundlet is a word! Yes, new pan and new lights. Can't you tell?

Heavenly Housewife said...

Ah ha! I spotted weight watchers pops though! Daaaahling, have I not taught you anything???????

Jamie said...

@Heavenly Housewife - sister picked them out promising me they were tasty. Don't forget they balanced out the pie and the donuts.

The Cooking Ninja said...

What a beautiful post. :) Love your mini bundlet. I don't even own one - big or mini. I must get myself one.:)

Happy cook said...

I totally agree laughter is the best medicine. And i am sure your brother would love that you all laugh and remember him all the good times you all had togehter.

Now to the budn't pan, i have the same but then just with 2 budn'ts but i think they are a bit smaller than yours.
The cake just look indeed so moist, you know i have never made cake with zuchinni.
Looks beautiful.

görel said...

Your brother seems to have been an amazing person, and what a proper way to honour him and the memory of him by keeping your spirits up and having a good time together!

These cute cakes are absolutely adorable, and I bet they taste fabulous too. I'd like to have one of those pans ... am going to the US in a couple of weeks, maybe I'll find something like that!

Asha @ FSK said...

Jamie: I am sooo envious of your min-bundt molds!! I just about starting to stock my pantry with little things and this is on the wish list.. Love the cake as well..

On another note, I agree with remembering a loved one through happy memories.. I recently lost my granddad who was my favorite person in the whole world and it just felt better when I opted to remember his laughter and goodness more than the trauma of his passing...

A big Hug to you and may your brother live long through many more of your creations..

Lien said...

I think it's a wonderful way to share memories and laughter with your family to commemorate your beloved brother and celebrate his life.
With these bundtlets I would invite myself to your tea any day!

Bethie said...

Laughter is the best medicine indeed.

Your little chocolate cakes look lovely and I truly covet your mini bundt pan.

Katy ~ said...

What a touching way to remember your dear brother. Food memories are so strong in us, aren't they?

I have this cookbook and have yet to make anything from it. Your little bundt cakes have inspired me.

Debbie said...

Loved the grocery store haul of junk food...having lived overseas,I remember the cravings of the oddest items..spaghettios, mac and cheese, fruit loops and around Thanksgiving time, cravings for items so hard to get overseas like cranberries, mini marshmellows...things we take for granted when you live in the US. The week following the passing of a loved one especially in the Jewish religion where we sit shiva,gives us time to reflect and share our memories as well as our sadness...nice that you were able to see so many friends from the past and spend some quiet time with family -it's sort of a "time out" from life for a week. Wishing you a smooth transition back into your everyday life in France :)

Barbara Bakes said...

Such a tender post! I'm glad you and your family were able to laugh and enjoy each others company despite the loss of your sweet brother. The bundtlets look fabulous. I have been eyeing those pans. It seems we have both been baking chocolate zucchini treats!

Natashya KitchenPuppies said...

I am Irish, so I completely understand the laughing, crying, feasting and drinking.
I am so glad you have had such great support in this heartbreaking time. It is amazing how food blogging has brought some people together; over borders, time zones and languages.
Thanks for joining the Mingle this month, I hope to join you soon.
xoxooxo

Hilda said...

They're beautiful Jamie! Would you believe, all this time I've had a bundt cake bottom with my springform pan and I've never used it. Like never, not one single time. And yes I always think that even though there's obviously a time for crying, those who've left us wouldn't want us to sit around and mope that they're gone. I'm glad I could be of a little help to you through this. That is some stash lady, where do you put all that stuff??? I'd weigh 800lbs.

Half Baked said...

Very touching post. What a wonderful tribute to your brother! I love the little mini bundts. They look wondeful!

Mowie @ Mowielicious said...

Jamie, that's an absolutely lovely tribute to your brother - it made me cry! Your words really touched me. You know from the emails we've shared, how much I feel for you and your loss as I can completely relate. And you're absolutely right, laughter and food really is the best medicine! Thank you so much for sharing!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That is so true! A great way of remembereing him.

Those mini Bundt cakes are lovely! And what collection of goodies ;-P...

Cheers,

Rosa

La Table De Nana said...

Little bundts and BIG love..great post.

Fresh Local and Best said...

What a sweet story! and a wonderful way to honor the memories of your brother.

Deeba @Passionate About Baking said...

post Jamie. Welcome back. This feels like home again. Yes, indeed, laughter is the best medicine, and with these gorgeous bundlets of joy, it gets even sweeter! Love the mini pan, love the grocery shopping you did (LOL), and love your style of writing. raise my cuppa (coffee though) to out friendship. Catch ya at the virtual party!! xo

PS My dad always says,we must learn to celebrate death as we do birth. Find the best there is & life goes on...

Amy said...

Jamie, nothing will ever replace your brother, but you're right - try to celebrate his life instead of wallowing in sorrow. This is probably why people have wakes?

Next week will be the one year anniversary of my grandmother's death and I miss her deeply. It's painful. But we talk about her all the time and laugh at the stories. I have one of her original cookbooks (that must be 70 years old) and a handmade apron that she wore all the time, when she cooked. They are my most prized possessions.

Hang in there.

Lee said...

It was great to see you Jamie...next time under happier circumstances. All the best always....

Chef E said...

To use an already over used phrase, but you are worthy of its all around meaning... SWEET!

sunita said...

What a wonderful homage to your brother- I'm sure he must be smiling down at you.

Love those cute cakes;perfectfor a party :-)

My Carolina Kitchen said...

I can personally say that laughter and food are the very best medicine. Those gorgeous little chocolate goodies would fix almost anything while you enjoy their goodness.
Sam

ABowlOfMush said...

First of all, I am so sorry to hear about your brother, that's very sad, but this is such a beautiful way to remember him and it also shows the wonderful strength you have.

The chocolate mini bundts look so decadent and lovely, I'm bookmarking the recipe, sounds fab!

The Little Teochew said...

Jamie, I feel your loss. I would be celebrating the birthday of someone dear today, if he had not left us so soon. So your post is especially poignant to me. You did a fantastic job on those lil bundtlets. I read your profile info, and I was fascinated :) Hugs to you.

Fuji Mama said...

What a beautiful post Jamie! And these bundtlets look delicious (btw, I LOVE the word budtlets...totally borrowing that one in the future).

Muneeba said...

You're a brave girl .. it's too easy to give in to grief, but it takes a special heart to rise above it. Of course, these adorable, dark, sexy bundt cakes would make anyone start grinning and salivating!

bethany (Dirty Kitchen Secrets) said...

What a sweet post. Brings me goosebumps! Celebrating life is essential, especially the fact that you go to know him! Great looking cake!

SKM said...

Love and hugs. What a wonderful tribute to your big brother. :)

And the cake? Oh wow - I need to make that!

Mary said...

What a lovely post. It speaks to family and shared memory and how we deal with the pain of loss. I love your mini bundts and will be trying them real soon.

girlichef said...

So beautifully written, Jamie :) We really must never forget to treasure the time we still have with our loved ones, because we never know when it could all come to a screeching halt...thank you for reminding me of that. The sweet things of life, indeed.

George@CulinaryTravels said...

Oh they look delicious. Mini bundt tins are so cute, I must invest.

Danielle said...

omg...those are the cutest little buntletts!!

doggybloggy said...

nice tribute to your brother and my gawd those bundlets look so luscious

Risha said...

What brand of cocoa powder did u use?

5 Star Foodie said...

Food and stories are definitely the best way to remember & heal. the mini-bundt cakes are just adorable, so delicious!

asiangrrl said...

Jamie, what a wonderful and moving tribute to your brother. You are so right that he would want you to be enjoying life in his memory.

The dark chocolate bundtlets are mouthwatering to look at, and I bet they taste even better.

Sophia said...

Beautiful touching post, Jamie. I think your brother is beaming from above. I LOVE your attitude and inner peace.

albanyice said...

Thinking about Michael all weekend as this is the Vintage Clothing Show weekend. My friends that run the show were saddened to learn about Michael. Barbara and I certainly enjoyed being with Michael especially when he came to Albany to visit another GREAT person, Grandma/Aunt Bertha.
Howard and Barbara

Elra said...

I know how it feels to loose someone you love. I've been there as well. Beautiful memory you have with your brother is to cherish forever.

Love the pretty little cake!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

Jamie, what a beautoful way to celebrate your brother's life. I'm sure he is smiling down at you and celebrating with you and raising a glass of his best Pino Grigio with you! :) xxx

MeetaK said...

laughter is really the best way that and happy thoughts - and of course sweet treats. jamie you are a wonderfully strong person and i tip my hat off to you for being strong.

the cakes look great and such a perfect entry for the MM. thank you!

Junglefrog said...

Good to have you back Jamie and you're so right that laughter seems to be the best way to deal with a lot of things!

It is my first time doing the monthly mingle as well this month! Loved the high tea theme and your cakes look gorgeous!

Chow and Chatter said...

oh wow what amazing bundt cakes, and such a sweet post about your brother, I am so sorry you lost him, love ya your wonderful and you look so pretty in the pics Rebecca

the ungourmet said...

I loved reading about your dear brother and the way you and your family chose to remember his life.

I also thought the photo of the cake along with the photos was quite lovely!

Sophie said...

What a beauty of a fine post,..

The chocolate zucchini Bundt cakes look fabulous,...very worthy for afternoon tea!

Soma said...

You words had me crying Jamie... You are so strong to face life this way.. & so positive. I wish I could be even a bit like you.

creampuff said...

Jamie, I'm so sorry to read about the loss of your brother. But it sounds like you and your family members are handling it in the very best way: to enjoy the memories and to celebrate his life by living yours to the fullest. I'm with you!

The Cooking Photographer said...

Hi Jamie,

I have been a terrible food blogger friend these past two months. Instead, I squeezed every last little bit of warm and sun out of the day. I road my bike, went for long walks, traveled frequently, and threw parties.

It was nice, but its now sadly very cold outside. I have missed my friends and their blogs, and have some catching up to do!

I look forward to hiding somewhere and catching up on your stories!

Laura

Jamie said...

@The Cooking Photographer - Laura, and so you should have! If these past months have taught me anything it is grab and enjoy life while you can. I have thought of you a lot and missed you, but knew we'd find each other again sooner or later. We are too much alike to do without each other for very long, right?

Sippity Sup said...

The way you mingle food and family is nothing short of art. Thank, and I am sorry for the loss of your brother (with out having ever met him). GREG

Jamie said...

Jamie,
I just read about your brother's passing and my heart goes out to you and your family. I know this is a painful time for your family but through your memories, laughter, tears and food, he will always be with you.

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