We are back from a tiny trip; a few hours away from home and a very relaxed few days.
Every monotony requires a break. School, homework, chores, cooking, blogging, taxing the kids around day after day finally leads to a point where I could scream myself out of it. Instead life allows the most wanted spring break. The clock moved ahead of time during that weekend, but we could care less this time… perched up high on the nineteenth floor overlooking the shimmering lights of the downtown we completely lost track of the time and the world outside.
(most of the photographs of our trip are by Arjun)
The hotel door walked us out in to the huge Galleria; a mall big enough to spend the entire day just sitting and watching people shop and eat and ice skate. The place harbors plenty of restaurants, all from fast food to gourmet and all we had to do was take the elevator down from our room to stuff ourselves in when we were hungry.
I am not the kind that shops for fun. So the Coach and the Burberry and the skinny models fail to lure me in to the glittery stores, but I do not mind watching people walking into them, while we sit back and lavishly lick on our ice cream cone. Before you know, a few hours have passed, and we have taken a walk around the mall and watched a few performances on the ice skating rink. That was one day. The day it rained cats and dogs and more and all we could see from the window was the impenetrable, dreary gray. There was no question of stepping out of the hotel.
“Happy Feet” and happy us, bundled together cozy in a room on a dark rainy day.
A vacation that began with the most beautiful and complete double rainbow cannot go wrong.
The few other days were spent in the close company of an old friend, a trip to NASA,
a place for soaring minds and spirits….
and of soaring wings… (seagulls always remind me of Bach’s Jonathan Livingston Seagull )
a boat ride to see a few playful dolphins, screeching seagull,
(the poor bird lost a foot…)
and somber lonely pelicans.
And finally the ocean.
(and the joy of leaping over breaking waves…)
It was far from a beach side kind of weather, chilly and cloudy for most of the time. But that did not deter anyone of us from making the best of those few hours.
The cake was baked a week before we left for a little get together with close friends. I am sorry I did not get an opportunity for any good photograph. It is a good, comfortable, and an everyday kind of cake that I have been baking for a while now. By now you must have realized that we are orange obsessed, esp. when it is paired with chocolate. The orange zest and the juice imparts a wonderful light freshness to a very dense, soft and moist cake.
It is a very moorish but an easy cake to bake and we loved the ganache kind of tempered chocolate icing that hardened and crisped on the cake. I know I have again done a really sloppy job with making the cake look good, but do not go by the looks. It is good even without any frosting on it. Do give this a try and you will not regret.
Orange Flavored Chocolate Cake
(recipe adapted from Food and Wine - Mom’s Chocolate Cake)
Ingredients: (makes a 10 inch bundt cake)
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup semi-sweet /or dark chocolate, broken into small pieces
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- 1 + 1/4 cup water
- 1 cup orange juice (freshly squeezed or store bought)
- 2 cups + 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar or brown sugar
- 2 large egg
- 1 teaspoons pure orange extract or 1/2 tablespoon orange blossom water
- candied peels to garnish, – optional
- 3/4 cup semi sweet dark chocolate (measure after chopping into small pieces)
- 1 tablespoon cream
- 1 teaspoon orange zest
- 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon orange extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 10 inch bundt pan with spray/butter. Dust flour or cocoa powder in it.
In a pan bring the water and orange juice to a boil; add the sugar and boil until the sugar dissolves completely. Pour it out in a large bowl and add the chocolate, cocoa powder and butter. Gently stir until the chocolate has melted and everything is well combined. Let cool to room temperature.
In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Rub in the orange zest into the flour mix.
Beat in the eggs, one at a time, with the sugar chocolate butter mix, beating until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add in the orange extract/or blossom water.
Add the flour mixture and beat only until just incorporated and smooth. Pour batter in to cake pan.
Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until risen, and a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
Cool completely before frosting.
Melt half the amount of chocolate in spurts of 3o seconds for a minute in the microwave, or on a bath of boiling water (do not allow water/moisture to be in contact with the chocolate). When the chocolate starts to melt, combine the rest of the chocolate and stir gently until all of the chocolate is melted. Fold in the cream, zest and the orange extract. With a spatula or a knife, smear all over the cooled cake. Sprinkle candied peels if you are using.
Chill for a while before serving.
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Baking/Cooking Time: 30 minutes + 15 minutes (approx) to frost
Makes a 10 inch bundt cake