Fondant au Chocolat (Don’t worry, it’s just a chocolate cake.)

June 28 005 Edited Fondant au Chocolat (Dont worry, its just a chocolate cake.)

I made a delicious chocolate cake yesterday. I kicked off my day by looking through cake recipes. It had been a long time since I baked a cake, and looking through those recipes, I got excited about cake again. Why had I quit baking cakes?

The cake I baked was dark and decadent and topped with a chocolate ganache that was A+ in my book. Then it fell over. Two hours before I was suppose to be at a dinner party. So…I remembered why I stopped baking cakes. This is not that cake.

What to do? What to do? I considered giving my broken cake new life in the form of cake balls before another chocolate cake recipe I had bookmarked in the back of my mind surfaced. This is that cake.

June 28 012 Edited Fondant au Chocolat (Dont worry, its just a chocolate cake.)

I read about the cake – called Changing Hearts and Minds – in A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg. All I remembered yesterday was that she baked many of these cakes for her wedding. This was enough for me to attach “simple” and “delicious” to my memory of the recipe. It turned out to be both of those things.

I reread the chapter leading up to this recipe as I sat down to write this post. Molly writes about the cake, “It’s not something you want to serve to someone you feel so-so about.”

Although she was wrting in terms of making this cake for a person she would go on to marry, I can wholeheartedly say I do not feel so-so about my friends. I am also fairly certain my friends did not feel only so-so about this cake.

So I failed a little yesterday, and then I succeeded a lot. That’s something to keep in mind the next time things go wrong. Enjoy!

June 28 016 Edited Fondant au Chocolat (Dont worry, its just a chocolate cake.)

Fondant au Chocolat (Don't worry, it's just a chocolate cake.)
  • 7 ounces quality bittersweet or dark chocolate, chopped
  • 7 ounces (1¾ sticks) quality (high-butterfat) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  1. Grease an 8-inch round cake pan and line the base with parchment paper.
  2. Melt the chopped chocolate with the butter in a double boiler or in the microwave (heating in 30 second increments), stirring regularly to combine.
  3. Add the sugar to the melted chocolate-butter mixture, stirring until well combined, and set aside to cool for about five minutes.
  4. Next add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition.
  5. Add the flour and stir to combine. The batter will be smooth and dark.
  6. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 25 minutes. The center of the cake will look set, and the top will look shiny and crackly. The cake is done when the center jiggles only slightly, if at all.
  7. Allow the cake to cool in its pan for 15 minutes (the cake will deflate slightly as it cools), then carefully turn the cake out of the pan. You want the crackly side facing up, so turn the cake out by placing a piece of aluminum foil over the top of the cake in the pan. Then turn the cake out onto a plate so the foil is on the plate and the bottom of the cake is facing up. Remove the parchment paper from the bottom of the cake, then place the platter on which you wish to serve the cake on the bottom of the cake. Flip the whole thing over again, and the crackly side should now be facing up. (You can see a picture of this process over at Shutterbean (
  8. Serve when the cake cools to room temperature, garnishing with whipped cream and fruit if desired.
In the book, the recipe notes the flavor and texture of the cake are improved by freezing. The cake needs to freeze for at least one day, and once removed from the freezer, rest 24 hours to come to room temperature before serving. To freeze, wrap tightly in a layer of plastic wrap followed by a layer of foil. It will keep frozen for up to one month.

Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Cake

Hazelnut Coffee Cake 006 Edited Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Cake

Verbose is the opposite of how I feel this evening, so I’m going to cut to the chase and talk cake. In this case, coffee cake filled and topped with a layer of cinnamon and sugar, chocolate chips, and hazelnuts.

The most difficult step of this recipe is the need to blanch the hazelnuts. Because the majority of my hazelnuts were already skinless, and because I suspected this coffee cake would not make it past anyone but me, I did not blanch the hazelnuts.

If you choose to do so, My Baking Addiction provides a decent reference on how to blanch hazelnuts as does Wicked Good Kitchen. Both contain a clip of Julia Child learning how to blanch hazelnuts from none other than Alice Medrich.

Hazelnut Coffee Cake 011 Edited Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Cake

It turns out the most difficult of the recipe for me was placing the filling halfway in the coffee cake. Apparently, I mistook halfway for a quarter of the way. My only defense is to say it looked like I had used half the batter. Moving on…

If you do not like hazelnuts, this recipe still has value as a basic coffee cake. The filling and topping combinations are really up to you. My mom makes a delicious coffee cake with bits of Heath Bar, and I see no reason why any combination of nuts and sweet - pecans and butterscotch chips or walnuts and vanilla chips – would not work.

You might also consider adding flavor extracts or spices to the cake batter. I followed the recipe as written, using vanilla extract, but in hindsight the hazelnut extract I have on hand would have been nice. Same thing goes for adding a teaspoon or so of cinnamon to the cake batter.

Once baked, you can enjoy this coffee cake with coffee in the morning or with tea in the afternoon. If there is any leftover, dollop a scoop of ice cream over the top and call it a late night snack. Trust that I am speaking from experience here. Enjoy!

Hazelnut Coffee Cake 017 Edited Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Cake

Chocolate Hazelnut Coffee Cake
  • Cake Batter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • Filling & Topping
  • ½ cup hazelnuts, blanched and chopped
  • ¼ cup chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  2. Beat the butter, ¾ cup sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each addition.
  3. Reduce mixer to low speed and add the dry ingredients in 3 additions alternating with the Greek yogurt in 2 additions. (Begin with the flour mixture, add the yogurt, then flour, yogurt, flour).
  4. In a separate bowl, toss the hazelnuts, chocolate, ¼ cup sugar, and cinnamon in a bowl.
  5. Pour half of batter into a greased 8x8 baking dish and smooth the top (wetting a wodden spoon and using the back to smooth works well here).
  6. Top the batter with half of the chocolate hazelnut mixture.
  7. Spoon the remaining batter over the filling, again smoothing the top, and sprinkle the remaining chocolate hazelnut mixture over top.
  8. Bake at 350° for 35–45 minutes until the top of the cake is lightly browned and a wooden toothpick or skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cherry Chocolate Cookies

Cookies February 2 082 Edited Cherry Chocolate Cookies

I would love to explain my absence by saying I have been sailing around the Caribbean. Or visiting the islands of the South Pacific. But no, I have been here all along. Watching my website crash (literally) and burn. But I think it’s back.

The website circling the drain was just part of the glory of the past three weeks. Somebody tried to steal my credit card. The hot water heater conked out. And of the 2o buildings that make up the complex I call home, only the exterior lights on my building have decided not to flicker on this week. At some point, all you can do is laugh.

Cookies February 2 099 Edited Cherry Chocolate Cookies

And wonder what the heck is going on. I had no sooner said just that when it came to my attention that I could blame it all on Mercury retrograde. With that explanation in hand, everything felt normal again. Which should probably say something (not flattering, I am sure) in and of itself.

The good news is we are down to less than 12 hours. At 9 a.m. tomorrow morning, Mercury turns direct. Even more good news is the oven never quit working, so I’ve got cookies. These rich chocolate cookies are studded with sweet dried cherries and chocolate chunks.  Just the combination to provide a little pick-me-up when nothing else seems to be going right. Enjoy!

Cookies February 2 093 Edited Cherry Chocolate Cookies


5.0 from 1 reviews
Cherry Chocolate Cookies
Serves: approx. 26 cookies
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup butter, softened
  • 1½ cups light brown sugar, packed
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup dried cherries
  • 1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt; set aside
  2. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter and sugar together for one minute.
  3. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition, followed by the vanilla.
  4. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix until just combined.
  5. Fold in the cherries and chocolate until dispersed throughout the dough.
  6. Drop the dough by rounded tablespoons onto parchment-lined baking sheets.
  7. Bake at 375 degrees F for 10 to 14 minutes. The edges will be set but the centers will be soft when done.