Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake

Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake
Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake

Hola! Do you know what today is? It’s my birthday! I’ve completed 27 wonderful and sometimes awkward trips around the sun! 27 doesn’t feel too much different than 26. Except last year I distinctly remember that all I wanted to do for my birthday was eat Mac and Cheese all day... and this year all I want to eat all day is vegetables and other green things. I can’t really tell if that is sign of maturity and a stronger awareness of self care or if it’s because we just got back from vacation 2 days ago and we each ate a total of 15 tacos in 3 days. Who knows?!

Oh! We just got back from a long weekend in Mexico City! It was so lovely. As I already mentioned, we each ate 15 tacos over the course of the trip. And so many other things! Literally everything we ate was like the best thing I ever ate. I’m going to share a blog post about our whole trip- everything we saw and ate- and share it soon! Hopefully within the next week, otherwise it’s never going to happen. You all should plan your trips to Mexico City now though. Seriously. Such a great place! The colors of the city alone were so inspiring. I’m thinking of making a Mexico City or Luis Barragán inspired cake! I’m imaging blocks of Mexican pink, bold blues, and some creamy neutrals.

I’ve gotten very into abstract cake decorating lately if you haven’t noticed. I love it so much because it doesn’t involve painstakingly piping perfect flower (I will attempt that later!) and it’s a stress free way of playing around with forms and color. I wanted this year’s birthday cake to sort of be a self portrait. Last year’s birthday cake was more Reuben focused because was turning the big 30 and had just passed all his architecture licensure exams, so I made the cake look like a concrete column... sort of. But this year the cake is a reflection of me! It has swooshes of warm orange and yellow hues with a little accent of blue. If you want to hyper analyze the design of the cake like we did in college art history, you could say that it’s an expression of my big, colorful, and chaotic moves in life, but the blue accents represent Reuben’s presence in my life and his ability to balance me out. Our something like that lol.

It pretty much matches the aesthetics of my life which makes me so incredibly happy. The inside of the cake is a classic chocolate. I realized that all my cakes on Eat Cho Food are vanilla based and I felt like I needed to diversify! It’s really yummy and moist! I got to enjoy the cake scrapes when I first made the cake a week ago, but we finally got to cut into it last night at dinner. Still yummy and moist! I’ll probably have another slice tonight and then another for breakfast tomorrow.

Does anyone want a slice of chocolate cake????


Abstract Painting Chocolate Cake

makes one 3 layer 6" cake

Cake Materials:

1 1/2 cup sugar
1 3/4 cup AP flour
1 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk*
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup boiling water

Buttercream Materials:

4 sticks softened unsalted butter (2 pounds)
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp milk
gel food coloring

 

* if you don't have buttermilk and only have milk, you can stir 1 cup of regular milk with 1tbsp of white vinegar and allow to sit for 5 minutes until thick.

Steps:

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease cake pans and line bottom of the pans with rounds of parchment paper.

2. Whisk together the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Whisk together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla, and vegetable oil in a medium bowl. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Stir in boiling water and mix until smooth.

3. Pour the batter into the cake pans. Lift each pan about 3 inches from your work surface and drop a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 28-30 minutes until done. Test for doneness using the toothpick test Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from the pans and allow to completely cool on a wire rack. Place cakes upside down on the rack to help level the cakes.

4. While cakes are cooling make your buttercream. Whisk softened butter with the paddle attachment on your standmixer for 2 minutes on medium speed until light and fluffy. Reduce the speed to medium low and gradually add in powdered sugar. Add in salt, vanilla, and milk and mix on medium until fluffy. Reserve about 1/4 of your buttercream for mixing in colors. If you need more buttercream for decorating add another stick of butter and 1 cup powdered sugar.

5. Once cakes are completely cool, level off your cake layers. Keep cake scrapes for a snack later! Place a small blob of buttercream on a cake round and place a layer of cake on the cake round. Add buttercream, top with another cake layer, and repeat one more time. Frost the whole cake with a thin layer of buttercream to make your crumb coat. Place cake in the freezer for 15 minutes. When crumb coat is solid, add another layer of buttercream until smooth. 

6. To decorate in an abstract painting style, mix your remaining buttercream into various colors. I recommend having at least 3-4 colors. Have 2-3 colors within a similar color range and then one additional color in a contrasting bolder color. Apply dabs of colored buttercream to your cake and smear with an offset spatula in various directions and sizes. Decorate to your liking!

Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
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Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
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Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka
Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka

Hey hey hey! I’m writing at another ski lodge again. It is equally as distracting as the last ski lodge I wrote at. Except it doesn’t quite smell like sweat, chicken fingers and donuts. I snagged myself a nice sunny table outside. So it smells like clean mountain air and bbq from the bqq tent 15 feet from me. I am surrounded by children bickering over pizza in German, but I’m hoping they leave soon. 

It’s Easter Sunday. Not that that really means anything to me. When my brother and I were little, my family would entertain us with the always fun Easter egg hunt, egg dyeing, and copious amounts of Easter candy. I feel like Easter is the most magical for kids. As my brother and I and our cousins grew older, Easter festivities started to fade. Plus my family is not really religious at all. I think this weekend would just be another weekend that we would all get together for Dim Sum or lunch at my grandparents’ house.

Reuben and I have spent this Easter weekend up in Auburn, California enjoying some nature. He is skiing in Tahoe today (Sunday), which is why I am writing at a ski lodge again. As much as I’ve enjoyed all the beautiful sites and the great food this weekend, I can’t seem to shake the little bit of homesickness I’ve been feeling. Even though Easter is not a big deal for my family and I don’t even think they are getting together this weekend, I still miss the crap out of home. I probably bring up homesickness on this blog all the time. Maybe a little too much… sorry! When you’re the only one from your family that lives far away, you start to get really sappy. Thankfully I’m going home in 3 weeks! Work is taking me to Chicago so I’m going to hop on an extra plane to get my family fix. I actually just realized that I’m going to be away almost every weekend in April. Next weekend I’ll be home. But then after that I have a weekend in Palm Springs, Cleveland, and then Seattle. All very exhausting and exciting. Since I do all my recipe testing and photography on the weekends, I’ll be a tornado in the kitchen this weekend so that EatChoFood is not a vacant wasteland for the month of April! I do this for you.

I have this ridiculous google doc where I put all my of random recipe ideas. You never know when inspiration is going to hit you! Some of the recipes are weird. Some of them aren’t really coherent, just a stringing of words that described something that’s hopefully edible. I should be able to take a pretty good chunk off the list next weekend. One thing that has been on my recipe google doc for the longest time is Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka. It has to have been on there for at least a year. I’ve made a babka a few years ago and it turned out okay. I think I rushed it. It tasted great, but the effort involved sort of made me not want to make a babka for a while. Until a month ago! I first tested out this recipe a month ago and it was not perfect. I made my own jam and it was just a little too loose, so the jam just disappeared after it was baked. The second issue was that it didn’t bake long enough. I trusted the base recipe with the cooking time, and it was definitely 15 minutes shy from a full bake. It ended up tasting fine and my coworkers loved it, but I knew I could do better. So I took my notes and tweaked my game plan. Cooked it longer, bought jam from a professional, and made some other flavor adjustments. It freaking worked! It’s so satisfying to see an experiment work out. You feel like a scientist of something!

The bread is super light and fluffily. The jam is very present and tart to balance the sweet an thick peanut butter. My mom would always use grape jelly in our PB&Js so that flavor has been ingrained in my brain. I used blackberry preserves, which comes pretty close to grape jelly. But you can use whatever jam, jelly, or preserve that you like! The top has a sweet and shiny glaze that adds the perfect amount of sweetness to a not super sweet bread. It’s so good with a glass of cold milk! Eating it fresh is definitely best, but I also had a slice with some yogurt and it was almost like having birthday cake for breakfast. That’s the dream right? I also think that it is totally justifiable to eat this babka for lunch because people eat PB&J sandwiches all the time! Right? So I say go for it. Eat it all day long!


Peanut Butter and Jelly Babka

makes 2 loaves

Materials:

530 g (4 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
100 g (1/2 cup) white sugar
2 tsp rapid rise yeast
3 eggs
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter softened and cut into small cubes
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
3 tbsp honey
3 tbsp crush peanuts
1/2 cup berry jam
1 tbsp olive oil

Syrup:

2/3 cup water
1 1/4 cup sugar

steps:

1. Place flour, sugar, and yeast into a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on low speed for 1 minute. Slowly add in eggs and water and mix for another 3 minutes at medium speed. Add salt and butter a few cubes at a time until incorporated into the dough. Mix dough at medium speed for 10 minutes. Scrape down the sides every few minutes. Remove dough from the bowl and shape on the counter into a smooth round dough ball.

2. Brush a bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil and place dough in the bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and leave in the fridge overnight or atleast 12 hours.

3. Remove the dough from the fridge and leave out on the counter for 30 mins to get the chill off the dough. Divide the dough in half. Roll out half the dough into 15"x15" rectangle on a lightly floured surface. 

4. Spread creamy peanut butter with an offset spatula over the rectangle. Drizzle honey and sprinkle the crushed peanuts. Begin rolling the dough by starting with the 15" long edge and continue to tightly roll until you reach the other long edge. Trim about 3/4" to 1" off either end. With a really sharp knife, cut the roll in half lengthwise. Set aside and repeat with the jam filling.

5. Line 2 loaf pans with parchment paper. Take one peanut butter half and one jam half and place them side by side with the cut side facing up. Pinch one end together and cross one half over the other half. Repeat until the halves are braided. It's going to get really messy, but it's worth it! Carefully lift the braided loaf and place in the parchment lined loaf pan. Use a large spatula or dough scraper if you feel like you need some help. Repeat to make the second loaf. 

6. Cover the loaf pans with a damp paper towel. Place in a warm place and allow to proof for 90 minutes.

7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place the loaves in the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes until deeply golden. If it starts to get a little too dark, cover the loaves with foil. The internal temperature should be 185 degrees.

8. While the loaves bake, make your syrup. Combine the water and sugar in a small sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once the sugar dissolves, remove from heat and allow to cool down.

9. Remove the loaves from the oven and immediately brush the babkas with the syrup. It seems like a lot but use all of it. Allow the babkas to to cool in the pan until warm. Remove from the pan and allow to completely cool on a cooling rack.

10. Slice and enjoy!

recipe is adapted from the Chocolate Krantz Cakes recipe from the Jerusalem Cookbook

Watercolor Sugar Cookies

Watercolor Sugar Cookies
Watercolor Sugar Cookies
Watercolor Sugar Cookies
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Watercolor Sugar Cookies
Watercolor Sugar Cookies
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Watercolor Sugar Cookies
Watercolor Sugar Cookies
Watercolor Sugar Cookies
Watercolor Sugar Cookies

Happy Spring! Sorry if you are blanketed in snow still. It's rainy and gross in San Francisco right now, so not exactly sunshine and lovely budding trees. Since the weather is crappy outside, I'm going to make my own springy vibes by painting over the top cookies! Apologies if my website looks like it's vomiting orange flowers right now... I couldn't narrow down the photos anymore!

If you didn't already know, I also love to paint. Have you checked out my other page, HeyKCho?! I've been watercoloring for years and I taught myself how to hand letter about 3 years ago. I spent about a million hours practicing my ABCs like a crazy person and studying up on techniques and the best painting tools. I never took a class which is sort of crazy... could have made life a lot easier for myself. But I think the fact that I never took a class or learned directly from anymore really helped me develop my own personal style. It's definitely very Springy, lots of color, and will most likely involve a painting of a carrot or some other vegetable.

I have been wanting to try watercolor cookies for the longest time! It just seemed like the greatest hybrid of all the things I love to do: mixing fun colors, eating cookies, painting flowers, lettering encouraging statements, and cutting out thousands of the same shaped thing. I finally made the time to bake and paint them this past weekend and OMGGGGG it was soooooo much fun and relaxing!! I have a bunch of blank cookie canvases sitting in my freezer now just in case I get the creative spark to paint a radish or the next Mona Lisa on a cookie. Should that be my next theme? Italian Renaissance paintings on a cookie??

The actual cookie is a really great sugar cookie base. I use a similar dough in my Marbled Tahini Sugar Cookies and Valentine's Day Sugar Cookies. It's sturdy but tender, and if you give the dough enough time to chill in the fridge it holds it's shape incredibly well once baked. Then the cookie is topped with fondant. You could also use royal icing if you don't really enjoy fondant. I'll try royal icing next time. I just got a little nervous that my piping hands were going to get a little shaky. The benefit of using fondant though is that you get really satisfyingly perfect rounds of blank canvas for your cookies. The paints are actually gel food color mixed with a little bit of water. It surprisingly acts a lot like watercolor! You can blend colors and everything!

Someday in the future, when I have more free time and can dedicate more to teaching, I would love to host watercolor classes or even shoot tutorials. But an abundance of time I do not have. I'm going to leave you with a list of tools you'll need to paint these cookies and to also paint on normal paper. I'm also including a few actual painting tips. If there is anything specific you would like to know, please ask away in the comments! Happy Painting and Happy Spring!


Tools:

#3 & #6 Round Brush - These are my favorite brush sizes to use. Round brushes have a fine tip for more delicate line work, but have a fuller base so that when you apply more pressure to the brush you get fuller and broader strokes. If you're painting cookies and also painting on paper, make sure you have different sets of brushes for both uses.

Paint Tray - I have a bunch of these for different palettes. Pretty much a necessity if you want to mix your own colors.

Paint - for cookies you can use any gel food coloring. I use these. But if you are painting on paper, I recommend Reeves or Winston Newton Watercolor Paints.

Canvas - the canvas for these cookies are fondant or you could use royal icing. If you're painting on paper, please only use cold pressed paper. Cold pressed paper has a tooth/texture to the paper which is super important for holding in all the pigments of your watercolors. I only paint on this paper.

Paint Water/Paper Towel - Keep a glass or jar of paint water on the side to clean your brushes and to mix your paints. You'll also need a bundle of paper towels to blot any excess paint from your brush. It's also handy to test out colors you're mixing 

Tips:

1. Relax. To be honest painting, especially with watercolor is pretty easy. Watercolor is forgiving and automatically gives you that effortless and abstract look to it.

2. If your painting florals, keep in mind how the actual flower or plant is composed. When painting a flower, think about how the flower petals are tighter towards the center. Like a little bud. Then the petals towards the outside are bigger and more open. That's exactly how you should paint your flower.

3. Mix a few shades of color. If your paintings are looking a little too flat, try mixing extra shades of the colors you're using. In these cookies I mixed 2 shades of green, 3 shades of orange, and 2 shades of red. The differences between them are subtle, but add so much more detail to your work.

4. Paint what you love. Try not to get too hung up on what is trendy. This could be said about cooking too. Don't feel like you have to paint cacti or succulents or even flowers like me! The best paintings you're going to do is by painting things that you love. Which is why I end up painting a lot of vegetables. But maybe your paints are more cat focused? You do you. 


Watercolor Sugar Cookies

makes 18 3" cookies

steps:

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

In the bowl of your standmixer or with an electric beater, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add in egg and vanilla extract until combined.

Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat at low speed until dough is evenly mixed. If the dough is a little sandy, knead the dough with your hands for a few minutes.

Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge to chill for at least one hour. Chilling the dough helps the cookies keep their shape.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is 1/8" to 1/4" thick. Lightly dust the dough with flour if the dough is sticking. Lightly flour your cookie cutter and cut out your cookies.

Arrange cookies on parchment lined baking sheets, about 1" apart from each other. Bake for 15 - 18 minutes for 3" cookies. Bake for less time if your cookies are smaller. Cookies should just be slightly golden.

Allow the cookies to completely cool on a wire rack.

Roll out fondant until thin, less than 1/8" thick. Cut out circles with your cookie cutter. Drizzle a little honey on the cookie as your adhesive. Place circle of fondant on the cookie and gently smooth out the fondant.

In a clean painting dish, add a few drops of your selected gel food coloring. Mix accordingly to get your desired colors. Add a few drops of water and paint whatever you want on the fondant.

Allow the food coloring to dry and enjoy.

materials:

3 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2 sticks (16 Tbsp) butter - softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

honey
fondant
assortment of gel food coloring