a bittersweet farewell (with chocolate cake)

This week the Edible Schoolyard will bid farewell and bon voyage to one of our long time employees, Kat Siladi.  She will be leaving Greensboro to travel on a self-designed educational food and farming tour, spending most of her time in Italy and India.  After her travels, Kat plans to move to New York to be closer to friends and family.  Her contributions here at the Greensboro Children’s Museum and the Edible Schoolyard have been far reaching, and to say she will be deeply missed is an understatement.

In her honor, the GCM staff threw an Italian-themed luncheon to bid Kat a bittersweet farewell. The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines bittersweet as “at once bitter and sweet; especially : pleasant but including or marked by elements of suffering or regret.”  I couldn’t help but think of bittersweet chocolate, of course.  And, I prepared a bittersweet chocolate cake in her honor.  This is not my recipe, but the genius of Sally Schneider, who adapted a brownie recipe to make a simple chocolate cake, which, in her words, can be improvised on endlessly to create different effects.  Many additions are possible, for example, I added ¼ teaspoon of the Indian spice blend garam masala to create a warm, subtle spice to mix with the chocolate.  Sally also suggests adding lavender, pink peppercorns, cinnamon, ancho chile, or roasted nuts.  Improvise.

Thank you, Kat!  We’ll miss you, and we wish you great success and safe travels! Arrivederci!

image by Maria Robledo

Makes one 8 -inch cake that will serve 8 people.

Butter and flour for coating the pan

8 ounces bitter -or semi -sweet chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
(fresh, fragrant chocolate is essential)
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or half vanilla extract and half Cognac
1/2 cup sugar
1 or 2 teaspoons cocoa powder

Position the rack in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350′. Rub the inside of an 8-inch cake pan or a springform pan with butter. Swirl a few teaspoons of flour around to coat completely. Invert the pan and tap out the excess.

Combine the chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. (Or, alternatively, combine in a medium, heavy saucepan and set on a flame tamer/diffuser over very low heat). Stir occasionally until the chocolate is melted.Set aside to cool.

Meanwhile, sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl; whisk well and set aside.

Combine the eggs, vanilla extract in a large bowl. Whisk until foamy. Add the sugar and whisk until light and frothy, 1 minute. Blend in the chocolate mixture. Add the flour mixture in 2 batches, whisking to blend completely each time.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake 22 to 25 minutes until a skewer inserted 1 inch from the edge comes out clean. When inserted in the center, a bit of moist batter will cling to it. Do not over bake.

Cool the cake on a rack 10 minutes, then invert onto a plate. Invert back onto the rack so the shiny side is up. Cool the cake completely before sliding it onto a serving plate. Sift the cocoa over the top.

-Jennifer

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