Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Carmen, Chocolate and Snow Storms

Last night Katy and I went to the Metropolitan Opera to see Carmen.  It was a beautiful production. Sex, intrigue, betrayal, it's all alive at the Met. So much better than Television. As we left the theater the snow had begun to fall. Just a dusting and then it stopped. A bust we thought, the storm will miss New York again. When we awoke this morning, the snow was falling, covering everything, turning our neighborhood into a fairy land.  
A day off, no school, work or other responsibilities. With the sound track from Carmen playing in the kitchen I decided to bake a tribute to my favorite Opera, the snow storm and of course Valentine's Day.
Baked in the Heritage Cake Pan, it came out beautiful, rich and decadent. Surrounded by roses, it looked too good to eat. But we got over that, and cut right into it. 
It was the best cake I've ever made. Let me just say, this recipe is a keeper!
 The original recipe came from Cooks Illustrated. It made about 1 cup more batter than was needed. I used that for mini cupcakes which were eaten before they even had a chance to cool. 
Cooks suggest you blend, melted butter and cocoa and brush the mixture on the cake pan to avoid the uneven finish a bundt cake usually has. I had a "Why didn't I think about that moment" when I read it. Absolutely brilliant, it works!
Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake
 adapted from

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 tablespoon cocoa
 3/4 cup unsweetened  cocoa powder, not Dutched
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 teaspoon Via, bold coffee powder
3/4 cup boiling water
1 cup sour cream at room temperature
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups, packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
5 large eggs at room temperature
confectioner's sugar for dusting

Stir together the cocoa and melted butter in a small bowl until a paste forms. Using a pastry brush, coat the surface of a 12 cup bundt pan. If the mixture becomes too thick you can microwave until warm, about 10 seconds. 
Adjust the oven rack to a lower middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the cocoa, coffee powder and chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until blended. Set aside to cool to room temperature, then whisk in the sour cream.
Whisk together the flour, salt and baking soda in a second bowl.

In a standing mixer, beat the butter, sugar and vanilla on medium high speed until pale and fluffy, abut 3 minutes. 
Reduce the speed to medium and add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition, scraping down the sides of the bowl. 
Reduce the speed to medium low, batter may appear separated, add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and 1/2 the chocolate sour cream mixture and mix until just incorporated. 
Scrape down the bowl and repeat using 1/2 the remaining flour and all of the remaining chocolate mixture, beat to incorporate about 30 seconds. Add the remaining flour and chocolate mixture. Beat 30 seconds to develop the cake's structure. 
Spoon the batter into the bottom of the pan, bang it on the counter to remove the air bubbles. Then fill the rest of the pan about 3/4 full. If you use a 12 cup pan, there will not be any batter left. If you use the heritage pan you will have about a cup left.

Bake until a tooth pick inserted in the center comes out with just a few cooked crumbs on it about 45 to 50 minutes. 
Dust with confectioner's sugar.
All text and pictures are property of The Gypsy Chef, unless otherwise noted.


  1. Very pretty! I love the snow covered bird houses!

  2. If there is one food that could seriously tempt me out of my cleansing right now - it would be this cake for sure!!!!
    pretty pictures, love the bird house, the snow and the roses....
    Stay warm, love to you Pam xox

  3. What a perfect snowy day treat! We have been digging ourselves out all day in Philadelphia! I have a question for you, I am dropped my 2 sons off in Lyon June 13th for an exchange program, Ill have a week to play around Southern France, have you ever taken a week long cooking class that you could recommend? I already looked into Patricia Well's classes, shes already booked at 5k not including room and board.!!

  4. Figtree, Thanks, You've been hard hit this week. yikes! How many feet do you have?
    My good friend Ujwala is from Lyon and I will ask her. Also my wonderful friend Lynn has a B&B outside of Vichy, on the Lyon Paris train line. I will check with Lynn and get back to you. Lynn and I run a cooking class in October, too bad you aren't in France then! There is another woman in Charroux who has a lovely place, I'll check with her. Do you have an email address I can contact you? Mine is

  5. Pam, my kids made the bird houses years ago. There are nests in each. Every spring we hear the birds chirping.

    Neeta, Thanks for the visit. The cake was amazing. I made it for my son who only likes chocolate. Silly boy.
    Stay warm my dear, hopefully will see you soon.

  6. Very pretty photos and the cake looks so good. I need to buy a cake mold, so I can make pretty stuff like that... Oh, and people always tell me I'm a 'gypsy'. I don't quite know what they mean by that, but I take it as a complement.

  7. Wow. Gorgeous photos, gorgeous cake, gorgeous pan (I want one!) Kind of nice to have a snow day now and then I guess! I'll have to bookmark this recipe, as I like any excuse to use my bundt pan. And isn't Cooks Illustrated the best for providing geeky but brilliant tips? Love them.

  8. Yes gorgeous photos! That pan is calling my name:) I am saving all the recipes for this pan:) You must be happy with it!

    A cooking class in October sounds like a fairytale:)

    I think you have a very nice life.

  9. What a beautiful cake. I love the chocolate and sour cream combination. Your photgraphy is stellar. I really love your blog.I'll be back often. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary

  10. Stella, Thanks for stopping by. From one Gupsy to another, Happy Valentine's Day.

    HD, We always enjoy a good snow storm around here. Thanks to the snow blower! It's the days after the storm that wear us out.
    Love Cooks Illustrated! I received it as a gift a few years ago, and I still enjoy it.

    Nana, Thanks! I do love this pan. Planning a Lemon Poppy seed cake today.
    The class is a cultural, cooking, wine and monkey business class. We do have fun.

    Mary, Thanks for stopping by. The cake was so tasty it disappeared in a day!

  11. Oh Pam, your blog is beautiful! That cake is dramatic, theatrical and oh-so-seductive! Spectacular, is all I can say! :)


  12. Nothing is more perfect for Valentine's Day than something chocolate. I love that bundt pan and the tip about melted butter and chocolate is brilliant. Can't wait to try it.

  13. That looked great! I have a bundt pan somewhere in my vast cooking supplies..

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  16. OH MY (gasping for breath)... what a phenomenal cake photo!!!!!!!!!

    I'm in awe!