This unique syrup-soaked chocolate cake was the perfect dessert for our Christmas dinner, however you don’t have to wait for a special occasion to make it.
Floral honey and piney, resinous rosemary combine for a surprisingly delicious match for chocolate, their flavors and aromas complementing and lifting the dark, bittersweet notes.
Erika Bruce for Milk Street
The cake has a fine crumb similar to pound cake, yet is tender and light, and the syrup makes it extremely moist. If you can, plan in advance and make the cake a day ahead; its texture improves as the syrup slowly soaks in. Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two days.
Tips: Don’t measure the ¾ cup water and then bring it boil it or too much will steam off as it heats. Instead, boil a larger quantity of water in a kettle or saucepan, then measure the ¾ cup. Don’t underbake the cake or it will sink as it cools. When testing doneness, make sure the toothpick comes out clean and dry from the cake’s center. Finally, to ensure even absorption, drizzle on the syrup in four applications, with a brief rest between each. If applied all at once, the syrup will pool on the surface and turn the top soggy.
10 Tbsp. (1¼ sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1 cup white sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for sprinkling
4 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
For the Honey Syrup:
⅓ cup white sugar
⅓ cup honey
3 sprigs rosemary
Pinch of kosher salt
To make the cake, heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Mist a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray, then dust with flour; tap out the excess. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a medium bowl, combine the chocolate and cocoa. Pour the boiling water over top, jiggling the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is submerged. Let stand for 1 to 2 minutes, then whisk until smooth; set aside.
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup sugar on low until just combined. Increase to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.
Reduce to medium and add the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl once halfway through.
Reduce to low, then add the chocolate mixture and vanilla; scrape the bowl. With the mixer running on low, add about a third of the flour mixture, followed by half of the buttermilk, then scrape the bowl. With the mixer running, add half of the remaining flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk, then finish with the remaining the flour mixture. Fold the batter by hand to ensure it is homogenous. The batter will be thick but pourable.
Transfer the batter to the prepared pan and spread in an even layer. Sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar. Bake until the cake forms a thin, crisp center crust and a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean, 40 to 50 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the syrup. In a small saucepan, combine the sugar, honey, rosemary, salt and ⅓ cup water. Bring to a boil over medium, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Transfer to a liquid measuring cup and cool to room temperature.
When the cake is done, cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove and discard the rosemary from the cooled syrup, then drizzle about a quarter of the syrup onto the warm cake. The syrup will not be immediately absorbed; let stand for about 5 minutes to allow it to soak in. Drizzle on the remaining syrup in 3 more applications, allowing a 5-minute rest between each.
Cool the cake completely in the pan, at least 1 hour, but preferably overnight (if storing overnight, wrap the pan in plastic and store at room temperature). To serve, run a paring knife around the pan to loosen the cake, remove the sides of the pan and cut the cake into wedges.
What’s summer without a great burger now and again? And how about an upgrade that puts you in adult territory by incorporating a rich taleggio cheese. When combined with the other ingredients, the ground meat patties become light and airy allowing all of those flavors to dance a jig on your taste buds.
These deeply savory burgers were inspired from a recipe by Ignacio Mattos, chef of Estela in New York and author of a book by the same name. Instead of using fish sauce like Mattos, Courtney Hill from Milk Street opted for similarly salty and umami-rich Worcestershire sauce. It is mixed with rosemary and garlic to create a rich base. These seasonings, combined with a simple, yet sinful, taleggio cheese sauce, make these burgers richer, more elegant and far more flavorful than your average cheeseburger.
As far as buns, brioche buns or Kaiser rolls are recommended, as they better resist turning soggy than standard hamburger buns. Keep it simple with toppings using only sliced tomato and/or pickled red onions to balance the burgers’ richness. We used both although I never got around to pickling those onions.
We found that our cheese sauce was silky smooth after simmering with the heavy cream and therefore did not need to be strained. Instead of adding black pepper, we used white to keep that creamy color.
Don’t put the cheese sauce directly onto the cooked patties because it will slide off. A better approach is to spoon the sauce onto the cut sides of each bun and allow the bread to slightly soak it in.
8 oz. taleggio cheese, rind removed, cut into ½-inch chunks
¼ cup worcestershire sauce
4 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
2½ Tbsp. fresh rosemary, minced
1½ pounds 85 percent lean ground beef
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. grapeseed or other neutral oil
4 buns, split and toasted
In a small saucepan over medium, heat the cream until just simmering. Stir in the cheese, cover and remove from the heat. Let stand until the cheese is softened and partially melted, about 20 minutes, quickly stirring once halfway through.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the Worcestershire sauce, garlic and rosemary. In a medium bowl, combine the beef with 1 tablespoon of the Worcestershire mixture and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper, then mix gently until the seasonings are evenly incorporated.
Divide the meat into 4 portions and shape each into a patty about 4½ inches in diameter and about ½ inch thick.
In a 12-inch cast-iron or other heavy skillet over medium-high, heat the oil until lightly smoking. Add the patties and cook for 3 minutes, spooning 1 teaspoon of the Worcestershire mixture over each.
Using a wide metal spatula, flip the patties and continue to cook for another 3 minutes, again spooning 1 teaspoon of the sauce onto each.
Continue to flip and cook, brushing with the remaining sauce mixture, until the patties are well browned on both sides and the centers reach 125°F for medium-rare or 130°F for medium, another 2 to 4 minutes.
Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.
(This step may not be necessary if your cheese mixture is velvety smooth like ours was.) While the burgers rest, set a fine mesh strainer over a medium bowl. Stir the cream-cheese mixture thoroughly, then pour through the strainer, pressing with a silicone spatula to force the cheese through; the sauce should be smooth and creamy after straining. Stir in ¼ teaspoon pepper.
Spoon about 1 tablespoon of cheese sauce onto the cut sides of both halves of each bun. Place a burger on each bottom bun half, then cover with the toppings.
Veal chops are a rarity in our house, typically due to the high cost. I picked these up by mistake a while back, (I meant to get pork chops, go figure!) and put them in the freezer until such time we felt like treating ourselves. (Like every day since the lockdown went into effect.)
So on a recent Friday night—when in the good ol’ days we use to dine out—those veal chops came to mind as an “aha” moment. Grilled Veal Chops with Rosemary with Green Beans and Blistered Tomatoes, can’t even tell you how good this combo was; you’ll have to make them yourself.
While this dinner is meant for 6 people, with only two veal chops on hand, we cut the marinade recipe in half and bathed them in it for one hour (you can do up to 4 hours). The grilling was super quick; about 3 minutes per side because the thickness was less than 3/4″.
With little to do, you’ll have more time to enjoy company. In fact, the green bean side dish (absolutely divine BTW) can be made ahead and served at room temperature. Get the chops marinating before guests arrive, and all you’ll have to do is toss them on the grill for a few minutes when ready to eat. Dinner done.
1 1/2 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary or 2 teaspoons dried
2 large garlic cloves, pressed, or 1 Tbsp. roasted garlic paste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
6 8-oz. veal rib chops (3/4 to 1 inch thick)
Whisk oil, wine, rosemary, garlic, salt and pepper to blend in 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish. Add veal chops to dish and turn to coat with marinade. Let stand at room temperature 1 hour or refrigerate up to 4 hours, turning veal occasionally.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat) or preheat broiler.
Remove veal from marinade, shaking off excess. Season veal with salt and pepper.
Lightly oil grill. Grill or broil veal to desired doneness, about 4 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to platter. Garnish with rosemary sprigs and serve.