there is a lot for me to be thankful for already this year.

that said, 2012 was a pretty big one for me – and without even taking the first half of it into account (when some of the biggest and happiest events took place) – the six months that have passed since I moved out to san francisco have been a little bit of everything. I’ve been conference planning, job hunting, exploring the city & learning new bus routes, cooking a lot, working for a small chocolate company, meeting lots of very talented people, making new friends, recovering from injuries, and cooking some more. even though jon has called this apartment home for over two years now, I am starting to feel like it’s my home now, too.

I’m glad that at the beginning of 2013, when somehow everything feels like it’s starting again, that I am feeling settled in my place. I have been a little absent here, I realize, but I’ve been doing some brainstorming and a bit of changing things around, and I’m excited for those little changes. web designer I am not, but when I look back to when I started writing a few years ago, I am happy with the progress on this blog and hope to continuously improve. other than general layout, i’ve added a recipe page as a way to catalogue my cooking experiments (see below “about”). Rest assured – even though my posts have been sporadic, I definitely have not stopped cooking, and am looking forward to sharing some of my new favorites here in the coming weeks and months.


on the topic of new favorites, this recipe definitely is high on the list of desserts – from bon appetit’s march 2012 issue. It’s actually a vegan cake (great for me), and has such intense chocolate flavor (while being incredibly light & moist, somehow – even better). it’s amazing, every time. it also halves really nicely, and goes well with a variety of frostings, or on it’s own.

for jon’s birthday last year, I made (dairy free, soy free) peanut butter buttercream to go on top. here’s to 2013, and all sorts of celebrations to come!

chocolate cake (slightly adapted from bon appetit)

*see note for making a layer cake!

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 t. kosher salt

1 t. baking soda

1/4 cup vegetable oil (plus 1 T. to grease the pan)

1 t. vanilla extract

1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate

*I doubled the recipe & used a 9” round and 4” round cake pan to make a layered cake. baking times – for the 4” cake at 350 – roughly 20-25 minutes, rotating half-way through. for the 9” cake, plan on around 30-35 minutes. watch carefully, you don’t want to overcook this one & make it dry.

Preheat the oven to 350, and coat the bottom and sides of an 8 x 8 x 2 pan with the oil, then line the bottom with parchment paper. whisk flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda together in a bowl. add the oil, vanilla, and 1 1/4 cup water, whisk till smooth. fold in chopped chocolate. scrape into the pan, and bake until tester come out clean when inserted into the center – roughly 35 minutes. let sit until the pan is cool enough to touch, and carefully invert the cake onto a cooling rack to cool completely.


peanut butter buttercream

(*bon appetit’s version is lighter than traditional buttercream & is great on this cake, but for jon’s birthday cake, I went for something a little different)

2/3 cup smooth peanut butter (non-natural peanut butter works better here)

8 T. (1 cup) soy-free earth balance, at room temperature

3/4 cup confectioners sugar

1 t. vanilla

1-2 T. almond milk (if needed)

in a medium bowl, combine the peanut butter, vanilla and earth balance and beat until well incorporated, 1-2 minutes. with the beater on slow, add in the confectioners sugar in 1/4 cup increments, beat after each addition. if the frosting looks a little dry (will depend in part on the peanut butter you use), add 1 – 2 tablespoons of almond milk to make it smooth & creamy.

once the cake has cooled completely, carefully lift it to a plate or serving tray, and frost the sides and top with the buttercream. (you may not need all of the frosting). finish the cake with chocolate shavings.


4 thoughts on “all celebrations

  1. YUM! I wonder how this would be substituting almond flour and using Splenda or Truvia? Glad you are well and enjoying life, love, cooking and San Francisco!

  2. thanks vicki! I haven’t tried gluten free but I bet it’d be worth an experiment. maybe adding a bit more liquid to make sure it doesn’t dry out? let me know if you try it!

  3. What a beautiful reflection on the year- it has been a year! It has been a joy watching you transition to SF and get settled there. I have always appreciated your honesty about transitions- they are not always easy and they take time! Because of your ability to admit this, I am improving on admitting when transitions are hard! The cake looks amazing and I look forward to this next year- and promise that in 2013 I will make it to SF to see you. All my love!

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