The Gleeful Gourmand: June 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Darkest Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Glaze

I was so excited to be invited to be a part of Blog Film Food (a monthly collection of bloggers who choose a movie and serve up a recipe to go along with it, making it a virtual dinner and movie) this month, and wow, did I luck out with the movie they chose: Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. I've always loved this movie, and Gene Wilder's turn as Willy Wonka will always be the best (though I did like Johnny Depp's version as well).

It's the type of movie that when it comes on TV, I have to watch it. I even used the clip of Veruca Salt singing "I Want it Now" to teach my son what the word "greedy" meant. But of all the characters, I've always loved Augustus Gloop the most. From the moment his blurry voice mumbled, "I feel sorry for Mr. Wonka. It's going to cost him a fortune in fudge," into the journalist's microphone, that boy endeared himself to me.

A mountain of dark chocolate snow capped with sugar.

I know we're supposed to think of Augustus as the epitome of over-indulgence and greediness, but when he discovers the chocolate river and Wonka tells him not to touch it because it must remain pure, I always felt empathy for Augustus. As a confirmed chocoholic myself, I really feel for the poor kid. There's a river of chocolate flowing right by you and you're not supposed to taste it? I mean, come on. Do you know what that must smell like? Chocolate, butter, and sugar all melding together, taking over all your senses. And you're not supposed to eat it. Right. Of course, maybe he shouldn't have gotten so enthusiastic that he fell in, but that's another matter.

Looks a lot like the chocolate river Augustus Gloop fell in, right?

So today I'm paying tribute to Augustus Gloop with this unbelievably delicious cake from Bon Appétit: The Darkest Chocolate Cake with Red Wine Glaze. Yes. We're taking Augustus's true love, making a cake out of it, and then toasting his journey through the pipes of the Wonka factory with Fat Bastard's Pinot Noir.

The base for this cake starts by melting good bittersweet chocolate with butter and sugar in a double boiler. Here's where I deviate slightly. The recipe strongly recommends you use 70% cacao at the very least. But in your normal grocery store, finding high quality chocolate at 70% or higher can get rather expensive, especially since you need 16 ounces of it. I love dark chocolate (the darker the better), and I recommend Scharffen Berger for baking, and Green & Black's 80% cacao for nibbling. However, since you have to use so much of it in this recipe, I highly recommend going for Ghirardelli's 60% bittersweet bar. Yes, it's 10% less bitter, but I'm telling you - it does not matter. For your money, you're not going to find another big bar of quality bittersweet chocolate (each bar is 4 ounces) at such a decent price. Believe me, it doesn't affect the taste at all.

The red wine glaze is set and glossy and ready to be sliced into!

The cake is beyond decadent: dense but not heavy, all crinkled edges and a velvety goodness that practically melts on your tongue. The chocolate Pinot Noir glaze is sweet with a burst of tartness from the wine that prevents the cake from plunging over the side into the realm of way-too-sweet. It's truly a chocolate cake for all your senses.

On the Pinot Noir: Don't bother getting a bottle of expensive wine, unless you're celebrating something and you want to drink the rest of the bottle with your dessert. I used Fat Bastard's Pinot Noir, which was about $9 at my local grocery store, but I also recommend HobNob (an excellent Pinot Noir for a very fair price), or the excellent and excellently cheap Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir ($6 at Whole Foods).

I imagine that this is the cake Augustus Gloop would make for his friends as an adult while they sit around and chat about his adventures in Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Make it for someone you love and watch as their eyes roll to the back of their heads in chocolate ecstasy. You can find the full recipe by clicking here. Then check out the links below to the other delicious bloggers participating in this #BlogFilmFood!

Kirsten Oliphant: Homemade Chocolate Bars Two Ways
Kelley at The Grant Life: Chocolate Covered Macaroon Bars
Jessica at Fun Family Journal: Samoa Caramel Corn
Brenda at Meal Planning Magic: Brownie Bites with Marshmallow Cream Cheese Topping
Kelli at Eat Pray Read Love: Salted Caramel Fudge 
Miranda at the Involuntary Housewife: Blueberry Truffles
Kristi at Moms Confession: Chocolate Ice Cream

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Photo Session With Allison Shumate Photography

I can't recall the first time I was introduced to our new neighbor, Allison Shumate, but I do remember the moment our friendship began.

Like most really fun friendships, ours started with a shot of Jack Daniels. Taken on the sly from a fully stocked open bar that wasn't exactly intended for us to imbibe from at one of our neighbor's houses, I told her, grinning, "You are Trouble. That's your new name."

This is just about as "me" as you can get - dirty soles and all. Surrounded by books, feet propped up.

It turned out that Allison was much more than Trouble. She's one of the most energetic, upbeat, happy, and ambitious people I've ever met. She's also undeniably creative, talented, and funny - and an incredible photographer.

I had been mulling over updating my profile pictures here on The Gleeful Gourmand, and across the board on all the social media sites for a long time. I needed something more professional, but also something that would capture what The Gleeful Gourmand blog was all about. After seeing some work that Allison had done of our friends' family portraits, I knew I had to have her take some head shots.

My kitchen isn't particularly big or pretty, but it's where I have the most fun. That and my back patio after the cookin's done.

Going on only a little information, Allison came over to my house and started setting up shot after shot. She had such great ideas - all of them conveying exactly what I was trying to do, even though I couldn't articulate it to her. We had so much fun that day, and laughed a lot. Later on in the afternoon I went to her house to make the Bread Pudding I recently posted here while she took more pictures. She made it all so easy, and needless to say, I was thrilled with how well the shots turned out.

If you're in the RVA area, and you're looking for someone to take amazing pictures of your family, your newborn baby, your wedding, or even for your blog, you won't find anyone as professional, creative, or fun to work with as Allison Shumate Photography. You can check out her website, and blog here.

One of my favorites from my session with Allison Shumate.

In the spirit of introducing Allison to y'all, I asked her to give me 5 fun fast facts about herself:

1. She's backpacked through Europe.
2. She is a party planner (and I can attest that she's amazing at it!).
3. She loves singing, and great dance parties.
4. She quotes movie lines all the time.
5. She collects lanterns - she has over 30 in her house!

To see more of her work here, take a look at my "About Me" and "Tasty Reading" pages. Then head over to her website to see her full range of expertise. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter. I guarantee you'll be impressed.

Turns out she's great at shooting food, too!