I should have been writing. Instead…Stovetop Chocolate Cake.


File_001Yes, stovetop. A challenge worth pursuing.

This recipe came from Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street website.

And I have to say, as with Cook’s Country/America’s Test Kitchen [C. Kimball’s most recent endeavor], the accompanying video segments were extremely helpful.


As the cake steams–yep, steams– toward completion, some questions and notions:

  • This will be my default ‘baking’ method during the heat of summer. 
  • A while back, I mentioned my tendency to do weird, lame stuff in the kitchen, such as mixing or chopping at the very edge of the counter. Wull-gee, what are the odds something’s going to end up on the floor? I do eventually learn from repeated bungling, however. So this time, the floor was spared the usual cascade of ingredients. Bravo.
  • Buuuut, did that keep me from having my laptop hanging precariously over counter’s edge as I began typing this post? Uhhh, no. Seems like once I hit my threshold of competency, all bets are off. Hide the knives, check the burners, and pray. [Doesn’t matter which god you choose, by the way. They all understand kitchen hazards. And at some point in the process, I become the poster child.]
  • I should have hired a first-grader to cut my circle of parchment paper to fit the bottom of the pan.
  • With this stovetop strategy, will we still be treated to the warm, enveloping aroma of a baked chocolate cake? Answer: No.
  • I’m not supposed to lift that lid till the prescribed 23 minutes has lapsed. I actually resisted. Decision: It needed an extra five to seven minutes. On the upside, unless the water has evaporated, the risk of burning the cake is minimal. In other words, steam bath: forgiving…oven heat: cruel and merciless.
  • When it comes to chocolate desserts, our mantra: Dark = better. Darker = more better.
  • Always remember: Eating cake by the hunk enhances flavor by 23%. [Margin of error: +/- 5%]
  • My wife rolls her eyes at my Philistine ways, bBut I say, ‘If I bake it, I break it.’ And it’s oh-so-good that way. Besides, she gets to even out the ragged edges.

Final verdict: This recipe is a keeper. The cake came out dark and dense and moist. What more could you want?



The steaming takes place inside a Dutch oven–actually any pot with a tight-fitting lid and deep/wide enough to fit an eight or nine-inch cake pan. The coil of aluminum foil simply keeps the cake above the heated water.


The chocolate shmeer on the plate is a sure sign of this cake’s moistness. [The added chocolate chunks don’t hurt either.]

Added notes: Apologies to Bitter Ben, whose blog I follow. Rather than bittersweet, I used semi-sweet chocolate chunks from Trader Joe’s.

And to faithful reader Virginia [Roses in the Rubble], try this recipe. It should be a fair payback for the recipes you’ve shared with me.


I should have been writing. Instead…biscuits.



biscuits reduced size

Yep, biscuits. So much more rewarding than wrangling over a first draft that points to the dwindling intellect of a ‘certain writer’.

They were the finale after the arugula pesto and the tofu spread.

Pretty sure I lost my two readers with those last two words, but stick with me here…

Solution to tofu that tastes [and behaves] like spackle: Heat the olive oil, bloom the spices in the oil, *then* add the tofu, the caramelized onions, the arugula, and whatever else won’t resist your purposeful grope into the fridge.

Essentially, you make a tofu scramble and pulverize it in the food processor. Now you actually have something with flavor that you can spread on bread, but without the sinfulness of cheese.

Back to the biscuits…today, I used the New York Times’ all-purpose biscuit recipe as my starting point. I had already sullied the food processor when I made the pesto, so I snagged a cube of butter from the freezer and grated it into the flour. [The photo below is telling me I should have also added parm to the mix.]

parmesan-cheese grater


So, no cheese this time, but afternoon coffee and biscuits ensued.

dog mug

Sitting in the backyard sun, feet up on another chair, two of my favorite foods, my truly favorite person, and the knowledge that the writing projects will still be there when I saunter back. Life’s good.