There’s something I really love about easter. When my brother and I were little, Easter was one of the more fun-filled holidays- less of a big to-do than Christmas or Thanksgiving, more kids at the family get-together, and almost as much (if not more) candy than Halloween. Don’t get me wrong, I can be pretty sentimental at times and will never ever lose my love for Christmas, but Easter was just a different kind of fun. Every year my mom would make an indoor easter egg hunt for my brother and me. The hunt was structured around a series of rhyming clues about egg locations. There was one clue to start, and the next clue was hidden with the eggs. It told us where to go next, and so on. This sounds very cute and all, but what you must know is that family quirks can not be stifled and ours were no exception. I wish I had saved the clues my mom wrote out. There was always at least one or two involving “the throne”, as it was known in our family (I really hope I don’t need to explain that to anyone) and eggs (plastic ones!) were frequently hidden at the bottom of piles of laundry, in people’s shoes, and in the dishwasher. The best part for me was that I am older than my brother and there were at least one or two Easters where I knew how to read and he didn’t. Now, I’m not especially proud of this, but I guess I have to admit it since it is documented on video. On those particular Easters, I found great delight in reading the clues to myself silently, and then running off to find the eggs and leaving my poor brother helpless, stomping his foot and yelling at the foot of the stairs. This may not sound very nice of me, but anyone who has a little brother should understand. The opportunities to stick it to a younger sibling didn’t come around all the time, but when they did, you had to take advantage! That’s just the way it was. And don’t worry, he did his fair share of torturing me too. I’m pretty sure it evened out.
So, as you might guess, the days of the rhyming Easter egg hunt are long gone. I did have a nice, relaxed breakfast with my mom though. I guess you could say we celebrated by making a frittata (above) and supreming about a million grapefruits to have on the side (my idea of luxury).
These days, much of the time leading up to Easter is spent baking and just spending time with the family, which is just fine with me. Every year the scene plays out in a similar way. Since I am the family’s designated baker, I never fail to spend at least three or four hours pouring through cookbooks looking for the the most decadent, most fantastic, most daring dessert candidates. I usually end up with at least five or six potentials, at which point my mom begins to sigh, worried that I will go way overboard and end up begging her to help me wash bowls at two in the morning (let’s just say it hasn’t not happened once or twice before).
To make a long story short, this year I narrowed it down to three recipes within a pretty reasonable amount of time. I ended up making: an the fudgiest chocolate cake (drenched in ganache), grapefruit cupcakes (sugar-free, for my godfather who is diabetic), and a super top-secret recipe which I will post about at the end of the month! The chocolate cake is based on this one from Deb at Smitten Kitchen, although I ran out of butter just before getting to the mousse layer and decided to go with ganache instead. Besides, there was already enough butter at Easter!
The cake was absolutely delicious but so, so, rich. We couldn’t finish it, which was no problem at all for me, because the leftovers are in my fridge right now acting a lot like the best fudge I’ve ever eaten. Mmmmm.
Fudgiest Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Deb at Smitten Kitchen
Makes at least 10 servings (one 9 inch round, or one 8×8 in square and 12 mini cupcakes, as I did)
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup all purpose flour
6 tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips
6 tablespoons heavy cream
For the cake: Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter an 8×8 square pan; dust with sugar. Prepare one 12-well mini-muffin tray. Melt chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. Cool to lukewarm. Whisk in sugar. Whisk in eggs 1 at a time, blending well after each addition. Mix in vanilla and salt, then flour. Pour batter into pan. Bake until cake just rises in center (tester inserted into center will not come out clean), about 35 minutes. Cool completely in pan on rack. I would recommend keeping this one at room temperature as long as you can, just to keep it a little bit softer.
For the ganache: Melt the chocolate chips and the cream in a double boiler over gently simmering water. Pour over the cooled cake. Let drip langourously over the edges… ooh!
The cupcakes, also borrowed from Smitten Kitchen, were so cute and really good for the kids as well as my godfather. The recipe is below.
Grapefruit Yogurt Cake
Adapated from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa and from Deb at Smitten Kitchen
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar (I used splenda and it worked fine)
3 extra-large eggs
3 teaspoons grated grapefruit zest (approximately one large grapefruit)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
For the glaze:
1 cup confectioners’ sugar (I used splenda here too and it seemed OK)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8 1/2 by 4 1/4 by 2 1/2-inch loaf pan. Line the bottom with parchment paper. Grease and flour the pan. ( I just made 12 mini-cupcakes and one mini loaf).
Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt into 1 bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, 1 cup sugar, the eggs, grapefruit zest, and vanilla. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. With a rubber spatula, fold the vegetable oil into the batter, making sure it’s all incorporated. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 50 minutes, or until a cake tester placed in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Meanwhile, cook the 1/3 cup lemon juice and remaining 1 tablespoon sugar in a small pan until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Set aside.
When the cake is done, allow it to cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Carefully place on a baking rack over a sheet pan. While the cake is still warm, pour the grapefruit-sugar mixture over the cake and allow it to soak in. Cool.
For the glaze, combine the confectioners’ sugar and grapefruit juice and pour over the cake.