ALL THINGS SMÁRI
September 17th, 2013
When Yogurt Loves Chocolate (and Other Ways to Trade Up)
Once Upon a Time…
I discovered the perfect chocolate cake. And I’ve been baking it ever since. In fact, the cake has become the official birthday cake of my family (it has made a welcome appearance on Father’s Day as well). It’s that good. The recipe is Nigella Lawson’s Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake. You’ll find the recipe in her cookbook, Feast: Food to Celebrate Life (available from Amazon.com here).
And here’s a link to the recipe on Nigella’s cooking site.
Why is it the best chocolate cake, ever? Well, it’s supremely chocolatey, for one. That’s imperative. It’s not too sweet, nor too bitter. It’s balanced. And it’s a simple cake–not a dozen “impressive” layers or unnecessary, chunky fruit fillings, no. It is such an understated cake that I marvel at how good it tastes each and every time. The chocolate is an incredibly important ingredient, this being a chocolate cake. I recommend a chocolate that I’ve been using for as many years as I’ve been baking this cake: Callebaut – it’s astoundingly dark and rich. Callebaut’s website is here. (You can tell they’re serious about chocolate–they run the Chocolate Academy, with thirteen locations around the world). That said, when I can get it, I’ll use Nói Síríus dark chocolate, which is imported from Iceland, for the frosting.
Like I said, this is the perfect chocolate cake and the official cake of my family. But, I’ll admit that I do one thing not on the recipe: I use our Pure yogurt instead of the sour cream called for. (It’s hard to keep us entrepreneur types in line!) I make this substitution in both the frosting and the cake (which both call for sour cream). I use a one-to-one ratio, so the same amount of yogurt (Pure) that is called for of sour cream.
No one yet has suspected a difference! (I’d like to think that’s a good thing.)
Other Ways to Trade Up
You might be wondering, if one can trade yogurt for sour cream, there must be other trades possible, right? You bet. (Not to say it’s not enough to just be a cup of yogurt. A cup of yogurt is a beautiful thing in and of itself. But there are times when a cup of yogurt has more to give than being just itself.)
Let’s say you have guests visiting from out of town and you’re in the mood for buttermilk pancakes, but you and your guests don’t want to take in more fat than necessary. Well, just mix one part buttermilk to two parts yogurt and carry on. (Other recipes that call for buttermilk include red velvet cupcakes, steel cut oats, muffins, rolls, and of course buttermilk biscuits.) If your guests are the raw vegetable dipping types, you could create a blue cheese dip with blue cheese and Pure yogurt with a bit of honey, and dip away.
Spread yogurt on a toasted bagel (maybe add a tomato slice), spread it on a turkey sandwich in place of mayonnaise, put a dollop on a baked potato, or use it to blend chicken salad, potato salad, or coleslaw.
You can trade yogurt for oil, cream cheese, mayonnaise, and buttermilk. For all, you can trade equal parts yogurt for the fat. But, for oil, use 25% less yogurt than the amount of oil called for (so if you need 1 cup of oil, use a 3/4 cup of yogurt).
Habits are powerful, and they hard to break. (We tell ourselves the most incredible stories when it comes to falling prey to habits that seem to have chosen us rather than vice-versa). The force of habit is so…forceful, that I forget to get in front of it, to turn the tables, and use the power of habit to forge a new path in my day. Once a new habit is established, it does the hard work (actually remembering to do the new thing) for me. My point is, if you’ve been eating mayonnaise on your sandwiches since childhood or you’re not the cold turkey type, you may want to mix 1/2 mayonnaise and 1/2 yogurt at first, before going full throttle.
Trade up, trade strong. Enjoy new, good habits.
PS: I’d love to hear what you think of the chocolate cake recipe, should you try it! Post here, or email me at email@example.com.