So the old Nat King Cole tune goes. The boy had martial arts practice after work and I had the apartment to myself. These are the types of nights I find myself eating a piece of leftover chicken over the sink and grabbing a swig of juice out of the carton. But tonight, I was feeling a little indulgent, and decided to treat myself to pasta and meatballs, and a cute little teency chocolate cake! I set the table, bought a nice baguette and a bottle of wine (which, of course I shared with the boy once he got home, as I did the cake).
The cake recipe came from my amazing cook of a niece, Jessica. She does a lot of cooking and baking, modifying many recipes to feed just one or two. She even has cute, little tiny cake and pie pans. Believe it or not, you can bake this cake in empty tin cans if you don’t have special bakeware, which is exactly what I did. Thank you, Jessica!
Check back for uploaded pics in the next day or two!
PASTA AND MEATlessBALLS MARINARA
1 or 2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce
1 cup of cooked pasta (I love whole wheat penne rigate!)
1. Open the bottle of wine to let it “breathe.” By doing this, the oxygen will touch the wine and the flavors will open up. Such a little thing but makes a huge difference in the taste. Set the table, laying out your nicest table setting. :) Put on some tunes (highly recommended: Louis Prima and Keely Smith. Trust me on this one.)
2. Put water on the boil for the pasta.
3. Make Meatballs
Meatballs for One or Two People
½ a tube of Litelife brand Gimme Lean - beef style (or 4 oz. real ground beef or turkey)
1 egg white (save the yolk in a cup for the chocolate cake!!)
½ tsp. dried basil
Two shakes of dried thyme
1 shake of dried oregano
1 shake of garlic powder
3 grinds of black pepper
A pinch of salt
4-5 leaves of chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (optional)
1 slice of the baguette, crust removed, soaked in soy milk (or 1 Tbs. breadcrumbs)
1 Tbs. of grated parmesean cheese
a. Squeeze out the milk from the bread and add that to a small bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and mix with your hands.
b. Form into cute, little 1.5-inch balls (might as well keep the "mini" theme going here ;) )
c. Fry balls in two swirls of olive oil, in a heated frying pan on medium heat.
d. Cook for a couple minutes on each side till browned.
e. Lower the heat to medium-low and pour the sauce over the meatballs. Simmer on low, stirring gently so the bottom doesn’t burn and the balls cook all the way through.
4. Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente, following package directions.
5. Drain pasta and add to the cooking pot of sauce and balls. Gently stir to combine.
6. Scoop the pasta into a dish, sprinkle with a little fresh, chopped parsley and lots of grated parmesean. Lay a hunk of bread on the side. Pour the wine. Smile. Feel special. Mangia!
I made the cake after dinner (as opposed to before) because I was doing it more for the joy of baking than for the need to have a piece of cake. (Of course, once the cake is baked, I always need to have a piece of cake!)
MINI CHOCOLATE CAKE
Feeds just one or two
NOTE: These little cakes make wonderful gifts! They are so tiny, that a wine glass turned upside-down can serve as an adorable cake stand. You can find give-away wine glasses at the dollar store. If you give two of these with a bottle of dessert wine, it would make a fantastic housewarming or dinner party gift.
½ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup water
Yolk of 1 large egg
½ tsp vanilla
3 Tbs. melted and cooled butter
2 ½ Tbs. cocoa powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
½ cup sugar
Two 14-ounce cans or one 28-ounce can
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
2. Grease and flour insides of two 14-ounce cans or one 28-ounce can. Set on baking sheet for easier handling.
3. Combine water, egg, vanilla in small bowl and whisk. Slowly pour melted butter in, whisking constantly.
4. Sift flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in medium-sized bowl. Blend well, add sugar, blend well again.
5. Slowly add wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until just moistened.
6. Divide batter between the two 14-ounce cans or all into one 28-ounce can. Bake 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
7. Cool 15 mins, run knife along inside of cans to release cakes, cool upright on rack.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
3 oz. milk chocolate or choc. chips (1 cup)
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate (dark chocolate bar works) (1/2 cup)
3 Tbs. sour cream, at room temp
½ tsp. vanilla
1. Microwave 2 minutes or until melted. Cool 5 minutes.
2. Add sour cream, vanilla, salt, and blend well. Cool completely. Refrigerate to thicken if needed.
3. Be sure cakes are cooled completely before frosting. Cut cakes in half and frost between layers and on top.
NOTE: You can also use the glaze recipe from my Red Velvet Black & White Cookies (which is exactly what I did, because I had no sour cream!)