1. Local Chefs. Wyoming did not bring home a James Beard Award this year, and neither did Idaho, Montana, or Utah. Competition is tough and our beloved Western state populations are small; being nominated is truly the huge honor for our local chefs. Consider Chef Jeff Drew of the Snake River Grill in Jackson: This year he made it to the Best Chef Northwest semifinalist list for the 4th year — a huge testament to his staying power as a chef and influence on our regional cuisine. Over in Boise, Idaho, Kris Komori of State and Lemp made the semifinalist list for Best Chef West. As did Moshit Mizrachi-Gabbitas of Janjou Patisserie for Outstanding Baker. Go Boise!
Suzanne Goin's 1970s Moms' Double Chocolate Bundt Cake
I've never had the pleasure of dining at one of Goin's restaurants in LA — Lucques and A.O.C. — but I feel like I know her by cooking from her books. She is that voice in my head when I try to take a shortcut in the kitchen, both bossy and reassuring. Believe me, the recipes turn out better when I do exactly as she says.
My only riff on this cake (besides adjusting it for altitude, with those amounts in parentheses) was to add a teaspoon of Fiori di Sicula extract to give it an almond and orange flavor.
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 70%), coarsely chopped + 2 ounces cut into small slivers
- 8 Tbsp. butter, cut into cubes, plus more for greasing the pan
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup good quality unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp baking soda (1 1/2 tsp at high altitude)
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder (1 tsp at high altitude)
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 3 extra-large eggs (4 at high altitude)
- 3 extra-large egg yolks (2 at high altitude)
- 1 1/4 cups sugar ( 1 cup at high altitude)
- 1/2 cup sour cream or creme fraiche
- 1 tsp fiori di sicula, orange or almond extract
- powdered sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 350ºF.
- Butter a Bundt pan and dust it with flour or cocoa.
- Place 5 oz. chopped chocolate , butter, and vanilla extract in a small saucepan. Put the pan in the oven while it preheats. When melted, stir to combine.
- Whisk together 3/4 cup water and the cocoa powder in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking constantly to avoid burning the cocoa. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- Sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir in the salt.
- In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat the eggs and yolks together for a few seconds to combine. Pour in the sugar and whip at high speed, 5-6 minutes, until very pale yellow and thick enough to hold a ribbon when you life the whisk away from the bowl.
- Meanwhile, add the cocoa powder mixture to the melted chocolate using a rubber spatula. Transfer the egg mixture to a large bowl and fold in the melted chocolate and then the creme fraiche.
- Gently fold in dry ingredients into the batter in thirds, being careful not to deflate it.
- Pour half the batter into the bundt pan and sprinkle with the remaining chocolate slivers. Pour in the remaining batter and bake 25 minutes until just set but still very moist. (In my oven at 6500 feet, the cake took an additional 10 minutes to be done.)
- Cool 30 minutes and invert onto a plate. Sprinkle with powdered sugar.