EyeSwoon

It’s Sunday morning and I’m sitting on my living room floor standing on the precipice of what feels like might be a full on nervous breakdown. Okay, so I’m totally aware that I’m being just a little dramatic, but I figure, what the heck, let’s indulge—because lately things have felt unsteady, in limbo, in flux, and ultimately, uncomfortable.

I’m going to be honest, my eyeswoon world feels like it’s on shaky ground. The challenges of growing a business are weighing on me – every time I believe I take 2 steps forward, I feel thrusted 3 paces back. My one constant gal decided to move on to other endeavors last week, which left me feeling completely overwhelmed. Managing a blog on your own is no small feat and losing my creative counterpart—someone to sit next to, bounce ideas off of, celebrate joys or ask for advice has me in full-on crisis mode! There are many kinds of swooners out there, happen to be the kind who craves and honors collaboration. It can get pretty lonely sitting at your computer by yourself—just you (your increasingly panicked thoughts) and the screen.

In addition to big changes at work, I just placed my apartment on the market and am dealing with the uncertainty of where I’m going to live (eek!) I have this grand idea that maybe I’ll move away from New York and start fresh somewhere (anywhere) because lately I’ve been yearning a departure from the fast paced hustle of the city. And finally, I am rather unhappy with my son’s education and beginning the overwhelming process of finding a new school for him. Work-life, home-life, childs-life… big decisions muddling my mind. Reeling from all these changes I came up with a trifecta of a formula to cope: Indulgence. Passion. Escapism.

If there is one thing I can always count on to settle my mind, it’s the calming and meditative nature of baking.  It’s the one place I feel in control right now—here everything is a precise science, which I find to be incredibly soothing. I know that if I follow a series of regimented steps the end result will undoubtedly be something truly swoon-worthy (taking care of the indulgence aspect).

With indulgence squared away let’s talk about escapism. There is no better distraction from an unsettled mind than guilty pleasures. To be so enraptured with whatever sense is experiencing pleasure, that there is no way you can even begin to think about anything else.  The following is the winning-est combination known to man (or at least to woman).  Sex and chocolate coupled with baking and beauty. This lineup gives you an idea as to what my mind’s landscape looked like Sunday morning—dealing with the aforementioned crisis and the looming Valentine’s Day (that’s where passion comes in).

I was trying to put together an eyeswoon post about Valentine’s Day for Harpers Bazaar that wasn’t hokey. I wanted to create beauty and deliciousness and take my mind off everything. SO for a number of reasons I began to research a Valentine’s Day inspired post that celebrates sex and indulgence metaphorically through food. After researching the top aphrodisiac foods I stumbled upon chocolate and beets and BOOM – that was it.  I decided I would create a cake rich and decadent in both flavor and appearance: a deep and dark, earthy and beautiful, blood red chocolate cake. This would fix everything.

The best part of the entire experience was having to go through three different recipes to get it juuuust right, which means I got to taste three different beetroot and chocolate cakes until my efforts resulted in the just the right balance of pureed beet and chocolate with a velvety moist texture. So did I cure the unsettled mind and resolve any of my dramatic mini crisis?  No, not really.  But sometimes you just need to escape (isn’t that what Valentine’s Day sex is for)?

Next order of business: more escapism in the bedroom with the hubby. Happy Valentine’s Day!!!

Photography captured by Chloe Crespi  and share on Harpers Bazaar.com

Beet and Chocolate Cake

EyeSwoon

  • Ingredients

    • 3 medium – large beets

      ¾ cup butter, plus additional for greasing

      ¾ cup buttermilk

      2 tablespoons lemon juice

      2 teaspoons champagne vinegar

      1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

      2 cups cake flour

      3 tablespoons Dutch process cocoa powder

      3 tablespoons or 1.5oz semi sweet chocolate

      1 ⅛ teaspoon baking powder

      1 teaspoon salt

      ½ teaspoon baking soda

      1 ¾ cup granulated sugar

      3 eggs separated

      Crème fraiche frosting (8 oz + 1 cup confectioners sugar whipped)

  • Method

    • Heat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets and wrap in aluminum foil. Bake about 1 hour 15 minutes or until knife slides through beet with ease. Cool until beets can be handled, then peel.

      Butter two 9-inch cake pans. Line the bottoms of the pans with parchment and then butter again. *NOTE – I used 6 mini spring form pans

      In a food processor, roughly pulse beets. Measure out 1 cup and return cup of beets to the food processor. Purée with buttermilk, lemon juice, vinegar and vanilla until silky smooth.

      Sift together flour, cocoa, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

      In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter until soft. Slowly add sugar and beat until creamy. Beat in egg yokes one at a time, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Melt chocolate in a double boiler and set aside. Beat eggs whites until firm peaks hold.

      Alternate adding flour mixture and beet mixture to butter mixture, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and beating for 10 seconds after each addition. Scrape down the bowl after each addition of the wet ingredients. Incorporate the melted chocolate and gently fold in the egg whites.

      Pour batter into prepared cake pans, smoothing the tops. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Remove pans from oven and cool completely on a wire rack.

      To assemble, remove cake from its pan and peel away parchment. Place flat side down on a serving platter. Dollop about 1 cup of icing (or whipped cream) onto cake and sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

       

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