Friday, April 20, 2012

Orange Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake

As summer approaches (slowly, it seems) I look forward to more free time and wish and hope to be able to start a mini-garden, somehow. Since I live in an apartment, this is no easy task. I don't actually own any property other than the rooms that come with our apartment; I've been thinking about siphoning off some of my parents' unused land... (Apparently there are two ways to spell 'siphoning'... you can also change the 'i' with the 'y'...random).

Either way, I'm always discovering ideas to incorporate gardening indoors. After reading many books, I've come to the conclusion that indoor gardening might actually yield better results. For instance, if you tried to plant an orange tree in this climate, (I live near Chicago...) it will most likely die a very quick death. However, with proper lighting and humidity that you can control while indoors, you would be able to sustain a small orange shrub. I kind of want to try this...

I love oranges for many reasons: they provide most of your daily servings of vitamin C, they add an awesome flavor to cookies, cakes, and other desserts, and they help maintain a healthy weight level; oranges contain pectin, a dietary fiber that decreases your body's exposure to toxins. Basically, oranges are your body's best friend, antioxidant, and free-radical scavenger!

I decided to infuse some of my sugar with orange zest.

I add it to pancakes, crepes, and whatever needs an extra boost of citrus-ey goodness.

Then, I found this recipe by Joy the Baker, one of my favorite bloggers and bakers of all time (hehe)!
I love to experiment, and this recipe seemed relatively simple. Also, I was given a loaf pan as a shower gift and hadn't used it yet; I couldn't resist. Then I saw the chocolate and orange mixture and I definitely had to recreate this!

Orange Chocolate Cream Cheese Pound Cake

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar (recommend granulated)
2 tablespoons orange zest
1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate pieces

Place a rack in the center of your oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Generously grease your loaf pan and dust with flour; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a bowl, add the orange zest to the sugar.  With the back of the spoon, work the zest into the sugar for a few minutes. The sugar should turn slightly orange in color and become fragrant. Set it aside for later. 

In a large bowl, cream together softened butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer. You can also use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to cream the mixture. Stop occasionally to scrape down the bowl and make sure that the butter and cream cheese are evenly mixed.  Add the citrus sugar to the butter and cream cheese mixture, and beat on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about 3 minutes.

After 3 minutes, stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl. On medium speed, beat in one egg at a time, beating for one minute after each addition.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla extract. 

Add dry ingredients all at once.  Beat on low speed until dry ingredients are completely mixed. Fold in the chocolate pieces with a wooden spoon.

Spoon batter into prepared pan.  Bake for 50-60 minutes, rotating once or twice during baking.  Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean, or with just a few crumbs.

* I found that I had to keep my loaf in a little longer than the allotted time. If this happens to you, cover the bread with tin foil to prevent the bread from burning on the top of the loaf. If you need to lower the heat in the oven, do so and keep rotating until the skewer comes out clean. 

I'm already thinking about my next culinary project: macaroons. The legit, French, beautifully round macaroons. I've borrowed many books and even bought a sieve (like a strainer, but more fine meant for getting zest of sugar, etc.), a candy thermometer, and a piping bag with three attachments. I'm obsessed. 

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