Right about now, if you scan your local magazine stand, you are bound to see cover after cover on any number of food magazines trumpeting the bounty of spring.
The first strawberries. The first asparagus. The first artichokes.
And, be still my beating heart, pea shoots.
For those of us still wondering if it’s safe to tempt fate by (finally) putting away our winter coats, this is a bitter, bitter time of year.
For somewhere out there (not here), there are places that have have been warm and sun-kissed for long enough already in this young year that locals are enjoying strawberries, asparagus, artichokes … and pea shoots.
How’s a Cream Puff to fill this bitter void?
You know how? I’ll tell you how. Chocolate … the great baking equalizer.
While some people are trying to figure out what to do with the first spring rhubarb, I say bake a chocolate cake.
Pour that chocolate on nice and thick!
Thanks to Joanne Chang‘s Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe, I had a big, beautiful chocolate cake to make me feel better about the pea shoots.
This is a most interesting cake because the process is a bit in reverse. Rather than starting by creaming butter and sugar, you begin by mixing your dry ingredients and adding your butter to that mixture. The eggs come later.
You know what else this cake has that pea shoots don’t have?
CrÃ¨me fraÃ®che. A powerful tenderizer with a lovely tang, crÃ¨me fraÃ®che makes this cake so tender and moist.
The milk chocolate buttercream is a delicious crown for this cake, not too sweet and just right.
It almost makes up for the pea shoots. Almost.
As mentioned above, this cake is from Flour: Spectacular Recipes from Boston’s Flour Bakery + Cafe by Joanne Chang. It’s an exceptional baking book that I highly recommend. The cake is called Midnight Chocolate Cake with Milk Chocolate Buttercream.