Chocolate Layer Cake w/ @BrooklynBrewery Blast! & @Cocanu Craque

February 2015

It’s the early 80s.

For us babies of the 80s, we may have been bumbling around in jellies, little shorts and elasticized tube tops, while our dads grilled and toasted piss beers. Now, jump the pond, and imagine a dimly lit pub in England. The wooden beams and plastered walls probably dated back for a century, if not more. Perhaps a revolution and a strike or two were planned there.

In one of these dimly lit pubs, is Garret Oliver. While taking a break from the rock band he managed, he relaxed with a beer, but this beer was different. It was dark, bitter, complex, and unlike anything he’d had in the U.S of A. This flavorful brew spiraled him into a lifelong obsession and propelled him from stovetop concoctions to the role of brewmaster at Brooklyn Brewery. He has been enshrouded in snazzy hats, an air of mystery and international esteem ever since.

Brooklyn Brewery Blast Cake by With The Grains 02

Garret Oliver’s purpose is to obsess over ingredients, the brewing process and the resulting flavors. Unlike Oliver, I am a baby-bird-sipping novice when it comes to beer, but when it comes to Brooklyn Brewery beer, even this baby bird musters some heartier sips. Brooklyn Brewery could make a beer drinker out of me, which is to say, I respect their flavors.

Brooklyn Brewery Blast Cake by With The Grains 03

Beer consumption differences aside, my guess is Garret Oliver and I share an intense focus on ingredients and flavor, which is why I like to piggy back off his legwork. Incorporating a Brooklyn brew into a cake yields a cake with surprising flavor accents. Keep this ingredient a secret, and your guests/eaters will spend hours trying to pinpoint the source of the unique flavors. Tell them it’s Brooklyn Brewery, and they’ll demand an accompanying libation.

Brooklyn Brewery Blast Cake by With The Grains 01

Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Brooklyn Brewery Blast!, Chocolate Blast! Frosting & Cocanú Candied Cacao

About this recipe: In the words of the brewery,  “We use earthy English hops to build the foundation and bright citrusy American hops to bring the noise in the rambunctious IPA we call BLAST! British Maris Otter and German Pilsner malts lends solidity, balance and bready flavors to brace up a beer that’s beautifully hoppy, strangely quaffable and oddly compelling. Minerally hop bitterness is followed by a shock wave of flavor and aroma. You won’t even know what hit you.” Now imagine that blast of flavor in a rich, chocolate cake topped with the crunch of candied cacao. This layered cake is perfect for a beer lover’s birthday treat!





Whole Wheat Chocolate Wine Cake with Caramelized Figs

February 2015

In the words of Marissa A. Ross, “Wine times are the times of your lifetimes,” but Marissa is not the only philosopher to wax poetic about the powers of wine. Many greats throughout history have felt that sort of inspiration only fermented grapes can bring. Here are some favorites I picked for your philosophizing and sipping pleasure. With all this wine on the brain, you may as well be sipping too!

“Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine, so that I may wet my mind and say something clever.”  
-Aristophanes, comic & playwright of ancient Athens [But did his audience find him as clever as his drunken self found him to be?]

“Men are like wine- some turn to vinegar, but the best improve with age.” -Pope John XXIII

“Wine is constant proof that God loves us and loves to see us happy.” -Benjamin Franklin
[Now we know why Benny was saving all those pennies.]

Whole Wheat Chocolate Wine Cake by With The Grains

“Language is wine upon the lips.” -Virginia Woolf [Virginia was probably puckering her fair share of purple lips]

“Music is the wine which inspires one to new generative processes, and I am Bacchus who presses out this glorious wine for mankind and makes them spiritually drunken.” -Ludwig van Beethoven
[But even Beethoven wouldn’t sound so beautiful after too much wine. Keep that in mind, friends.]

“Wine is bottled poetry.” -Robert Louis Stevenson
[In the words of an internet meme, “Roses are red, Wine is Red, and Poetry is hard.]

“Age appears to be best in four things; old wood best to burn, old wine to drink, old friends to trust, and old authors to read.” -Francis Bacon, English philosopher, statesman, scientist, jurist, orator, essayist, and author.

Lastly, in the words of me,

“Have your wine, and eat your cake too!” -Quelcy

Fig and Wine Chocolate Cake by With The Grains

Whole Wheat Chocolate Wine Cake with Whipped Mascarpone Topping & Caramelized Figs

Recipe Notes: If for some reason, you have an open bottle of wine past the drinking point, this recipe is a great way to salvage the wine’s flavors. Though the alcohol content bakes off, you’ll detect the fruity notes and nuances of your wine selection in each bite of this spiced chocolate cake. Like a proper wine & cheese pairing, I alternate the chocolate cake layers with a generous portion of light, whipped mascarpone cheese, and top the whole assembly with honey caramelized figs, which could be a dessert on their own.





Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies w/ @Cocanu Candied Cacao

February 2015

Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways. ~Stephen Vincent Benét

Like a child, I approach bedtime with resistance. I hate to admit the day is through when there were moments squandered and so much more I wanted to do! Rather than ready myself for bed properly and face the next day with more intention, I curl into a ball on the corner of the cozy couch. I burrow under blankets and fall asleep to a program whose ending I will inevitably miss, no matter the length of the show. As with most bad habits, this vicious couch-sleep cycle wrenches me further and further from what I want in the first place: to make the most of each day. I’m working on it.

Craque Brownies by With The Grains-01

As much as my sleep habits fight the looming night, my dessert tendencies celebrate the day’s conclusion. Sure, I like a nib of dark chocolate with an afternoon espresso drink, or a morning pastry here and there, but concluding a day with your sweetest bite is like a firework finale- you saw it coming the whole time, but the awe inspiring display lessens the blow of the show’s end. Ignore the diet guides against eating late with me, bake wholesomely, and allow yourself a moment to delight and relish. Then, hopefully, relax, read, drink tea or do something that proactively transitions into bedtime. Then tell me how to do it.

Craque Brownies by With The Grains-02

Whole Wheat Dark Chocolate Peppermint Brownies with Cocanú Craque (Candied Cacao)

About this Recipe: 
I recently started reading chocolate labels more carefully, and was disheartened to discover even many of the expensive dark chocolate brands I had been using list Soy Lecithin as their emulsifier (helps fats and liquids to stay blended smoothly). Most of this soy is genetically modified, a practice I do not wish to support. I eagerly discovered Guittard uses a non-gmo sunflower lecithin and real vanilla, in addition to sourcing their beans from small, family-owned cacao farms. Top that responsible chocolate base with the crunch of Cocanú Craque, a candied cacao, and you have one very memorable brownie. Cocanú was founded by Sebastián Cisneros “as a vessel to shake the imagination through tasteful chocolate ideas produced with fine ingredients, technique, and whim.” I’m into it, and I hope you will be too!


Bon Appétit!



Cranberry Eggnog Cheesecake with a Whole Wheat Brownie Crust

January 2015

Famed by fall and our interpretation of the first Thanksgiving (Native Americans most likely were not making relishes and chutneys in 1621), the cranberry holds an esteemed position in the realm of berries. Yet, for all its revered, bold, scarlet beauty, it’s not the easiest berry to eat. It’s tart. It has a strange texture. It’s not the type of berry you just pop into your mouth by the handfull, but sugared cranberries…sugared cranberries are magical! A quick plunge in a gently warmed mixture of sugar and water, and the cranberry transforms. It’s firm but not stalky like its original texture. It’s just the right mix of sweet, tart, firm and juicy. Like a sip of something strong, the cranberry’s little plunge takes the edge off.

Cranberry Eggnog Cheesecake with a Whole Wheat Brownie Crust //

As I marveled (truly marveled!) at the magic of this transforming process, I thought a lot about one of my best friends. Sandra is analytical, admirable, smart, sincere and the best sort of sassy. When I’m at my worst, she has the ability to empathize, to add reason and logic to my situation, helping me to sweeten the more sour moments of life. She knows my best and worst qualities and holds me accountable to my potential, never dwelling on my mistakes or faults. I wish we could share these heaps of sugared cranberries together (along with endless cups of tea and a bottle or two of wine), but for now, the phone unifies us.

Cranberry Eggnog Cheesecake with a Whole Wheat Brownie Crust //

If you’re lucky enough to share your city with your best friend, share this cheesecake as well. The written recipe may look a little daunting, but the end result is worth the multiple components. This cheesecake combines some of winter’s finest flavors- eggnog with hints of Wigle Whiskey’s Landlocked Spiced (made from local honey & similar to a rum). The sweet, juicy, sugared cranberries add just the right tart contrast to the rich, brownie crust, making for quite the layering of flavors in every bite!

Cranberry Eggnog Cheesecake w/ a Whole Wheat Brownie Crust & Sugared Cranberries
featuring hints of Wigle Whiskey’s Landlocked Spiced



Flourless Chocolate Honey Cake with @WigleWhiskey Mole Bitters

November 2014

The lunch table was a spread of pad thai, see yew, woon sen and more. My friend, whose wife consistently pulls him kicking and screaming to the zero level, took full advantage of her absence and had ordered a 10 on the spice scale. As he spooned up the flavorful thai food, a rouge color overtook his cheeks. His tear ducts drained. His nose ran. His brow glistened with sweat, and a crazed look overtook his eyes. He spoke nonsense and gesticulated wildly. He was in the throes of a spice high.

Flourless Choc Wigle Mole Cake copy

I’m no 10 on the spice scale. I’m a comfortable 6. I like a little kick here and there, but only as a flavor accent, not as a testament to my tolerance or a feat of strength. This cake is just that. Accented with Wigle Whiskey’s Organic Molé Bitters, this cake is a little kick here and there. I erred on the side of caution, adding a modest 3 teaspoons. I would suggest a bolder portion for even more of that molé flavor in each chocolaty bite. The use of raw wildflower honey as the sweetener added a floral note, and incidentally helps keep this cake moist and fresh for a while…if it lasts that long. The coconut topping toasts as the cake bakes, making for a nutty finish to this floral, spicy, chocolate cake. It’s full of nuances.



Whole Wheat Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread

November 2014

Do you need this recipe in your life?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chunk Bread 01

Editing these photos made me crave this bread anew, so I argue yes. However, I am a reasonable person, and I understand you can’t please all people all the time. For the sake of busy holiday schedules, venturing through madhouse grocery stores, waiting in long-ass turkey lines and the constantly nagging fear of snowflake graphics on iPhone weather reports, I’ll help you expedite this decision making process for yourself. Proceed.

Do you even enjoy baking?
I hope so. I hope that’s why you’re here. If yes, continue!

Are you still craving pumpkin goodness?
If yes, continue!

Do you live your life by the philosophy “chocolate makes everything better?”
If yes, continue!

Do you enjoy a slice of something wholesome and sweet with your morning coffee and maybe a sliver for dessert?
If yes, continue!

Do you need to bake for a gathering or visiting guests?
If yes, continue!

Pumpkin Choc Chunk Bread 02

You made it!

As I mentioned before, pumpkin haters gonna hate, but I’m all about pumpkin, and I obviously live my life by the add-chocolate-make-better principle. As such an adamant disciple of said chocolate philosophy, I may have even gone a little overboard here, but when you bite into the dark chocolate chunks and the spiced pumpkin flavor, you’ll be floating in a lifesaver right along with me. This bread’s natural ingredients make it a wholesome breakfast choice, but it’s also sweet and cake-like enough to satisfy a dessert craving.

Pumpkin Choc Chunk 03

Lastly, this is a recipe that gives and gives and keeps too. Initially, I thought the batter would become two loaves, but it divided magically into three- a real Thanksgiving miracle! You’ll be able to keep a loaf for your own breakfast slices (and dessert bites) and still have plenty to share, which comes in handy this time of year.