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Spicy Blackberry BBQ Sauce and Died and Went to Heaven Chocolate Cake

It all started with a sauce. A gorgeous, burgundy colored sauce that does not photograph nearly as well as I would like it to. I found it in this month’s Bon Appetit magazine. It was a spicy blackberry barbeque sauce. The question was what should I serve it on? Steak.

Again, the picture didn’t come out as well as I had hoped. I guess I my hand was a bit unsteady in my excitement. That is a grilled tri-tip steak slathered with the sauce, if you can’t tell. I love this sauce. I’ll make it again.

Spicy Blackberry BBQ Sauce
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (and thawed) blackberries
1/2 cup ketchup
1/2 cup honey
1/4 cup minced fresh ginger
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons hot pepper sauce (such as Franks)

Combine all ingredients in a foor processor and process until smooth. Strain mixture into a saucepan and cook over medium heat – stirring regularly – until thickened, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste while it’s cooking.

For dessert, I made a chocolate cake. I was going to make Gale Gand’s Chocolate Heart Throb cake that Kelli posted about the other day, when I stumbled upon EatingWell’s Died and Went to Heaven Chocolate Cake. I opted to make it instead of Gale Gand’s recipe for two reasons:
(1) I didn’t have to rescale the recipe to fit my pan
(2) I already had buttermilk in the fridge.
The third reason, and arguably the best reason, is that this cake is fabulous. Moist, fluffy, easy to make and easy to handle.

The only change I made to the original recipe was to use all white sugar instead of half white and half brown sugar. I’ve seen very similar versions of this recipe all over the place. Some with a bit more oil, some with a bit more milk. Here’s the recipe I made:

Died and Went to Heaven Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot strong black coffee

Preheat oven to 350F.
Whisk together buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. Let the buttermilk mixture come to room temperature. Sift all dry ingredients together in a very large bowl.
Whisk buttermilk mixture into dry ingredients. When combined, carefully whisk in hot coffee.
Pour into greased pans, either 2 9″ round cake pans or 1 11×13 pan.
Bake until tester comes out clean, 45-55 minutes depending on the pan (the less batter, the more cooking time).
Note: Do not be fooled by the relative thinness of the batter; it really puffs up as it bakes! Do NOT fill any pans more then 2/3 of the way full!

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  • drbiggles
    February 15, 2005

    Yeah! YOU GO !!! Ain’t tri-tip got a really nice flavor? Texture? I cook the thickest portion to about 140F, pull & rest. So far it’s been great with just about anything, dry rubs, herbies and sauces. The tri-tip is considered more of a small roast than a steak. Although, I have to say sometimes they are small enough to pass as one. Yum!

  • Nic
    February 15, 2005

    Texture and flavor – and medium is the way to go! I am addicted to a rub I got for christmas called Sizzlin’ Steak Rub (salt, black pepper, garlic, coriander, cumin, onion & paprika) from Brazos Legends. Yum!
    By the way, that truffle picture *really* puts my chocolate pictures to shame. I concede defeat… for now.

  • drbiggles
    February 15, 2005

    All you need is a flood light and a tripod and a little white balance action.
    Oh and put the truffle in the freezer for a bit so the lights wouldn’t melt the little dude.


  • drbiggles
    February 15, 2005

    Hey, just added an image to my blogger account. Neat.

  • Nic
    February 15, 2005

    Oops! I left out the ginger in the sauce in the first post! It’s updated now.

  • rowena
    February 16, 2005

    What an absolutely yummy blog! And an equally yummy post! My eye caught the Valentine cookies below but when I saw the photos here, I was curious about the sauce. You may think the photo didn’t come out well but I think they’re just great, as I am already putting this recipe on my ‘list of blogger recipes to try’. The chocolate cake looks fantastic as well and I may as well give that one a go too…there can never be too many chocolate cakes in my house!!

  • ejm
    February 16, 2005

    I have to say I can’t even begin to imagine that steak looking better than it does in the picture. It looks fabulous! I can’t wait for barbecue season to arrive. (there’s nothing more satisfying than steak grilled on the barbecue)

    Your cake looks beautiful too – very clever to use a heartshaped mask when sprinkling the sugar. I absolutely love the eggless chocolate cake we make, but yours looks fantastic. I’m thinking it might be the perfect cake for a Black Forest Cake.

    Thanks for a delicious post.


  • Niki
    May 1, 2005

    Hi Nic – I’m currently doing a search for a commission I’ve been given (!) for a birthday cake for a party next week. I decided to do a mocha tasting cake, and the one I was looking at was the Chooclate Espresse cake with caffe latte cream in Nigella’s ‘Feast’. But there’ll be lots of ppl at the party and I’m not sure the cake will be big enough. It also seems it might be a bit dense and gooey (a dinner party cake to eat with a fork).
    Then I found your recipe! It sounds just like what I’m looking for, but can I ask a few details? Like, if I did it in 2 pans and sandwiched it with some coffee cream, and iced with ganache – would it be big enough for lots of people? Also, how moist is the cake itself? I want something really rich and moist tasting, not dry and crumbly at all. I know you wrote it was moist, but I’d love even more detail (I’m getting to be a perfecionist!) – mouthfeel and that sort of thing. Something that would impress them.
    You can reply to my email, if you like esurientes@yahoo.com.au
    I’d love to hear back from you whether I should make this cake! 🙂

  • Michael Anderson
    August 13, 2010

    Food photography uses special lighting and variations to produce the correct coloration of the finished product. I’ve shot pics for a number of cook books after learning the techniques from a professional food photographer. Want the real deal, find a professional with experience. The food was delicious when I followed your recipe. I love using fresh blackberries and only wish they were available for more than a few weeks each year.

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