My mom’s Hajj send off

Last month, my mom, accompanied by my aunt and cousin, went for Hajj, the once-in-a-lifetime obligatory pilgrimage that every Muslim must make to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Prior to her leaving, I decided to have a small, all-female gathering at my place so she could meet some people before leaving and for those same people to give her well wishes before embarking on this spiritual journey.  The dinner portion of the evening turned out to be a pot luck set up in a buffet style.  Dessert was all mine.   I decided to stray away from some of the more healthier desserts out there and tried two recipes that caught my eye. For plating, I used a three-tier display tree that my mom had given me way back when.

The first one I’m going to share is a sour cream chocolate cake with minimal adaptation.  This recipe I got from Lynn’s Kitchen.

Sour Cream Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup all-purpose flour ( You could also use a nutri-blend flour to get more health benefits)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line an 8-inch-round cake pan with parchment paper. Butter the sides of the pan lightly. In a medium bowl, stir together cocoa, flour, baking powder, and salt.
In another bowl, use a hand mixer to cream butter and sugar together until light and airy. Add eggs in one at a time, beating well after each.  Beat in vanilla and reduce the mixer speed to low. Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture in two batches, alternating between the sour cream.  Make sure you start and end with the flour.  Pour mixture into the pan and bake for 30-35 minutes or until the toothpick test comes clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove from pan and cook completely on a cooling rack.

To ice the cake, I melted 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips with a pat of butter over a double boiler. Once melted, use an off-set spatula to spread over the cooled cake.   Once the icing has set, cut into small pieces.

The second dessert item was blackberry jam bars from Elissa at 17 and Baking.  Some of the adaptations I did were cutting down the sugar from 2 cups to 1 1/2 cups, reducing the sugar in my drizzle and using milk for my drizzle.

Blackberry Jam Bars


2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon pure almond extract
4 eggs
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup seedless blackberry jam**

Icing
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 tablespoons 1% milk
1 teaspoon pure almond extract

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a half rimmed sheet with butter.
Using a hand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and fluffy Add in eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. Add in vanilla and almond extract. Slowly add flour and salt, and mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix!

Using an offset spatula, spread the batter into the pan. The batter will spread when baking so do not fret if the pan corners are free of batter.  Drop teaspoonfuls of jam over the top of the batter. Try to distribute the drops of jam evenly.  Bake for 20 minutes or until the edges start to turn golden brown.

Cook in the pan and the cut into small pieces using a pizza roller.  Mix the icing ingredients together and lightly drizzle over the bars using the tines of a fork.

**In this recipe, seedless blackberry jam is required. I searched high and low for such jam, but couldn’t find it. What I ended up doing was warming up blackberry jam (with seeds) in a small pot on the stove and then straining it/ pushing it with a spoon through a fine metal sieve.

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