I won't flatter myself by thinking that you've noticed that I've been AWOL for nearly a month now. But in case you did notice, and have been kept awake by thoughts of whether or not I've met an untimely demise, I'm here to reassure you that I have not. Instead, I was preparing for a 10-day stint in the University of Illinois' Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) "Bootcamp" for distance students.
I read ~1,100 pages--twice. Once in the month before bootcamp and again in those ten days while making notes for discussion section.
I went to 13 lectures and 6 discussion sections. Again--in 10 days.
I participated in a group presentation, pulled together in 5 days.
I wrote 3 papers and an essay-based final.
I met amazing people who helped me not throw myself off a bridge.
And suddenly, it was over.
And I'll tell you something: I really wish I'd had this cake to greet me and my classmates after the final. Instead, I just have fond memories of its light, meringue-like texture, the sweet and tart nectarines, and the bite of dark chocolate. It was awesome.
Nectarine and Dark Chocolate Cake (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
-1 cup all-purpose flour
-1 tablespoon baking powder
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-3 eggs, at room-temperature
-4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
-3/4 cup sugar
-3 nectarines, peeled, in a small dice
-3/4 cup dark chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate--your choice)
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with flour or breadcrumbs, tapping out the excess. Set aside.
2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt together, set aside.
3. Using a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs on high speed until pale and very thick. (In a professional Kitchen Aid, it takes at least five minutes; on a home machine, it will take nine minutes to get sufficient volume). This will mean that when you pull the whisk attachment up from the mix, you'll get a thick ribbon that drizzles slowly back into the bowl.
4. While the eggs are whipping, brown the butter. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan (because it will foam a lot) and cook it until the butter browns and smells nutty (about 6 to 8 minutes). It helps to frequently scrape the solids off the bottom of the pan in the last couple minutes to ensure even browning. Remove from the flame but keep in a warm spot.
5. Add the sugar to the eggs and whip a few minutes more.
6. Just as the egg-sugar mixture is starting to lose volume, turn the mixer down to stir, and add the flour mixture and brown butter. Add one third of the flour mixture, then half of the butter, a third of the flour, the remaining butter, and the rest of flour. Whisk until just barely combined — no more than a minute from when the flour is first added — and then use a spatula to gently fold the batter until the ingredients are combined. It is very important not to over-whisk or fold the batter or it will lose volume.
7. Pour into prepared pan. Sprinkle the nectarines and chocolate chips over the top, and bake until the cake is golden brown and springs back to the touch, about 40 to 50 minutes, or a tester comes out clean.