Koa Duncan

recipes from a pastry chef

November 17, 2012
by Koa

“The Aztec”

This beautiful cake would be a great addition to anyone’s repertoire. It’s a sour cream pound cake recipe that I’ve changed a bit and added a struesel-ish chocolate cinnamon center.

Make it for dessert or leave the icing off of it and serve it for breakfast.  It has a fantastic shelf life & tastes even better a day later.  Wrapped well it could easily last 3 or 4 days.

I use a big bundt pan, 10 inches across, 3 1/2 inches tall, You could make 2 small loaves if you’d like (obviously baked less). Try it!










The Aztec Cake

-ingredients for the cake:

8 oz butter- room temperature

14 oz granulated sugar

4 eggs- large, at room temperature

16 oz (full fat)sour cream- room temp. as well

2 Tb tequila(anejo is best- whatever you have) or vanilla extract

13 oz all purpose flour

2 oz whole wheat flour (you can use all ap- if you don’t have whole wheat)

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp salt


-ingredients for the center chocolate mixture:

3 oz melted butter- not too hot

1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

6 oz brown sugar

1 oz unsweetened cocoa powder

2 Tb ground cinnamon

1 big pinch salt

6 oz chopped (fine)bittersweet chocolate


-ingredients for the chocolate icing:

2 oz water

3 1/2 oz granulated sugar

1 oz honey

big pinch salt

1 oz cocoa powder

1 1/2 bittersweet chocolate- chopped fine

1 oz tequila


First preheat your oven to 325 F. Spray or butter, then flour a bundt pan (10 inches across) or 2 average sized loaf pans. Set aside.

To make your chocolate center:

In a medium sized bowl-mix together all your ingredients, mixing in your chopped chocolate last. Set aside.

To make your cake:

In a medium sized bowl- whisk together your dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, salt) &set aside.

Place butter &sugar into your mixer bowl, using the paddle attachment. Mix to combine. Add eggs one at a time, scraping just until incorporated. Add sour cream &tequila, scraping, then add your dries from the other bowl (scraping)

Take your bundt pan and pour in 1/3 of your batter, spreading with a small spatula or spoon. Divide your chocolate mixture in 2, and sprinkle one half evenly over the batter- keeping it in the center (so when it bakes it will stay in the center and not touch the sides of the pan) Then pour/scrape &smooth in 1/3 more batter, spreading again evenly to cover the chocolate. Repeat the sprinkling with the other half of the chocolate mixture, and then add your final 1/3 of the cake batter- spreading well again.

Bake for 60-70 minutes or until a skewer/toothpick comes out clean. Set it aside to cool halfway- and then pop it out &let it cool the rest of the way.






While the cake is cooling- make the icing.

In a small pan- place your water, sugar, honey, &salt. Bring to a simmer and add your cocoa powder, whisking and cooking a couple minutes until thicker. Take off the heat and add your chopped chocolate- let sit for a minute and then whisk it together just until smooth. Add your tequila and whisk smooth.

Let cool for a few minutes, until it thickens up a little and you can pipe it in a piping bag (or you can drizzle it with a small spoon)

Put your cake onto a great serving plate and pipe/drizzle the icing on top (see the picture- pipe some cool designs, random squiggles, or just drizzle)

Let the icing set for a few minutes, then cut it and serve.






Or, if you’re going to wrap it- wait a little while longer so the plastic doesn’t stick to the icing.

This cake is very large- you could get 10 big slices, or squeeze out 20 slivers.

It is really great on it’s own, but you could add ice cream, whipped cream, or creme anglaise to put it over the top.

















August 6, 2012
by Koa

Mom’s Chocolate Cherry Bars

My Mother was a terrific cook, a fantastic baker &candy maker, and an even better mother. She had such a great feel for baking- whether it was (our) norms of dutchbaby &chocolate chip cookies (featuring, gasp! whole oat flour) or special holiday treats like giant pecan rolls and almond danishes. I have no idea how she did all this and took care of 3 children, my father, the house, and our myriad pets.

I love to cook and to bake because I love to eat- and this absolutely comes from eating her food as a child. Since she passed away last year, I’ve been reading through her box of beautifully (mostly) handwritten recipes. 

In honor of her birthday, I wanted my first post to share with you her chocolate cherry bars.  I followed the recipe and boy do they taste different now. Their ingredients are simply a box of chocolate cake mix and a can of cherry pie filling, along with 2 eggs and a bit of almond extract. Well, I’ll just say, 30 years ago cake mixes tasted a lot better- as well as the fact that nothing tastes quite as good as you remember it (as a child).

Instead of just sharing that one- I thought I’d redo the recipe to be how I remember them. So here they are, just like they used to be.

Thank you Mom, I owe you everything xo


mom's recipe for cherry bars










Chocolate Cherry Bars 2012

For the bars:

4ounces /115grams dried tart cherries

1 cup amaretto

8oz /226g butter

4oz /115g unsweetened chocolate

7oz /199g  all purpose flour

1/2oz /13g  unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4oz /1g baking powder

1/4oz /1g fine salt

4 large eggs

14oz /398g granulated sugar

1teaspoon vanilla extract


The day before you want to make these bars,  put amaretto &cherries in a small saucepan, bring to a boil, take off the heat and set aside overnight.

The next day, preheat your oven to 325 F, and grease a 9x9x3 baking pan.

1. Toss your butter and chocolate into a double boiler, and melt together gently, stir together until smooth &set aside to cool for 10 minutes

2. Measure your dry ingredients into a small bowl &set aside.

3. Whisk your eggs in a big bowl for 30 seconds, add your sugar and whisk 30 seconds more, then gently whisk in vanilla.

4. Pour your chocolate mixture into your eggs, folding it in with a rubber spatula until just combined.

5. Sift your dry ingredients right into this bowl and fold together until smooth.

6. Strain your cherries and reserve their amaretto liquid (you’ll use it in the icing). Pour the cherries into the bowl and fold them in as well.

7. Pour and scrape your batter into your greased baking pan, smooth it out with your spatula and bake for 45 minutes in a 325 F oven.

{I like the bars to be a little gooey in the middle. My mom always did this because my dad loved everything almost raw in the center, but you could bake them for another 5 or 10 minutes if you’d like them more “done”}

Set them aside to cool for a couple hours.


For the icing:
3oz /94g granulated sugar
1oz /29g butter
2oz cherry soaking liquid (amaretto)
1/8teaspoon salt
3oz /87g semi sweet chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate
1.Put the first 4 ingredients into a small saucepot, bring to a boil and boil for 30 seconds or so to dissolve the sugar.
set aside to cool for 2 minutes.
2.Put chopped chocolate or chocolate chips into a small bowl, pour your boiled mixture over it and let it sit for 2 minutes. stir together using a spatula, scraping the bottom well until smooth.
3.Quickly pour over your cooled bars and spread with your spatula to cover them.
4. Let the icing set for 30 minutes or so- depending on how warm your room is.
5. Cut into 16 squares and serve, or cut as you eat. Enjoy!







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