dark chocolate blackberry cake with fork | Fresh

 

Is there a house in your town that you love? The one you walk by and think to yourself, “I’d love to live in that house.” or “I’d love to fix the house up.” You know the kind of house I’m talking about, right? For five years, my husband and I have walked passed our favorite house and imagined renovating it.

One day, in passing, I mentioned our love for the house to someone in town. Surprise. Two weeks later there was a message in my inbox from the owner asking if we’d like to buy the house. The catch? The owner would entertain only two offers, one from us and one from … a developer. Ugh.

 

dark chocolate blackberry cake top| Fresh

 

Let’s just start with the fact that going up against a developer would be difficult, at best. Then, add to the mix how upset we are about what many developers are doing to our community.

Historic home? Who cares. Knock it down and put up a 7,000 square foot monstrosity built right to the edge of the property line. Or better yet, quickly slam up four or five cheap looking homes on a lot where a single lot once stood.

All we could think about was how to save this historic house from the developer.

But wait, there’s more. For those of you who have renovated homes, you know it’s not easy to get accurate estimates. You really need to know exactly what you want from the choice of siding and insulation, right down to the switch plates. If you just ask, “how much will it cost to renovate this house,” the only response you’ll get is, “it depends.” And they’re right, it does depend.

 

dark chocolate blackberry cake plain | Fresh

assorted dark chocolate blackberry cakes | Fresh

 

Needless to say, after an absurd amount of due diligence, we came up with three plans. A basic renovation that would get the house functional to modern standards. A moderate renovation, that would get us a couple of decent bathrooms and finally, a dream renovation, which would make the house look like a Pinterest board.

Keep in mind, this house has been in one family since 1890. It has great bones but was not well updated by the owners.

 

dark chocolate blackberry cake w blackberry sauce | Fresh

 

The cost of the basic renovation was through the roof (no pun intended). The total cost of the home after a basic renovation would exceed the market value of similar size homes in the neighborhood by over 70%. Forget the moderate renovation. Who exactly owns those homes on Pinterest?

We even had someone from America’s favorite home renovation show come up and look at it. Even they were stunned by the dirt basement…and wait for it…the outhouse. The owners had indoor plumbing but never bothered to take down the outhouse. When these guys are stunned, you know there’s a problem.

 

dark chocolate blackberry cake yum | Fresh

dark chocolate blackberry cakes tempting | Fresh

 

If you ever wondered why historic homes get demolished, this is why. Needless to say, the developer won. And now, with heavy hearts, we wait to see it demolished.

So, the only thing to do now is to have you join me in a chocolate dessert. I give you ‘Dark Chocolate Cakes with Blackberry Honey Sauce and Chantilly Cream’

And, if you have your own house stories, please share…would love to hear them…

 

 

dark chocolate blackberry bite | Fresh

 

Dark Chocolate Cakes with Blackberry Honey Sauce and Chantilly Cream

13 tbs. butter (185 g) butter, unsalted
1 1/3 c (185 g) dark chocolate, chopped
1/2 c less 3 tsp (50 g) flour
1/4 tsp (2 g) baking powder
3 egg yolks
1/2 c less 2 tbs (75 g) sugar
4 eggs
2 pints blackberries, washed and pureed
fresh local honey to taste
splash of vanilla extract
extra butter for greasing the pan
3 tbs cocoa powder for flouring the pan

Butter five 4” baking tins and dust with cocoa powder

Melt butter and chooclate together and stir until blended. Set aside to cool.
Mix the flour and baking powder together.
Whisk the egg yolks and the flour/ baking powder into the melted chocolate and butter mixture, by hand.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the sugar and eggs and beat on medium high for about 8 minutes.
Fold the chocolate mixture into the egg/sugar mixture.
Fill pans 2/3 full.
Bake for 12-14 minutes until the sides are set but the center is still a bit soft.
Remove and cool
Serve with blackberry sauce and chantilly cream ( see below)

Blackberry Sauce

Puree 2 pints of blackberries in a food processor. Strain to through a fine mesh sieve to remove the seeds. Mix seedless sauce with local honey to taste.

Chantilly Cream

Whip 1 cup heavy cream with 2 tbs (or more) sugar and a splash on vanilla extract until thick and creamy.

The cakes are best eaten warm but can be cooled, stored and gently reheated in the microwave until slightly warm.

 

Bon appetit!

 

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22 Comments
  1. I hear you! Our house is over 100 years old and we moved in without updating anything. Now, we live in the aftermath of the decision. It’s freezing cold right now!! Nice pics!

  2. I’m so sorry to hear that. It always saddens me to see old houses get demolished… Such a pity! 🙁

    Those are delightful cakes. Soul-uplifting.

    Happy Holidays!

    Cheers,

    Rosa

    1. Thanks Rosa. It was sad to hear the truth. If they had taken better care of the house, we could have saved it. Happy holidays to you!

  3. Oh, yes I have a mental list of the houses I’ve walked/driven by in all the towns and cities I’ve lived in that I’ve dreamed about fixing up and moving into…it is heartbreaking to revisit places I’ve moved away from and see that those homes have either fallen into total ruins or have been razed and replaced by the McMansion that seems to lack any sense of design, graciousness or respect for history. It’s nice that you can always bake little chocolate cakes in the kitchen you call home, and these look especially sweet, moist and delicious.

    1. Thanks Karen. I know what you mean. We are indeed thankful for where we are. But, I wish someone else could have saved it.

  4. These cakes look gorgeous! Sorry about the house. I totally feel you. I’m looking at buying a beautiful historic house in Newburyport right now. It’s reverse living, so bedrooms downstairs and kitchen upstairs. But there is another interested party and apparently they have been bringing in an architect to get estimates on flipping it back. That would ruin the whole property! Ugh. Anyway, crossing my fingers. Hope you have a wonderful Holiday!

  5. What a sad story, El. I wish you would have gotten the home but you were wise not to invest in a home that would have exceeded the market value for the area. Keep yours eyes open and maybe a better gem will come along for you.

    In the meanwhile, I’ll help you indulge in many chocolate desserts. This is a beauty!

  6. I sure empathize with how gutted you feel, El. When I was much younger, my family found a beautiful old house, something out of a fairytale, and we secured the financing and placed a bid that was accepted and, at the last minute, due to an unscrupulous man, the financing was withdrawn. We were devastated. Thankfully things worked out better for us down the road, but we will always remember the house and the dreams we had.

  7. oh my goodness, these cakes look so delicious. I love blackberries. its so sad when developers ruin neighbourhoods, luckily here in London we have a lot of protected buildings but we find people abroad buy them to rent and then the costs are astronomical anyway 🙁

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