published Wednesday, December 12th, 2012

New Chattanooga eatery opens today at StoneFort Inn

  • photo
    Operating partner David Mitchell, left, and general manager Troy Tarr stand in a dining area at Terra Mae.
    Photo by Angela Lewis.
    enlarge photo

It's always exciting to hear about new restaurants in Chattanooga. Today, TerraMae Appalachian Bistro opens at StoneFort Inn.

The name reflects the region's proud farm-to-table culinary history as well as the love of the Appalachian Mountains by inn owner Mark Oldham.

Under the helm of executive chef Robert Stockwell, who recently arrived from Houston, Texas, the full-service restaurant features a bistro-style menu along with some higher-end options and a wine list for pairing, selected by food and beverage director David Mitchell.

Guests experience food in the same way people experience art -- different for everyone, but also the same in that the arts evoke memories, emotions and an appreciation for where the food comes from and the thought process used to create the dishes, Stockwell noted.

TerraMae is open for breakfast on the weekends, with new a la carte items in addition to its well-loved brunch buffet. Soon it also will be open for lunch, hopefully before the end of the year, Oldham said.

The dining and bar areas at StoneFort have also been reconfigured to accommodate the restaurant. StoneFort is located at 120 East 10th St. Reservations are not necessary, but can't hurt. Call 267-7866.

This next topic is strictly for chocolate lovers. And what better time to indulge in your chocolate fantasies that during the holidays?

You know the saying: "If life were a bowl of chocolate, I'd dive right in and die happy." That's my motto on many days. In fact, I will now admit it -- I once made a fudge pie just so I could lick the bowl. How's that for coming out of the chocolate closet?

Over the past few months, I've been collecting and testing recipes to make for sharing during this hectic time of year.

The following are the simplest and the best, except for the last, a complicated cake that is possibly the best chocolate cake I've made lately. The Williams Sonoma recipe is worth the effort.

This cake freezes beautifully. I put one half in the freezer for one month, and it was still absolutely delicious when thawed. In fact, it was a little difficult to tell the difference between the cake and the frosting. That's how moist it is. Let me know what you think about any of these chocolate treats.

• Chocolate Walnut Rum Balls: Combine 1 cup ground walnuts, 2 cups grated bittersweet chocolate, 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and 4 tablespoons rum. Form into small balls and roll in cocoa powder. (From www.chocolatemonthclub.com.)

• Chocolate Fondue In a large microwavable bowl, combine 1/2 pound coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate and 2 tablespoons butter. Microwave at 50 percent power for 2 minutes, then whisk till smooth. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat together 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup milk and 2 tablespoons light corn syrup, stirring just until small bubbles begin to appear around edge of pan. Whisk milk mixture into chocolate mixture till smooth. Serve warm with toasted poundcake squares and assorted fruits for dipping. (From www.delish.com.)

• S'More Clusters: Place 6 (1.55-ounce) milk chocolate bars broken into pieces in microwavable bowl. Microwave at 50 percent power for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes or until chocolate is melted when mixture is stirred. Stir in 2 cups miniature marshmallows and 1 3/4 cups coarsely chopped graham crackers until pieces are well-coated. Drop by spoonfuls into miniature paper-lined muffin cups. Cover and refrigerate till firm. (From www.hersheys.com; great to make with the kids.)

• Gourmet Hot Chocolate Mix: Sift together 1 cup powdered milk, 1 1/2 cups powdered coffee creamer, 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa and 4 ounces instant chocolate pudding mix. Put in a decorative tin for gift giving along with instructions for use -- stir 2 heaping tablespoons cocoa mix into an 8-ounce mug of hot water. (From www.food.com; great for you or to give as a gift).

• Chocolate Croissants: Unroll an 8-count tube of refrigerated crescent rolls and separate into 8 triangles. Place about 10 chocolate chips on the bottom third of each triangle and roll up around the chips. Place croissants on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake in preheated 375-degree oven until golden brown, 12-14 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream. (From www.realsimple.com)

Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake

For the cake:

1 cup cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting pan

7 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 cup boiling water

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt

20 tablespoons (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar

5 eggs, lightly beaten

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups sour cream

1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

For the ganache:

6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 cup heavy cream

Have all the ingredients at room temperature. Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. Grease a Bundt pan and dust with cocoa powder; tap out the excess.

To make the cake, in a bowl combine the 1 cup cocoa powder and the chocolate. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and blended. Set aside. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Reduce the speed to low, add the brown sugar and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating until incorporated before adding more and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated, about 1 minute.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain. Slowly pour in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and beat until no white streaks are visible, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the batter so the sides are about 1 inch higher than the center, if possible. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, 60 to 65 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Return the cooled cake to the pan. Using a serrated knife, gently saw off any excess cake that extends over the edge of the pan. Set the wire rack on a parchment paper lines baking sheet. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan.

Meanwhile, make the ganache. In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream just to a boil. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until the melt and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, allowing the ganache to drip down the sides. Let the cake stand until the ganache is set, at least 15 minutes.

Note: I used semi-sweet chocolate chips throughout this cake with excellent results. Also, I was unable to get the batter 1 inch higher on the edges than in the center when I poured it in the pan. This didn't seem to be a problem. And the recipe also made a huge amount of batter, much too much for my Bundt pan, so I poured the excess into another ovenproof dish and baked a personal-size cake. Let the cake cool thoroughly or it will not come out of the pan in one piece. I let it cool for about three hours and it came out of the pan beautifully.

Email Anne Braly at abraly@timesfreepress.com.

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