Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake

August 29, 2014

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Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake. Say that three times fast! I would try but I’m afraid my mouth is stuffed full of cake at the moment. Hey…sometimes one – meaning yours truly – needs inspiration to write these blogs. I mean occasionally I’m at a loss what to say. If you were here I would just hand you a big old plate full of whatever it was I was trying to artfully describe. Let the food do the talking if you get my drift.

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Other times I just stuff my face full of whatever it is and start writing. Luckily for me, it was the last piece of the Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake I made for my friends recent birthday. I’m a big believer that there is nothing like a big old fancy homemade cake to properly convey an enthusiastic Happy Birthday.

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I mean store-bought cakes are ok and I guess I could see if you have a favourite bakery ( mine is Baked & Wired – if anyone was wondering…) and a favourite cake from said favourite bakery (uhhhh… do you know me at all?…cupcakes from Baked & Wired – any flavour will do but please no fruit filling. Get those for my husband.), folks could do just fine stopping by there and simply picking up a big old bakery box of love. However, if you have a bit of baking skill, I think you’ll get quite a few points (there I go with those supposed points again…) by making someone a cake, with as many layers as you can manage (the more layers, the more points) from scratch.

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My Grandmother, of the Jewish Apple Cake fame, always made me a Hot Milk Cake with Old Fashioned Chocolate Fudge Frosting for my birthdays. I can remember one above all of the others. I think I was about five years old. It had the usual chocolate frosting and shaky script handwriting spelling out Happy Birthday.  But this one was decorated with tiny plastic cake decorations. In this case they were ballerinas wearing pink tutus. I thought it was awesome!  I can still picture it perfectly in my mind’s eye.

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Here is the only picture we could find with the remembered cake. Perhaps also showing my early tendency towards cupcake obsession.

When I got to be about 14 -15 years old and was the standard clueless teenager, I asked my Mom for a store-bought sheet- style birthday cake. I got it into my head that they were pretty cool with all of their fancy colours and big frosting flowers. Not to mention, that is the type of cake most of my friends had on their birthdays. Mom got me the cake, but it just wasn’t all I hoped it would be. It tasted ok, if not a bit plasticy and sickeningly sweet as those cakes often do. The bakery misspelled my name, which was a bit of a bummer. But luckily, Grandma, either through force of habit or some greater knowledge (mom-mom worldly wisdom) had still made me my old standard Hot Milk Birthday Cake. From then on, I knew which cake I’d be requesting when asked. Yup…although Grandma is not around to bake it for me anymore, my Mom has picked up the torch and has been known to whip up one mean Hot Milk Cake with Old Fashioned Fudge Frosting in no time flat! So when my friend’s birthday rolled around, I wanted to make him something special. A cake he would really like. I was pretty sure that vintage plastic ballerinas wouldn’t do a thing for him, so I turned my thoughts to something which seems to get most folks pretty excited…booze! In his case Bourbon. He has been known to take an occasional sip or two of that Knob Creek elixir from time to time. And there is quite a lot of bourbon to be found in this cake. Yup…it is in the cake, in the ganache and in the icing. A veritable Bourbon bonanza!

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This cake was a huge hit. The buttermilk, yeah that’s right….even more “B” words, made the cake layers wonderfully light and moist. The frosting was rich, yet fluffy and fantastically boozy.

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Made for quite the happy birthday, not only for the birthday boy, but also for all his well wishers to boot! Got a special occasion coming up and some bourbon lovers in the house? Look no further, this Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake will get the job done!

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Boozy Birthday Bourbon Layer Cake

  • Servings: 16
  • Difficulty: easy but a lot of steps!
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recipe from: Love & Olive Oil

Ingredients:

For Cake:

  • 1 vanilla bean split and scraped, seeds reserved
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) bourbon (pick your poison…I used Knob Creek)
  • 2 cups (13.5 ounces) all purpose flour, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 5 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

For the Buttercream:

  • 4 ounces dark chocolate
  • 6 ounces milk chocolate
  • 2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2-3 cups powdered sugar, or more as needed
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tablespoon Bourbon

For the Ganache:

  • 4 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon bourbon

Directions:

Combine the bourbon and vanilla bean together in a small bowl. Steep overnight, or as long as you can before proceeding.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Butter and line 3 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Butter parchment.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and nutmeg. Set aside.

Combine the sugar, butter, and reserved vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of a stand mixer. Beat on medium speed for 10 minutes, until very light and fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl periodically as needed.

Reduce the speed to medium low and add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition.

Add the flour mixture, one cup at a time, alternating with buttermilk, mixing on low speed until incorporated. Immediately add the bourbon (discard the vanilla pod) and mix until combined.

Divide the batter among prepared pans. You can just eyeball it, or weigh the pans like I do, with my handy dandy OXO Food Scale. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until tops are lightly browned and springy. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool enough to handle. Run a small knife around the edges of each pan, then gently invert onto wire racks. Cakes should come out cleanly. Allow to cool completely.

For the ganache:  Place chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring cream to a bare simmer over low heat. Pout hot cream over chocolate, and stir until smooth. Add bourbon. Set aside and allow to cool until thickened slightly (the room temperature ganache should be about the consistency of peanut butter). If it’s too thick, you can add a little bit more hot cream and stir until smooth.

For the buttercream: Melt chocolates in a microwave or double boiler over low heat until smooth. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until fluffy, 1 to 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar, 2 Tablespoons at a time, mixing well after each addition. If you don’t add the sugar slowly and mix thoroughly after each addition, you run the risk of ending up with gritty icing, which no one will be pleased with! Add cooled chocolate and beat until smooth. Add heavy cream and bourbon and beat until light and fluffy. Add more powdered sugar or heavy cream as necessary to achieve desired consistency.

To assemble:  Level each cake layer by cutting of the domed top with a long serrated knife. Or use a handy cake leveler like I did. Place one layer, flat side down, on a cake stand or serving platter. To keep the platter clean while frosting, place 4 small strips of parchment or waxed paper just under the edges of the cake. This will allow you to frost the cake and then remove these strips cleanly later.

Spread half of the ganache evenly over top of layer, followed approximately 1/2 cup of buttercream. Position second layer on top and press to adhere. Repeat with remaining ganache, another 1/2 cup of buttercream, and final cake layer, flat side up.

Cover the entire cake with a thin layer of buttercream. This “crumb coat” will make frosting the cake easier. Refrigerate for about 15 minutes to allow this crumb coat to set.

Remove cake from refrigerator and frost with remaining buttercream, reserving some if you’d like to add any decorative details or borders.

Enjoy!

Bourbon Birthday Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )


Flourless Double Chocolate Cake

July 8, 2014

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All you gluten-free folks out there lookie what I got here…a luscious Double Chocolate Cake with nary a gluten to be found! And it doesn’t only look pretty…no indeed, this cake delivers on taste as well. Bittersweet chocolate chips and Dutch Process cocoa are combined in the cake which is then topped with a bittersweet chocolate ganache glaze. The result is an incredible rich and deliciously decadent knockout of a dessert. And since this recipe is flour free, that means gluten-free folks can indulge without hesitation.

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Now you may be wondering how it is that I’ve suddenly come to be posting gluten-free recipes. I mean if you have followed my blog at all, you’ve surely noticed that the Runcible Kitchen is quite far from gluten-free…more like glutens-galore! (my husband says “It’s gluten-tootin!”) Recently I was fortunate enough to be invited over to a friend’s house for a little birthday celebration. I offered to bring the desserts and it wasn’t until after I’d offered that I remembered she was following a gluten-free diet for her Celiac Disease. She graciously told me not to worry about trying to make a gluten-free dessert, but I decided that it would be a great opportunity to find a delicious go-to gluten-free treat to keep in my recipe arsenal. Thank goodness for the folks over at King Arthur Flour, not only do I exclusively use their flours in all of my baking, but their website is chock-full of fabulous recipes and I was able to find this one in no time flat. This Double Chocolate Cake was really a winner. And I don’t mean that in a “oh, it was pretty good for a gluten-free cake” kind of a way. I mean this lush cake is really delectable. Glutens be damned! We don’t need no stinking glutens! Success!!!

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Flourless Double Chocolate Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe slightly adapted from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter or substitute in 1/2 cup coconut oil for a dairy-free cake
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract, optional
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, Dutch-Process cocoa preferred

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream

To decorate:

Candy Stars, or Fresh berries or Toasted Almond slices -your choice!

 

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan.

To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.

Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.

Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.

Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.

Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.

To make the glaze: Combine the chocolate and cream in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the cream is very hot, but not simmering. Remove from the microwave, and stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is completely smooth.

Spoon the glaze over the cake, spreading it to drip over the sides a bit. Allow the glaze to set for several hours before serving the cake.

Enjoy!

Flourless Double Chocolate Cake brought to you by: Runcible Eats (http://www.leaandjay.com )

 

 

 

 

 


Green Velvet Baileys Cheesecake Cake

March 15, 2014

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What a fun cake for St. Patrick’s Day huh? Green Velvet Baileys Cheesecake Cake! So what you’ve got here is a layer of Baileys Cheesecake sandwiched between two layers of Green Velvet Cake ( you know – like red velvet but green instead) and frosted with a delicious cream cheese & marshmallow frosting. Are you drooling yet?

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I found this fantastic cake over at Recipe Girl. I must admit, Recipe Girl’s Green Velvet Cake is a much more vibrant Kelly Green than mine. Mine seems to be more of a moss-green. Oh well, as everyone knows, there are 40 Shades of Green in Ireland! I can actually attest to the fact that there are many more than that! The color difference between our two cakes is not a mystery to me. You see, Recipe Girl recommends that you use 2 tablespoons of liquid green food coloring (that is an entire 1 ounce bottle). Now I was sure I had food coloring on hand. But lo and behold, when I went to grab it whilst right in the middle of making this cake, there was only a drop or two of that dye to be had from the bottle. I did have some Wilton’s Gel Frosting Tint on hand which I substituted in. So there you have it! If you really want that your cake to have that retina-searing, screaming green hue, use liquid food coloring (and a lot of it). The good news is that the moss-green hue did not affect the flavour of my cake. It is still quite moist and tasty.

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And if those green velvet cake layers weren’t enough for you, there is an entire Baileys Cheesecake nestled neatly into the middle! The Baileys in this cheesecake might have been my addition to the recipe. I couldn’t resist. Almost every single recipe I’ve shared with you recently has a bit of booze in it. I figured why stop now so close to St. Patrick’s Day? You will notice that you assemble the cake with a frozen cheesecake layer. Don’t worry…it defrosts really fast! By the time you get the cake frosted, on the table and ready to go, that cheesecake layer will be entirely thawed, wonderfully creamy and perfectly luscious !

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Oh and let me tell you about the frosting. As with most red velvet cakes, this green velvet cousin has a cream cheese frosting. Always brilliant right? Except get this, this frosting has cream cheese and marshmallow  creme! It is by far the most mouthwateringly scrumptious cream cheese frosting I have ever tasted! Well there you have it! All of the reasons you simply must get busy making this amazing Green Velvet Baileys Cheesecake Cake for St. Patrick’s Day. In two days… three counting today…yup, you’ve plenty of time!

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Green Velvet Baileys Cheesecake Cake

recipe slightly adapted ( I added Baileys – go figure!) from: Recipe Girl 

yield: 12 – 14 servings

Ingredients:

For the Cheesecake:

  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated white sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup sour cream
  • 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 – 3 Tablespoons Baileys Irish Cream

For the Green Velvet Cakes:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated white sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons (1-ounce bottle) green food coloring

For the Frosting:

  • Two 8-ounce packages cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • One 7-ounce jar marshmallow creme
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • a few drops of green food coloring, if desired

Directions:

Prepare the cheesecake layer: Preheat the oven to 325°F. Place a large roasting pan on the lower third rack of the oven. Place a kettle of water on the stove to boil. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick spray and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper. Wrap a double layer of heavy duty foil around the bottom and up the sides of the pan (you want to seal it so the water from the water bath doesn’t seep into the pan).

In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to blend the cream cheese until it is smooth and creamy, 1 to 2 minutes. Mix in the sugar and salt and blend for 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl to make sure all is mixed in. Add the eggs, one at a time, blending after each addition. Finally, mix in the sour cream, whipping cream, vanilla and Baileys. Mix until smooth. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan into the roasting pan in the pre-heated oven. Carefully pour the hot water from your kettle into the roasting pan. Pour enough water so that there is about an inch of water coming up the foil along the sides of the cheesecake pan.

Bake the cheesecake for 45 minutes. It should be set to the touch and not jiggly. Remove the cheesecake from the roasting pan and let it cool on a wire rack for at least an hour. When it has cooled, place the pan into the freezer and let the cheesecake freeze completely (4 to 5 hours or overnight).

Prepare the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350° F. Spray two 9-inch round pans with nonstick spray and line each pan with a round of parchment paper (see *Tips). In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder and salt. In a large bowl, combine the oil and sugar together and beat with an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, and the vanilla, and beat for an additional 2 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine the vinegar and baking soda and stir to dissolve. Add the vinegar to the bowl, along with the buttermilk and food coloring. Beat on medium-low speed for 1 minute, until blended. Add the dry ingredients and increase speed to medium-high, scraping down the sides of the bowl while mixing, for 2 additional minutes. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool for 20 minutes. Run a knife along the edge of the pans, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely.

Prepare the frosting: In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium-high speed, combine the cream cheese and butter and beat until creamy and smooth. Add the marshmallow creme and mix until smooth. Add in the powdered sugar (and food color, if using) and continue to beat, scraping down the sides of the bowl, until all of the ingredients are mixed in and the frosting is smooth and spreadable.

Assemble the cake: Place one cake layer into the center of a cake plate or platter. Remove the cheesecake from the freezer, take off the sides of the pan, and slide a knife under the parchment to remove the cheesecake from the pan. Peel off the parchment. Trim the cheesecake, as needed to match the size of your cake layers (see *Tips). Place the cheesecake layer on top of the first cake layer. Place the second cake layer on top of the cheesecake.

Frost the cake: Apply a crumb coat layer of frosting to the cake (see *Tips), and refrigerate the cake for 30 minutes, or until the frosting is set. Apply the second layer of frosting. Add a large scoop of frosting onto the top of the cake. Use a long, thin spatula or knife to spread the frosting evenly across the top and then spread it down the sides of the cake too. Decorate, as desired.

Tips:

*You can certainly bake this cheesecake in the oven without a water bath, but you run the risk of cracking the top of the cheesecake. The water bath is a safeguard against cracking.
*Measure your cheesecake layer against the cake layers. If the cheesecake layer turns out to be slightly larger size round than your cake layers, move it to a cutting board and use a knife to gently shave off some of the exterior of the cheesecake.
*How to apply a crumb coat layer of frosting: use a long, thin spatula or knife to cover the cake completely with a thin and even layer of frosting. Wipe off the spatula each time you’re about to dip it back into the bowl to get more frosting (this way you won’t be transferring any green crumbs into the bowl of frosting). Don’t worry at this point about the crumbs being visible in the frosting on the cake. When your cake has a thin layer of frosting all over it, place it into the refrigerator for 30 minutes to “set” the frosting. Once the first layer of frosting is set, apply the second layer.
*If you are serving this cake at a party, it’s perfectly okay to leave the cake at room temperature for a couple of hours (the cheesecake thaws very quickly). Otherwise, keep it stored in the refrigerator. It also freezes perfectly. Freeze it as is, then wrap it in plastic wrap and store it in the freezer until it is needed. Leftover slices may also be wrapped and frozen.

Enjoy!

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Epic Chocolate, Porter & Potato Cake

March 7, 2014

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Anyone have any leftover mashed potatoes? It is rare that we have them leftover, usually gobbling them all up without a second thought. Yet it does occasionally happen. Truth be told I have started making ridiculous amounts of mashed potatoes when I actually do make them, for a couple of reasons. First of all, we have bee known to eat a whole bunch of mashed potatoes in one sitting. Second reason, I am always hoping there will be leftovers so that I can make them into potato farls the next day. And now I have another reason to scheme for leftovers. Believe it or not, I used leftover mashed potatoes in this Epic Chocolate, Porter & Potato Cake. Epic is the perfect word to sum up how I feel about this cake. Rich, chocolatey, moist and delicious! And with spuds and porter as featured ingredients, what cake could better boast of its Irish origins.

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I found this recipe at Bibliocook, the blog of award-winning Irish food writer and broadcaster, Caroline Hennessey. If you haven’t stopped by this great blog, you really must go take a peek. Caroline’s husband is one of the owners and brewers at Eight Degrees Brewing.  I first tasted one of their beers a couple of years ago at the Dingle Food Festival . My friend Theresa, being a fan of that craft brew, had brought along several of their beers for my husband and I to sample and we were instantly hooked. We are eagerly awaiting Eight Degrees arrival in the States. Make sure you keep it in mind if you are planning a trip over to Ireland. Indeed Caroline recommends that their Knockmealdown Porter, be the porter used in this Epic cake. And believe you me, I really wish I could have gotten ahold of a bottle, but alas, none was to be found in Virginia. So I decided to go with a locally brewed porter, looked to Baltimore Maryland (only about 1 hr or so away) and settled on DuClaw Brewing Company’s Sweet Baby Jesus Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter, a decision which I am not second guessing after tasting this amazing cake. All of the malty, chocolate, espresso and peanut butter notes of that porter really shine through in every decadent forkful.

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I love that this cake is really no fuss/no-nonsense. It comes together quickly and easily. And since Caroline had mentioned that its taste improves a bit with age, I made it the day before I was planning to serve it and then just frosted it before folks arrived. And even though I frosted the entire cake, it really isn’t necessary. I think simply spreading a thick pillowy cloud of that cocoa dusted cream cheese filling would be sheer perfection. So why did I frost the entire cake? Well, it looks like it is time for a true confessions moment. The original recipe called for a 23cm round cake tin. Of course here in the States, we never really got into that metric system thing and still do everything in inches. I quickly figured out that 23 cm is a 9″ pan. However, I grabbed a cake pan that was only 1 1/2″ tall. It really needed to be at least 2″, so there was a bit of batter overflow happening when I baked it. No big deal as I had the cake tin sitting on a baking sheet, which caught the spillage. However, the edge of my cake ended up looking a bit raggedy. So I made the executive decision of covering my mistake with that scrumptious frosting and no one would be the wiser. Which they weren’t…until I spilled the beans here. Oh well, live and learn and always use taller cake tins when possible!

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I served this substantial cake up at one of my husband’s band rehearsals and it easily fed a flock of hungry musicians, some of whom had seconds, raving about it all the while. I guess I do have even more of a reason to make extra mashed potatoes now. I’m going to have to arrange to have 20 lb. sacks delivered to my home soon if I’m not careful. The 5 lb. ones just won’t do anymore!

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Epic Chocolate, Porter & Potato Cake

recipe slightly adapted from: Bibliocook

Ingredients:

  • 75 grams dark chocolate – it’s worth using 70% here
  • 225 grams butter, at room temperature
  • 200 grams caster sugar (caster sugar is the same as superfine sugar)
  • 220 grams light brown sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 75 grams mashed potato (either cook some potatoes and mash them or used leftover mashed potatoes)
  • 250 grams all-purpose flour
  • 25 grams unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 150mls porter – I wish I could have used Eight Degrees Brewing Company’s Knockmealdown Porter, but I used Duclaw Brewing Company’s Sweet Baby Jesus! Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter

For the Cream cheese icing:

  • 200 grams cream cheese
  • 50 grams butter
  • 50 grams confectioners sugar, sifted

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 ° F and line the base of a 9 X 2″ round baking tin.

Melt the chocolate and allow to cool.

Cream the butter and sugars together in a large bowl then add the eggs, one at a time, beating well between each addition.

Mix in the melted chocolate and mashed potato.

Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda together. Gently mix into the cake batter in three additions, alternating with the porter.

Spoon into the prepared tin, leveling the surface with the back of the spoon, and bake for 1 hour – 1 hour, 10 minutes or until the cake feels springy and a toothpick comes out clean from the center.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then remove to a cooling rack.

To make the icing, beat the cream cheese and butter together until smooth, then mix in the confectioners sugar. Spread over the cold cake, dusting with a little sweetened cocoa.

Enjoy!


White Wine Cake

May 10, 2013

IMG_3269I have a confession to make. I’m a total cake snob! I don’t know when it happened, but happened it did. I came to this realization the other day and I must say I was caught somewhat unaware. So let me set the scene for you. I was having one of those completely crazy days. Completely crazy but sort of tricky…you see it didn’t look like it was going to be crazy in the beginning. Everything seemed fine. My schedule was somewhat full, but not jammers by any means.  I got  going on my to-do list early and was very pleased when I arrived back home from the dog’s morning walk before most folks had set off for work. That was when the downward spiral began. After flitting here and there and all about the house with various chores, I noticed that I had come back from said walk with the bottom of one of my running sneakers coated with dog poo. Yup, stinky poo….which I had just proceeded to track all over the place. Right. I immediately set about cleaning that mess up and getting the day back on track but no, fate was not done with me yet. I continue to stumble around and kid you not every little thing that could go slightly askew did. Nothing major, but just persistent little annoyances. Finally, as I step out to run to the grocery store I find that the car battery was dead and the state registration was expired. Hmmm., I’m really behind now and I still have to whip up some sort of baked goods for a little get together tomorrow. I proceed to cross a bunch of stuff I thought could have been done off my list for the day to make sure I can focus on preparing the necessary baked goodies. I decide to take my husband’s car and head off to the grocery store, which was a hoot as usual. The weirdest stuff happens at the grocery stores around here…but that’s another story. That accomplished with little injury, I arrived home and opened the tailgate of the car to have a bottle of olive oil, which had become dislodged from its bag in transit, fall out onto the driveway and shatter. Hmmm…a slick, slippery, razor sharp mess. Nice! I limped into the house and poured myself a little glass of white wine and tried to regroup.

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That is when I remembered my Mom’s White Wine Cake recipe. It was delicious and really easy to make. I thought perhaps I should cancel out the time intensive, multi-stepped dessert I had planned to do that evening and make that wonderfully easy White Wine Cake instead…but I instantly despaired and thought, “No. That cake is made with box cake mix. I have to do something from scratch.” That was it. The moment of clarity when I recognized the ridiculous cake snobbery that had inexplicably taken hold of me somewhere along the way. Mom had always been lavished with rave reviews whenever she made that cake. Having eaten it before, I knew it was fantastic. Yet I seemed to somehow think it was below me because it was made with a box mix. A box mix which, I might point out, was very convenient, easy and along with a few additional ingredients baked up to be quite tasty! How foolheaded could I possibly be? Surely God put those cake mixes on this green earth to make life a little easier for us poor creatures.?!! Come to think of it, life is too short and way too action packed to turn up your nose at box cake mixes! So I decided right then and there to make it and you know what? Folks couldn’t stop raving about how much they loved that White Wine Cake. It was moist, buttery, white wine perfection! And the glaze you drench it in? Ambrosia I tell you! I could nearly drink it straight from the pan. Not to mention, when I finally got over myself and settled in to making it, I realized how much fun it was, especially after my trying day. It didn’t tax my brain at all. You know….it was a little wine for the cake…a couple glugs (or possibly glasses) for the cook…etc. etc. It was White Wine Cake therapy and it actually went a long way to improving my mood and outlook. Make this cake and soon. You won’t be disappointed, perhaps a little tispsy….but never disappointed!

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White Wine Cake

recipe from: My Mom

Ingredients:

  • 1 box yellow cake mix
  • 3 oz. box instant vanilla pudding
  • 4 eggs
  • 3/4 Cup water
  • 3/4 Cup Vegetable oil
  • 1/4 Cup white wine
  • 1/4 Cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 Cup white sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 Cup pecans-finely chopped

Glaze:

  • 1/4 Cup butter
  • 1/4 Cup sugar
  • 1/8 Cup water
  • 1/8 Cup wine (possibly more depending on your mood and the day you’ve had)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a bundt or tube pan and set aside.

Place all of the ingredients except for the pecans in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix until blended.

Fold 1/4 cup of the pecans into the batter. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup pecans in the bottom of the prepared cake pan and then pour batter over top of them.

Bake cake for 50-60 minutes. Remove cake from oven and cool on a wire rack.

While Cake is cooling, prepare the glaze. Melt butter, sugar and water over medium high heat. Bring mixture to a boil and let boil for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately add the wine, stirring to combine.

Remove cake from pan. Place baking sheet under wire rack. Using a pastry brush or marinate brush, cover cake with glaze. I usually do this in several passes, letting one application of glaze sink in and then going back over the cake with another, etc.

Enjoy!


German Chocolate Cake

April 3, 2013

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German Chocolate Cake. You know what I’m talking about, a big impressive chocolate layer cake with that distinctive coconut pecan frosting. It always seemed a bit intimidating to me and I had never attempted to make one before. My husband has a texture thing about shredded coconut. So with all of the layers of shredded coconut on this cake, and my unfounded trepidation, it just wasn’t happening. But then, a good friend of mine had a birthday coming up and I asked around to see what his favourite cake might be. Yup. You guessed it, German Chocolate Cake. So I did a bit of recipe research on the good old interwebs and found one that I was sure would produce a fantastic cake.

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I also uncovered a few interesting facts about this confection. Turns out it isn’t German at all! Nope. It is a total German poser! In actuality, this cake is so American it might as well be whistling Yankee Doodle Dandy! You see, back in 1852 there was an American chocolate maker whose name was Sam German. Now he invented a dark baking chocolate for Baker’s Chocolate Company. In honour of Sam, the Baker’s company christened this new chocolate as “Baker’s German’s Sweet Chocolate”. Fast forward 105 years later to 1957, when a homemaker from Dallas Texas published a recipe for “German’s Chocolate Cake”. This recipe became very popular and various newspapers across the country published the recipe. It essentially went, as we would say today, viral causing Baker’s Chocolate sales to increase by as much as 73%. The thing is that some where along its meteoric rise to fame, that possessive “German’s” changed to just “German”. Ahhh….so it became known as “German Chocolate Cake”. Thus conveying it’s false Germanic pedigree to the masses.

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But enough of my historic ramblings, let’s get back to talking about this incredibly decadent cake today. This wonderful recipe comes from the Brown Eyed Baker who adapted it from David Lebowitz. With it you will be able to create a big tall dark chocolate four layer cake. Each of these rich chocolate layers are brushed with a rum syrup which not only intensifies the chocolate flavour but keeps the cake incredibly moist. After being drenched in rum syrup the layers are filled with a custard based toasted coconut pecan frosting. And then, as if anything else was needed, the sides of the cake are covered with a bittersweet chocolate ganache that is just to die for!

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This stunning cake is actually easy to make, though a bit time-consuming. But with just one bite, you will know it was all worth it! Needless to say, my friend was delighted with his German Chocolate Birthday Cake. Indeed my coconut adverse husband even happily ate a slice. But don’t wait for a special occasion to make this cake. Believe me, any day you choose to make this spectacular cake will instantly be transformed into a special occasion. And in the meantime, let’s all raise a glass to Sam German whose lovely German’s chocolate made it all possible…

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German Chocolate Cake

recipe from: Brown Eyed Baker

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cup + ¼ cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the filling:

  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 6 tablespoons butter, cut into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup pecans, toasted and finely chopped
  • 1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut, toasted

For the Rum syrup:

  • 2/3 cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 teaspoons dark rum

For the Chocolate Icing:

  • 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Directions:

Make the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease two 9-inch cake pans, then line the bottoms with rounds of parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.

Melt the semisweet and unsweetened chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of water in a small bowl. Use either a double-boiler or microwave on 50% for 30 seconds to 1 minutes. Stir until smooth, then set aside to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1¼ cup of the sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the melted chocolate until combined, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary. Beat in the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add half of the flour mixture, beating until just combined. Add the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, mixing until combined, and then add the remainder of the flour mixture.

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until they hold soft peaks. Slowly add the ¼ cup of sugar and beat until they form stiff, glossy peaks.

Using a rubber spatula, gently fold one-third of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there’s no trace of egg white visible.

Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool the cake layers completely (leave them in the pans). While the cakes are baking and cooling, make the filling, syrup and icing.

Make the Filling: Stir together the heavy cream, sugar and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the butter, salt, pecans and coconut in a large bowl and set aside. Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the back of a spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170 degrees F.). Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan-coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature.

Make the Rum Syrup: In a small saucepan, heat the water and sugar, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum. Set aside until ready to use.

Make the Chocolate Icing: Place the chopped chocolate, corn syrup and butter in a medium bowl. Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat until it just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Cool to room temperature.

Once the filling and icing are both cooled to room temperature, refrigerate for 1 hour.

Assemble the Cake: Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both cake layers in half horizontally using a sharp serrated knife, so you have four cake layers. Set the first cake layer on a cake plate. Brush the top of the cake layer with the rum syrup. Spread ¾ cup of the coconut filling over the cake layer, making sure to reach to the edges. Set another cake layer on top. Repeat, brushing the top of each cake layer with the rum syrup, then spreading ¾ cup of the coconut filling over each layer, including the top. Ice the sides with the chocolate icing, then pipe a decorative border of chocolate icing around the top, encircling the coconut topping.

Enjoy!


Chocolate Biscuit Cake

March 13, 2013

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Chocolate Biscuit Cake is one of my favourite cakes. I had never heard of it before heading off to Ireland for college where I ran across it in a little bakery in Cork. The gal behind the counter called it “Tiffin” and after experiencing just one bite of its rich, chocolatey decadence, I was hooked.

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I’m sure many folks in the States had never heard of it either until it got so much press a couple of years ago when Prince William chose it for his groom’s cake, I guess thereby proving it is a confection “fit for a king”. But for those of you who somehow missed out on all of the hoopla surrounding the royal wedding (where exactly were you?), a Chocolate Biscuit Cake is just what it sounds like, a dense chocolate cake with pieces of crumbled biscuits (cookies) running throughout.

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There are so many things that are fabulous about this cake. First of course is how utterly scrumptious it is. I mean complete chocolate bliss. And the cookies stay wonderfully crunchy, even after a day or two. (Ha! As if this cake would still be around a day or two after it is made!) The second glorious thing about this cake is that it is ridiculously easy to make. I’m not exaggerating. There is no baking involved. You basically melt some chocolate with butter, cream, and golden syrup, add some crumbled biscuits and pour it into a prepared pan and stick it in the refrigerator. Ta Da!

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There are a couple “foreign” ingredients you will need to try to track down. The biscuits traditionally used are digestive biscuits and the brand I prefer is McVities. If you are in the States, many larger grocery stores will carry some brand of Digestive Biscuit in their “International Food” section. If you can’t find them you could substitute in a butter cookie like Le Petit Beurre, Rich Tea Biscuits or simply Graham Crackers. Lyle’s Golden Syrup is a treacle, like molasses, but with a lighter color and less bitter taste. Again the best place to look for it is in the International Food section or possibly Baking section of a large grocery store. The King Arthur Flour store also sells it. A good substitution if you absolutely can’t get your hands on it is Dark Corn Syrup. I will also mention that Edible Ireland has posted a great recipe for Chocolate Biscuit Cake that does not require Golden Syrup, so take a look there as well. Chocolate Biscuit Cake is quite versatile. You can make it in any shape pan you prefer, round, square or loaf tins are fine. And you can easily customize this recipe by adding your favourite treats into the mix. I’ve seen recipes that call for rum soaked raisins, various nuts, or chopped up candy bars. Edible Ireland puts espresso powder in their biscuit cake, which I think sounds divine.

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This luscious cake is verrrrrry rich. Think of a cake made of fudge. A tiny sliver of a slice will go a long way. I’m not sure what sort of “chocolate coma” I would be in if I ate a slice the likes of which I have pictured here. Now I’m not saying I haven’t eaten that much biscuit cake in a day. I’m sure I’ve managed even more. But my modus operandi is to methodically slice off “small, little tastes” every time I walk by the cake and then to wonder at the end of the day what it is about being in the refrigerator that causes so much shrinkage in cakes! Treat yourself to a Chocolate Biscuit Cake on this St. Patrick’s Day.

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Chocolate Biscuit Cake

recipe from: Rock Recipes

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds dark chocolate, roughly chopped (about 50% cocoa)
  • 1 pound unsalted butter
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 1/3 cup Lyle’s golden syrup
  • 1 pound digestive biscuits, broken by hand into postage stamp sized pieces

For the Ganache:

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tbsp corn syrup
  • 8 ounces dark chocolate chopped

Directions:

Melt the butter over medium low heat. Add the chocolate and salt and continue over medium low heat until the chocolate is fully melted. Remove from heat and stir in the whipping cream and golden syrup until smooth. Fold in the broken biscuits and pour into a 9 inch springform pan that has been lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper. Chill in the fridge for at least 3 hours or overnight. Remove from pan and glaze with chocolate ganache.

For the Ganache:

Scald the cream in the microwave until almost boiling. Pour over chocolate in a small bowl and let stand for five minutes. Stir until smooth then stir in the corn syrup. Pour over the cooled biscuit cake using a spatula to help cover it evenly. Reserve a bit of ganache to decoratively pipe or drizzle onto the top of the cake if so desired.

Enjoy!


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