Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cake

This recipe is my new favourite chocolate cake recipe. Chocolate cake with mousse-like chocolate frosting and dark chocolate ganache drizzled on top. I think I’ll tweak the recipe a little further but it’s pretty darn good just the way it is.

Chocolate Chocolate Chocolate Cake
Recipe adapted from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito.

Ingredients

For the classic chocolate cake

3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbs vanilla extract

For the chocolate frosting

180g dark chocolate, chopped
180g milk chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tbs light corn syrup or golden syrup
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, chopped into 1 inch pieces

For the chocolate glaze

180g good quality (60-72%) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and butter the parchment. Dust the parchment with flour and knock out excess flour.

In medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder and sour cream with 1 1/4 cups hot water and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes – the mixture will appear to string or ribbon throughout the bowl. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing about 10 to 15 seconds after each addition until the egg is incorporated into the mixture. Then turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Beginning with the dry ingredients, add the dry mixture and the cocoa mixture to the mixer bowl in three alternating parts, ending with the dry. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to level the batter. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 30 to 45 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Make the chocolate frosting

Place the chopped chocolate and milk chocolate in the bowl of am electric mixer. In a small saucepan bring cream and syrup to the boil, remove from heat and immediately pour over the chocolate. Let stand for 2-3 minutes. Slowly whisk the chocolate mixture until completely smooth. Let mixture cool to room temperature.

With the electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment on medium speed, gradually add the butter and mix until well combined and smooth. Chill frosting for a few minutes until it can hold its shape.

To assemble the cake

Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface, and evenly spread about 1 1/4 cups frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as the crumb coating and will help you keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.) Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate it for 15 minutes to firm it up.

Make the chocolate glaze

Place the butter and chocolate in the top of a double boiler. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir the glaze to release excess heat. Cool until it is still pourable but not hot to the touch. Otherwise you may melt your frosting right off your cake. Drizzle glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake about 15 minutes to set the glaze before serving.

Glaze the cake

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your cake on a wire rack over the baking sheet. Slowly pour about 3/4 of a cup of the glaze over the cake. Use a small offset spatula to smooth it out to the edges. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set the glaze. Remove from the refrigerator and slowly pour the rest of the glaze over the cake. It should run down the sides in thick streams. You should be able to control the size and length of the streams by the pour. Feel free to experiment, and have no fear in playing around. This is the fun part, and there is no right or wrong way. Chill the entire cake for approximately 20 minutes, or until glaze is set, then transfer to a cake plate. Serve at room temperature.

The cake can be stored, covered in a cake dome or cake saver, at room temperature for up to 3 days

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Published in: on April 20, 2012 at 4:48 pm  Comments (4)  
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Work in Progress

A new project has begun, with a due date in late June. It is an eight-colour granny square throw and this time I am following a colour scheme I found in a pattern, rather than putting together my own. I’m using Panda Magnum Soft 8ply yarn straight from my stash and I’ve matched the suggested colours in the pattern pretty well. This yarn is so soft and warm, my only wish is the range included more colours – especially a warm yellow. I used the same yarn on the big ripple blanket I finished last year.

Click here for the pattern for an eight-colour granny square throw from Lion Brand Yarn. 

Published in: on April 17, 2012 at 12:09 pm  Comments (1)  
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Snapshot

Published in: on April 17, 2012 at 12:22 am  Comments (2)  
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Wish List

I just love these spotty bowls and jugs by Maxwell and Williams. The range is called Sprinkle and I’ve seen it on sale at both Myer and David Jones recently. I wouldn’t mind a large blue jug, a small red jug or red butter dish. And look at how fun those bowls are. The range is priced from about $2.95 – $29.95 a piece before any discounts so they are quite a fun bargain.


Image from International Housewares Association. * I was not paid or compensated for this post, I just like the product. 
Published in: on April 13, 2012 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Kitchen Sink Cookies

Yes, I make these often don’t I? Another batch today – Easter M&Ms and McGrath Fountation pink-and-white M&Ms.


More kitchen sink cookies –

Kitchen Sink Cookies
Adapted from recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes about 40

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
Any variation of chocolate, nuts, candy etc like –
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped milk chocolate
2 cups M&Ms

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Line baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl with a wooden spoon or hand mixer, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar together until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into butter mixture until well blended. Stir in oats, M&M’s, chocolate chips and chocolate.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto trays, about 2 inches apart. Press tops down with the bottom of a glass to flatten cookies evenly. (I roll into balls). Bake until golden, about 16 to 18 minutes (8-10 minutes in my oven). Cool on pan for 2 minutes. Remove from pan, and finish cooling completely on wire rack.
Published in: on April 9, 2012 at 4:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Hot Cross Buns

Eat these when freshly baked, that’s when they are best. Warm with butter of course.

Hot Cross Buns
Recipe from Gourmet Traveller
Serves  16

Ingredients

Buns

750 gm (5 cups) plain flour, sifted
55 gm (¼ cup)  caster sugar
2 tsp (14 gm)  dried yeast
1 tsp  allspice
½ tsp  cinnamon
250 gm (1½ cups)  sultanas
100 gm candied orange peel, coarsely chopped
1 orange, finely grated rind only
300 ml  milk
100 gm unsalted butter, coarsely chopped
1 egg

Glaze

55 gm (¼ cup) caster sugar
¼ tsp mixed spice

Directions

1. Combine 700 gm flour, sugar, yeast, spices, sultanas, orange peel and rind and 1 tsp sea salt in a bowl. Gently warm milk and butter over a low heat until butter melts and mixture is tepid. Add egg to milk mixture and whisk. Make a well in the centre of flour mixture, add milk mixture and stir. Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead for 10 minutes or until smooth. Place dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and stand in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Knock back dough and cut into 16 equal pieces. Knead each piece into a ball, place in a lightly greased 22cm-square cake pan, cover with a damp tea towel and stand in a warm place for 40 minutes or until doubled in size.

2. Preheat oven to 220C. Combine remaining flour and ¼ cup water and stir to a smooth paste. Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a fine nozzle. Pipe lines down each row to form crosses. Bake for 10 minutes, then reduce temperature to 200C and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden. (They’re ready when they sound hollow when tapped).

3. For glaze, combine ingredients with ¼ cup water in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Bring  to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Brush glaze over hot buns, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Published in: on April 8, 2012 at 2:58 pm  Comments (1)  
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Peanut Butter Easter Eggs

Mix smooth peanut butter (softened, about 1/4 cup) with icing sugar (sifted, about 1/4 cup). Chill mixture, then shape into egg or ball shapes (about 8). Insert lollipop sticks into peanut butter eggs, chill again. Dip eggs into melted chocolate and chill until set. Then enjoy!

Published in: on April 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Easter Kitchen Sink Cookies

Mars have done it again! Easter M&Ms! The packet contains bright aqua, pale yellow and white M&Ms. Easter colours? I’m not sure. It looks like in the US Easter M&Ms are pretty pastel colours – I want some of those too! I hear there are white chocolate M&Ms out there somewhere.
These cookies are delicious but not the prettiest so sometimes I press extra M&Ms on to the top of the rolled balls of dough just before baking.

Kitchen Sink Cookies
Adapted from recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes about 40

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped milk chocolate
2 cups Easter M&Ms

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Line baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl with a wooden spoon or hand mixer, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar together until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into butter mixture until well blended. Stir in oats, M&M’s, chocolate chips and chocolate.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto trays, about 2 inches apart. Press tops down with the bottom of a glass to flatten cookies evenly. (I roll into balls). Bake until golden, about 16 to 18 minutes (8-10 minutes in my oven). Cool on pan for 2 minutes. Remove from pan, and finish cooling completely on wire rack.
Published in: on April 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm  Comments (2)  

Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream Frosting

This recipe is from Baked Explorations. I just love this cookbook. I love both of the Baked cookbooks. If you haven’t already got these two cookbooks on your shelf I highly recommend you fix this. If you like cake. And chocolate. And American desserts, pies and cookies. Oh my.

I didn’t make any major substitutions on this recipe. It’s a delicate cake so be careful when removing the layers from the tins. My frosting did have a slightly odd texture, but was more than usable and tasted great if you like coffee. I had to rush the chocolate topping onto the cake as guests were waiting, otherwise it is worth the time to let the chocolate cool slightly before adding to the top of the cake. The cake looks quite spectacular, chocolate sauce running down over the caramel-coloured frosting.

I found coffee essence in the baking supplies aisle of my supermarket, next to vanilla extract. Happy (belated) birthday Dad.

Chocolate Coffee Cake
Recipe from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Recipe found and reviewed at Modern Domestic

For the classic chocolate cake

3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbs vanilla extract

For the coffee buttercream

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (three sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbs coffee extract

For the chocolate glaze

8 oz good quality (60-72%) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbs light corn syrup

Assembly
10-12 chocolate covered espresso beans

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and butter the parchment, Dust the parchment with flour and knock out excess flour.

In medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder and sour cream with 1 1/4 cups hot water and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes – the mixture will appear to string or ribbon throughout the bowl. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing about 10 to 15 seconds after each addition until the egg is incorporated into the mixture. Then turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Beginning with the dry ingredients, add the dry mixture and the cocoa mixture to the mixer bowl in three alternating parts, ending with the dry. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to level the batter. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 30 to 45 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Make the coffee buttercream

In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool (this takes about 7-9 minutes; however, you can speed up the process by pressing bags of frozen berries or frozen corn around the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl). Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about another 1-2 minutes.

Add the vanilla and coffee extracts and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

To assemble the cake

Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface, and evenly spread about 1 1/4 cups frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as the crumb coating and will help you keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.) Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate it for 15 minutes to firm it up. 

 Make the chocolate glaze

Place the butter, chocolate, and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir the glaze to release excess heat. Drizzle glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake about 15 minutes to set the glaze before serving.

Glaze the cake

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your cake on a wire rack over the baking sheet. Slowly pour about 3/4 of a cup of the glaze over the cake. Use a small offset spatula to smooth it out to the edges. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set the glaze. Remove from the refrigerator and slowly pour the rest of the glaze over the cake. It should run down the sides in thick streams. You should be able to control the size and length of the streams by the pour. Feel free to experiment, and have no fear in playing around. This is the fun part, and there is no right or wrong way. Garnish with chocolate covered espresso beans. Chill the entire cake for approximately 20 minutes, or until glaze is set, then transfer to a cake plate. Serve at room temperature.

The cake can be stored, covered in a cake dome or cake saver, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Published in: on March 25, 2012 at 9:20 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bacon and Maple Syrup Cupcakes

The invitation read: MEAT-A-THON. The concept of Meat-a-thon is simple. Everyone brings something different. Even a little exotic. We try to BBQ as many kinds of meat as possible.

So, of course I had to try a dessert that adhered to the theme. You know I love a theme. It seemed only right to make a bacon cupcake, almost everyone seems to love bacon. Ok, not everyone. I’ll eat it occasionally but I’m not crazy for it. However, the idea of a salty-sweet cupcake beckoned, so I did some research and combined a few recipes to come up with these bacon and maple syrup cupcakes.

Yes, it is a little odd to find bacon inside a cupcake but somehow it works. Would I make these again? Probably only if asked, but I will try the maple syrup in cupcake batter again, as per hubby’s request.

Bacon and Maple Syrup Cupcakes
Adapted from various recipes, including Cupcake Crew’s
Makes 24

Ingredients

For cupcakes:

About 6 – 8 strips thick-cut bacon
1 and 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cake flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
 2 cups caster sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk, at room temperature
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

For frosting:

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups icing sugar
2 tablespoons milk, more if required
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup

Directions

For cupcakes:

Preheat oven to 200 degrees Celsius. Place liners in cupcake trays.

Lay bacon on a sheet pan and bake for about 15 minutes until crisp and golden brown. Set aside 2 pieces of the bacon for garnish, and dice the rest.
Lower heat to 175 degrees Celsius. 

In a bowl, combine flours, baking powder and salt; set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Add the eggs to the butter mixture 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Slowly add the dry ingredients and milk in alternating batches, beginning and finishing with the dry and mixing well between additions. Then add maple syrup and diced bacon, and mix on medium  speed until combined. Do not over mix.

Scoop batter into prepared cupcake pan, making each cup 2/3 full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

For frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light and fluffy.

Gradually add sifted icing sugar and milk (as required). Add maple syrup and beat until combined and fluffy.

Decorate cupcakes with frosting and garnish with reserved bacon.

Published in: on March 19, 2012 at 11:48 pm  Comments (1)  
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