Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Chocolate panda cake

Apologies, dear readers (both of you), for the long delay in posting. The observant will notice a different kitchen in the background (Hi, Katie!)...

This cake is for chocolate lovers only. So, pretty much everyone. It is a wonderfully rich chocolate cake with luscious chocolate ganache frosting... unlike the earlier cassata cake posting, this is not an all-day project. You can have it mixed and baked in an hour (plus cooling and assembly time).

Adapted from Taste of Home Best-Loved Chocolate Classics.

3 c. sugar
1-1/2 c. buttermilk
1-1/2 c. brewed coffee, cooled
3 eggs
3/4 c. vegetable oil
4 squares (1 oz. each) semisweet chocolate, melted (do in the microwave on half power, in 30 second increments.)
3/4 t. vanilla extract
2-1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1-1/2 c. baking cocoa
2 t. baking soda
3/4 t. baking powder
1-1/4 t. salt

1-1/4 c. heavy whipping cream (save the rest of your 2 c. container to whip and serve with the cake)
2 T. sugar
2 T. corn syrup
20 squares (1 oz. each) semisweet chocolate
1/4 c. butter

Preheat your oven to 350 and prepare three 9" cake pans by oiling and cutting parchment rounds to fit. If you can make paper snowflakes, you can make easily make parchment rounds. (You can also just grease and flour, but parchment makes removing the cake in one piece so much easier.)

In large mixing bowl, thoroughly combine the dry ingredients with whisk. Add liquid ingredients; mix until combined. Pour into prepared pans; bake at 350 for 30-35 mins. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove cake from pans by running a butter knife around the edges and inverting onto a wire rack. Peel off parchment paper.

For frosting, combine cream, sugar, and corn syrup in a smallish saucepan. Bring to a full boil over medium heat, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and stir in chocolate and butter until melted (this is easier than it sounds-- dump in all the chocolate and butter, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and it will stir right in.) Transfer to a heat-proof bowl and refrigerate until spreadable, stirring occasionally. If it gets too hard, simply pop it in the microwave or onto a shallow pan of simmering water (double-boiler style) and stir for a couple of mintues until slightly melty.

Spread frosting between layers and over the top and sides of the cake (use sheets of wax paper to transfer cake layers).

I'm still working on my cake assembly and frosting skills; like many Christmas trees, this cake had a definite 'room side' and a 'wall side':

Still, delicious. Serve with whipped cream, which you conveniently have left over from making the frosting. Also, if you want to get really elaborate (again, looks harder than it is), put raspberries on top of the cake and serve with raspberry sauce and whipped cream.

Raspberry sauce
from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book
3 c. fresh or frozen raspberries
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. cornstarch

Puree thawed berries in blender; press berries through a fine-mesh sieve. Discard seeds.

In a small saucepan, combine, combine sugar and cornstarch. Add berry puree. Cook and stir until thickened and bubble; cook for an additional two minutes. Transfer to a bowl; cover and chill for at least 1 hour.

A note of caution: do not serve this cake straight from the refrigerator; let it sit out for an hour or so before serving. The frosting gets hard and cracks when sliced cold; you can see the difference in cold (cake on wax paper) and room temp (raspberry cake) in the pictures (also, stick with baking bars-- if you must substitute chocolate chips, stick them in the cake, not the frosting. You can taste the difference.)

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