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Posts Tagged ‘layer cake’

chocolate-honey ganache layer cake

16 Sep

When the newest issue of Fine Cooking arrived at my door, I was amazed at all the Rosh Hashana/Sukkos appropriate recipes.  The chocolate honey cake sounded intruiging.  Although I’m not a huge fan of honey cake in general, I think I like chocolate cake in any form, so I gave it a try.  It is large (10-inch) and impressive.  I can’t wait to present it at the meal and to sample it!

The combination of natural and Dutch-processed cocoa powder, coffee, and mild honey gives this cake an incredibly moist texture and an intense, complex, and very grown-up chocolate flavor. Making the cake layers ahead allows the flavors to develop, and making the ganache ahead gives it time to firm up to the perfect texture for spreading.

Serves 16

  • For the cake
    cooking spray
    2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
    1-1/2 oz. (1/2 cup) Dutch-processed cocoa powder
    1-1/2 cups hot, strong brewed coffee
    1 cup mild honey, such as clover
    3-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour
    1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
    1-1/2 tsp. baking soda
    1 tsp. kosher salt
    6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
    3/4 cup vegetable oil
    1 cup packed dark brown sugar
    1 cup granulated sugar
    4 large eggs, at room temperature
    3/4 cup sour cream, at room temperature
    2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • For the chocolate-honey ganache
    1 lb. semisweet chocolate (60% cacao), finely chopped
    2 cups heavy cream
    1/4 cup mild honey, such as clover
    2 oz. (4 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
    3 Tbs. dark rum (optional)
    1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • For the chocolate curls (optional)
    1 thick block semisweet chocolate

Make the cake
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Spray two 10-inch round cake pans (with at least 2-inch sides) with cooking spray and line the bottom of each with parchment.
  3. Sift both cocoa powders into a medium bowl. Whisk in the coffee and then the honey. Let cool completely.
  4. Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
  5. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed. Gradually add the oil, beating until combined. Add the brown sugar and granulated sugar. Raise the mixer speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well on medium-high speed after each addition. Add the sour cream and vanilla, beating just until combined. With the mixer on low, alternately add the flour mixture in three additions and the cocoa mixture in two additions, beginning and ending with the flour (scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary). Beat just until combined. Divide the batter between the two pans, using an offset spatula to spread it evenly. Tap the pans once or twice on the counter to settle the batter.
  6. Bake, rotating the pans halfway through, until a wooden skewer inserted in the center of each cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 40 to 50 minutes. Cool the cakes in their pans on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes. Run a knife along the sides of the pans, invert the cakes onto the rack, and remove the pans and the parchment. Let cool completely.
Make the ganache

Put the chocolate in a large heatproof bowl.

Combine the heavy cream and honey in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir with a silicone spatula over medium-high heat until the honey dissolves into the cream, about 30 seconds. Just as the cream comes to a simmer, remove it from the heat and pour it over the chocolate. Let stand about 1 minute; then whisk until smooth. Whisk in the butter, rum (if using), and vanilla until the butter is melted and the mixture is glossy. Cool the ganache at room temperature for at least 8 hours. It will thicken as it cools. (The ganache can sit, covered, at room temperature for up to 24 hours.)

Frost the cakeSet one of the cake layers on a serving plate. Spread about 1 cup ganache over the surface of the cake. Top with the second cake layer and spread a very thin layer of ganache over the top and sides of the cake to seal in any crumbs. Refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes to allow the crumb coat to set. Spread the remaining ganache evenly over the top and sides of the cake. 

Make the chocolate curlsTo decorate the cake with chocolate curls, if using, soften the chocolate in the microwave on high power for 30 to 50 seconds. Scrape a vegetable peeler firmly down one side of the chocolate block to form thick curls. Put the curls on a plate and refrigerate until they’re firm enough to handle. Scatter over the top of the frosted cake. 

Make Ahead Tips

For the best spreading texture, the ganache should be made 8 to 24 hours ahead. Keep covered at room temperature.
For the best flavor and texture, the cake should be made at least 1 day before serving. To store at room temperature, wrap each completely cooled layer tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap and store for up to 2 days.
Up to 10 hours before serving, fill and frost the cake. Keep the cake at room temperature, covered with a dome, until ready to serve.
The cake layers can be frozen for up to 2 weeks: Transfer each completely cooled unfrosted layer to a 10-inch cardboard cake round and wrap tightly in 2 layers of plastic wrap, then in foil, and freeze. Up to 15 hours before serving, remove the foil but not the plastic wrap from the cake layers and thaw at room temperature. When completely thawed, unwrap, fill, and frost the cake.
If you plan to travel with this cake, it’s easier to transport if it’s refrigerated, uncovered, until the ganache is firm. To aid transport, assemble the cake on a cardboard cake round and transfer it to a covered cake carrier once it’s firm. When you arrive at your destination, put the cake on a serving plate and allow it to come to room temperature before slicing.

photo: Scott Phillips
 

my mother’s famous pesach sponge cake

04 Apr

Today I got to the best part – cooking in the Pesachdike kitchen!  I made 5 recipes of this cake, 3 in tube pans, one on a huge cookie sheet, and one as 3 9-inch rounds.  As you already know, my mother is a cook and baker par excellence.  She puts her heart and soul into the food that she makes and it shows!  This is her famous, classic Pesach sponge cake.  It is elegant served all on its own or you can turn it into a strawberry shortcake by layering with strawberry jam and strawberry whipped cream.

INGREDIENTS:

8 eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup oil

1/3 cup orange juice

3/4 cup potato starch
DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Beat the yolks in a bowl with 1/2-cup sugar until pale yellow in color. Add the oil and orange juice.
Add potato starch. In a clean bowl with clean beaters, beat the egg whites until frothy.  Slowly add the remaining 1/2-cup sugar, until the egg whites hold a definite shape, but are
not dry. Fold into the yolk mixture.
Pour into a 10” tube pan. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Turn the pan upside down to cool.  Most tube pans have 3 “legs” to stand on.  If yours doesn’t, turn the pan over and center the middle over a bottle that fits into the hole.  Once cool, freeze the cake before removing from pan.

 

chocolate chestnut layer cake

23 Nov

 

In Hungarian they’re called gesztenye (GES-ten-yeh),  in Russian Kashtan, and in Flemish they similarly say kastanje (kas-TAN-yeh) for the delicacy we know as chestnuts.   If you walk down a Manhattan street on a cold winter’s day, and get a whiff of freshly roasting chestnuts emanating from the corner street cart,  you will be immediately warmed by at least 10 degrees.  Although we refer to them as nuts, the meat inside a chestnut is soft and starchy, more akin to grains than crunchy-like traditional nuts. It is the only nut primarily treated as a vegetable due to its starch content.  The chestnut’s flavor is an acquired taste,  and not everyone appreciates their taste.  Growing up, my mother served boiled chestnuts on winter Friday nights.  It wasn’t until I was a little older that I started to like them, and now continue the tradition in my home.  The versatile chestnut, cannot be eaten raw.  The skins need to be sliced before baking or can be cooked in water without slitting.  Cooked chestnuts are used in savory soups and stuffings, as well as in sweet desserts. 

 Harvested from October through March, December is the prime month for fresh chestnuts.  Choose fresh nuts that are smooth and glossy, free of blemishes. They should feel heavy for their size. Avoid any that are shriveled, cracked, or rattle in their shell.  I usually squeeze the nut between my fingers and if the shell  doesn’t indent, I know they’re fresh.  Today, kosher chestnuts are sold cooked and peeled in a foil bag, making it easy to use in recipes and even just to snack on.

This delectable cake is a Hungarian specialty.  If you know where to find kosher chestnut puree, you can use it for the filling, and please be so kind as to let me know where I can get it.   

Chocolate Jelly Roll Cake:

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 eggs, separated
  • pinch of salt
  • 6 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 3 1/2 Tbsp. flour

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a clean, dry bowl, beat the egg whites till they begin to foam.  Add a pinch of salt.  When the whites  start to fluff into a snow, add the sugar.  Beat until stiff but not dry. (Stop the mixer as soon as it is stiff.  Do not continue to beat.)

2.  In a separate bowl, combine egg yolks, cocoa and baking powder. 

3.  Fold 1/3 of the whites into the yolk mixture.   Sprinkle with all the flour.  Fold in the the rest of the whites in 2 additions.

4.  Pour into parchment lined 10×15-inch cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes or until cake bounces back when gently pressed with a finger.

5.  Remove cake from oven and invert onto a clean towel.  Gently peel back the parchment paper, using a knife to separate the cake from the paper, if necessary.  Cover and cool cake.

My Grandmother’s Chocolate Cream:

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup confectionery sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cocoa
  • 3 oz. good quality chocolate
  • 1/3 lb shortening
  • dash of whiskey (optional)

DIRECTIONS

1.  In a small pot over a medium flame, cook the eggs and sugar, mixing the whole time, until smooth.  Add the cocoa and chocolate, mix until melted and smooth. 

2.  Remove from flame.  Add the Shortening, mix until melted.  Add the whiskey if desired.  Cool. 

Chestnut Cream:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 lb. cooked and peeled chestnuts
  • 1 stick margarine, room temp.
  • 3-4 cups confectionery sugar
  • 2 Tbsp. vanilla sugar
  • 3 Tbsp. chocolate cream

DIRECTIONS

1. Process chestnuts in the food processor with the S blade until smooth.  Add the margarine, 3 cups of confectionery sugar, vanilla sugar, and chocolate cream.  Taste to see if it needs more sugar.  Add accordingly.

 

Topping:

INGREDIENTS

1 whip topping (8-10 oz.)

1/4 cup confectionery sugar

1 Tbsp. vanilla sugar

DIRECTIONS

Whip all ingredients together until stiff.

To Assemble Cake: 

Smear the chocolate cream on the jelly roll cake.  Top with most or all of the chestnut cream.  Cut the cake into 3 strips lengthwise.  Put one strip on top of the other until all the layers are stacked into one cake.  Cover with whip topping and decorate any way you like.

 

chocolate-beet layer cake

22 Sep

A recipe in the latest issue of Fine Cooking Magazine featuring a chocolate layer cake that includes roasted beets, sounded so intriguing, I had to try it! The results were great and no one was able to guess the “secret ingredient”. The cake was moist, had just the right amount of chocolate flavor, and boasted a texture that was denser than a Devil’s Food Cake, yet much lighter than a brownie. I made the Parve version of this cake but hope to try the dairy version one day soon. I suppose canned beets can be substituted for fresh, roasted ones.

Ingredients

FOR THE CAKE
2 medium beets, trimmed
1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil
6 oz. unsalted butter or margarine, softened;
more for the pans
9 oz. (2 cups) flour; more for the pans
2 oz. (2/3 cup) natural cocoa powder such as Hershey’s (not Dutch process)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

FOR THE FROSTING
5 oz. (10 Tbs.) butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) natural cocoa powder such as Hershey’s
3/4 cup heavy cream or parve whipping cream
1 tsp. instant espresso powder
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. kosher salt

Directions

PREPARE THE BEETS
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the beets on a piece of foil large enough to wrap them. Drizzle with the vegetable oil and turn to coat well. Enclose the beets in the foil and roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1-2 hours. Let cool.

MAKE THE CAKE
Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Coat two 9-inch round cake pans generously with softened butter. Line the bottom of the pans with parchment and spray with cooking spray or coat with margarine. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.
Peel and finely grate enough of the beets to yield 3/4 cup. Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or an electric hand mixer, beat the margarine and sugar on medium-low speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Mix in the grated beets and the vanilla. Reduce the speed to low and carefully add half of the flour mixture; mix until fully incorporated. Add 1 1/4 cups hot water and the remaining flour mixture. Return to medium-low speed and mix until smooth, about 2 minutes. Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans, smoothing the tops.
Bake the cakes, rotating halfway through baking, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean, about 25 minutes. Cool the cakes in their pans on a rack for 10 minutes and then turn them out onto racks and peel off the parchment. Let the cakes cool completely.

MAKE THE FROSTING
Melt the butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the sugar and cocoa powder and mix until combined. Stir in the cream, espresso powder, vanilla, and salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until smooth. Pour the mixture into a bowl and cool slightly. Refrigerate, stirring every 10 minutes, until soft peaks form and the frosting is completely cool, about 1 hour.

ASSEMBLE THE CAKE
Place one of the cakes on a cake plate and spread a generous 1/2 cup frosting evenly over the top. Top with the second cake and spread a generous 1/2 cup frosting over it. Frost the sides with the remaining frosting.

MAKE AHEAD
The beets can be roasted up to 3 days ahead and refrigerated. The cake can be assembled up to 2 days ahead. Cover with a cake dome and store at room temperature.

 
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