Cakes

Pumpkin Carving 2013

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Hey everybody!  Happy Halloween!  I just had my annual Pumpkin Carving this past weekend.  Sure it was cold and it did rain a little bit, but I think everyone had fun.  We even did it up a little bit and put some bales of hay around the fire pit so folks could carve and still stay warm.  And we did have a fire extinguisher on hand because having a bunch of dry straw next to an open flame isn’t exactly the safest thing to do.

How autumny!
How autumnal!

Folks brought some stuff to share like a nice rice salad and a yummy warm spinach dip.  We provided the pumpkins and made a big batch of chili.  I baked a whole bunch of stuff as well:

Gluten Free Pumpkin Cupcakes with Maple Cream Cheese Frosting

I haven't made these extra festive yet with my Halloween accoutrements
I haven’t made these extra festive yet with my Halloween accoutrements

Pepita Lavender Brittle

I love this stuff!
I love this stuff!

Savory Pumpkin Rugelach

Savory and sweet!
Savory and sweet!

Ciderhouse Whiskey (Saveur)

I am clearly not talented at making acceptable lemon twists.
I am clearly not talented at making acceptable lemon twists.

I also made a Harvest Spread, but that was from a mix (I know).  I’ll get the recipes up as soon as I can.  Well, maybe not the Brittle recipe because I have done a Lavender Pepita Croquant before and the recipe is very similar.  On a weird side note, apparently I am the country’s leading expert on Pepita Croquant.  I did a Google search to do some research and there I was — I took up the top three spots.  Weird and unexpected, but still kewl.  Anyhoo, keep an eye out for the recipes and be safe during the holiday!

An experiment with Honey, Raspberries, and Cream Cheese

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Alright so this isn’t all that much of an experiment, but I’m doing this in a different way.  But what I wanted to do is try to make some mini cheesecakes and clean out the pantry at the same time.  I had a bunch of cream cheese in the fridge, but not enough to make a whole cheesecake; I had some raspberry coulis left over from the Marquis Roulade I made a few weeks ago; and there was some honey that I was just tired of looking at.  Throw in some graham crackers and some frozen raspberries and it all made sense.

Definitely looked better with the pink liners

Actually there is a little bit of an experiment going on here.  Instead of making the filling using a stand mixer, I tried to make everything in the blender.  I was thinking to myself that this should work, in theory.  It actually didn’t work out too bad.  There was a little bit of work trying to get the blender going at first, but the batter was very smooth.  Doubt that I could do this for a full cheesecake recipe though — my blender is too small.

There were really stuck in there. So use liners!

It’s hard to figure out a recipe here.  Like I’ve said before, I do have a specific formula for cheesecakes that I like to follow, so I just used that as a guide.  I cut down a graham cracker crust recipe in half which I just sprinkled on the bottom of the tins or cupcake papers.  My serious recommendation that I have for a recipe like this is to definitely use paper liners.  One of the pans that I used is non-stick which I also generously sprayed with cooking spray — I still had to dig the cheesecakes out with a fork and spoon.  Here’s what you need:

For the crust:

  • 6 graham crackers
  • 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 c. butter, melted

Pulse the crackers and sugar in a food processor until fine crumbs.  Mix in butter and set aside.

For the filling:

  • 3 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 c. honey
  • about 4 oz. frozen raspberries
  • raspberry coulis

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Line standard cupcake pans with liners.

2.  Throw the cream cheese, eggs, and honey in a blender.  Or you could beat the cream cheese in a stand mixer until smooth.  Add the honey and combine.  Then add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition.  (See!  Using the blender is easier).

3.  Place a couple of tablespoons of the crust mixture on the bottom of each cupcake liner.  Lightly press down and place 1-2 of the frozen raspberries on the bottom.  Fill about halfway with the cheesecake batter.  Add about 1 t. of the coulis and carefully fill the liner about 2/3 full.

4.  Bake in the over for about 30 – 45 minutes, until the middle is set.  Allow to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the pan and cool completely.

Vanilla Cheesecake with Strawberries

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Alright, I gots power back (huzzah!)  And I gots a job offer (another huzzah!).  So let’s celebrate with a pretty cheesecake!  This is definitely one of the prettier cheesecakes that I make.  Of course, it is one of the more labor intensive ones to construct, but it’s easy to switch it up by using peaches, oranges, kiwis, or what’s ever striking your fancy that day.  And the cheesecake recipe is such a great staple to have.  This particular recipe is a little bit extra special because I do use a vanilla bean here instead of the extract.  Just a nice touch that really stands out.   Plus you see all the nice tiny vanilla beans, which I just love.

This I made for my Summer Mullet Party / Wine Tasting (you know — business in the front, party in the back).  Unfortunately I was not able to take any pics of any slices, but it was a big hit from what I understand.  I was too preoccupied tasting wine at the time.  And rum.  And bourbon.  Anyhoo, here’s what you need:

For the crust:

  • 12 big graham crackers (before you break it into four pieces)
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 6 T. butter, melted

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Wrap the bottom and sides of a 9″ springform pan with heavy-duty foil.  Lightly coat the bottom and sides of the pan with cooking spray.  Set aside.

2.  Slightly break up crackers and place in the bowl of a food processor with the sugar and salt.  Pulse until fine.  Stir in butter well, and transfer to prepared pan.  Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and halfway up the sides of the pan.

3.  Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until crust starts to brown slightly.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool.  Set aside.

For the filling:

  • 5 8-oz. packages cream cheese
  • 1 1/4 c. sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • 1 c. sour cream

1.  Reduce heat to 325 degrees F.  In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy.  Gradually add the sugar and salt while mixing on low, being sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2.  Add the eggs one at a time, scraping down the sides after each addition.  Now add the vanilla seeds and mix to combine.  Stir in the sour cream, again scraping the sides to mix well.

3.  Pour the batter into the cooled crust.  Place the pan in a roasting pan.  Now fill the roasting pan with hot water halfway up the sides of the cheesecake.  Bake for 1 1/2 – 2 hours until set in the middle.  If the top browns too quickly, cover with foil.

4.  Remove from the oven and run a pairing knife around the edge of the cake to help release it.  Cool completely and then refrigerate at least 6 hours or overnight.

For the topping:

  • 1-2 pints strawberries, hulled & sliced thin, leaving one whole
  • 1/2 red currant jelly
  • 2 t. water

1.  In a small saucepan on low heat, combine the jelly and water.  Gradually melt until mixture is easily spread with a pastry brush.  Set aside to cool but still stay liquid.

2.  Brush the edge of the top of the cheesecake with the warm red currant jelly glaze and make a ring of the sliced strawberries around the edge.  The glaze should re-set when chilled which helps hold the strawberries in place.

3.  Start layering overlapping concentric circles of strawberries, brushing each with the glaze.  Once you get to the middle, place the whole strawberry and brush with the glaze.

4.  Chill in the refrigerator for a few hours to set.  Then you can slice and serve!  And then you visit Jereme’s Kitchen and Daisy Cakes on Facebook and tell me how the recipe went for you :)

Notes — I’ve found it helpful to sort the strawberries according to size first before slicing.  I use the slices of the larger strawberries on the outer layers, saving the smaller ones for the inner circles. . . Try different patterns.  Instead of pointing the tips of strawberries out, have the points run along the edge of the cake.  You can then alternate directions with each successive circle.  I really hope that I explained that well.

Random concerns when I have no electricity

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Not having power makes it difficult to blog. So this is a first for me — using my iPhone to do a quick blurb. But I figured “why not?”. What else have I got to do in this 97 degree F heat?

Being without power for several days is surprisingly not new to me since I bought my house. I’ve been here less than 3 years and this is probably the fifth time it’s happened. Once it occurred when my family was visiting from Florida last summer i think. Another time it happened the day of my annual Winter Feast. Almost cancelled it but folks came anyway — we lit oodles of candles, had a big fire going in the fireplace, and drank lots of Martha’s egg nog. When the power came back it was like Rockefeller Center in my living room during the tree lighting ceremony. We all cheered, drank egg nog, and ate some crackers whilst the hosts tried to salvage the pork loin that should have been roasting for the past few hours.

Now sure it’s annoying to look down the bottom of my hill and see my neighbors across the street flaunting their electricity like there’s no tomorrow with their fancy lamp post and string lights. But often, weird times like this are when we get our best life stories. I even started a new tradition because of it; now every year I start out my Winter Feast with every light in the house turned off. Everything gets turned on right before dinner, or before we start with the nog. And then there is much rejoicing!

But every time this happens some of the same weird questions and concerns pop up. Of course these all involve food safety and I should know the answers since I am ServSafe certified, but I still wonder…
How terrible is it if I’m starting to smell kimchi in my refrigerator, especially if I am 100% sure there should be none in there?

People drink warm milk all the time. One glass couldn’t hurt all that much.

Can you cook burgers just using “solar power”?

Hot dogs have lots of preservatives so those can last for a while on the counter, right?

If I time it right, I think I can pickle everything…. or make adobo for days…

Let me say this — PLEASE FOLLOW ALL SAFETY GUIDELINES SET FORTH BY THE FDA OR OTHER APPROPRIATE GOVERNMENT INSTITUTION!

That being said, here’s a Vanilla cheesecake with strawberries I made following all safety guidelines. Recipe to follow once I get electricity back. Stay cool everyone! And follow me on Facebook! And follow Daisy Cakes on Facebook!

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Red, White, and Blue Velvet Cupcakes (with a White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting)

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I was hoping to have this posted before Flag Day, but it turns out that Flag Day was yesterday (and apparently National Bourbon Day was yesterday, too).   At least this is something that you can make for the upcoming 4th of July holiday.  I made these a little bit ago for a Memorial Day / Birthday celebration.  They’re fun and festive, especially if you put metallic star picks in them!  Very patriotic, and not just here in The States, but everywhere else that has those same colors in their national flag.  Like France, the UK, Puerto Rico, Slovakia — in Canada, you can just make the Red Velvet cupcakes — in Greece just make the blue ones! — and so on.  Maybe you could make some for a UEFA Championship Party (can’t believe the Dutch are almost eliminated).

Red, White, and Blue!

As for the recipe, Red velvet is what people typically think of, but why not Blue velvet cupcakes?  It’s the same principle, just with blue coloring.  Plus, there’s that song about them.  Well, not the cupcakes, but about blue velvet.  Or was it Blue Moon?  But I digress. . . if you were ever wondering about some of the background of the Red Velvet cake, you can find some fascinating information here at Gilt Taste.

I do love a big box of cupcakes

As you can see from one of the pictures, I tried to use one of those cupcake stands made out of cardboard (There was a sale at Jo-Ann’s, so I thought why not?  I can never resist a sale!).  I just could not get that thing together right, AND there were three of us working on it.  Sure I had a couple margaritas, some sangria, and a beer in me by then, but I’m pretty sure my two “assistants” were fairly sober.  That thing was such a hassle it had me sweating like a wh@%& in church, pardon my language.  And of course the first cupcake we put on made the top tier topple over and fall onto several of the other cupcakes.  Alas, if I was only recording the whole ordeal.  Such is life.  Maybe I should just invest in something more sturdy, but then again, I wouldn’t have any interesting stories to tell!

Not a bad stand in a pinch, but i really should invest in something that’s sturdier and better looking.

There’s a small part of me that is always hesitant about using dyes, particularly in cakes.  With frostings and buttercreams, I’m okay with using tints, but I always balk at cakes.  So I probably didn’t use as much color as I could have.  I’ve seen some recipes that called for a whole bottle of coloring, which I did not do, so the color is not as pronounced.  But no worries — if you want more intensity in the colors just use more.  You can get away with using less red since the chemical reaction between the acids (buttermilk and vinegar) and the cocoa are supposed to produce the red color you get in Red Velvet cakes, although it’s very faint.  But I did use more of the blue to make sure it would come out.  And the amount of dye you use may depend on what products you have.  The blue that I used for this is AmeriColor Royal Blue; the red is Wilton’s Red-Red.  Gel pastes are usually what I prefer because it will not affect the recipe ratios as much.  Here’s what you need:

for the cupcakes (one batch makes about 2 dozen; the red batch used 1/2 t. of coloring and the blue used 1 t.):

  • 2 c. all-purpose flour, sifted
  • 1/2 c. corn starch
  • 2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1 c. buttermilk
  • 2 t. white vinegar
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 c. vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • gel paste coloring (see above)

1.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Line your muffin pan with cupcake papers and set aside.

2.  Sift together the flour, corn starch, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt.  Set aside.  In a large measuring cup, combine the buttermilk, white vinegar, and vanilla.  Set aside as well.

3.  In the bowl of a mixer, whisk the oil and sugars until combined on medium speed.  Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix well.  Whisk in the gel paste, scraping down the sides as needed.

4.  Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of the buttermilk mixture.  Scrape down the sides after each addition and whisk well.

5.  Divide the batter evenly among the cupcake liners, filling to about 3/4 full.  Bake for about 20 minutes, rotating once halfway through baking.  Cool cupcakes in the pans set on wire racks.  Frost with the White Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting.

Red velvet

for the frosting (this was enough for 4 dozen cupcakes):

  • 3 8-oz. packages of cream cheese
  • 2 sticks of unsalted butter
  • 3 c. confectioners sugar
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 8 oz. white chocolate, chopped.

1.  In the bowl of a mixer using the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese and butter on medium for a couple of minutes, until well combined.  Place the white chocolate in a microwave proof bowl.  Microwave in 15 second bunches until melted, stirring after each time.  Allow to cool for about 5 minutes, making sure to keep in a liquid state.

2.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the confectioners sugar and salt.  Mix until smooth.  Add the vanilla and white chocolate and mix for about 1 minute, scraping down the sides.  Use either a small spatula knife or a piping bag to frost the cupcakes.

Notes — I have read that you can use beet juice instead of the red coloring, but I have no idea how much you need and how to adjust the recipes for the change in the amount of liquid. . . I’m not sure about an alternative for the blue, but I do have some ideas if you needed something green :)  . . .You should be able to store these in the freezer for a few weeks.  Thaw the frozen cakes in the refrigerator overnight. . . As always when making cakes, make sure your ingredients are at room temperature. . . I’m still bummed I missed National Bourbon Day; been wanting to add some Four Roses bourbon to my collection.  I really need to revisit my Foodie Holiday postings. . . And don’t forget to visit Daisy Cakes and Jereme’s Kitchen on Facebook. . .

Roulade Marquis — Gluten-Free!!!

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Here’s something that might be good to make for Memorial Day weekend. I think it’s a great choice for summer picnics and grilling get-togethers because it’s fun and it’s actually cool and refreshing. It helps that this cake is stuffed with whipped cream and raspberries.

What’s a little crack(ing) amongst friends?

I got this recipe from Martha, who got this from chef Michel Roux. The one change that I made is that I replaced the potato flour with coconut flour, mostly because I had the coconut flour. I also didn’t dust the pan with the all-purpose flour but used cocoa instead. Otherwise, everything is the same. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 T. plus 1 1/2 t. butter, room temperature, for baking sheet
  • 1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa, for dusting
  • 3 medium egg yolks
  • 1 3/4 c. confectioners’ sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 4 medium egg whites
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 T. plus 1 1/2 t. coconut flour
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1 c. raspberry coulis (see note at the end)
  • 1 1/4 cups fresh raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper; butter the parchment and dust with cocoa. Set aside.

Since I didn’t make this for myself, I couldn’t really cut into it, and take some pics of the pretty slices. But I did get a pic of the last little bit.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat yolks and scant 1 cup confectioners’ sugar in a bowl until ribbons form; set aside. In the clean bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk egg whites until they reach soft peaks; add a scant 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.

3. Whisk in one-third of the yolk mixture into the egg white mixture. Fold in remaining yolk mixture using a metal spoon until it is almost fully incorporated. Sift the 1/2 c. cocoa and coconut flour into bowl. Gently fold with a metal spoon until just combined.

4. Using an offset spatula, spread batter on prepared baking sheet to form a 10 1/2-by-12-inch rectangle, about 5/8 inch thick. Transfer to oven and bake until cake springs back when touched, 8 to 10 minutes.

5. Meanwhile, line a large wire rack with a clean dish towel. Turn cake out onto prepared rack and carefully peel off parchment paper. Let stand 5 minutes to cool.

6. Now in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat heavy cream with remaining 1/4 cup confectioners’ sugar until ribbons form. Set aside.

This is what Martha’s looks like. Of course, it’s too pretty for words. I got this from her recipe posting on her website.

7. Carefully transfer cake to a large piece of wax paper. Using a pastry brush, brush 1/4 cup coulis over cake. Using a serrated knife, carefully trim edges from all four sides. With an offset spatula, spread whipped cream over cake, leaving a 5/8-inch border all around. Top with raspberries. Starting from one of the long sides, gently roll up cake, using the wax paper to help you. Transfer cake to refrigerator and let chill 2 to 3 hours.

8. Slice roulade crosswise and serve dusted with confectioners’ sugar and drizzled with coulis.

Notes — Whenever I make roulades / jelly rolls, sometimes (like in this case) I end up cracking them. Most of the time it doesn’t matter because you’ll be putting frosting or whipped cream or whatever on the outside. That can help cover up stuff that’s not ideal. This cracked as well, but you serve it up sliced covered with powdered sugar and raspberry sauce and it’s still fabulous. . . As for the a quick and simple Raspberry Coulis, take a cup of simple syrup, 3 cups of raspberries (I used frozen), and the juice of a lemon. Put everything in a blender and pulse until smooth. Run through a sieve to remove seeds. But you can also check what Martha had listed; there is a link to a coulis recipe on her roulade post.

Lemon Sour Cream Cake

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Perfect cake for Spring or Summer (or Fall or Winter for that matter)

Since working out / lifting weights is taking up a lot of my time lately, this post is a little tardy. It seems like I’m always either lifting or in recovery mode. I am up to moving almost 83,000 lbs. of weight now (I have no frame of reference if that is good or not). But I digress. . . I made this for Easter which was like months and months ago. Better late than never and all that jazz and whatnot.

Again, continuing on my spotlight on Chef Eve Aronoff, here’s her recipe for a Lemon Sour Cream Cake. This recipe (taken from her cookbook eve: Contemporary Cuisine, Méthode Traditionnelle) is a little bit different from cakes that I usually make. First of all, there’s a higher egg content than I’m used to. Secondly, there’s a higher sugar content than I’m used to. Sure, I could have combined those two sentences into one, but I like numbers.

Anyhoo, the higher egg and sugar content make for a cake that is dense, but at the same time it’s not heavy. And the sugar helps create a nice crispy almost candy-like crust. Now, Eve admits that she is not a pastry chef and writes that this is the only cake that she knows how to make. But it is a very versatile cake that can easily be made into muffins or small loaves. The recipe made two 9-in. cakes for me; it can also make seven 4 1/2-in. cakes or 24 muffins. I did make one change — I happened to have some vanilla beans on hand so I used one of them instead of the vanilla extract, but use what you have. Here’s what you need:

  • I luv the little flecks of vanilla in there. Some might want a more uniform color. If so, use the vanilla extract like in the original recipe.

    3 c. sifted all-purpose flour

  • 1/4 t. baking soda
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1/2 lb. salted butter
  • 2 t. vanilla extract
  • 3 c. sugar
  • 6 eggs
  • 1 c. sour cream
  • zest of one lemon
  • 2 1/2 T. lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour the cake pans. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

2. In the bowl of a large electric mixer, cream the butter. Add vanilla and gradually add the sugar. Beat until fluffy.

3. Add eggs, two at a time, beating until thoroughly incorporated after each addition, and for a couple of minutes after the last addition. Scrape the sides down to keep the ingredients well mixed.

4. On the lowest speed, add half of the dry ingredients, then all of the sour cream and lemon juice and zest. Finish adding the rest of the dry ingredients, again scraping the sides and beating until smooth. Do not overmix or the cake will get tight.

5. Pour into the pans. Level off by rotating the pans briskly back and forth several times. Bake for about 1 hour for an 8-inch cake, 30-45 minutes for a 4 1/2-inch cake, and about 20-30 minutes for 1-cup muffin pans, or until the cake springs back upon touch.

6. Cool cake in the pan for about 15 minutes. Then remove by running a thin knife around the edge of the pan. Invert the cake onto a rack and turn onto another rack to cool completely.

Notes — Eve likes to garnish this with some sliced ripe seasonal fruit, some lemon curd, or some brown sugar cream. . . I made up my own version of a simple brown sugar cream which just involves some vanilla extract, brown sugar, and sour cream. It’s all to taste so no exact measurements here. Just make sure that the brown sugar is dissolved into the sour cream. I use this for things like zucchini bread or carrot cake. . . Don’t forget to like Jereme’s Kitchen or Daisy Cakes on Facebook!

Happy 1st Blogiversary Jereme’s Kitchen

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Just a quick post / announcement — today is my Blogiversary!!! I can’t really believe it’s been one year already.  Hope that I can still try to keep things going!  I will probably make some changes to some things, like adding more things to the blog roll or, adding more links, or adding a resource page or two.

And great news — I’ve finally figured out what to do for my anniversary give-away.  You’ll have to stay tuned tomorrow when I post what it is (I have to actually go out and pick it up).  And it will probably involve Facebook!

And Happy Black Forest Cake Day!

Here are Daisy and Cooper wishing me a Happy Anniversary. As you can tell, they are clearly excited.

Quick cocktail party appetizers #3 — Gluten-Free Black Forest Cakelets

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The layers are kinda hard to distinguish, but there are four layers of cake and three of filling.

Yes, yes — this isn’t an appetizer; that’s confession #1.  But this is Part 3 of my “series” about a not-so-recent bourbon tasting / cocktail party.  This was my dessert offering and it’s gluten-free!  Confession #2 — this really isn’t a Black Forest Cake.  Actually this is a version of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Chocolate Feather Bed, which is the background image of my blog.  One variation is that I have a middle layer of cherry preserves — so not a real Black Forest cake.  I do make a mean Black Forest Cake though!  And Black Forest Cake Day is on March 28th (which is my blogiversary in case I didn’t mention it before :)  And I think I’ve figured out my blogiversary give-away, but more on that later).  Confession #3 — it’s not exactly quick.  The cake itself bakes in 16 minutes, so that part is quick, but there is a lot of chilling involved, which takes time.

In my opinion, this cake is definitely better presented pre-sliced, as opposed to whole.  If it was whole, it would look like a giant chocolate slab covered with chocolate curls.  Which might not be too bad, if that’s what you’re going for.  But again — just my opinion.  It might be nice to have a giant chocolate block on your table; it could be reminiscent of the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001:  A Space Odyssey.  What a great theme party!!!  Everyone could wear space suits or ape suits, you could use one of those pod things as an entry portal, or maybe make one of those warp-light-tube thingies, and just play the Blue Danube on a loop.  But I digress, here’s what you need:

My ganache was a little bit grainy here. If that happens to you and you want to fix it, just re-melt the ganache and re-chill and re-whip. It's very forgiving. This is from a cake I made a while ago, but it stays truer to the original recipe (sans cherries).

For the cake:  (you will need 2 batches)

  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 1/4 c. sugar, plus 2 T.
  • 3/4 t. cream of tartar
  • chocolate curls (for garnish — I used dark, milk, and white chocolate just to add some visual interest)
  • Cherry preserves

1.  Coat a half sheet pan (17 1/4″ x 12 1/4″ x 1″) with shortening and line with parchment with a 2″ overhang.  Spray parchment with baking spray with flour (like Baker’s Joy or something like that).

2.  Preheat the over to 350 degrees F.  Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and allow to heat for about 20 minutes, which should be more than enough time to put together the batter.

3.  Melt the chocolate in a bowl (either in the microwave or over a double boiler).  Allow to cool until still fluid but no longer warm to the touch.

4.  Beat the yolks and 1/4 c. sugar in the bowl of a mixer on high for 5 minutes, until ribbon stage.  Scrape the chocolate into the bowl and mix on medium until fully incorporated, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl as needed.  Transfer to another bowl.

5.  In a very clean bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy.  With the beater off, add the cream of tartar; beat on medium until soft peak stage.  Raise the speed to medium high and gradually add the 2 T. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.

6.  Mix in about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten.  Gently fold in the rest of the meringue and when incorporated, scrape into prepared pan.  Level off with an off-set spatula.

7.  Bake for 16 minutes; until .  In the meantime, prepare the batter for the next cake so it is ready to go when the other cake comes out of the oven.  Cover with a dry towel and allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.

8.  Gently remove cakes from the pans using the overhang to lift.  Stack the parchment-lined cakes one on top of the other and cover with plastic wrap.  Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes.  This makes the cakes easier to work with.

It's a sea of cake!

For the chocolate whipped ganache:

  • 8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped fine
  • 2 c. heavy cream
  • 1 t. vanilla

1.  In the bowl of a food processor, chop chocolate until very fine.

2.  Scald the cream and with the motor running, gradually add the cream to the chocolate.  Process until smooth, just a couple of seconds.  Chill until cold, either in the fridge or in an ice bath.  Stir while chilling, about every 30 minutes; if using an ice bath you need to stir frequently.  Ideal temp is around 65 degrees F / 20 degrees C.  If it is too cold, it will not aerate well; if it is too warm it will not stiffen.

3.  In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, add the vanilla to the cream and beat on low for about 30 seconds, being careful not to overbeat.

Assemble the cake:

There are a couple of ways that you can do this depending on what you want to do.  You could assemble this on a serving plate and treat it as a regular cake (hold it in place with some frosting and then assemble).  I just kept the bottom section on the parchment, trimmed it after I assembled it, cut it into slices, and then served it.  Rose trims the cakes before assembly; I do it after because I wanted that very very clean edge.  Again, all depends on what you want.

1.  Using a sharp knife, cut the cakes into equal rectangles so that you have four equal layers.  Dislodge the cakes using a long metal spatula.

2.  Spread a layer of the ganache about the same thickness of the cake on top of the first layer.  Top with a second layer of cake.  Spread with a layer of the cherry preserves.  Top with another layer of cake, followed by the ganache, and the final cake layer.

3.  Spread a layer of the ganache on the top of the cake.  I sliced it into servings / cakelets at this point and then covered the tops with the curls.  You could just keep it whole and cover everything with the curls.  Serve!

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Bungled Breakfast

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Mental note — do not make pancakes while Hot Fuzz is on the tele.  The concept itself wasn’t bad, and I am referring to the breakfast, not the movie, although I love the movie.  Anyhoo. . . I wanted to make a nice anniversary breakfast and came up with some Apple-Pecan pancakes (since I had to use up an apple and had some pecans in the freezer).  Plus I had an apple syrup / extract that was leftover from a pie that was made a couple of weeks ago.

Tasty! Actually they tasted good. It's the newest thing -- blackened pancakes! And since it is the month of March, a college basketball bracket is always nearby.

Although a little charred, they didn’t taste bad.  They just needed a little bit of extra syrup :)  At least these pancakes are great makeshift doggie treats.