Rose Red Velvet Cake

Since I missed baking last week I was going to do the Coconut Cake but that idea was received with a resounding NO, since no one here is especially fond of coconut.  I have to admit that I have a revulsion to Red Velvet cake and the only reason for it is the red color.  It just looks like something you shouldn’t eat.  Also, with the resurgence of Red Velvet cake over the past few years the few times I have sampled it, it always seems to be too sweet or have that medicinal taste from the food coloring.  Maybe it is just my imagination since just about everyone else seems to love this cake.  When I was a kid, my mom used to make Waldorf Red Velvet cake.  Her’s was a big two layer creation with loads of white frosting which was  made with a cooked mixture of milk and cornstarch which was cooled and then added to creamed butter and sugar and whipped up to the consistency of whipped cream.  To be honest, I can’t remember what it tasted like since it, along with my aunts Mazola Oil cake were the few cakes I would not eat.  This cake calls for 1/4 cup of red food coloring which to me is just wrong.   I still have the recipe and one of these days I will get up the courage to make it and actually taste it.  At any rate, I did break down and make this red velvet cake and I have to admit it isn’t half bad, although the nauseous red color still puts me right off.  I was also surprised that it only uses 1 teaspoon of cocoa.  I was always under the impression that these cakes used more cocoa.  When I checked my mom’s recipe, it only uses 2 teaspoons of cocoa so I guess I have been wrong all these years.  Well, in to the kitchen and let’s bake this cake.

Again, this is a simple cake that goes together in no time flat.  In a small bowl combine egg whites, red food color and vanilla and lightly combine and set aside.

In the medium bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cocoa and salt, whisk to combine and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using a flat beater, beat together butter and oil for about one minute. 

Mixing butter and oil

 Add the flour mixture and buttermilk and beat until the dry ingredients are moistened. 

Adding dry ingredients and buttermilk

Increase the speed to medium high and beat for 1 1/2 minutes.  With the mixer on low, gradually add the egg mixture in two additions, beating about 30 seconds between additions. 

Adding egg whites and food color

Scrape the batter into a prepared 9×2 inch cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until done.

Ready to bake

Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold the cake and reinvert it onto a rack so the top side is up.  Cool completely and frost.

The cooled cake

To make the frosting,  melt white chocolate and set aside until no longer warm but still fluid. In a food processor, process the cream cheese, butter and creme fraiche until smooth.  Add the cooled white chocolate and pulse until it is combined.  Add the almond extract and pulse to combine.  Frost cooled cake.

Enjoy!

Next Up:  Free Choice

Miette’s Tomboy

I am still on the fence about this one.   I like that fact that you can get 4 to 6 servings from this small cake which makes it an excellent choice for a small dinner party or anniversary dinner.  The cake is certainly rich, dense and moist with an intense chocolate flavor and it keeps well for several days without getting dry.  Still, this cake failed to deliver all the subtleties that I was expecting from it.  I think the problem for me lay in the vanilla buttercream.  Regular readers will know that I am not a huge fan of Rose’s frostings in this book and that I frequently have problems with them being too soft and runny.  I usually forgoe them in lieu of the tried and true Julia Child buttercream recipes when buttercream is called for.  This time, being that the cake was small and I was intrigued by the dense chocolate and subtle vanilla combination, I decided to throw caution to the wind and give Rose’s buttercream another try.  Well, this time, the buttercream worked like a charm.  It was smooth and creamy and I had no problems filling or frosting the cake, and for that matter, piping it on the cake.  All worked out fine.  The problem here, if you really want to call it a problem, was that I really didn’t get that hit of vanilla flavor I was looking for.  To me, the buttercream tasted more like just whipped butter and vanilla.  Not that it was bad, it certainly wasn’t.  It was delicious but it just didn’t deliver the way I expected.  I am not giving up on this one though.  The cake is perfect as is but I am going to try it again and this time I am going to use vanilla sugar and a vanilla bean as well as the vanilla extract and hopefully that will give me the vanilla flavor that I am after to pair with this intense chocolate cake.  Keep your fingers crossed.  Okay, into the kitchen and let’s bake this little gem.

This cake is very easy to make and really the only difficulty here is the pan.  6×3 inch pans are a bit tricky to find.  I have a 6×2 inch pan from the Wilton wedding cake set but only one.  I also have two 6×1 inch springform pans.  Simply for the ease of baking them all at once I opted for the 6×1 inch pans even though Rose does not recommend that size.  They came out perfectly and I didn’t notice any loss of texture in the finished product so no complaints here.

In a medium bowl pour the boiling water over the chopped chocolate, stir to melt the chocolate and set aside until the chocolate is no longer warm to the touch.  When cool and still fluid, stir in the vanilla and set aside until needed.

In another medium bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg on high speed for about 3 minutes, until thick and light in color.  Lower the speed to medium and add the oil and blend until emulsified. 

Adding the oil

 Add the buttermilk and the melted chocolate and mix until well combined.

Adding the buttermilk

Adding the melted chocolate

Add the dry ingredients and beat on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened.  Scrape down the bowl and beat on medium-high for about 2 minutes.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 – 35 minutes or until done.  Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes, then unmold the cake onto a rack, remove the parchment and reinvert the cake onto a rack, cover with plastic wrap and cool completely.

Ready to bake

The baked cakes

I must compliment Rose’s method here for the buttercream.  I may be imagining it but this recipe seems different from her others.  She seems to have taken the best from my trusted Julia recipes and streamlined them so the process is much less daunting.  Kudos Rose. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, using a whisk attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed for about a minute to lighten it.  Set it aside in a cool place until needed.  Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and stir to moisten the sugar.  Over  medium heat, stir the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, stop stirring and bring to a boil.  Remove from the heat and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the egg whites until foamy, turn off the mixer and add the cream of tartar.  Continue whipping the whites until soft peaks form and then gradually add the sugar and whip until stiff peaks form. 

Stiffly beaten egg whites

Place the sugar syrup back over medium heat and boil until it reaches the firm ball stage (  degrees), with the mixer off, gradually add the hot syrup to the whipped egg whites in three additions, turn the mixer off with each addition.  Lower the speed to medium and whip the whites for about 2 minutes until they are cool to the touch.  Refrigerate the whites until they are no warmer than 70 degrees.

The completed Italian Meringue ready for its butter addition

In the meantime, whip the    medium high for about 3 minutes until it lightens in color and is no warmer than 70 degrees.  Add the whipped whites to the butter and whip on medium speed to combine and then continue to whip for about 2 minutes until the mixture becomes smooth and creamy.  Beat in the vanilla.  I know this sounds like a daunting task but this all comes together very quickly and is not as difficult as it sounds.

Place the bottom layer on a serving plate and add half the butter cream.  Place the top layer on the buttercream and frost the top of the cake.  Decorate as desired.

Enjoy!

Next Up:  Southern (Manhattan) Coconut Cake with Silk Meringue Buttercream

Karmel Cake

I have really been looking forward to this cake.  I was going to make it for the last free choice week and then noticed that it was coming up in the regular bake through so I held off.  It was definitely worth the wait.  This is another of the plain snack cakes but I can pretty much guarantee that if you made two layers and filled this with a smooth caramel frosting and maybe a nice coffee soaking syrup you would have one spectacular dessert on your hands.   As for me, I prefer this simple and unadorned with a cup of strong Italian roast coffee or espresso.  The rich and butter taste of the caramel really shines through here and every mouthful is an explosion of rich and mellow caramel flavor.  No tame flower this, but a full flavored gutsy cake with a nice crumb and a strong structure to back it up.  You will definitely savor every bite of this cake.  Let’s bake

The only slightly challenging thing here is making the caramel and lets face it, other than watching the thermometer, there is virtually no work involved in making caramel.  Combine brown sugar, 3/4 cup milk and butter in a saucepan and over high heat, stir until the sugar has melted and all ingredients are combined.  Bring the mixture to the boil and then stop stirring and keep it at a low boil until it reaches the soft ball stage (around 235 degrees). 

Boiling the caramel

Remove it from the heat and pour the caramel into a bowl, gradually whisk in the remaining 1/2 cup of milk and then set the bowl on a rack and allow it to cool.

The finished caramel

Combine the eggs and vanilla and stir to blend, set aside.

In the meantime, in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, baking powder and salt and blend.  Add the butter and the cooled caramel and mix until the dry ingredients are moistened. 

Adding the butter and caramel

Raise the speed to medium and blend for one and a half minutes.  Add the eggs in two additions, beating about 30 seconds between additions. 

Adding the eggs

Pour the batter into a prepared 9 inch cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until done.  Cool the cake on a rack for 10 minutes, then unmold the cake and  so the top side is up onto a rack and cool completely. 

The baked cake

Decorate as desired.

Next Up:  Miette’s Tomboy

Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake

As I get older I seem to be losing my taste for chocolate, but as that happens, my taste for citrus is growing.  Lemon, orange, lime, tangerine and grapefruit seem to be becoming staples in my cooking and most certainly in my baking.  I am always looking for new ways to use citrus these days and this Orange chiffon cake certainly takes center stage in that respect.  I also seem to have developed a new fondness for chiffon cake.  I remember a year of so ago relating the story of my aunts mazola oil cake, which was a chiffon cake.  She made it for all the family events and I had an extreme dislike for it.  It was heavy and leaden and always, at least to me, was greasy and tasted oily.  Not so, these new chiffon cakes that we have made from this book.  I have gone through my posts for all the chiffon cakes we have made and can’t seem to find one that I didn’t like.  This one is no exception and I dare say, is even my favorite of the chiffon cakes.  It is light and delicate, almost like an angel food cake, with a bright and lively flavor of orange.  It needs no adornment and can most definitely stand on its own.  While I like it as a snack cake and to pair with a cup of tea in the afternoon, it can certainly hold  up as a fine dessert when paired with the orange cream.  Most definitely a keeper and well worth making often.  I have to admit that I really was a bit baffled by the use of the rose nail in this cake.  Why not just bake it in a tube pan or fancy bundt pan?  None the less, I did give it a go and while I still, after baking it, didn’t see the need for it or the point of it, it certainly did no harm.  Let’s bake… 

The cake is simplicity itself and again, you will find that the mis en place is the most work you will expend putting this together.  

Separate the egg whites and yolks and set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer, blend the flour, all but a tablespoon of the sugar, the baking powder and salt.  Add the yolks, oil, vanilla, orange zest and orange juice and blend until the dry ingredients are moistened.  

Adding wet ingredients to dry

Raise the speed to medium high and mix for about a minute and a half, until the mixture is thick and fluffy.  Set aside. 

The completed yolk mixture

Whip the egg whites until foamy and with the mixer off, add the cream of tartar and whip until soft peaks form.  Add the remaining tablespoon of sugar and whip until the whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks. 

The whipped egg whites

 Fold the whipped egg whites into the yolk batter until combined.  

The finished batter

 Pour into the prepared spring form pan and insert a rose nail into the center of the cake until it rests on the bottom of the pan.   

Inserting the rose nail, who knows why!

Bake at 325 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes or until done.  When done, invert the cake on a rack which has been raised at least 4 inches about the work surface and allow to cool for an hour.  Unmold the cake and cool completely.  Serve with the orange whipped cream. 

Baked cake, not attractive but OH SO GOOD

  

To make the cream, heat the orange marmalade until melted, push through a sieve and set aside to cool.  Whip the chilled cream until beater marks form.  Add the orange zest and whip until soft peaks form.  Serve. 

Now, I have to say that this cake lasted about 20 minutes in my house and I was back in the kitchen making a second one.  It was that good.  It is by no means and attractive cake but as it seems to be an unadorned snack cake or the base for a decorated dessert, who cares.  It is delicious, like eating an orange cloud.  To be honest, and I hope you don’t mind Rose, I am renaming this cake right now.  I officially name it, “The absolute, best damned orange chiffon cake ever”.  It is truly that good.  When I baked my second cake, I did give in to my curiosity and baked it in a tube pan.  It baked up just fine and I found it to be a bit more attractive than the one baked in the springform pan.  No matter which way you go, it is spectacular eating.  Now, please someone, explain to me about this rose nail because I really can’t see any reason for using it at all and until I hear some logical explanation, I am chalking this part up as a pure gimmick.  No matter what, I will make this cake again and again, but I really would like to know the reason for the nail. 

Enjoy

Next Up:  Karmel Cake

She Loves Me Cake

For this weeks free choice I wanted a simple snack type cake to have on hand for lunches and afternoon snacking. This cake fit that bill to a tee.  At first I was going to just make it in a round pan, split it and fill it with the lemon curd and berries and serve it as a shortcake type cake but while reading through the recipe a second time I noticed that Rose also recommends using a tube pan for it and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to use my favorite tube pan again.  That is what I did. I just made it as a simple bundt cake and served it with curd and berries or just slice off a piece and eat it out of hand with a tall glass of cold milk.  Great for taking off the hunger pangs after work.  The cake is simple but redolent with butter and vanilla and it just doesn’t get any more basic or better than that.  It’s also a nice foil for a variety of fillings if you chose to go that route.  I can feel the old wheels turning and will definitely be making this simple cake in a variety of ways.  Let’s bake.

This is another one of Rose’s really simple cakes. The mis en place is actually the most work involved.  I gathered everything together the night before I wanted to bake and I was literally in and out of the kitchen in 15 minutes the next morning and free to go about my chores while the cake baked.  It just doesn’t get any easier than that.

In a small bowl, blend the egg yolks, 1/4 cup of the milk and the vanilla and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and mix to combine thoroughly.  Add the butter and the rest of the milk and blend until moistened, then raise the speed to medium and blend for one and a half minutes. 

Butter and Milk incorporated

Adding the eggs

 With the mixer on low add the egg yolk mixer in two additions blending about 30 seconds between each addition.  Raise the speed to medium and blend for another 30 seconds.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. 

The finished batter

Ready to bake

 Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes or until done.

The baked cake

Cool on a rack for ten minutes and then unmold the cake onto a rack and cool completely.  That’s it.  Simple and very satisfying. 

 Enjoy.

Next Up:  Orange-Glow Chiffon Layer Cake

Devil’s Food Cake with Midnight Ganache

Upon first glance at this recipe it seems like just your average run of the mill devil’s food cake.  If you stopped there you would be oh so wrong.  This is far more than your mothers weekly devils food cake.  The addition of the cognac cherries and golden syrup transform this simple cake from the ordinary to the sublime.  This is definitely an adult chocolate cake.  I have to admit that after last weeks rich and decadent cake I wasn’t much in the mood for more chocolate, but, after reading through the recipe, I was intrigued and boy am I glad that I made this.  Just as rich and delicious as last weeks extravaganza but not nearly as intense and perfect for everyday snacking as well as the end to a nice meal.  The hardest thing about making this cake I have to admit is all the wait time.  If you are not one of those people who reads through the entire recipe and assembles ingredients before you start in (and if your not you should be), you might get yourself into some serious trouble here.  There is a wait time of several hours for the cherries, cocoa mixture and of course the ganache has a 5 hour wait time.  Not something you want to do at the last minute.  Now, with all that being said, I will admit that this cake is not without it’s problems.  I don’t know what it is but I seem to have the worst time with Rose’s frostings.  This one was no exception.  Her frosting recipes seem simple enough.  This one was easy and I followed it down to the letter.  I used a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature while making the caramel.  I even went through the tedious food processor hoo haw and still ended up with a runny mess that rolls off the cake and pools on the bottom of the cake plate.  I made this frosting on Saturday morning and left it until Sunday morning before I put the cake together and it was still more of a chocolate sauce than a frosting. I finally whipped a bit and then chilled it for about 15 minutes and the stuff turned into total ambrosia. Not really any trouble to go through for something that tastes this incredible, still, since I always seem to have this problem with these frostings, I’d sure like to know what I am doing wrong.  Rose or Woody, if you are reading this, what am I doing wrong.    This has happened to me over and over again with the frosting recipes in this book.  Is it just me or is anyone else finding these frostings way too soft and runny?  Any ideas?  Still, the frosting was absolutely delicious and the addition of the cognac soaking liquid while on first taste did nothing, once it sat for a few hours really smoothed and mellowed the flavors.  Total heaven if you don’t mind a bit of trial and error to get the consistency right.  Do give it a try.  Okay, let’s bake.

While this cake has a few steps on the road to assembly, all are simple and as I have stated, should be done ahead.  For the cake, it is a typical formula that we have seen before.  Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa and boiling water and whisk until smooth, cover and set aside to reach room temperature.  In a separate bowl combine the eggs, egg yolks,  creme fraiche and vanilla and whisk to lightly combine, set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and blend. 

Adding the butter

Add the butter and blend until the ingredients are crumbly, then raise the speed to medium and add the egg mixture and beat for about a minute and a half. 

Adding the eggs

Scrape down the sides of the bowl, lower the speed to low and add the chocolate mixture and combine.  Raise the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds to fully combine.

Adding the chocolate

 Pour the completed batter into two prepared 9 inch cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until done.  Cool the cakes on a rack for 10 minutes and then unmold onto a rack and cool completely.

Ready to bake

To make the cognac cherries, soak the cherries in the cognac for about an hour.  Drain the cognac and reserve for the ganache.  Stir the golden syrup into the drained cherries, cover and set aside until needed.

To make the ganache, combine the cocoa and boiling water and whisk to combine, cover and set aside.  In a food processor, finely grate the chocolate and then proceed to making the caramel.  Combine the sugar and water and stir to dissolve the sugar.  Boil the syrup without stirring until it turns a deep amber (370 degrees).  Remove it from the heat and carefully stir in the cream.  Return it to the heat and stir over low heat until the mixture is fully combined and uniform in color.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter. 

Completed caramel

 With the food processor running, slowly add the hot caramel and process until the chocolate is melted and smooth.

Finished ganache

  Add the cocoa mixture and process until evenly combined.  Scrape the ganache into a bowk and allow to stand for 1 hour.  Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for at least 5 hours.

To assembly the cake, place one layer of a serving plate and add about 1 cup of the ganache, at this point you can also add the reserved cherries (and why would you want to leave them out?).  Place the second layer on top of the cherries and frost the top and sides and decorate as desired. 

Ganache and Cherries

You can certainly go all out for this but for some reason I chose to pay homage to my mothers devils food cakes and just frost it with billowy swirls of frosting, just the way she always did.  I think it was fitting.  On thinking about this cake, I think it would also be great to add a layer of lightly sweetened whipped cream along with the cherries inside or just reverse the whole thing and use the chocolate ganache and cherries as the filling and then just totally cover the whole cake in sweetened whipped cream.  No matter what you do, you can’t go wrong with this beauty.

Enjoy!

Next Up:  Free Choice Week

Moist Chocolate Raspberry Genoise

WARNING WARNING WARNING.  This is totally delicious, decadent, moist, chocolately and way over the top.  This is one of those miracle recipes which truly deserves the name heavenly.  I have really become a big fan of Rose’s genoise recipes.  As I said once before, that her recipe has replaced Julia’s in my go to repertoire.  This one is no exception.  Very moist, even without a syrup and totally chocolatey without being cloying.  A great base for any chocolate dessert.  I did notice after I was finished making it that Marie had noted a new mixing method.  It was too late for me to try it (although I didn’t have any problems following the original recipe) but I will check it out at another time.  I would definitely tell everyone to try this cake at least once, you will make it over and over again.  Even if all you do is the genoise base, you will never regret it.  Oh so very good.  I do have to warn you all again that if you go the whole nine yards and make this cake, it is very rich.  This is definitely not a recipe to serve after a big meal.  I think it is one of those extravagances where you brew a pot of wonderful rich coffee, get out the cordials, the best china and napery and invite several of your closest friends over for dessert.  This one will definitely show them how much you value their friendship.  It truly is heavenly.  Okay, let’s bake. 

This is one of those assembly type recipes.  Everything can be made a day or so ahead and then just assemble the cake the day you want to serve it so it easily fits into the busiest of schedules and none of the components takes very much time to put together.  First, the genoise base. 

Chop the chocolate finely and put it into a medium saucepan.  Pour on the boiling water and stir to combine and moisten the chocolate.  Cook the chocolate over low heat until it reaches a pudding like consistency.  Mine took several minutes longer than the stated 5 minutes but when dealing with chocolate and water I prefer to proceed very slowly to prevent the chocolate from seizing and everyone has a different idea of what low heat is so just proceed carefully and all will be well.  Cover the chocolate and set aside to reach room temperature. 

Chocolate cooked to pudding consistency

Beat the whole eggs and sugar until combined and then warm them, stirring constantly, over a pan of simmering water until they are luke warm.  Using a stand mixer, beat the egg mixture for at least 5 minutes until it triples in volume and is very fluffy.  

Eggs whipped to triple volume

 Sift the flour over the egg mixture in three additions and carefully fold the flour in between each addition.  Add the chocolate mixture and gently fold it into the eggs being careful not to deflate the mixture.  Divide the batter between two prepared cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 25 – 30 minutes or until done.  

Ready to bake

Immediately unmold the cakes onto a rack and then reinvert the cakes onto a rack so the top side is up.  Cool completely. 

Meanwhile, make the cocoa syrup.  In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and cocoa.  Add a bit of the boiling water to moisten the ingredients, then add the rest of the water.  Bring the mixture to a roiling boil.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly, then stir in the Chambord. 

To make the raspberry sauce, thaw the raspberries in a sieve over a bowl to collect the juices.  You will need about 1/2 cup.  Set the raspberries aside and boil the juice down to about 2 tablespoons.  Puree the raspberries and strain to remove the seeds.  Stir the raspberry pulp into the reduced juice and add sugar.  Set aside. 

To make the ganache, chop the white and dark chocolate finely set aside.  Combine the raspberry sauce and the cream and heat to scalding.  Pour the cream mixture over the chocolates.  Let stand a few minutes to melt.  Then whisk the mixture to combine and stir in the Chambord. 

To assemble, slice each layer in half to make four layers.  Set the base layer onto a cake plate and brush with the cocoa syrup, then spread about 1/2 cup of the ganache on top.  Repeat for the rest of the layers and then frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining ganache.  Decorate as desired.  

Brushing the layer with syrup

The completely frosted cake

As you can see, this one is decadent and definitely over the top.  Of course you could leave out the Chambord (but why would you want to?) and you can certainly just make the genoise and fill it with ordinary chocolate frosting or whipped cream and you would have a fine dessert, but when you want to pull out all the stops, this is the one to make.  You will be well rewarded. 

 

 

 

Enjoy! 

Next Up: Devil’s Food Cake with Midnight Ganache

Barcelona Brownie Bars

First off, I would like to apologize for my rantings last week.  Anyone who is a regular reader will know that I can really go off the deep end when I am frustrated and those quail eggs had me frustrated to the point of distraction.  I received a nice email from Woody saying that he and Rose were in tears of laughter after reading my post and he related a similar story about his quest for duck eggs while testing  a new recipe.  It was nice to hear that I am not the only one who gets totally frustrated with these things at times.  In hind sight I guess I did get a bit rowdy about it but I truly was irritated and I didn’t really enjoy the cake.  With that being said, thank you Woody for your email and just so you know, my book is still intact as I did not rip the page out.  And, I now know of about 37 sources for duck eggs if your still looking for them.

Now, on to this weeks recipe.  I have wanted to make these brownies for a very long time, but it seems like every time we have a free choice week, I seem to be suffering from chocolate overload and just look for something that isn’t chocolate. That wasn’t the case this week and Norman was having one of his rare brownie cravings so this was the perfect week for me to try these.   I have always been rather indifferent to brownies.  Not that I don’t like them, because I do, I have just never gotten into the whole, dry and cakey versus moist and fudgy argument.  To me, a brownie is a brownie and if they are around, I will eat them no matter what category they fall into.  I found these to be a bit on the moist fudgy side with sort of a cakey exterior.  At any rate, I liked them.  The ganache plugs were a nice addition although, I admit, not at all necessary for the enjoyment of these little morsels.  Definitely good and for the chocolate lover in everyone.  Let’s bake

These were very very easy to make.  Toast the nuts.  I substituted walnuts for pecans as Norman hates pecans and they were for him.  Melt butter and chocolate and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine cocoa and sugar and then add the butter mixture and blend.  Add the cream cheese and blend, then add the flour and vanilla and blend until combined.  Using a piping bag, fill the molds 3/4 full and bake at 235 degrees for 20 minutes or until done.  While the brownies are baking, make the ganache using your favorite method and have it ready in a piping bag.  When the brownies are done, poke three evenly spaced holes all the way through the brownie and using the piping bag, fill each hole with the ganache.  Allow the brownies to cool completely in the pan and then unmold and serve.  Delicious.

Next Up:  Sticky Toffee “Pudding”

Quail Egg Indulgence Cake

I’m probably going to get a lot of flak for saying this but this cake is a total rip off.  I spent my whole day off on Friday driving all over town trying to locate quail eggs.  We have not only Chinese but Korean, Vietnamese,  Thai and Philippine neighborhoods here and I had the worst time finding these eggs.  I would call all over to looking for them and be told they had them only to arrive at the store to find that what they actually had were duck eggs. I am not kidding, I spent all day trying to find these eggs.  When I finally located some, I couldn’t believe the horrendously high price I had to pay for them.  These eggs were $3.00 a piece.  $15.00 just for eggs to make a 5 inch cake.  I am not opposed to spending alot of money on a good quality product as it produces a good quality finished product, but, this was a ridiculous amount of money to pay for such a mediocre, bland tasting finished product.  I set about to bake the cake and I was truly disappointed to end up with this puny little mediocre cake.  It tastes no different than the countless other butter and egg cakes that we have made many times before. Not to mention the special 5 inch heart pan that the recipe calls for.  I wouldn’t even waste my time trying to find that thing.  When would you ever use it again? The cake ended up looking like an oversized English muffin and didn’t even taste half as good as one.   Indulgence is hardly the word I would use to describe this cake, madness is the word that comes to mind for me.   I considered it an act of insanity on my part that I wasted so much time and trouble to even bother to make it. I imagine that the heart shaped pan was supposed to indicate that this would be a good Valentines day dessert for two.  Well, I hardly think that this cake would elicit any sort of romance.   I was truly disappointed in this cake.  I made it on Saturday morning and when we ate it at dinner it was hard and dry.  We literally took one bite and tossed the whole thing into the trash.   Trust me, just make your favorite genoise cake, flavor it to your liking and serve it.  Your time and effort, not to mention your wallet, will be better rewarded.  If you truly feel the need for an indulgence, then go to your favorite bistro or coffee shop and order a special dessert, your money will be better spent.  Needless to say, I will never make this cake again.  I truly felt like just tearing this page right out of the book.

Making the cake is easy.  Combine egg yolks, vanilla and 1 tablespoon cream and set aside.  In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt and blend to combine.  Add the butter and remaining cream and blend until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium high and beat for one and a half minutes.  Add the egg mixture in two additions beating between each addition. Scrape the batter into a prepared pan and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until done.  Set the cake on a rack and cool for 10 minutes.  Unmold onto a rack, then reinvert the cake so the top side is up.  Cool completely.

Next Up: Free Choice

Mud Turtle Cakes

This is going to be a fairly short post this week.  It seems that there were so many extra things that needed my attention this week that I wasn’t sure I was even going to get around to baking.  On top of that, my computer was infected by some new virus which my anti-virus software didnt’ detect.  After several days of fiddling, and numerous phone calls to technical support, followed by more fiddling and lord knows how many extra fees I had to  pay, I am happy to report that my computer is once again my own.  By the time I got into the kitchen I wasn’t even sure I really felt like baking.  I decided to forgo my usual tirade against cupcakes and just get on and make them.  This was a typical Rose cake formula, the only thing different was the addition of sour cream to the batter which we have done several times.  I thought this cake was delicious.  A nice, moist, tender crumb with loads of rich chocolate flavor without being cloying or dense.  Again, I would rather just make it as a single layer cake.  I thought that the addition of the ganache and caramel made these way too sweet for my taste.  I am sure that children would love this sort of thing, to me, they made my teeth hurt.  I would have prefered the cupcakes with just a bit of sweetened whipped cream.  I also decided to forgo the turtle decorations, I just found that way too cutesy.  I just filled them with the ganache, added a dollop of the caramel and then a walnut and some cocoa nibs. They are certainly nothing to look at but what they lack in visual appeal, they certainly make up for in taste.

Enjoy!

Next Up:   Quail Egg Indulgence Cake