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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Chocolate Chocolate Ganache Cake

Cake #1:  Missionary Farewell Cake for Seth Hyde, July 14th, California San Fernando Mission.  Good luck Seth, we'll miss you!
Cake #2:  Mom's Birthday Cake, (July 17th), but we celebrated her birthday this year on Sunday July 21st.

I had the opportunity to make 2 cakes this month and they were both chocolate with chocolate ganache filling.  As a chronic chocoholic, chocolate cake is very high on my priority list.  I have chosen chocolate cake over my husband on more than one occasion and will do so again.  He knows this and is fine with being number two (hmmm... there are so many different kinds of chocolate he may have to settle for number three or four....or five.)
Ingredients, Assemble!

Chocolate Ganache

  • 1 pint of Heavy Whipping Cream (16 oz or 2 cups)
  • 8 oz (1 cup) chopped semi-sweet chocolate or 1:2 ratio which I use for chocolate ganache fillings in cakes and cupcakes.  You need to whip this one like whipped cream after it has cooled.
Heat the heavy whipping cream to almost a boil and pour over chocolate chunks.
Mix it until the chocolate is melted and smooth, then refrigerate.
Note to self:  Do not eat so much of the chocolate ganache that I don't have enough left for cake filling.

Chocolate Cake

This is a very forgiving chocolate cake recipe with no instructions on the order you need to add things.  You can dump everything in at once, mix it all together, and still end up with a gorgeous cake.  But since the majority of my other cake recipes calls for wet first, dry second, and milk last I tend to do things that way. 
  • 1 and ⅔ cup flour
  • 1 and ½ cup sugar
  • ⅔ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 and ½ tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 and ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup shortening
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • Beat all ingredients together and bake at 350 degrees for 30 - 40 min. Makes enough batter for two 8 to 9 inch round cake pans.
Shortening, sugar, eggs, and vanilla.
Flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder.
Add buttermilk last.
Bake for 30 min at 350 degrees.
Removed cooled chocolate ganache from the fridge.
Do it like Devo and whip it, whip it good.
Note # 2 to self:  Do not eat the chocolate ganache unless there is some left after filling the cakes (I know, I know that's the same as note #1, hey a girls gotta eat).
Filling the cakes.  I cut my two round cakes in half so I could have four layers of cake and three layers of chocolate ganache filling (if there is enough left of course) instead of just one in the middle of two cake layers.

ButterCream Frosting

  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1 cup butter – melted
  • 2 tsp vanilla or other flavorings
  • 4 Tbs heavy cream, milk, or water – Mix with beater
  • 2 Tbs Meringue Powder
  • 8 cups powdered sugar – Mix with a beater 1 cup at a time.
  • Add more heavy cream or powdered sugar for the right consistency you want

And decorate.

I wanted to try one of those subtle gradual colored frosting ribbon cakes, but I accidentally dumped too much yellow in, so I scrapped that idea and just went for a couple of solid bands of color.  Nothing in my life is ever subtle or gradual anyway (except maybe my husband, which is why I don't get most of his jokes).
Here are my adorable parents ready to cut the cake.
Because three layers of chocolate ganache is better than just one.  My mother is also a chocoholic so I come by it naturally, genetics don't you know.
Missionary Farewell Cake.  Same thing only different.
We called him, Little Seth.
Little Seth next to Big Seth.
Or mini-Seth, or Tiny Him, whatever works.
This was my first large cake with home-made fondant.
This was also my first cake where I tried to make a humanoid figure on it out of marzipan and fondant.
Not too bad for my first try (Thanks to my husband for technical advice, your almost as good as chocolate my love.)
I also made gingersnaps and snickerdoodles to go with the cake for the farewell party.
I made the Missionary Cake first, on July 14th.
Then at the party, Mom asked me if she could have the same cake for her birthday.
Without the Missionary part, and a fresh cake not literally the same cake.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Chocolate Dipped Cream Puffs

I have been craving Cream Puffs for quite some time so I decided to do something about it.  I never did like the store bought freezer variety.  They will do in a pinch, but home-made cream puffs are the best.  They are a bit involved and take multiple steps to accomplish, but once complete are a divine two or three bites of creamy puffy chocolatey goodness.
I am pretty particular in my Cream Puff making process.  I always start with pastry cream because it takes the longest to make and set up, then I go for the puffs because they are quick and easy.  The Chocolate Ganache is optional.  Ideal, but still optional.

Pastry Cream

  • 1/2 cup Sugar
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • a pinch of salt
  • 2 cups of Whole Milk (You can use 2%, 1%, or Skim, but Whole milk tastes better.  Fat is Flavor.)
  • 2-inche piece of Vanilla Bean or 1 tsp Vanilla extract.
Whisk together egg yolks and sugar.
Whisk in flour and salt.
Heat milk and vanilla in a separate pan on medium heat until it almost reaches a boil.
Stirring constantly, pour the hot vanilla milk into the egg mixture in a thin, slow and steady stream so as not to boil the egg.  Once all the milk is in continue stirring and cook over medium heat until the pastry cream comes to a boil.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let it cool, stirring occasionally.  If it gets too chunky, strain it.  It should have the consistency of pudding.
Once cool put plastic wrap on top of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming.  Refrigerate.

Cream Puffs (aka Chou Paste)

  • 1 cup Water
  • 8 Tbs Butter (1/2 a cup or 1 stick.  It melts faster when you cut it up into Tablespoon portions.)
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 tsp Salt
  • 4 eggs - to be added last, one at a time
Chou Paste is also the base for eclairs, lobster tails or Sfogliatelle, and crab stuffed appetizers.
Add water and butter to a saucepan over low heat.  Once the butter is melted bring to a boil and add flour and salt.
Stir in flour with a wooden spoon and remove from heat.  All the recipes I have read for Cream Puffs requires a wooden spoon.  I have a terrible habit of burning the end of all my wooden spoons which is why the top of it looks brown.  It was an artistic accident.
Add 4 eggs, one at a time, beating each egg into the dough before adding another egg.
I like to put my cream puff dough into a piping bag.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Pipe out puffy snails onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet.
Bake at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes until golden brown and set aside to cool.

Chocolate Ganache

  • 16 oz Heavy Cream (1 pint = 2 cups)
  • 8 oz chopped semi-sweet baking chocolate or 1 cup chocolate chips
  • Chop up chocolate.  Heat Cream until it starts to boil.  Turn off the stove and add the chocolate.  Stir until chocolate is smooth.  Refrigerate.
  Now, be like The Avengers and Cream Puffs, Assemble!
I added the Pastry Cream to a piping bag with a 12 tip, you know, the big round one.  I just stick it in one side of the puff and squeeze until pastry cream starts oozing out, then I know my puff is adequately filled.
Dip filled cream puffs in chocolate ganache and refrigerate.
They can be refrigerated overnight or frozen.  But it is a rare thing for a chocolate dipped cream puff to live through the night at my house.