Monday, January 2, 2012

Let Them Eat Heavenly Chocolate Cake

My first recipe of the year was an ambitious one. I decided to make a chocolate cake with espresso cream filling and a white chocolate cream cheese frosting. Now, though I've had some success with the cake baking recently, I've also had some big disappointments. I figured I may as well start the year off with a big bang.

When I was younger, a dear friend of my mother's tried to teach me how to bake. "Unmitigated disaster" barely even begins to cover it. The result of my "chocolate cake" was more like a "dry, crumbling mix of disgusting." Luckily for me, my inability to follow simple directions has changed and I generally get it more right than wrong. I promise, from here on in, there will be process photos, but I honestly didn't think about it for this one. Sorry about that!

So! On to the recipe. I got this one from the November 2011 Taste of Home magazine article titled "1 Cake, 3 Ways." The recipe appealed to me because it was relatively simple, especially for such a decadent looking dessert. I ended up throwing out an entire tier's worth of batter, simply because the three cakes would have been obscene. If I could have scaled it down, I would have, but it simply wasn't an option.

The instructions were a little bit off. It says to bake the cake for 24 minutes, but it was still batter for me at that point.. It took more like 38 in my oven. Just keep an eye on it and keep checking. For this cake, you want your butter to be soft, not room temperature, otherwise it will not cream properly. As for the room temperature eggs, you can bring them safely up to room temperature by putting them in a bowl of hot water for 10 minutes.

For the Espresso Filling, I did not have enough Mascarpone cheese on hand. The recipe calls for 1½ cups and I only had 1, so I substituted ½ cup cream cheese. It was still quite delicious and brought the filling more in line with the frosting.

Given the choice, I would not make this cake again with the white chocolate frosting included with the recipe. The cream cheese significantly overpowered the white chocolate flavor. It was also quite soft and required 15 minutes in the freezer to become a spreadable consistency.

Anyway, on to the recipes!

Heavenly Chocolate Cake
Taste Of Home, November 2011. Page 49

1 cup butter, softened
2½ cup sugar
5 eggs, room temperature
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
2¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup baking cocoa
2 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1½ cups water

1. In a large blow, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt; add to the creamed mixture alternately with water, beating well after each addition.

2. Pour into three greased and floured 9-in round baking pans. Bake at 350 for 24-28 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, run a knife carefully around the cake and transfer to a wire wrack to cool completely.

Espresso Filling
Megan Byers, Taste of Home November 2011

2 Tbsp. instant espresso powder
1½ tsp. hot water
1½ cups Mascarpone cheese
1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

¾ cup heavy whipping cream
1½ vanilla extract

1. In a small bowl, mix espresso powder and water together until smooth; cool.

2. In a large bowl, mix remaining ingredients and espresso paste on medium speed until creamy and slightly thickened (don't overmix!). Spread on bottom and middle cake layers.

Winter White Frosting
Taste of Home November 2011

12 oz chopped white baking chocolate
2¼ cups cream cheese
3 Tbsp. butter, softened
4½ tsp. lemon juice

1. In microwave, melt white chocolate and stir until smooth; set aside and cool to room temperature.

2. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese with softened butter until light and fluffy. Beat in cooled baking chocolate and lemon juice until smooth.

3. Cover and put in freezer for 10 minutes, stir and spread on cooled and filled cake.

Once it's all put together, you'll get a gorgeous piece of cake!

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