Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Jam Cake with Caramel Chocolate Ganache

Many of you must have known by now that I love eating and making desserts.  I especially love making cakes, especially the layered ones.  Though I'm not an expert in cake decorations, I've always tried my best to cover my cakes with yummy frosting.  Honestly, the simple the decoration, the better my cake will turn out :)

Because of that, I don't mind baking cakes for birthday for my family members.  This month's birthday was my dad's and of course I made a cake for him.  His birthday was a couple of weeks ago and we went out to eat dinner at a local pizza joint to celebrate it.  I chose this cake because it looked pretty in the book and the flavor combination seemed intriguing.  After I made the cake and tasted it, I was so in love with the book!  The cake was moist with just enough spices and interestingly, the jam worked well in the cake.  I've never made a cake with jam in the batter so yeah, I was glad I tried it.  The ganache was decadent, smooth with a hint of caramel.  This recipe is definitely a keeper, I know it will come handy when I make another sweet thing.  The recipe calls for specific jam, but unfortunately I didn't have any of those and what I had in mind was actually my homemade strawberry jam.  The result?  We all love it!  The color of the cake was actually a bit more rosy in actuality but somehow the pictures didn't do any justice.  No matter, the flavor's delicious and I'm very satisfied with the recipe.

Jam Cake with Caramel Chocolate Ganache

Makes 12 to 16 servings

2 3/4 cups (13 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 cups (17 1/4 ounces) jam, preferably blackberry, raspberry, or apricot

3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

1 1/2 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar

4 eggs, at room temperature

1 cup (4 ounces) sliced almonds, toasted

Caramel Chocolate Ganache, recipe below

Grease and lined three 8-inch round cake pans (I used three 8-inch square cake pans).

Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 325 degree F.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and salt, then whisk the mixture to ensure that the ingredients are well distributed.

In a small bowl, stir together the jam and the buttermilk.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together on medium-high speed until fluffy, about 5 minutes.  As you make the batter, stop the mixer frequently and scrape the paddle and the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.  Blend in the eggs one at a time, adding the next one as soon as the previous one has disappeared into the batter.  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the buttermilk mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour.  After each addition, mix until just barely blended and stop and scrape the bowl.  Stop the mixer before the last of the flour has been incorporated and complete the blending by hand with a rubber spatula to ensure you do not overbeat the batter.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans (there will be approximately 1 pound 4 ounces per pan) and smooth the tops.  Bake in the middle of the oven until the centers are just barely firm when lightly touched, 32 to 34 minutes.  Cool the cakes on a wire rack for 30 minutes before removing them from their pans.  Once removed, continue to cool the cakes on the rack, top side up, until they reach room temperature.  Leave the parchment paper on until you assemble the cake.

To assemble the cake, place on of the layers, top side up, on a flat plate or a cake board.  Using a thin metal spatula, spread a thin layer of caramel ganache ( a bit more than 1/2 cup) on top of the cake and out to the edges of the cake.  Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of almonds evenly over the ganache.  Align the next cake layer, top side up, on top of the first one, and repeat with another thin layer of ganache and almonds.  Place the final layer of cake on top of the cake.  Frost the top heavily and the sides lightly with the remainder of the ganache.  Lightly press the remaining toasted almonds on the side of the cake.

This cake is best stored and served at room temperature.  In an airtight container, it keeps for up to 5 days.

Caramel Chocolate Ganache

Makes just over 2 cups (enough to frost an 8- or 9-inch cake)

8 ounce semisweet chocolate, chopped, or chips

1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) sugar

1 tablespoon water

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes

Put the chocolate into a small heat-resistant bowl and set aside.

Put the sugar, water, and lemon juice in a saucepan over medium heat, and stir just until the sugar has dissolved.  Put down your spoon and let the syrup come to a boil without stirring, occasionally washing down the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water.  Cook the syrup until it turns a dark amber color.  Swirl the pan to distribute the color and heat.

Once the syrup reaches the desired color, take the pan off the heat and pour in 1/3 cup of the cream.  Do this carefully, as the caramel is very hot and will bubble up when you add the cream.  Once the bubbling subsides, stir in the rest of the cream 1/3 cup at a time, then stir in the butter a piece at a time.  Place the pan back over medium heat and stir to combine all the ingredients.  Once the ingredients are all incorporated into the caramel, pour it over the chocolate.  Swirl the bowl so that the chocolate is completely coated with the warm caramel, then cover and let sit for 5 minutes.  With a whisk, stir the mixture slowly, starting with small circles in the middle and working your way outward, whisking a bit more briskly as you go, until you have a smooth, glossy frosting.  Leave the ganache on your kitchen counter, stirring now and then to help it cool, until it reaches spreading consistency, about 3 hours.  If it stiffens up too much, simply put it someplace warmer than your counter.

Covered with plastic wrap at room temperature, this ganache keeps for up to 3 days.

Source:  Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

I don't think I've made cupcakes often enough and I've never caught the cupcake fever a few years ago.  But I think cupcake is still favored by people; why they're like little cakes complete with frosting.  I do like cupcakes and this time I'm making this chocolate cupcakes stuffed with Ferrero Rocher in the middle.  The inspiration behind the cupcakes was a post by Bakers Royale's Nutella Cupcakes.  I'm taking it a lot simpler than that because at the time I was researching for a good, solid chocolate cupcake recipe so I didn't need to do a complicated frosting to go with it.  This cupcake is decent and delicious although I didn't add the 2 tablespoons instant coffee to the batter.  I thought it would make the cupcake tasted a little way too much coffee-y to me.

Little did I know that after I made these I had to make many more cupcakes for my son's school's function--though they're with different frosting and no Ferrero Rocher (that chocolate candy is so addictive).  I made some for myself--ehem, my family, and stashed them in the freezer.  I doled out four at a time and was glad that I made extra because I got to have a nice, personal-sized dessert every night :)

Chocolate Hazelnut Cupcakes

Makes 12 cupcakes

1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 cup hot coffee

12 Ferrero Rocher

Whipped Cream Frosting:

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 1/2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Unsweetened cocoa powder

To make cupcakes:

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven.  Heat the oven to 350 degree F.  Line a muffin pan with cupcake liners.

Add flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and whisk thoroughly with  to combine.

In a mixing bowl, add the butter, eggs, and vanilla; beat with paddle attachment on medium speed for one minute. Add flour to egg mixture and beat for 20 seconds.  Scrape the sides of the bowl and add instant coffee.  Beat again for 20-30 seconds until the batter is smooth.  The batter will be thin enough to pour.

Divide it evenly among the lined cups.  Place a whole Ferrero Rocher in the center of each well.  Bake 18-22 minutes just until a toothpick inserted into a few of the cupcakes comes out clean.  Set the pan on a rack to cool.  Frost the cupcakes when they are completely cool.

To make the frosting:

Place heavy cream, sugar, and vanilla extract in a chilled bowl and beat with an electric mixer on high speed until stiff peak forms.  Transfer the frosting to a large resealable plastic bag.  Snip the end of a corner of the plastic bag and pipe an even amount of frosting onto the cupcakes.  Sprinkle cupcakes with unsweetened cocoa powder before serving.