Category Archives: Chocolate

Chocolate Cake with Coffee Buttercream Frosting

This recipe is from Baked Explorations. I just love this cookbook. I love both of the Baked cookbooks. If you haven’t already got these two cookbooks on your shelf I highly recommend you fix this. If you like cake. And chocolate. And American desserts, pies and cookies. Oh my.

I didn’t make any major substitutions on this recipe. It’s a delicate cake so be careful when removing the layers from the tins. My frosting did have a slightly odd texture, but was more than usable and tasted great if you like coffee. I had to rush the chocolate topping onto the cake as guests were waiting, otherwise it is worth the time to let the chocolate cool slightly before adding to the top of the cake. The cake looks quite spectacular, chocolate sauce running down over the caramel-coloured frosting.

I found coffee essence in the baking supplies aisle of my supermarket, next to vanilla extract. Happy (belated) birthday Dad.

Chocolate Coffee Cake
Recipe from Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, By Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. Recipe found and reviewed at Modern Domestic

For the classic chocolate cake

3/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch cubes, softened
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tbs vanilla extract

For the coffee buttercream

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups (three sticks) unsalted butter, soft but cool, cut into small pieces
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
3 tbs coffee extract

For the chocolate glaze

8 oz good quality (60-72%) dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 cups unsalted butter, softened and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 tbs light corn syrup

Assembly
10-12 chocolate covered espresso beans

Directions

Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter three 8 inch round cake pans, line them with parchment paper, and butter the parchment, Dust the parchment with flour and knock out excess flour.

In medium bowl, mix the cocoa powder and sour cream with 1 1/4 cups hot water and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together and set aside.

Using a standing mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and shortening together on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes – the mixture will appear to string or ribbon throughout the bowl. Add the sugars and beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 5 more minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing about 10 to 15 seconds after each addition until the egg is incorporated into the mixture. Then turn the mixer to low, add the vanilla, and beat until incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and mix again for 30 seconds.

Beginning with the dry ingredients, add the dry mixture and the cocoa mixture to the mixer bowl in three alternating parts, ending with the dry. Divide the batter among the prepared pans. Use an offset spatula to level the batter. Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack and cool for 30 to 45 minutes. Turn the cakes out onto the rack and let them cool completely. Remove the parchment.

Make the coffee buttercream

In a medium, heavy bottomed saucepan, whisk the sugar and flour together. Add the milk and cream and cook over medium heat, whisking occasionally, until the mixture comes to a boil and has thickened, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on high speed until cool (this takes about 7-9 minutes; however, you can speed up the process by pressing bags of frozen berries or frozen corn around the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl). Reduce the speed to low and add the butter; mix until thoroughly incorporated. Increase the speed to medium high and beat until the frosting is light and fluffy, about another 1-2 minutes.

Add the vanilla and coffee extracts and continue mixing until combined. If the frosting is too soft, put the bowl in the refrigerator to chill slightly, then beat again until it is the proper consistency. If the frosting is too firm, set the bowl over a pot of simmering water and beat with a wooden spoon until it is the proper consistency.

To assemble the cake

Place one cake layer on a serving platter. Trim the top to create a flat surface, and evenly spread about 1 1/4 cups frosting on top. Add the next layer, trim and frost it, then add the third layer. Spread a very thin layer of frosting over the sides and top of the cake and put it in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to firm up. (This is known as the crumb coating and will help you keep loose cake crumbs under control when you frost the outside of the cake.) Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Refrigerate it for 15 minutes to firm it up. 

 Make the chocolate glaze

Place the butter, chocolate, and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth.

Remove the pan from the heat and stir the glaze to release excess heat. Drizzle glaze over the cake. Refrigerate the cake about 15 minutes to set the glaze before serving.

Glaze the cake

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place your cake on a wire rack over the baking sheet. Slowly pour about 3/4 of a cup of the glaze over the cake. Use a small offset spatula to smooth it out to the edges. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set the glaze. Remove from the refrigerator and slowly pour the rest of the glaze over the cake. It should run down the sides in thick streams. You should be able to control the size and length of the streams by the pour. Feel free to experiment, and have no fear in playing around. This is the fun part, and there is no right or wrong way. Garnish with chocolate covered espresso beans. Chill the entire cake for approximately 20 minutes, or until glaze is set, then transfer to a cake plate. Serve at room temperature.

The cake can be stored, covered in a cake dome or cake saver, at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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German Chocolate Cake

A few years ago, when we were newly married and had just moved in to our first home together hubby baked me a birthday cake. Looking back, it was my first homemade birthday cake in quite a few years. He literally stayed up all night to make it for me, it was a German chocolate cake. Not a German recipe for chocolate cake, the cake was apparently named after a brand of chocolate. The cake he made was delicious and shared with my family on the night of my birthday.  German chocolate cake has a specific frosting – a pecan and coconut frosting made with evaporated milk and egg yolks.

The recipe I used today is from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. I’m yet to find a recipe I don’t like in either of the two Baked cookbooks (New Frontiers in Baking and Baked Explorations). Could be because I keep choosing to make the chocolate recipes? I made one substitution today – I used regular pain flour instead of cake flour as my local supermarket didn’t have it in stock. I read somewhere you should subtract two tablespoons of plain flour for each cup used when making this substitution. Of course, I read this after I’d made the cake. The crumb is so soft, almost too soft. I wonder if this is due to the flour, I’ll have to pick up some cake flour and try it again. Sweetapolita did an interesting post on types of flour recently.

I still have the original recipe hubby used, written on the back of two envelopes. Me, sentimental?

Click here for German chocolate cake recipe
Click here for the Baked: New Frontiers in Baking cookbook

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’m on a mission to perfect the chocolate chip cookie. It needs to be chocolate filled, chewy but not undercooked in the centre, browned on the edges and not too salty. These cookies are good, very good even, but not great. Yet.

I made one batch of dough then divided it into three parts. One part I baked immediately. The second I refrigerated for about 8-10 hours. The third I froze overnight then baked straight from the freezer. The batch I baked straight from the mixing bowl were the least chewy of the three. The cookies baked with frozen dough were thicker and more dense than the other two batches, but were still chewy in the centre and crisp on the edges. I think I’d choose the frozen dough cookies as my favourite this time.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
Makes 24 cookies (I used a 2-tablespoon scoop and got closer to 30 cookies)

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (this was too much for me, next time I’ll halve it)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, chopped into small pieces
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 packets Cadbury Milk Chocolate Chips

Directions

 In a large bowl, whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together; set aside.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars together until smooth and creamy. Don’t over beat. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg, then the egg yolk, beating until each is incorporated. Add the vanilla and beat until just combined.

Add half of the flour mixture and mix for 15 seconds. Add the remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.

Using a spatula or wooden spoon, fold in the chocolate chips.

Option 1- Bake now as below, skipping the chilling stage.
Option 2 – Cover the bowl tightly and put in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours.
Option 3 – Scoop 2-tablespoon-size balls of mixture and place on a baking tray lined with baking/parchment paper, cover tightly with cling wrap then freeze for at least 4 hours. Bake as below straight from the freezer.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Use an ice cream scoop with a release mechanism to scoop out dough in 2-tablespoon-size balls. Use your hands to shape the dough into perfect balls and place them on the prepared baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. They will spread considerably. 

Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, rotating the pans once during the cooking time, until the edges of the cookies are golden brown and the tops just start to darken.

Remove the pan from the oven and cool on a wire rack for 5 – 10 minutes, transfer the cookies to the rack to cool completely.

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Gluten-free Caramel Slice

Caramel slice reminds me of two things – the 80s and my mum. Did everyone’s mum make caramel slice in the 80s? It sure seemed like it. I don’t really remember for sure if my mum made it regularly but each time I make it the memory of her is near. There is something familiar about it, comforting and nostalgic.

It’s an easy recipe to modify to make it gluten-free friendly, I’ve included the modification below.

Caramel Slice
Modified from a recipe by Donna Hay
 
Ingredients
Base:
1 cup gluten-free plain (all-purpose) flour mix (Use regular plain flour here if you don’t need it to be gluten-free)
125g butter, melted
1/2 cup desiccated coconut
1/2 cup brown sugar
Filling:
125g butter, melted
1/3 cup golden syrup
1 can (400g) sweetened condensed milk
Topping:
1 block dark cooking chocolate
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Directions
Preheat oven to 180°C (355ºF).
Base: Place the flour, coconut, butter and sugar in a bowl and mix to combine. Firmly press the mixture into a 20cm x 30cm tin lined with non-stick baking paper and bake for 15 minutes or until golden. Allow to cool.

Filling: Place the golden syrup, butter and condensed milk in a saucepan over low heat and stir until thickened. Pour over the base and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden. Refrigerate until cooled completely.

Topping: Place the chocolate and oil in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and stir until melted.Pour the chocolate mixture over the caramel and refrigerate for 2 hours or until set.

To serve slice with a warm knife. (Leave the slice out of the fridge a few minutes if it’s too difficult to cut.)

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Christmas Kitchen Sink Cookies

Kitchen Sink Cookies
Adapted from recipe by Martha Stewart
Makes about 40

Ingredients

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup firmly packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 and 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
2 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup chopped milk chocolate
2 cups Christmas M&Ms

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Line baking sheets with baking paper.
  2. In a large bowl with a wooden spoon or hand mixer, beat butter, sugar and brown sugar together until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in vanilla.
  3. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Gradually stir into butter mixture until well blended. Stir in oats, M&M’s, choc chips and chocolate.
  4. Drop heaping tablespoons of batter onto trays, about 2 inches apart. Press tops down with the bottom of a glass to flatten cookies evenly. Bake until golden, about 16 to 18 minutes (10 minutes in my oven). Cool on pan for 2 minutes. Remove from pan, and finish cooling completely on wire rack.

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Chocolate Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting

My fascination with layer cakes continues, this time it’s a chocolate cake. I made this cake for no other reason than just to make a cake. With all the sewing and crochet projects I have going on, sometimes it’s nice to start something and finish it a few hours later.

This is the second time I’ve made Swiss meringue buttercream frosting and I’m happy to report all went well. After I added half the butter (the amount of butter in this recipe is crazy, try not to think about it for too long) to the egg white and sugar mixture, I popped the whole bowl in the fridge for a few minutes. I was worried the mixture was too soupy and I’d read cooling the mixture would help this. It worked like a charm! I added the rest of the butter and let the KitchenAid mix away. It was only afterwards that I realised I was supposed to change the whisk attachment to the paddle. It looks like no harm done though; the frosting was fluffy and dense and easy to spread. I couldn’t decide whether to colour the icing but after reading about people having trouble mixing Wilton gel food colouring and Swiss meringue buttercream, I decided against it. I quite like the dark cake against the white frosting. I think the next cake I make will be pink, a pink layer cake. Perhaps gluten free. Wish me luck with that one!

Rich and Dark Chocolate Cake recipe by Sweetapolita here
Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting recipe by Whisk Kid here (I used nine egg whites and had enough for the whole cake)
Rug from Urban Outfitters (yes they ship to Australia!)
And just for laughs: I can’t think of chocolate cake without thinking of  Bill Cosby
Cake plate from Freedom

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Pumpkin Choc Chip Muffins

Recipe

Is it a cupcake or a muffin? If I add frosting will it become a cupcake, but remain a muffin if un-iced? I’m leaning towards calling these muffins, but either way they are delicious. The recipe comes from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking. The original recipe makes two loaves, however this time I baked the batter in about 30 cupcake liners for 25 minutes. The loaves and muffins freeze well, I usually serve one loaf and freeze the other. In Australia canned pumpkin can be hard to find – I ordered some cans recently from USA Foods and have bought some from Sugar Fix in the past.

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Homemade Pizza and Chocolate Mousse

The Kitchenaid is getting used at every opportunity in Katie’s kitchen this week. Saturday night hubby and I made pizza and let the Kitchenaid do her stuff with the dough. Success!

For dessert I made chocolate mousse, something I hadn’t made before. More success!

Basic Pizza Dough
Donna Hay

1 teaspoon dry yeast
pinch  sugar
2/3 cup  lukewarm water
2 cups plain (all-purpose) flour
pinch teaspoon fine salt
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the yeast, sugar and water in a bowl. Set aside in a warm place for 10 minutes or until bubbles appear. Place the flour, oil and salt in a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the yeast mixture and stir until it comes together. Knead until dough is soft and elastic. Place dough in oiled bowl, cover, set in warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Chocolate Mousse
Donna Hay

200g dark chocolate, chopped
75g butter, chopped
4 eggs, separated
1 cup single or pouring cream
2 tablespoons icing sugar

Place the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir until melted and smooth.
Pour mixture into a bowl and add the egg yolks, one at a time, beating until well combined. Set aside.
Place the cream in a bowl and whip until soft peaks form. Set aside.
Place the eggs white in a bowl and whisk until soft peaks form. Sift over icing sugar and whisk until mixture is thick and glossy.
Gently fold the cream through the chocolate mixture, the fold the egg whites through.
Spoon into bowls and refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Serves 6-8

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Muddy Chocolate Orange Cake

In less than ten days I’ll be a real grown up 30 years old. And every birthday needs a cake, well at least one. I might try for multiple cakes this years since it’s the big three-oh, and heck, why not? I got it into my head that I might want a jaffa-flavoured mudcake for one of my celebrations. It seems a little odd to bake your own birthday cake(s) so I won’t be doing that. But I can bake non-birthday jaffa-flavoured cakes right? And that I did.

I took Donna Hay’s muddy chocolate cake recipe and added the juice and rind of one orange. I might add a little more of each next time, for some extra jaffa flavour. The cake was a hit and I may or may not have had four pieces over the past three days.

More jaffa goodness here.
And here.
More here.

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Homemade Oreos

This weekend saw sewing, crocheting and baking. I worked on my first quilt, added to the rainbow blanket and made a batch of homemade Oreos.

A few notes on the Oreos:

* I use Van Houten brand cocoa.
* I roll the dough into balls weighing about 2o grams each. That’s about the size of a large marble – what we called a boulder marble as kids.
* I bake the cookies for about 8 minutes so they are still fairly cakey.
* The cookies will puff up a little as they bake and flatten as the cool.
* The filling calls for shortening – I use melted Copha.
* The recipe makes about 14 filled cookies per batch.

Speaking of Oreos, check out these Oreo stuffed cookies and these brownie-covered Oreos!

What did you do this weekend?

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