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I hope you had a happy new year celebration. We certainly did as it was also my husband’s birthday yesterday too. Along with a large piece of this cake he has also put another decade under his belt now. Happy birthday, Thomas! We celebrated with a surprise cake for him, one that Anna helped me to make, she also drew him some pictures of pink houses and horses (his favorite of course!) and we had cheese fondue for dinner, for the first time, and it was tons of fun for Anna and for us. I hope you’re enjoying the start of 2014 so far. We are!

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Chocolatey-Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Cloud Frosting

Adapted from Posie Gets Cozy’s Best Chocolate Cake & Cloudburst Frosting

For the Cakes:
200 grams (7oz) Semi-sweet Baking Chocolate or Chocolate Chips
1 1/4 cups hot Water
3/4 cup Cocoa Powder
1/2 cup (good quality) Cocoa Mix
2 cups Brown Sugar
2 2/3 cups Cake Flour (or Bread Flour)
1 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Salt
250 grams (2 1/4 sticks) Butter (softened)
3 large Eggs slightly beaten
2 tsp Vanilla Aroma or Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup Buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350° F (180°C). Grease and use flour or cocoa powder to dust two round, 9 inch cake pans (if you don’t want the cakes to come out with white on the sides as it sometimes happens when you dust with all purpose flour). In a large bowl add cocoa powder, cocoa mix and hot water, stirring to combine. In a microwavable bowl melt the chocolate or chocolate chips for 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave, stirring well after the second minute (don’t over heat or the chocolate can burn). The chocolate should become more melted as you stir. Add to the cocoa-water mixture and mix well. To this mixture add the buttermilk, vanilla and the eggs and with a whisk combine until smooth. In a smaller bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt and mix well to combine. In a 3rd (and the largest) bowl, which will eventually hold all of the cake mixture, beat the butter with the brown sugar with an electric hand mixer (or Kitchen Aid) until well combined. Alternate adding the wet chocolate mixture and the flour mixture, in thirds, to the butter-sugar mixture and blend with the electric hand mixer until everything has been added, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a spatula as you go. Pour half the cake batter into each cake pan. Bake each cake for 30-40 minutes or until a knife or toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Allow the cakes to cool in their pans for at least 20 minutes and then turn them out onto a rack to cool completely. When cooled frost with cloud frosting and garnish with your favorite fresh fruits or berries.

For the Frosting:
1/4 cup Flour
1 cup Half and Half (half milk half cream)
2 sticks (225 grams) soft unsalted Butter*
2 cups Powdered Sugar
1/4-1/2 cup whole Milk
1 package Dr. Oetker’s Bourbon Vanilla or 2 tsp Vanilla Extrac
Pinch of salt (a scant 1/8 of a tsp)

*If using salted butter omit the salt.

In a small sauce pan over medium-high heat add half and half slowly to the flour while whisking. Whisk constantly while cooking until the mixture seizes and becomes a thick roux. Remove from heat immediately and transfer to a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, making sure the plastic comes in contact with the top of the roux to prevent a skin from forming. Allow to cool to room temperature, which may take anywhere up to 2-3 hours. When ready add softened butter, salt, vanilla and powdered sugar to a large bowl. Beat with a hand mixer until soft and fluffy. Then add the roux and beat on high speed until well combined. The frosting should be very thick and fluffy at this point. Slowly add anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 cup of milk, while mixing on high speed, to thin out the frosting to the spreadable consistency that you prefer. Keep in and airtight container in the fridge until ready to use.

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