White Chocolate Freezer Cake with a Sticky Brownie Base

I am a stickler for cake baking books. Of course there are books to be grabbed with closed eyes when they are written by Rose Levy Beranbaum or Dorie Greenspan or David Lebovitz. And there are books without any author names on cover and are compilations of a few cake recipes from many sources.  I buy a few of those too keeping my fingers crossed. The reason my baking spree is negligible  when compared to my buying spree is the number of recipes which vie to be tried first until I do “inky-pinky-ponky” and choose one. And last time, this one won.wp_20161206_15_54_02_pro-2Meet White Chocolate Freezer Cake with Sticky Brownie Base. This recipe is from one such book, titled “desserts” from “Easy everyday” series I bought more than four years ago. The cake was love at first sight and the title sounds so sophisticated but surprisingly is quite easy to bake. In fact here, its the fridge and oven that do all the job. But of course you need not tell this as you smile when the cake grabs eyeballs and people complement you on your “hard-work”wp_20161206_15_57_26_pro-2This double delight combines sticky brownie with home made ice cream topping and can be (read: should be) made ahead. The ice-cream topping as per the book should be as thick as the cake but I adjusted the amount for our liking and topped with a thinner ice-cream layer and it was heavenly. You may use any brownie recipe of your choice and pour this home-made ice-cream mixture on top and leave to set. I have tried different nuts for the brownie base but you may throw in whatever you have on hand including roasted peanuts. Customize this cake your way. Either way you are going to love it!wp_20161206_15_56_43_pro-2wp_20161206_16_05_04_pro-2

White Chocolate Freezer Cake with a Sticky Brownie Base
(Adapted from this book)

Yields one 8 inches cake

For the brownie Base
50 g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing the cake tin.
75 g Castor sugar
40 g dark Muscovado sugar
50 g Plain chocolate
2 teaspoons Golden syrup (I used honey)
75 g chopped walnuts (or any nuts of your choice)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
25 g Plain flour
1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
1- 8 inch springform cake tin

For the White Chocolate ice-cream topping
300 g Good quality white Chocolate
300 ml Double Cream (I used one with 25% fat)
400 g Vanilla Custard

To decorate
Cocoa Powder and 50g melted Plain Chocolate

Brownie base:
• Preheat the oven to 180 °C and lightly grease the cake tin.
• In a thick bottom pan set over a low heat mix together the dark chocolate, butter, sugar and golden syrup till it is homogeneously melted.
• Remove from the heat and stir in the walnuts or nuts of choice and leave to cool.
• In a bowl whisk the egg with the vanilla extract and add to the cooled chocolate mixture.
• Sift in the flour and the baking powder and stir to combine the mixture.
• Pour into the cake tin and bake for 15-20 minutes until the outside is crisp and the cake has begun to shrink from the side of the tin but the center is still soft.
• Leave to cool.

White chocolate ice-cream topping
• Break up the white chocolate and place in a bowl over simmering water. Mix gently till the chocolate melts. Take off the heat.
• In another bowl whip the cream until it holds shape. Mix in the vanilla custard and then slowly add the melted chocolate.
• Pour over the cooled brownie base and tilt around to level the topping.
• If you wish to decorate, drop small blobs of melted chocolate and draw a cocktail stick through to make the teardrop shape
• Freeze for a minimum 4 hours or until firm.
• Take it out of the freezer 1/2 hour before you want to serve it but keep refrigerated.
• Dust with Cocoa powder just before you serve it.

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Swedish Visiting Cake

Relax. I am taking it easy here. You are welcome to join if you are interested or curious or both. I feel that since I have Swedish Visiting Cake ready here, you would be.wp_20161130_14_25_56_pro-2Yes, this is the season of chocolate filled Yule logs and rum soaked cakes, of grandest cookies and gingerbread houses. And that is the reason you need this cake in December even more. I know it is kind of hard to just feed the cakes with rum and not pinching that tiny bit, or building that gingerbread house to perfection while drooling all the while. So, I say, if you have this cake ready, you wont mind not pinching your fruits cake or gingerbread house. In the month of December, this cake is your savior. Really.wp_20161130_14_33_02_pro-2I have baked this cake many times. Its one of the easiest cakes from one of my most treasured cake book. One without any leavening agent, this cake rather sets than baking , filling your house with the most delicious smell of almonds and vanilla. Bake it for yourself, friends or visitors, its a winner all the way!wp_20161130_14_30_46_pro

Swedish Visiting Cake

1 cup sugar (plus more for sprinkling on top)
Grated zest of one lemon
2 eggs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon almond extract
1 cup flour
1 stick melted butter, cooled
¼ cup sliced almonds (blanched or not)

• In a medium bowl, add the lemon zest to the sugar. Rub the zest and sugar in between your fingers to release the oils, the sugar will become lemon scented.
• Whisk in the eggs one at a time.
• Whisk in the salt and the extracts.
• Change to a spatula and stir in the flour.
• Fold in the butter.
• Stir until combined. Dorie baked hers in an 9-inch cast iron skillet. I don’t have one so I used a regular 9-inch pie pan with removable bottom. You may also bake in an 8 inch cake pan but the cake will be thin , like a sheet cake. Grease the pan.
• Pour the batter into the pan and top with the sliced almonds and a generous sprinkling of sugar.
• Bake in the oven preheated to 176 degree Celsius for 25 to 30 minutes. It will be golden and the edges will have a nice crust.
• Let the cake cool in the pan for about 5 minutes and then take a knife and run it around the edge of the pan.
• This cake can be served warm or at room temperature. It will stay good for up to two days at room temperature or may be 3-4 days under refrigeration. But it won’t last that long. Promise

Luxurious Brownies

If it was not unconvincing enough to realize that the new year celebrations which happened “just a few days back” are actually gone for almost six weeks, two awesome trips and a workshop concluded before I could blink. And I have no doubts that we are sailing through February rather fast because here the most awaited birthday of the year is already over! So, it was high time I took out my virtual hammock out on the real beach I live by and indulge in these to rein time in.

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I found this recipe many years ago on this wonderful blog. The honesty with which the post was shared made me take notice of the recipe. The steps are more elaborate than most of the recipes I have tried but then I can say the same for the end result as well! A thin shiny crust dupes you till you are plunged into the chewy moist fudge. It is intensely chocolaty and is laced with the nuts of your choice. In short, it is everything a perfect brownie promises to be.

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I have made this recipe many times, and the results have been consistently fabulous. However, this time I swapped the cocoa powder with drinking chocolate ( yes, tinkering is my problem) and the results were still amazing! Technically speaking, drinking chocolate has lower cocoa content than the cocoa powder and contains added sugar as well but if you are using good quality dark chocolate (70% or more), you wont feel the difference. It also means that you can do more with your drinking chocolate!

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These are best made a day in advance as the texture and flavor matures over time and will stay up to five days under refrigeration if stored in an airtight container. However, make sure to bake a large batch if you really want these to last that long.

Luxury Brownies
(Yields 25 medium size brownies)

230g Butter, roughly cubed
310g Sugar (Granulated or Castor)
200g Whole eggs (approximately four) whisked up
230g Finely chopped Dark Chocolate  (70% or more)
140g Flour
40g Cocoa Powder (I used drinking chocolate powder)
200g of nuts of your choice (I used almonds, pistachio, walnuts, and cashews)

• Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
• Butter the baking tin. Then line the bottom & the sides with baking paper.
• Sift together the flour & the cocoa powder.
• Melt the butter completely in a large pot. Add the sugar and mix well.
In a separate mixing bowl mix the solid chocolates & eggs (make sure to mix well).
• Pour the piping hot butter-sugar mixture over the chocolates/eggs in a bowl. Mix quickly & thoroughly – make sure all the chocolates have dissolved (if you still have lumps of chocolates left, zap it at 10 second intervals in the microwave until it melts).
• Spatula in the flour & the cocoa powder. Mix until no traces of flour can be seen.
Mix in the nuts. (Make sure you leave some aside for decorating the top with).
Pour the mixture in to the prepared tin. Evenly decorate some more nuts on the top surface.
• Bake in the oven for 18 to 22 minutes. It’s cooked when the edges have gone slightly dry; the top is shiny & has cracked. The center of the brownie shouldn’t be wobbly when shook. Remember: the toothpick method won’t work on this fudgy brownie.
• Leave aside to cool. Don’t cut until they’ve reached room temperature, or even better leave it untouched for a day to rest

 

 

 

 

 

 

Almond cake with butterscotch buttercream

 

The year end baking spree saw heavenly dose of chocolate, fruits and alcohol in my bakes, and that resulted in many happy faces around.  A week into the New Year there was an opportunity for another cake. And suddenly I didn’t want to bake with any of the above! I wanted a new ingredient to bake with, something that would be a fitting contrast to all things chocolate and alcohol. I almost decided on baking with potatoes, but in the end almonds took the cake, quite literally.

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Almonds are a beautiful ingredient to bake with. I love them for the mild flavor and rich texture they impart. At the same time, they pair very well, be it with chocolate, strawberries, honey, oranges, cherries or just anything one can think of. If almonds were humans, they would be the best people around.

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This almond cake was baked purely on experimental basis and it didn’t let me down. This beautiful golden cake is very moist and fluffy at the same time. It is speckled with tiny brown dots and infused with sweet almond flavor. I paired it with butterscotch granules and butterscotch flavored buttercream. And those tiny confetti sprinkles? You don’t fight them when you have a “soon-going-to-be-six years” old at home, you just let them be.

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Almond Cake with butterscotch buttercream:
(Yields One 9-inch round, 2-inch tall cake, or 16 cupcakes)

¾ cup cake flour
1/3 cup almond flour
1 teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoons baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
115 grams unsalted butter at room temperature
200 grams brown sugar
1 teaspoons almond extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
240 ml buttermilk, well-mixed

• Preheat oven to 350° F (176°C). Butter a 9-inches round cake pan and line with buttered parchment paper.
• Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Mix in almond flour.
• In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer at medium speed until pale and fluffy, (around 3-4 minutes) then beat in almond extract.
• Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well and scraping down the bowl after each addition.
• At low speed, beat in buttermilk until just combined (mixture will look curdled).
• Add flour mixture in three batches, mixing until each addition is just incorporated. It is always good to mix in the last batch with a rubber spatula.
• Spread batter evenly in cake pan, then rap pan on counter several times to eliminate air bubbles.
• Bake until golden and the cake tester poked in center of the cake comes out clean, (around 35 to 40 minutes).
• Cool in pan on a rack for 10 minutes, and then run a knife around edge of pan. Invert onto rack and discard parchment.
• Cool completely before frosting.

Rich butterscotch buttercream:

1 cup unsalted butter
3 teaspoon of butterscotch essence
4 cups of icing sugar
3-4 tablespoons of fresh cream

• Sift the icing sugar and reserve. It is always good to use fresh icing sugar/
• Whip the butter till its light and fluffy, for about 2-3 minute
• Start adding the icing sugar in small batches and keep whipping till it is incorporated all. Add essence and whip well once again.
• Start adding the cream, one table spoon at a time, and whip it well before adding further. Once the desired consistency is reached, add in the color and whip well before frosting the cake.

 

 

 

 

Flourless Chocolate Orange Cake with Caramel Dark Chocolate Ganache

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Whenever I have a chocolate cake to bake, the most daunting task is to decide “which one?”. The term “chocolate cake” is obscure to say the least, especially when the chocolate can be combined with endless ingredients in endless combinations. From beetroot and zucchini to bananas and oranges, from buttermilk and malt,  to Stout and Marnier, from candies and peels to walnuts and almonds, its a tough decision to choose “the one” every single time, more so because each one is more spectacular than the other. But then, that’s what makes it exciting at the same time.

But I never have to think twice about baking this cake. In fact, this is the cake I have to really keep myself off repeating as often as I want to. Its such a winner. Specially if you like oranges.

The richness of this cake betrays the easy preparation method. It is essentially a one-bowl-recipe with no all purpose flour or butter for that matter.  Here the three main players are cocoa powder, almond meal and orange pulp. Use the best of each ingredient and what you get is the closest cake version of this, which by every means is my most favorite chocolate on this planet.

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Chocolare Orange cake with Salted caramel ganache
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s Feast – Chocolate Orange Cake)
Yields one 8 inches round, 2 inches tall cake

Chocolate orange cake:
2 small mandarin oranges, total weight ~375g
6 eggs
1 heaped teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
200g ground toasted almonds
250g brown sugar
50g dark cocoa powder
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

• Keep the whole oranges in a pot and cover with enough water. Boil until soft and tender, around 45 minutes.
• Drain and cool the oranges. Cut open into half and remove the seeds. Allow it to cool completely.
• Butter and line an 8 inches springform cake pan.
• Heat the oven to 180°C.
• In the bowl of a food processor, add the oranges and all of the remaining ingredients. Process until a smooth and creamy mixture is formed. The mixture will have tiny bits of orange pieces which will taste awesome once the cake is baked.
• Pour the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40 minutes, or till a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.     Cover the cake with an aluminium foil tent if it starts to brown too quickly.
• Cool the cake completely before frosting.

Salted caramel ganache:
75g dark chocolate, chopped
75g milk chocolate, chopped
200g cream
50g butter
100g sugar
large pinch of salt
• Chop both types of chocolates in a big bowl and place a metal sieve over it.
• Keep the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and heat over a medium-high heat till the sugar starts melting. Do not add water. Swirl the pan in between for even caramelization.
• When caramel is of deep amber color, pour in the cream slowly and whisking gently till mixed evenly. Be careful as the mixture will splatter a lot.
• Pour the hot mixture through the sieve onto the chocolate. Mix with a spatula till chocolate melts into a shiny creamy glaze. Add salt and mix gently.
• Allow to cool completely before frosting the cake.
• Frost the cake as desired.