Fondant Cake: Chocolate Cake

I AM NOT a fan of fondant. But, then many others are and I think that is because they don’t know what it is like to work with fondant in a coastal city where temperature never touches below 35 degree C. But that’s beyond the point. The point is that some people DO like fondant and when I was requested to create a car themed fondant cake for a boy’s first birthday party, this is what I could do. The children went bonkers over the cars and cheerfully gobbled the fondant figurines in no time, like they always do. And that’s precisely the reason I agree to do fondant cake time and again even though I assert it every time, I am not a fan of fondant.

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Chocolate Rum Cake

Let us just say hello with the same fervor though we are meeting after more than two months. Let’s not talk about the long absence because it’s such a drag. Instead, let’s talk about a refreshingly moist and rich cake which would raise your spirits in the scorching heat of Indian summer and which is oh-so-needed. A friend in need is a friend indeed. IMG_20170530_170201_HDR_1496296813526

My quest for a “more” scrumptious chocolate cake is never ending. The chocolate cakes I have blogged about are all winners. But whenever there is an occasion for a chocolate cake, I mostly never go back to my own repertoire. It is strange but true. I search for recipes offering something new, a new ingredient, a different way to mix, or a new method to bake or make a cake without baking (other than cheesecakes ). I call it greed.

Coming to this cake, it looks a simpleton, but wins applause much before melting in mouth. Slicing the cake evokes as many ooohs and aaaahs that you can actually take a two minute break to let the hysteria subside, only to brace yourself for more to come.

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The recipe calls for molten chocolate which we have done before, but without any buttermilk, which we have not. To turn things heady it also calls for a deadly decoction of rum and hot coffee which we alternate with flour as we mix the batter. How sexy is that! The batter is quite thin but firms up almost mousse like upon baking and cooling. Since the cake was for my favorite birthday of the year, I drenched it in some more rum before covering it in rum flavored ganache. The seconds were expected but the thirds sent the cake to the blog 🙂

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Chocolate Rum Cake:
Yields one 8 inches round cake

70 grams dark chocolate (I used 62% Cocoa)
1 Cup All purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
A pinch of salt
8 gram espresso coffee powder
½ Cup boiling water
½ cup dark rum
113 grams butter at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Cup sugar
2 medium eggs
A few tablespoons dark rum

Rum infused chocolate ganache:
200 grams good quality chocolate
180 grams low fat cream
1 tablespoon rum

Bake the Cake:
• Pre heat the oven to 165 °C
• Grease an 8 inches round cake pan and dust with all purpose flour
• Chop the dark chocolate into small chunks and melt in a bain marie without letting the vessel touch the boiling water. Cool and keep aside
• Mix all purpose flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl and keep aside.
• Dissolve coffee in boiling water and cool it. Add ½ cup rum to it and keep aside.
• In a large bowl, beat Butter till creamy. Add sugar and beat till light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add vanilla extract and mix well. Add eggs, one at a time and beat for a minute after each addition scraping the base of the bowl.
• Mix in molten and cooled chocolate and mix well.
• Add flour mixture and coffee-rum mix alternately, staring and ending with the liquid.
• Mix the batter well and pour into the pan.
• Bake for about 40 minutes or till tester comes out moist but clean.

Make the ganache:
• Chop the chocolate finely in a medium bowl.
• Heat cream in a heat proof bowl over medium heat just till bubbles appear on the edges.
• Pour the heated cream over the chocolate and cover it to sit for about 5 minutes.
• Add in rum and mix the ganache till its smooth.
• Pour over the cooled cake.

Buche de Noel with Salted Caramel Ganache

For years, every December, I dreamt of baking Buche de Noel as “The Cake” for the last week of festivities but always ended up baking our scrumptious traditional cake. However, this year I told myself that it would either be Buche or Nothing for Christmas. Since a cake-less Christmas is no-Christmas, and I didn’t want to wait for another 365 days to dive deep in the revelry, it was more of an ultimatum to yours truly than anyone else. And as self-flogging works sometimes, this Christmas Buche de Noel finally saw light of the day (or Star of David) in my kitchen.

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Buche de Noel or Yule Log is the cake traditionally  eaten during Christmas and New Year in France. I was very fascinated by the whole concept till I read that it was nothing but a jelly roll decorated like a log and that was a dampener. Who eats a simpleton like jelly roll on a festival like Christmas! But as I soon found out, Buche is as simple (or sophisticated) as you care it to be, and I started searching for all kinds of fillings ranging from mincemeat to eggnog and what not. I eventually settled for the salted caramel ganache, and it proved that my decision making was still intact despite the air heavy with all kind of good liquors.

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Baking this log had an emotional string too since the sister is settled in France now. My heart aches for her on most of the days, especially during festivities. As I whipped the chocolate genoise sponge, filled and frosted it, I imagined being in the same festival bubble with her (which she burst by cooking famous Indian sweet “Gulab Jamuns” instead to mark the occasion and her French family and friends loved them!)

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Food brings people together, bridges the distance and nurtures bonds. It also pushes you to tread unknown territories and surprises you in most amazing ways. I hope it does the same to you in 2017! Bonne Anne and Bon Appetite!

Buche de Noel
(Adapted minimally from here)
Baking a genoise based Buche de Noel comes with a few words of caution which must be paid heed to. The trickiest part is to roll the genoise, which should be done when it is still hot. Make sure to dust the kitchen towel heavily with the icing sugar before you turn the genoise on it, else it will stick to the cake. Though my log didn’t suffer any cracks, but I read that in case yours does, fret not, as they can be easily covered up in the frosting.

Ingredients

Chocolate Genoise:
• 6 egg yolks
• 1/2 cup white sugar
• 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 1/8 teaspoon salt
• 6 egg whites
• 1/4 cup white sugar
• 1/3  cup melted blueberry jam (for filling the cake during assembly)

Salted Caramel Ganache:
• 75 grams dark chocolate
• 75 grams milk chocolate
• 100 gram sugar
• 200 ml low fat cream
• 2 tablespoon butter
• Generous pinch of fine salt like Fleur de Sel

• Preheat oven to 190 degrees C. Line a 10×15 inch jellyroll pan with parchment paper.
• In a large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat egg yolks with 1/2 cup sugar until thick and pale, about 9 minutes. Blend in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, and salt.
• In large glass bowl, using clean beaters, whip egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually add 1/4 cup sugar, and beat until whites form stiff peaks. Immediately fold the yolk mixture into the whites. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
• Bake for 12 to 15 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the cake springs back when lightly touched.
• Dust a clean dishtowel with confectioners’ sugar. Run a knife around the edge of the pan, and turn the warm cake out onto the towel. Remove and discard parchment paper. Starting at the short edge of the cake, roll the cake up with the towel. Cool for 30 minutes.

For salted caramel ganache:
• Break both chocolates in a medium bowl
• Place sugar in a heavy bottom pan and heat over low-medium heat swirling intermittently till sugar turns to caramel.
• Carefully add cream to the caramel as it will splatter a lot and keep mixing till it turns to a homogenous mixture.
• Place a sieve over the broken chocolate and pour caramel mixture through the sieve.
• Add the butter and salt and mix gently till you get a smooth and shiny mixture.

Assembling the Buche:
• Unroll the cake, and spread the jam filling to within 1 inch of the edge. Top with the salted caramel ganache.
• Roll the cake up with the filling inside. Place seam side down onto a serving plate, and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.
• Pour the remaining ganache and refrigerate the cake for another 30 minutes.
• Make bark pattern using a fork, sprinkle some icing sugar to resemble snow and decorate with marzipan or meringue mushrooms. I cheated and did with fondant, but kids loved them the same.

 

Coffee-Chocolate cake with mocha buttercream

I couldn’t help but smirk when ardent chocolate lovers proclaimed that there was nothing called “too much chocolate”. But of course that was before I started stashing all types of chocolates and cocoa in amounts no sane person would approve. But see, my point is, you never know when a great chocolate cake recipe would suddenly pop up from the pages you browse and the next moment you find yourself sprinting to the the kitchen to check whether you have enough chocolate/cocoa to bake right then. And if you are me,  you bless your stash and vow to yourself never to let it be an ounce lighter!wp_20160905_16_51_56_pro-2Coming to the types of chocolate cakes, its a cake lover’s delight to know of the variety available. This also brings forth the point that while most of the chocolate cakes may have similar recipes, it is an obscure ingredient or step that really sets an everyday chocolate cake apart from “this is the best one I have had!” kind . Be it beetroot as in that or coffee as in this one. Just wait till I tell you about ginger and wasabi, no kidding.WP_20160905_16_52_48_Pro2.jpgSo back to this cake. It is not without a reason that this cake is on “top 30 cakes” list of Bon Appetit. It is one of the best chocolate cakes I have baked. Moist, ultra dark and chocolaty with melt in your mouth consistency, it is worthy of the grandest celebrations. The original one had mocha mascarpone frosting but I didn’t have mascarpone on hand. So, I did the next best thing by frosting it with mocha buttercream and a dripping chocolate ganache. The recipe is actually for a layer cake filled with mocha mascarpone heaven but I kept it simple and baked cupcakes with the remaining batter and frosted them with buttercream alone. So if you have a reason to celebrate with a chocolate cake, look no further. You are right at the chocolate cake perfection. wp_20160905_16_13_37_pro-22wp_20160905_16_12_28_pro2wp_20160905_16_48_35_pro2Did I tell you that these days a filled piping bag fitted with a nozzle is my girl’s new drawing tool? Together we have fun at it and her giggles are the most beautiful reward of the whole exercise.

Coffee-Chocolate Cake
(Adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2009)

2 cups cake flour
3/4th cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ teaspoon baking soda
3/4th tsp salt
3/4th cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups packed golden brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
4 teaspoons espresso powder dissolved in ¾ cup hot water

• Preheat the oven to 162 °C. Butter 2 8 inch baking pan and dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
• Sift 2 cups cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into medium bowl.
• Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth.
• Add brown sugar and beat until well blended, about 2 minutes.
• Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Mix in vanilla.
• Add flour mixture in 3 additions alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions, beating just until blended after each addition.
• Gradually add hot espresso-water mixture, beating just until smooth.
• Divide batter between pans; smooth tops. Bake cakes until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
• Cool cakes in pans on rack 15 minutes. Run small knife around sides of pans to loosen cakes. Invert cakes onto racks and cool completely.

Mocha Buttercream frosting:
(Adapted from here)
• 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
• 3½ cups confectioner’s sugar
• ½ cup cocoa powder
• ½ teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
• 1 teaspoon espresso dissolved in 2 tablespoon hot water
• 2 tablespoons milk or light cream
• Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn the mixer off.
• Sift 3 cups confectioner’s sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl.
• Turn the mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter.
• Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, espresso and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes.
• If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.

 

 

 

Tres Leches Cake

Dear Blog,

Happy first birthday to you!

Honestly speaking, an year ago I wasn’t sure whether we would be together to mark this day. I have too many commitments to keep you running as much and as frequently as I would love to. Days melt into weeks before the ‘next’ blog post turns the date on your page, though this fellow keeps reminding me, “you have not posted in XX  days”. But the day I started you, I promised not to yield to the pressure of passing days and dates. Instead, I chose to create and write at my own pace as it allows me to take care of more pressing issues vying for my time. And in no terms does that rank you low amongst my most enjoyable vocations. In fact, it makes me value you even more. You have been the means to bring out what was always there deep inside, like a childhood paper plane hidden in an old box. You are not a wall I write on. You are my parallel journey, a sweet one with all those cakes. And this time, the cake is for you. Let me just say that it is one of my most procrastinated cakes, but I am so glad I baked it on your day . You are one of the best things I have done and I hope we have a long journey together celebrating many more birthdays!

Loads of love!

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Tres Leches Cake with white chocolate frosting:
(Adapted from Make it ahead by Ina Garten)

Tres Leches or “Three Milks” is a popular Mexican cake. It is a vanilla sponge cake  which gains it’s character from the three types of milks its drenched in- sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, and milk cream. This cake is overly sweet and you may want to cut down the sugar, or do away the white chocolate frosting (we don’t celebrate birthdays without chocolates!), or go the traditional way with the whipped cream topping if that is available. It keeps well under refrigeration and gets better with time. I really wanted to use coconut cream and rum to the milks but then we had our share of that goodness not so long ago. Coconut, almond, raspberry, rum or may be even cardamom, feel free to experiment with flavors. The cake will happily make the flavor its own.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4th tablespoon salt
3 extra-large eggs at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup whole milk
1 ¼ cups heavy cream (I used amul low fat cream)
350 ml evaporated milk
400 ml condensed milk

• Preheat the oven to 176 °C. Butter a 9 x 13 x 2-inch baking pan.
• Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a small bowl and set aside.
• Place the eggs, granulated sugar, and the vanilla extract in a big bowl and beat on medium-high speed for 10 minutes until light yellow and fluffy.
• Reduce the speed to low and slowly add half the flour, then the milk, and finally the remaining flour mixture.
• Mix with a rubber spatula to be sure the batter is well mixed.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothen the top, and bake for about 25 minutes, until the cake springs back when touched lightly in the middle and a cake tester comes out clean.
• Set aside to cool in the pan for 30 minutes.
• In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla extract.
• Using a bamboo skewer, poke holes all over the cooled cake and slowly pour the mixture over the cake, allowing it to be absorbed completely before continuing to pour on more of the mixture.
• Cover the cake with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

P.S. I made my own evaporated milk by reducing 500 ml  full cream milk to 350 ml over gentle simmering.

White Chocolate Buttercream:
(Adapted from here)

170 gram white chocolate
230 gram unsalted butter
240 grams confectioner’s sugar
2 table spoon light cream
½ tsp raspberry flavor
¼ teaspoon salt

• Prepare a bain marie with barely simmering water.
• Finely chop the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over bain marie such that the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. The bowl should fit snugly to avoid any steam escaping and getting into the chocolate bowl. Take the bowl off heat when about 30% of the chocolate is still not melted and keep whisking gently. The chocolate will keep melting as you whisk. Cool it till it is still at pouring consistency.
• In a medium bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Switch the mixer to low speed and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar.
• Stir in the cooled white chocolate. Switch the mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes until combined and creamy.
• Add the cream, raspberry extract, and salt. Beat for 1 minute until combined.
Frost the cake as desired.

 

Red Velvet Cake.

It was one of the best moments. It was like Swiss Meringue Buttercream (SMBC) moment! I will tell you all about it, but first let’s have the cake!WP_20160511_12_12_54_ProSo, remember my last attempt for a Red Velvet Cake which turned into a one of the best chocolate cakes ever? But I wanted a Red Velvet Cake right? No, not just another Red Velvet Cake. I wanted one naturally colored with beetroot, not with synthetic food color. WP_20160511_11_12_29_Pro.jpgWhen I started to read about it, it came as a surprise that Red Velvet Cake is actually a chocolate cake. But the kind in which chocolate flavor floats just very lightly without showing up the color. The actual color comes either from beetroots or from red food color, but I had my own reasons for insisting on beetroots. There is no dearth of the recipes which use beets and truth be told, I tried at least three recipes but every time I had a chocolate-colored-chocolate-cake on hands. Something was surely not right and that something had to be fixed. And that something happened to be the pH of the cake batter which is very important if you are baking a Red Velvet Cake with beets. WP_20160511_15_08_49_Pro.jpgSo, to keep it short and simple, you need to provide lots of acidic ingredients when you are baking a Red Velvet Cake with beets. Vinegar, buttermilk, lemon juice, or even orange juice AND you should use just the baking powder and NOT BAKING SODA. The alkalinity of the baking soda turns the beautiful red color of beets to brown, while acidity helps to brighten up the red color. The roasted beets make the cake extremely moist, impart the beautiful red color and a rustic flavor to the cake. This cake is slightly on  a denser side. I opted for raspberry flavor to infuse the batter and some color coordination. Just joking, but it worked really well. Its different from a vanilla flavored cake in a pleasant way.WP_20160511_14_56_44_Pro.jpgI didnt want the usual cream cheese frosting for this cake, because I dont like it. Instead, I frosted the cake with the white chocolate buttercream and this combination is my current favorite thing.

Red Velvet Cake
(Yields one 8 inches round cake)
(Adapted from here)

Ingredients:
1 medium beetroot
1 ¼ cup cake flour
1 ½ tablespoon cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
110 gram unsalted butter
1 teaspoon raspberry extract
1 ¼ cup sugar
2 eggs
¾ cup buttermilk
1 ½ tablespoon white wine vinegar (or regular vinegar)
½ cup roasted beetroot puree

1. Preheat the oven to 176 degrees Celsius. Wash and wrap a medium whole beetroot in an aluminium foil and roast for about an hour or till a knife easily cuts through. Cool, peel and puree. This can done upto a day in advance
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking powder.
3. In another medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, beet puree,and vinegar.
4. In a large bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, and raspberry flavor. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add a third of the liquid ingredients, followed by a third of the dry ingredients, alternating wet and dry and mixing well after each addition.
5. Pour into your prepared pans and bake for about 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean and the tops look firm. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack before frosting

White Chocolate Buttercream:
(Adapted from here)

170 gram white chocolate
230 gram unsalted butter
240 grams confectioner’s sugar
2 table spoon light cream
½ tsp raspberry flavor
¼ teaspoon salt

1. Prepare a bain marie with barely simmering water.
2. Finely chop the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl over bain marie such that the water doesn’t touch the base of the bowl. The bowl should fit snugly to avoid any steam escaping and getting into the chocolate bowl. Take the bowl off heat when about 30% of the chocolate is still not melted and keep whisking gently. The chocolate will keep melting as you whisk. Cool it till it is still at pouring consistency.
3. In a medium bowl, beat the butter on medium speed for 1 minute. Switch the mixer to low speed and slowly add the confectioners’ sugar.
4. Stir in the cooled white chocolate. Switch the mixer to medium speed and beat for 2 minutes until combined and creamy.
5. Add the cream, raspberry extract, and salt. Beat for 1 minute until combined.
6. Frost the cake as desired.
7. Excess buttercream can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week. Before using, bring it to room temperature and whisk well.

 

 

 

Chocolate beetroot cake

The world needs peace. Really.  Oppugnant characters need to come together, we need to stop taking sides and make peace. Somewhere I believe it involves bringing Chocolate and beetroots together and I did my bit. We need to be inclusive.

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I have always tried to love beetroots. Loving them for their color came naturally but somehow they never tickled my taste buds. I still keep buying them and incorporate them in meals quite regularly but have never seen a smiling face the day they are on table. However, this cake changed it all.

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This cake started as a red velvet cake. However, the amount of the cocoa was way too much even for the ferocious beet red to show up. So, it ended up as the softest, moistest, and deeply chocolaty chocolate cake with that right punch which no one would believe comes from beet root. It also proved that its not going to be the last cake I have baked with beets. But this cake wont give you the ticket to hop onto the “eating healthy” bandwagon because c’mon! lets not kid ourselves. A beetroot shared by two people over a span of three days (with that amount of cocoa)  doesnt even come close.

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Its a very easy cake to bake, the only extra step is roasting beets in oven for slightly more than an hour and grinding that into a puree. From there its as easy as it can be. The mild sweetness calls for a good quality ganache if you really want to dress it up for an occasion. or just dust it with plain icing sugar on a regular day. Go and hunt for that languishing beetroot. It deserves a place in the oven, instead of fridge.

Chocolate Beetroot cake
(Yields one 8 inches round cake)

Ingredients:
1 medium beetroot, around 150 grams
½ cup neutral oil (I used sunflower)
¼ cup milk
2 tablespoon plain yogurt
½ tsp white vinegar
2 eggs
¾ cup flour
½ cup dark cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

1. Preheat the oven to 176 degrees Celsius . wash, dry and wrap whole beetroot in an aluminium foil and roast for about an hour or till a knife easily cuts through. Cool, peel and puree. This can done upto a day in advance
2. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients and set aside.
3. Blend the wet ingredients including the puree until uniform.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until combined.
5. Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick in the center of the center comes out clean. Cool before icing.

Chocolate ganache:

200 ml light cream
200 gram good quality chocolate (not bitter or dark)
25 gram butter
A pinch of salt

1. Chop chocolate in a heatproof bowl and keep aside
2. Heat cream in a thick bottomed pan over medium low heat till bubbles start appearing over the edges.
3. Turn off the flame and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolates. Top with butter. Cover and keep aside for 5-7 minutes
4. Whisk well and add in the salt. Cool before spreading

 

Christmas Fruit Cake

Festivals always arrive a few days before “the” date. They can be felt in the air, smelled in home kitchens, heard in excited conversations of the children and elders alike, seen in the markets and just everywhere. The patient wait and the preparations for the celebrations, days in advance, make revelry even more special.  So, in our home Christmas  festivities almost always arrives in October, when I soak fruits in alcohol for this traditional Christmas Fruit Cake.

Camera360_2015_12_24_042809-001This cake is different from a regular fruit cake as it has a good amount of caramel in it. Caramel gives it a typical deep brown color as well as the toffee flavor which amalgamates beautifully with the alcohol and fruits, and at the same time keeps the cake moist. I prefer to bake my cake at least one week in advance and let the flavors mature with regular feeding of rum. The alcohol not only keeps the cake moist, it increases its shelf-life as well.

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Though I have been baking this cake for as long as I can remember, this year I baked two cakes. One is what you see here, and the other one using the same recipe, with brown sugar replacing the regular sugar and rum replacing the caramel altogether. That cake is still maturing and it will be another couple of days before I can update you on that one. Till then, here is the traditional Christmas Fruit Cake in all its goodness. Merry Christmas!

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(Update 28.12.2015- So, we finally had the rum cake and we did miss caramel in it. This cake was light brown in color unlike one with caramel, and more on sweeter side. It lacked the toffee-rum flavor which I feel is the very soul of the Christmas cake. So, I don’t think I am going to replace caramel with anything as for now! )

Christmas Fruit Cake
(Yields two 8 inches square cakes)

Ingredients

For the fruit mix:
• 500g chopped mixed dry fruits
• 1/4th cup rum/brandy
• 1/4th cup orange juice
• Zest from the peel of one orange
• Juice from one lemon
• 1 tbsp vanilla extract
• 1/4th tsp powdered cloves
• ½ tsp powdered cinnamon
• ½ tsp powdered nutmeg

For the caramel:
• 1 ½ cup sugar
• ¾ cup hot water
• 1 tsp instant coffee powder

For the cake:
• 500 grams alcohol soaked mixed fruit
• 2 cups plus 2 tbsp all purpose flour
• 200 gms unsalted butter, room temperature
• ¾ cup sugar
• 4 eggs
• caramel syrup
• 1 ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 2 tsp pure vanilla extract

To make the fruit mix:

• In a non-reactive bowl, place all the ingredients listed under the “fruit mix” and stir well.
• Cover with a fitting lid and keep under refrigeration for 3 days or more. I soak my fruits 3 months in advance
• Mix thoroughly every 3rd day and feed more alcohol as and when needed.

To make the caramel:
• Place sugar in a heavy bottomed pan. Keep the pan on medium-slow flame and let the sugar melt.
• Once sugar begins to melt, rotate the pan to swirl the sugar till it completely melts. Don’t fret if the sugar crystallizes, just keep stirring and it will melt to become caramel.
• Let the caramel reach deep amber color, at which point turn off the flame. Very carefully, slowly add the hot water into the pot and keep stirring. It’s a good idea to wear baking gloves at this time as the caramel will splatter A LOT. Keep mixing the caramel till it settles and dissolve a teaspoon of instant coffee powder to it. Reserve.

To make the cake:
• Heat the oven to 150° C. Grease two 8X8 inches square pans and line thrice with parchment paper. This step is very important since the cake bakes for a long time and not lining with enough parchment layers will result in hardening of the edges. Grease parchment paper as well.
• Toss the soaked mixed fruit in flour well in a large bowl so that the fruit is completely coated. Add the salt and baking powder and mix well. Keep aside.
• Beat the butter and sugar with electric blender till fluffy, about 2 minutes. Then add the eggs and beat well again
• Add the caramel syrup and vanilla extract and beat again till well incorporated. The mixture may appear curdled.
• Add the flour coated mixed fruit mixture to the butter mix and stir well.
• Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for about an hour. The cake, when done, will be dark golden brown on top and a skewer inserted into the middle of the cake will turn out clean.
• Turn off the oven and let the cake cool. Once cooled, poke several holes into the cake and feed it with rum. Cover the cake in multiple layers of parchment paper and let the cake sit on room temperature for about a week. Feed rum at least twice while the cake is maturing.

Extra notes:
1. Do not pack the cake directly with aluminium foil as the juices of the cake may react with the metal. Its better to cover in the parchment paper and clean wrap and store at room temperature.
2. Though it is better to mature the cake for at least a week, a minimum of two days is much desired.

La Bête Noire

Once the hysteria subsided after I received a bigger-than-I-could-hold pack of this from my newly wed sister, a saintly calm descended upon me. Strangely, I didnt feel the urge to cut open the pack and look at it in real. “It has to be used for the right recipe, at the right time” I told myself. Baking has taught me something nothing else could- Patience. So I  browsed and read while the buttery brown packet rested right in front of my eyes. And then, I found a recipe  which promised to take me to chocolate heaven and I decided to take the Valrhona route. And the time didn’t matter. WP_20151117_14_03_39_Pro (5)A true epitome of the french perfection, La Bête Noire, or The Black Beast is the richest, most decadent, most moist and velvety, most chocolatey chocolate cake that I have come across. No flour, no leavening agent, no folding egg whites. Just sugar syrup, butter, eggs and LOADS of chocolate, in one bowl is all you need to achieve this sophistication. And while the use of Ganache can be left to individual preferences, don’t miss out on strawberries (though any tart juicy berries would do) and no, they are not just for the show. When the cake has taken you to the chocolate heaven, these berries will lend you the nirvana. You can thank me later. Camera360_2015_11_17_031026
La bête noire
(
Almost from here)
For the cake:

• 1 cup water
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, diced
• 18 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 6 large eggs

For the ganache:
• 1 cup heavy whipping cream
• 8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
• Lightly sweetened whipped cream
• Tart and juicy strawberries, or any other berries (optional but recommended)
For cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 10-inch-diameter springform pan. Line bottom of pan with parchment round; butter parchment. Wrap 3 layers of heavy-duty foil around outside of pan, bringing foil to top of rim. Combine 1 cup water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to boil over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
2. Melt butter in large saucepan over low heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Whisk sugar syrup into chocolate; cool slightly. Add eggs to chocolate mixture and whisk until well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Place cake pan in large roasting pan. Add enough hot water to roasting pan to come halfway up sides of cake pan.
3. Bake cake until center no longer moves when pan is gently shaken, about 50 minutes. Remove from water bath; transfer to rack. Cool completely in pan.
For ganache:
4. Bring whipping cream to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and whisk until smooth. Pour over top of cake still in pan. Gently shake pan to distribute ganache evenly over top of cake. Refrigerate cake in pan until ganache is set, about 2 hours. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover and keep refrigerated.

Chocolate Oreo Cake

Not so long ago, my pantry turned into an “Oreo and chocolate” storehouse. No, I do not buy cookies or chocolates for my girl, because if I start buying on top of what she already gets from her doting father and our circle of over-indulgent relatives and friends, it will be a crime. It came to a point where I had to put my foot down and evict all those packets from wherever they were in my kitchen. The girl was obviously not happy, and even accused that she never knew I was “that” kind of mamma. But since there is no other option, she has made peace with the truth. Before you scoff at me, let me tell you that she does get her chocolates and Oreos once in a while.  But this time again, I took away a whole packet. Ya I know I am evil. Not because I took away her favorite cookies. But because I made this.6

I was searching for some inspiration to re-new my buttercream recipe when I came across the Oreo version. Oreo Buttercream? Despite my face off with the Oreos, I knew those two words together would mean “Luscious” if they were in dictionary, and a chocolate cake.  I tried a new chocolate cake recipe this time and it turned out to be a keeper. The  cake has intense chocolate flavor, the texture is sturdy and it will be fabulous for layer cakes.

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And just to tell you that the girl was super happy to see her Oreos sitting on top of the cake. She insisted on getting a slice with an Oreo topping. I didn’t feel the need to tell her that Oreo is in every bite in this cake. Whether she eats a slice with or without an Oreo, she is going to enjoy her cookie.

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Chocolate cake with Oreo buttercream frosting:

(Adapted from here)

Yields Two 8-inch round, 2-inch tall cake layers

250 grams self-raising flour

250 grams light brown sugar

50 grams cocoa

250 grams dark chocolate

250 grams butter

4 medium eggs

  • Preheat the oven to 160 degree Celsius. Grease and line 2x 8 inches cake pans
  • Mix the flour, sugar and cocoa together.
  • Melt the chocolate, butter and 200 ml water together over low heat. Then beat this along with the eggs into the dry ingredients.
  • Pour the cake batter into the prepared pans, and bake for approximately 40 mins, until well risen, and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  • Transfer to wire racks and allow to cool.

Oreo buttercream:

150 grams Oreo cookies

250g butter

300-400g sifted icing sugar

few drops vanilla extract

1-2 tablespoon light cream

  • Beat the butter until creamy. Then add the icing sugar in small batches and beat well after each addition. Add vanilla and mix well. An electric mixer is really useful here! If you find the mixture a bit dry, add a tablespoon of cream at a time. If the mixture is wet, add a little more icing sugar and whip till the spreading/piping consistency is reached
  • Blitz all the cookies in a food processor. Mix half of the cookie crumbs into the buttercream, and reserve the other half.
  • Spread the butter icing between the two cakes, and over the top of them when sandwiched together. Sprinkle the cookie crumbs generously over the sides and over the top layer. Decorate as desired.