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.

 

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.

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.

 

 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

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.

Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting

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I must have been around 10 years old when my teacher at school demonstrated baking cake in a cooker as part of the SUPW. It was a basic vanilla cake with glazed cherries and tutti frutti and without any frosting. I remember how giggles turned into squeals when the cake was out. We all happily ate the cake baked by “us”. “Was it all? A recipe and a cooker? really? Then it must be the simplest thing in the world!” the child in me thought.

Soon after that incident was my kid sister’s birthday in June, and I offered to bake the cake for the small kids party we had organized that evening. I chose a recipe titled “Steamed chocolate cake” from a decade old”cookbook” that came free with a cooker. With a song in my heart and a whisk in my hand, I mixed the cake batter and kept it to bake.  I was as confident as a magician who was about to turn a handkerchief into a hare under a hat. And when the time was up, I opened the cooker lid, only to find a gooey, chocolaty mess in the pan instead of a cake. What had gone wrong? Was there a Genie inside the cooker who held a grudge against me?  I frantically read and re-read the recipe, trying to figure out if I had missed anything when I noticed that unopened packet of baking powder on the kitchen counter. And that was it. I can never put in words how I felt at that moment but what really broke my heart was the disappointment over my sister’s face and the tears in her eyes. Luckily, my parents had a backup plan that cheered up my kid sister and the party went on as planned. But I could never take that failed cake out of my head. or sight.

7

Many birthdays have been celebrated since then and I have been baking cakes for family and friends for quite sometime now. So for my first ever blog post, it had to be a chocolate cake recipe  as a tribute to my first (failed) chocolate cake, and to my sister, who again celebrates her birthday this month. This is one of my favorite chocolate cakes sans any exquisite ingredients. You see, this cake was baked with much love and that is the main ingredient.

Chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting
(Adapted minimally from smittenkitchen.com)

Yields one 9 inches round cake or 16 small cupcakes

6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
175 grams firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk
1 teaspoon (5 ml) vanilla extract
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table or fine sea salt

• Heat oven to 350°F (176°C). Line the bottom of an 8-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, butter the parchment.
• In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar until fluffy (~3 mins); scrape down bowl.
• Add the egg, yolk and vanilla and beat until combined, then add the buttermilk and mix again.
• Scrape the bowl down well and don’t worry if the batter looks curdled.
• Place your flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a sifter and shake it over the batter bowl. Stir on low until just combined; scrape down bowl a final time.
• Pour batter into prepared pan and smooth flat. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Let cool for 10 to 15 minutes in cake pan, then flip out onto rack or serving plate to completely finish cooling before frosting.

Creamy peanut butter frosting:

1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup creamy peanut butter
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1/3 cup low fat cream

• In a bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar, peanut butter, butter, vanilla, and salt with an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
• Mix on medium-low speed until creamy, scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
• Add the cream, one tablespoon at a time and beat on high speed until the mixture is light and smooth.
• Smeared or swirled, it will taste heavenly, on its own and on the cake.