Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Our Current Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie

This is our current favorite recipe for Chocolate chip cookies. Its from the King Arthur Flour website. I do not use the almond extract as recommended by the recipe and I use milk chocolate chips or butterscotch chips instead of semi-sweet.

  • 2/3 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup Crisco/Vegetable shortening
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar, cider or white
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk chocolate chips/any chips
Bring your eggs, butter to room temp.
Add the sugars, butter, shortening, vanilla, salt, baking soda, vinegar in this order in a bowl and cream on medium speed for atleast 2 minutes, scraping down the sides and bottom intermittently.
Technically speaking. creaming is a process of mixing the sugar and butter well so that the sugar is partially dissolved in the softened butter. So if its looking grainy because the butter was too cold or the brown sugar was too hard, beat it some more until you see a creamier, sticking to the sides of the bowl kind of mixture. Make sure your butter is not melted before creaming because you will never be able to cream melted butter and sugar.
Enough about creaming! Add the eggs one at a time, stirring lightly between additions. Mix well for about 30 seconds. Add the 2 cups of flour, sifted and mix in spurts to avoid overmixing, After about 10-20 seconds of mixing, I usually mix the rest by hand. Add the chocolate chips and mix well. Drop tablespoonfulls on wax paper lined cookie sheet and freeze the sheet for atleast 30 mins. Once frozen, I dump them all into a bag and place in the freezer for about 12-24 hrs. Next day, I preheat the oven to 350 and bake the cookies for about 9-12 mins until the cookies are pale golden at the edges. The top may look underdone but it continues cooking for a few seconds after you take it out. It also yields a chewier cookie.
Freezing the dough is supposed to bring out the caramel flavor in the cookies. For me its a make-ahead kind of conveninence. I can bake smaller batches as required. Nothing beats fresh from the oven, warm, chewy chocolate chip  cookies!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Happy Holidays!

Nothing but the usual....decorated cookies for the Holidays.
Also pictured here are my new stackable cookie racks. I bought a set of 3 racks on sale for 7.99 at ACMoore yeah..!

These cookies were part of a tray of goodies I prepared for Altaf's workplace...I heard they got good reviews. Yay! Happy Holidays Everyone!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Rainbow cookies

These were cupcakes for little birthday girl Shivani who loves rainbows! The toppers are rainbow shaped iced cookies. I don't have a rainbow shaped cookie cutter but I was able to combine a few cutters to make these cookies ("jugaad" as they say back home in Bombay).
From the picture below you should be able to see I used a round cookie cutter, a tiny scalloped circle cutter and the bottom of a tulip shaped cutter. Each circle I cut into two using my bench scraper (not pictured but a knife would do). Then cut off the corners with the same. Cut out two scalloped circles and cut off a small portion. Shaped the  inner curve of the rainbow using the tulip cutter bottom (any small circle would do) and then pieced it all together.

The dough was very firm, straight from the freezer. I roll out the dough into sheets between freezer paper/wax paper/parchment/cling wrap and then freeze for 15 mins before cutting cookies. It preserves the shapes well when transferring to the final baking sheet.

Once the cookies bake, the shapes merge together to form a single cookie. They should still be handled carefully as the joints are a bit fragile. Let them cool completely before picking them up.
Here they are all ready to be iced!

The icing was Royal icing (Sweetopia's recipe) iced in 6 colors of the rainbow...I didn't feel like doing indigo :-) and piped on with parchment cones. I realized I did not have 6 piping tips in size 3 or 4..so I had no choice but to try parchment. This was my1st ever attempt with making and using parchment but it went a lot smoother than I thought it would and results wise you wouldn't know the difference. Speaking of differences...do you spot the odd one out in the cookies below? Arsh got to eat that cookie :-)

 The icing consistency I kept thicker than usual (about 8-9 seconds on Marian's 10 second scale) so that they wouldn't run or spread but at the same time would blend with each for a smooth top. I was afraid that the colors would bleed into each other but thankfully nothing of the sort happened.

Here they are with the clouds piped on in white.

And the final result...as toppers on the cupcakes!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Biscotti 1st attempt

My 1st ever attempt at biscotti. They were chocolate vanilla biscotti for our PTA meeting (I'm on the hospitality committee) and they turned out well. Everyone who tried one said they tasted good. It wasn't very difficult to make either...I just didn't expect the baking times to be this long. Biscotti is twice baked for crunchiness which had me worried. But these turned out somwhere between soft and crunchy without being rock hard. I did not have the vanilla bean paste or the mini chocolate chips or the espresso powder called for in the recipe below but I subbed regular vanilla extract, regular chocolate chips and instant coffee powder instead.

I'm going to try a fancier biscotti recipe the next time around, with more confidence!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Easy Burger Buns

Another easy to make KAF recipe :

We tried them last night to make Sloppy Joes. They require just basic ingredients and no potato flour and milk powder....so two thumbs up there. The buns turned out very good..soft but not pasty.

I used almost 1 cup of water and felt the dough was a bit too sticky so I added 2-3 tbsp more flour. Also based on reviews I used a little less than 1/4 cup of sugar (maybe a tbsp short).  I mixed the dough in my kitchenaid stand mixer with the dough hook for about 6 mins or so. The rest of the recipe I followed as is and the result was excellent. Total time was 10 mins to measure and mix, 1 hour to rise, 10 mins to cut and shape, 1 hour to rise, 12-13 mins to bake.

Let me know if you have any questions when making these.
- Serene

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Golden pull apart buns

This weekend was Papdi chaat and Vada pav for our get together with friends. The Pavs were the Golden pull apart buns from King Arthur Flour's website. The KAF blog has really detailed step by step instructions with  lots of pictures so its hard to go wrong. 
Two ingredients the recipe calls for, I usually do not have in my pantry so I had to go get that: Potato starch or instant potato flakes like Betty crocker etc. and dry milk powder. As per the blog post, the potato helps with the softness and helps it keep longer. The milk powder helps the dough rise better.
The  other thing that makes this recipe super easy to pull together for me is my Kitchenaid stand mixer. That machine is a workhorse and its a must have for any serious baker. I've used it to make roti atta too and it does a great job. For this bread, it does the kneading in 7 mins...so we'd need about 15 by hand...not impossible but not easy either.

I baked the rolls in two 8x8 square pans so they came out square just like the pavs from back home. They also weren't too soft and had a bit of a texture to it. 

The ingredient list:
3 1/2 cups All purpose flour (I use KAF unbleached AP flour)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
2 tablespoons potato flour or 1/4 cup instant potato flakes ( I have used both and they've both come out well) 
3 tablespoons nonfat dry milk
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons soft butter
2/3 cup lukewarm water
1/2 cup lukewarm milk

The step by step instructions from the KAF blog are in the link below. But the gist of it is, dump all ingredients into the mixer bowl, adding the warm liquids last. Knead on med speed for 7 mins. Remove and place in a greased bowl. Keep in a warm draft free place for about 60-90 mins to rise until almost doubled in volume.
I usually heat my oven for about 2-3 mins and then turn it off and place the dough in the oven to rise. This has worked everytime.  After the dough has about doubled in volume, deflate/punch the dough down and divide into 18 rolls. Shape the rolls (not like chapati dough..see pictures for this one) into balls and place 9 in each lightly greased square pan with room to spare (the dough will rise again). Place in a warm spot again for the 2nd rise..about 60 to 90 mins. When the rolls have risen, heat the oven to 350 deg F. Bake the rolls at 350 for 18-22 mins until the top gets a nice golden brown. Brush with butter and take the rolls out after 10 mins to cool.
Good luck!!

KAF blog:

Friday, November 26, 2010


Made a few bite-sized desserts for Thanksgiving dinner hosted by our cousins.
Miniature apple pies
Iced sugar cookies
Nutella Banana purses
Cake balls!
My friend Kalpana helped me make the iced cookies. We used the same fall leaf cutters that I used a few weeks ago. With 2 pairs of hands the decorating was super quick.
The mini-caramel apple pies were my Arsh's request...can't have Thanksgiving without apple pie he said. Recipe was Foodwishes chef John's caramel apple pie using pillsbury ready-made crust.
Cake Balls were the standard Bakerella recipe (Go to www.bakerella.com and you can't miss them) 1/2 chocolate and 1/2 chocolate raspberry flavored.

The banana nutella purses were the simplest to make. Usually I never keep Nutella at home since its detrimental to my own waistline. However I found Nutella on sale at Target last week so if there was such a time to buy it....
So I used Pepperidge farm puff pastry sheets. Rolled out one sheet in a square shape. Cut the sheet into 16 squares. Plopped about a teaspoonful of Nutella on each square and topped it with a thick slice of banana. Pulled up the corners and sealed it well by pressing together. Brushed the tops with egg wash and baked it at 400 deg for 15 mins. Drizzled with melted chocolate. My own review:
Presentation: 10/10
Ease of prep: 10/10
Taste: 7/10
I couldn't taste much of the Nutella or the banana in each bite. Need something to pump up the flavor. Hmm. Or perhaps I can roll out the sheets even thinner. BTW, don't forget to seal the purses tight or they open up during baking. 

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Soccer cake

This past weekend was the last soccer game of the season and we made this cake for the after-party.
The cake was a 3 layer 1/2 vanilla, 1/2 chocolate cake, like the last Chocolate cake but the layers were alternate chocolate and vanilla so everyone would get a little of both. The filling was the chocolate buttercream that's my current favorite (from Our Best Bites) and the exterior frosting was American buttercream from Seriouscake's recipe. The soccer ball hemisphere was made out of cake scraps mixed with leftover frosting, shaped, frozen, then iced with white buttercream and covered with fondant pentagons and hexagons. Getting them to line up and fit right was a struggle..but I had help from a pair of 8 year old hands :-)
The team shirts were fondant cutouts with the writing done with Americolor food writers.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chocolate cake with Strawberries

This cake was for a friend's office party. His co worker was getting married so this could be considered a groom's cake. We decided on a 1/2 vanilla, 1/2 chocolate cake with chocolate buttercream and strawberries. Getting the cake to be 1/2 vanilla 1/2 chocolate ended up being the unexpected  challenge but thanks to the very informative forums on cakecentral.com it worked out well in the end.
The recipes I used for the cake were the yellow WASC cake which I have posted before and the Hershey's perfectly chocolate cake also posted in prior posts. The buttercream was the cooked chocolate frosting I posted recently. It's a real silky buttercream and a non-crusting kind which means I could not smooth it like I usually do. However I think I made up with the chocolate covered strawberries on top.
The strawberries are very easy to do if you have the right ingredients and method.

Some kind of chocolate (Chips, buttons, wafers etc)
Crisco or some kind of fat (maybe vegetable oil will work)
Prepare the strawberries:
Wash the strawberries and dry them thoroughly (I mean thoroughly else your chocolate will seize).
I used a hair dryer on cool temp to dry them off, thats after I wiped each one carefully with a paper towel.
Prepare the chocolate: 
You can buy the Dolci Frutta containers at any grocery store. They usually display them right next to the berries or in the baking aisle. They're chocolate wafers in a microwaveable paper container. Or you can buy the candy melts in various colors from Michaels or any craft store or even Party City. I used Dolci for the dark and light cocoa candy melts for the light ones on the cake.
You can even use chocolate chips but they melt quite thick. For all kinds of chocolate melt them at 30-40% power at 30 second bursts, stirring to disperse the heat until they are melted  smooth. Make sure the chocolate does not get too hot or it will scorch/burn/seize. Also no moisture of any kind must get into it or it will seize so make sure everything you use is dry. If the chocolate is thick and not pourable, add about 1/2 tsp crisco and stir it well (carefully so as to not get air bubbles in). 
Once the chocolate is smooth, somewhat pourable, you're ready to dip.
Hold the fruit by the leaves, dip into the chocolate, roll it around to get a good coat. Shake or tap it to drop the excess and place on a wax paper to dry.
It should firm up in about 10 mins or place in the refrigerator for 2-3 mins.
For the white drizzle, melt white chips or wafers, add crisco to thin, put in a ziploc bag, snip a tiny part of the corner off. Test the drizzle on wax paper and then drizzle across the strawberries.
That's it! Its very easy to do once you get the hang of working with chocolate and have them on hand.

One more note:  The strawberries are best eaten immediately or within a few hours of making them. After 8-9 hours, I have noticed they begin to let out some moisture and they don't look as good.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Cream Cheese Brownies

This is my current favorite recipe...and it has held its position since the last year or so. Its somewhere between fudgey and cakey with lots of chocolate bits, so it seems to be well liked by everyone. It can be made pretty quickly too since you don't need to soften the butter. It usually takes me about 30 mins or less to prep and mix and 30-35 mins to bake.

For the chocolate part:
4 oz semi sweet chocolate (4x1 oz Baker's Semi Sweet chocolate squares)
1/2 cup or 1 stick of butter (salted)
3 eggs
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 cup chocolate chips (I use milk chocolate chips)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp instant coffee (optional)

For the cream cheese part:
8 oz or 1 block of cream cheese softened
1 egg
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 deg.

Put the chocolate squares and butter in a saucepan and melt on lowest flame. I'm supposed to chop the chocolate but I've been lazy of late and I dump it all in and compensate by some more frequent stirring so it doesn't burn. Make sure it doesn't get too hot.

Meanwhile beat the eggs and sugar until light and creamy (about 3-4 minutes). Note: Its best for eggs to be at room temp for baking anything. I usually take the eggs out of the fridge and submerge them in a bowl of  warm water for a couple of minutes since I'm always baking at short notice.

Once the egg sugar mixture is light and creamy, add the vanilla, salt and instant coffee powder and stir. Coffee seems to enhance or deepen the chocolate flavor but the brownies come out good even without it.
Now add the butter and chocolate mixture while stirring (to avoid cooking the eggs)

Fold in the flour with a spatula but don't over do it, just 15 strokes should be enough. Add the chocolate chips (reserve a few to sprinkle on top) and fold a few times. Stir or fold just enough so no streaks or lumps of flour can be seen. Too much mixing will result in a tougher brownie. In fact, I do everything by hand once I begin adding flour.

Another note about flour: Measure flour by spooning it into a cup and leveling off. Dragging a cup through flour will pack it with too much flour resulting in a denser brownie. Also I sift flour by dumping the cup into a big strainer over my mixing bowl..its much faster. Nowadays, I find that just whisking the flour also aerates it enough so I don't need to sift unless I'm making a light airy cake.

Line a 13x9 pan with a long piece of aluminium foil leaving some extra overhang over 2 sides to use as handles later and spray well with Pam. Dump the chocolate mixture into it spreading it to reach the sides.

Now blend the cream cheese and sugar well until relatively smooth. Add the egg and vanilla and blend at medium speed just enough to incorporate the egg. Stir a few times with the spatula so any cream cheese along the sides of the bowl mixes in.

Plop giant spoonfuls into the chocolate mixture and then drag the end of a butter knife through the white and dark patches to swirl and marble the mixture. Sprinkle the reserved chocolate chips over the top for a nice contrast.

Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or so. Check at about 30 mins. A toothpick poked in the center and pulled out should have sticky crumbs on it..but should not look like batter (underdone) and should not pull out clean (overdone). I always err on the underdone side since it will continue to cook for a few minutes as it cools.

After about 10-20 mins of cooling, pull the brownie slab out with the aluminium foil overhang. Cut with a serrated knife into small squares.

Variations: You can skip the cream cheese part and they still yield some awesome chocolate brownies. Add chopped walnuts for some crunch or mint chips for a chocolate-mint version.

I'll update this post with pictures later. I forgot to take any pics this time!

Feel free to let me know if you have any questions.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

What's cooking...part 2

OK...Details as promised:
Cookies are the same No Fail Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing tinted Halloween purple that I used for making the Fall Cookies.
The topper is made of molded chocolate. I got the mold recently at Candyland Crafts in Somerville and the Slime Green candy melts I used are from Michaels. These toppers are super easy to make. Just melt candy melts in a microwave, spoon into the mold cavities. Tap on the counter top to release bubbles, and place in the fridge for about 10-15 minutes. They pop out easily once chilled.

The Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate chocolate cake is my go to chocolate cake recipe now. I have used it before to make the Ganache cake. So far it has not failed me.
The buttercream is a new recipe that I was a bit skeptical about because it uses flour, and is cooked like a pudding, but it turned out very well in the end. The texture was a bit too soft for piping rosettes but I think it was coz' the kitchen was very warm with all the baking. I think about 5 to 10 mins in the fridge should have firmed it up nicely. It was a bit too salty for my taste so next time I plan to sub with unsalted butter and some salt to taste.
Here's the recipe and tutorial from another blog  Our Best Bites:

Hubby rated the cake 8/10 and my DDDDS rated it 10/10...woohooo!

What's cooking?

Pumpkin and Halloween themed cookies for the school Halloween bingo event and Chocolate cake with lots of frosting as requested by hubby. Recipes and directions coming up in the next post.

After Arsh's decorating:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Oreo Truffles

I just realized that I can make these truffles in less than 2 hours. They only need 3-4 ingredients and they look like they took a lot of effort and they taste delicious (imo)!
I've seen the recipe with some slight variations on Bakerella's site (check out www.bakerella.com for some  insanely cute creations) and also on the Kraft website.

Oreo Truffles:
1 pkg Oreos (regular kind not double stuffed) minus 9 cookies..i.e about 36 cookies.
1 8 oz pkg cream cheese at room temp...they taste good with the light cheese too.
1 pkg Wilton white or milk chocolate candy  melts.

Grind the cookies in a food processor as fine as you can get it, even med coarse crumbs are fine. Mush in the cream cheese and mix well until it becomes a dough. Pinch off pieces of dough and roll into a ball. Put them on a wax paper lined plate and put them in the freezer for 10-15 mins. While they're in the freezer, split the candy melts in 2 microwavable glass bowls and put one of them in the microwave. Melt the candy as per the directions. I add a 1/2 tsp of Crisco to the melted chocolate to thin it out a bit.
Take the balls out the freezer and reroll the now firm dough into rounder balls (they may have flattened in the freezer).
Drop them one by one in the chocolate, dip, cover, drain, place on wax paper to harden.

This takes some practice and some playing around with tools. What works for me is 2 forks and a spoon. I drop the ball in, use the small spoon to spoon chocolate over the ball. Then use one fork to lift it, tap it firmly to drop the excess chocolate through the tines. Then use the 2nd fork to slide the ball carefully from the fork onto the wax paper.

Start melting the 2nd bowl of chocolate so it will be ready once you're thru with 1/2 the balls.
Dip all of the truffles and place on the wax paper to dry. I pop the tray into the fridge for about 5-10 mins to firm up.
While in the fridge, melt about 2 tbsp of milk chocolate chips in the microwave. Spoon it into the corner of a small ziploc bag. Snip off the corner and try drizzling the chocolate on a plate or paper. Take the truffles out of the fridge and drizzle the chocolate over the them. 
Pop them back into the fridge for atleast 10 mins to harden.
Take them out, trim or break off any excess chocolate drips (use a knife for big blobs) and put them in pretty mini cupcake liners. You should be able to make about 36-42 truffles with this recipe.
Note: You can use any chocolate in place of the candy melts. The candy melts are easier to melt and handle and do not clump like regular chocolate can. I have used regular white chocolate chips in the past. Just keep some Crisco (dalda? vanaspati? some kind of fat with no water content) handy to thin it out else it can get very messy and frustrating. 

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cookies for Fall

Made these last week for a friend's girl scout meeting. I used the No Fail Sugar Cookie recipe (NFSC) from Cake Central and Sweetopia's Royal Icing recipe. I preferred the NFSC recipe over Sweetopia's this time around...the recipe calls for less butter and more flour so it was easier to work with but taste wise seemed quite similar. Both cookie recipes don't spread a lot so they retain the cutter shapes well.
The icing/decorations were all trial and error to see what looked best. My favorites were the acorns made with the chocolate jimmies and painted with edible copper luster, the red oak leaves made using marbled red food color during dipping and the sycamore that just won me over by the detailed shape of the cookie. Also liked the pumpkin which I've made before but this time dressed it up with orange sprinkles. The green stems and tendrils are made from green candy melts. 

If you are interested in making iced sugar cookies, you must must read Sweetopia's detailed tutorials on making the icing, coloring, and piping. And her cookies are amazingly detailed and impossibly cute! 
Icing recipe and directions:
Cookie recipe:
- Wilton candy melts are available in various colors at Michaels ACMoore and other craft stores. I keep a few colors handy.
- The royal icing recipe calls for Meringue powder which is available in better groceries and craft stores and tends to be relatively expensive. But usually you can get atleast 3 batches of icing from one container. I buy Chefmaster brand meringue online wherever I can get a good deal but have used Wilton brand also.
- The cookie recipe makes atleast 70-80 cookies. So I used half the recipe and froze the rest of the dough.
- The icing recipe makes enough to ice 40-50 cookies comfortably.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Birthday Cake!

Made for a friend's 5 year old daughter's birthday party at the dance studio. The cake is the basic WASC recipe with a tinge of citrus flavoring. The frosting is vanilla buttercream. The cutting cake has 3 layers with chocolate pudding filling.  What is WASC? WASC is short for White Almond Sour Cream cake which is a misnomer for me since this cake isn't white and there's no almond in it. Its sort of a doctored cake mix recipe which tastes almost like a scratch cake but is a reliable/stable cake. The recipe makes about 60-72 or so mini cupcakes, 36 or so regular cupcakes or  4x6 inch rounds or 3x8 inch rounds or 2x tall 9 inch rounds or 1x12inch round.

Here's the recipe from CakeCentral:

The Buttercream is American Buttercream so there are no eggs in it. 
I use SeriousCake's Buttercream recipe which makes around 6 cups or so of icing. I always have leftovers.
Here's her recipe:
I recommend watching all her videos for icing/decorating cakes, piping flowers etc. She's very very good!!

The drop flowers on the cake are made with the 2D (closed star) tip from Wilton and the rosettes on the cupcakes with the 1M (open star) tip. They're very very easy and quick to do...youtube has tons of tutorials.
Everyone including me liked the look of the cake. I didn't taste the finished cake with the filling so I really hope they liked it!!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Baking Tips

Here's a collection of cake bakingtips and tricks I have collected over the years. Hope this helps.

1. I do use boxed cake mixes when in a bind, but I try to make the frosting from scratch. There are many doctored box cake recipes that taste as good as baking from scratch. Home made buttercream definitely masks any boxed cake mix taste.

2. Measuring flour: This I have learned the hard way. For baking, flour is best measured by weight. But I don't own a scale (shame on me) and most recipes just mention cups..so the second best method of measuring flour is to spoon it into the cup with a light sprinkling action and then level off with a knife. Dragging the cup through the flour ends up packing the cup with a lot extra flour resulting in a much drier denser cake/bread.

3. Room temperature ingredients: Its best to work with all ingredients at room temperature. Liquids like milk, water etc can always be nuked in the microwave until barely warm (not hot!). Make sure butter is soft but not greasy/melted..if so pop it into the fridge for 2 minutes. I have not learned any tricks to getting butter softened quickly (sorry!) Also eggs are best at room temperature but I never seem to remember to take them out an hour in advance. A trick I learned from the web is to submerge the eggs in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes until they do not feel cold to the touch. Works like a charm! I definitely see the egg liquids are much looser and whip up better this way.

4. S-M-L-XL: Eggs in the US are sold by size. I've learned that recipes usually mean "Large" eggs. Recipes should specifically call for M or XL eggs if required.

5. Greasing the pans: I spray my baking pans with Baking Joy (its a grease+flour spray that works very well for cakes). Alternatively, you could use Pam or butter and then dust it with flour. I also use parchment paper rounds at the bottom of my cake pans, it takes the stress out of getting the cake bottoms smooth and out of the pans without ripping. They're not perfect circles but I try to get as much of the bottom covered.

6. For dark pans, lower the oven temp by 25 deg F. Also he lower the temp, the less the cake will dome. I'm going to try and buy aluminium pans only going forward. The next time I go to India, I'm going to go shopping for pans...they're way cheaper there I think!!

5. Cutting cakes: Joe Pastry (http://www.joepastry.com/) does an entire post on how to cut a cake the right way...its worth a read, when you want clean cake slices.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Chocolate Ganache cake

This was one of the easiest cakes I made, under the least amount of pressure. One of those snow days this season, I asked Big A what he would like for dessert and he said chocolate cake with icing. Little A agreed wholeheartedly! My job was 50% done already!

I used the Hershey's perfectly chocolate cake recipe since I've heard rave reviews of the same. The only change I made was I replaced the cup of boiling water with a cup of fresh brewed coffee per one of the reviewer's advice. I think instant coffee would work well too. You don't taste the coffee in the cake, but it definitely deepens the flavor of the cake.

Here's the cake recipe:

Hershey's perfectly chocolate cake:
2 cups granulated sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey's cocoa
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water (brewed coffee)

1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour two 9 inch pans.

2. Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Pour batter into prepared pans.

3. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Peel off the parchment paper and flip the cake. Let the cake cool completely before frosting it.

The cake layers came out quite flat to my delight and needed very little trimming on the top.
I frosted the 2 layers with chocolate buttercream. I used the Hershey's frosting recipe. Unfortunately it is not a crusting buttercream so you won't be able to smooth it very well. (More on crusting buttercream in another blog post). I tried to get it relatively smooth since I was going to be pouring ganache on it later.

Hershey's chocolate frosting:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine
2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar (10x or confectioner's sugar)
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter in the microwave. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount additional milk, if needed. Stir in vanilla.

Next get the ganache ready.

Chocolate Ganache:
9 oz semi sweet chocolate chips/chopped chocolate
1 cup heavy cream

Get 9 oz of semi sweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (I used a mix of milk and SS chocolate chips) in a glass or metal bowl. In a saucepan, heat 1 cup heavy cream until small bubbles appear around the edges. Turn off the heat and pour the hot cream on top of the chocolate. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chocolate has melted, then whisk until smooth.
The ganache will thicken as it cools. In fact I put it in the fridge for about 30 mins or more until it is pourable but thick enough to make a decent layer.
Place the frosted cake on a wire rack over a baking sheet or large pan to catch (and re-use) drips. I didnt do that and ended up with pools of ganache over the counter top :-(
Pour the ganache slowly over the cake so it drapes the entire cake. Depending on the thickness of the ganache, you may need to pour a second layer so it gets thicker but it won't look as smooth as the 1st one.
Left over ganache can be refrigerated and then stored or once chilled, beat into a creamy frosting.
Here's the finished product....the paper liners are just flattened pastel cupcake liners you get at the grocery store.

Note: I am no expert at cake baking..but there are a few tips and tricks I have picked up from all my web reading and searching. I'll put up a blog post just on them.