Saturday, October 22, 2011

Busy Cooking: Malted Milk Ball Layer Cake

My oldest son chose this cake as his special dessert last week.  On his first day at his new school here, he came home, and was asking me if I had ever heard of a whopper.  He told me how the two boys sitting near him were eating them and they looked so good, but when they offered him one, he said "no" because he hadn't finished eating his apples.  They told him to throw them away, but he said I would get mad, so he didn't (ah, yes, my kids do listen sometimes :) ).  Of course, I immediately went to the store to get him a box for his honesty.

As soon as I saw this cake, when flipping through Baked:  New Frontiers in Baking, I knew it had his name written all over it.  I may have convinced him he really wanted this cake because I wanted to make it.  How can you not want to try a cake with three layers of whipped milk chocolate icing sandwiched between layers of vanilla malt cake, topped with whoppers?  How?

Even the baby wanted some- you may have noticed an out of place whopper in the first photo, and some fingerprints.  Here's what happened just before:

Oven:  325

Malt Cake:
2 1/4 cup cake flour
3/4 cup flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 cup malted milk powder (I got mine at King Arthur Flour- you could use ovaltine)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup crisco (vegetable shortening)
2 cups sugar
1 TBSP vanilla
2 cups ice cold water
4 large egg whites

8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
8 oz milk chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 TBSP light corn syrup
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1)  Preheat the oven to 325.  Prepare the cake pans- 3 round pans, you can use either 8" or 9".  Cut parchment paper rounds for the bottoms of the pans, grease and flour the sides, set aside.

2) Mix flours (I didn't have cake flour, so a substitute I used was 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour  and 1/4 cup cornstarch to replace 2 cup cake flour), baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and malted milk powder together in medium bowl, set aside.

3)  In mixer, using paddle attachment, beat butter and shortening until creamy, about 3-4 minutes.  Add in sugar and vanilla, beat on high until fluffy, about 3 minutes.

4) Prepare a bowl of ice water.  In alternating additions, add flour mixture to creamed butter/sugar, then add 1 cup ice water, then more flour, remaining 1 cup ice water, then the rest of the flour mixture.  Scrape the sides of the bowl, give it another quick mix.

5) Beat the egg whites with hand mixer until peaks form.  Fold the egg whites into the cake batter.

6)  Divide the batter among the cake pans.  Bake 40-45 minutes, be sure to rotate the pans halfway through for even cooking.  When cake tester inserted in center comes out clean, remove from oven.  Let cool on wire rack.  Once completely cool, invert pans and remove cakes.  This cake is a bit fragile and crumbly, so you may want to refrigerate or freeze the cakes for a few minutes before assembling, I did not but they recommended it in the recipe, and I did notice the cakes were a bit more fragile than normal.

7) Make the icing while the cakes are cooling.  Place the chocolate in the bowl of your mixer, with the whisk attachment.  In a small saucepan, heat the cream and corn syrup until boiling.  Remove from heat and pour over chocolate, let sit 2-3 minutes.  Whisk on high until chocolate mixture is smooth.

8) Cut butter into 1 TBSP pieces.  Put paddle attachment on mixer.  Slowly add butter 1 piece at a time and mix until smooth.  Mix on medium and once all butter is added, stop, scrape down sides, then turn up to high for about 5-6 minutes.  It will thicken like pudding.  If it's not thick enough, beat on high for a few more minutes, you can also set in the refrigerator for about 5-10 minutes to thicken it as well.

9) Put the first cake layer on a plate or cake stand.  Add 1 1/4 cup icing to the top of the layer, spread it out.  Refrigerate for 5-10 minutes to let it set, Repeat with second layer.  With the third layer, add a light coat of icing to the whole cake, so it is coated, but very lightly.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes.  This is crumb coating, so now, when you remove the cake to finish icing it, you won't have any pesky crumbs getting in the way. Garnish the top with malted milk balls and enjoy!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Busy Cooking: 1000 eyed Monster Grasshopper Cake

A couple weeks ago, my daughter got stitches in her eyebrow.  I let her be the "special person" of the week and choose the dessert that I'd make for Friday night.  The next week, my son wanted to choose the special dessert, and thus a tradition was born that each week, one of my kids gets to choose a dessert for Friday night.  The pictures of Hazel's cake didn't come out that great and Addison chose a hot fudge cake last week, which wasn't anything to write home about.  This one, however- WOW!

Owen wanted a chocolate cake with turquoise frosting and decorated like a monster.  I had just bought some candy eyeballs for decorating at the grocery store, love those things!   My son is reading a book called the Beast with the 1000 Eyes, hence the other inspiration for the cake decor. I figured it'd be appropriate to have my first Halloween post be something in the kitchen;)
I was thumbing through my cookbooks looking for a new chocolate layer cake recipe to try, when I remembered reading the title "Grasshopper cake" in my new favorite dessert cookbook, Baked, New Frontiers in Baking.  If you like dessert and want recipes that come out delicious, get this cookbook, you won't be disappointed.  The Brownies are AMAZING!!! If I ever get a good picture of them, I'll post it.

This chocolate cake was really good, good enough that I could have eaten it on its own without icing.  It was a recipe for a triple layer cake, but that seemed like too much to me.  I ended up making a double layer cake and seven cupcakes.  The cake layers were each topped with a small layer of mint chocolate ganache, followed by mint buttercream icing.  The icing was really light and fluffy, kind of like a swiss meringue buttercream, but without having to go through the hassle of cooking the egg whites to a certain temperature.  I've never made icing this way and it came out soo good, in fact, my husband told me it's the best frosting I've ever made.
If you have the time, I'd highly recommend giving this one a whirl, it won't disappoint the chocolate and mint lovers out there.  It's not too overwhelming either, it's just the right balance.

Oven:  325

3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup hot water
2/3 cup sour cream
2 2/3 cup flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup crisco
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
3 large eggs
1 TBSP vanilla

Mint Buttercream Icing:
2 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
2 1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 sticks butter (they used 4 1/2 sticks- I cannot use that much butter, just can't)
2 TBSP vanilla (they used creme de menthe)
2 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
food coloring (if desired)

Chocolate Mint Ganache:
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 TBSP vanilla (they used creme de menthe)
1/2 tsp peppermint extract

For the cake:
1)  Preheat the oven, line the bottoms of your cake pans with parchment paper, grease and flour the sides.  (This is enough for 3 8 inch cakes or 2 cakes and 7-8 large cupcakes).

2) In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, set aside.

3) In another medium bowl, combine cocoa powder, sour cream, and hot water, set aside.

4) In bowl of mixer with paddle attachment, cream sugar, brown sugar, butter, and crisco on medium high until light and fluffy. Scrape down sides.  Add in eggs one by one, scrape down sides.  Beat in vanilla.

5) Alternating with the flour mixture, add cocoa mixture in three additions.  Mix lightly until just combined.  Scrape down sides, mix one more time.  Divide batter between cake pans (about 2/3 full).  Bake for 35-40 minutes, until tester inserted in the center comes out clean.   Cupcakes bake about 18-22 minutes.

6) Remove cakes from oven, let cool on wire rack about 20 minutes before removing from pan, let cool rest of way on racks.

For the ganache:
1) While cake is cooling, heat cream in small sauce pan until comes to a light simmer.  Put chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Pour hot cream over chocolate and let sit about 2 minutes.  Add vanilla and peppermint extract, whisk together until smooth. Set aside

For the mint buttercream:
1) Put sugar and flour in a medium saucepan, whisk to combine.  Stir in milk and cream, heat over medium to boiling.  Stir occasionally, scraping the bottom.  Once it boils, mixture will thicken.  Once mixture thickens, remove from burner and place in bowl of mixer with paddle and mix on high until it cools (mine turned a slightly greyish color).

2) Once the mixture cools, add in pats of butter slowly at medium low speed.  Once butter is added, turn mixing speed up to medium high, after a few minutes, you should notice the icing gets thicker and jiggly like jello.  Stop the mixer, add in vanilla, peppermint extract, and food coloring, beat on high one minute longer to get it all combined.  When you stop mixing, the icing should look soft and shiny, but retain it's shape, for instance, if you put your finger in and pull it out, there should remain a little point from where your finger left the icing.  (You can chill it slightly to thicken it, but then it will probably soften again at room temp or heat it over a double boiler to thin it if it's too thick).
Assemble the cake:
1) Put your first layer on a plate or cake stand.  Trim the top to make it straight and flat.  Put about 1/4 cup of the mint ganache on and spread it out to the edges.  Refrigerate for 10-15 minutes to let it set.  Put 1 1/4 cups mint butter cream on top and spread to the edges.  Put second layer on and repeat ganache and butter cream- repeat with a third layer if you chose to use one.

2) Put a light coat of frosting all around the edges and smooth down (this is a crumb coat)- refrigerate for about 10 minutes to let it set.  Now, frost the edges and top.  I too the icing in a decorating bag with a star tip and dolloped it randomly all over the top and sides to give it a monster fur look.  Then, I took the remaining mint ganache and did the same.  The kids put eyeballs in the ganache.  You can refrigerate or leave at room temp for up to 3 days.

This cake was so good, it almost tops my favorite over chocolate chip cookie dough cake (almost).

Monday, October 3, 2011

Busy Cooking: Pumpkin Cinnamon Roll Pancakes

First of all, sorry for all of the cooking posts.  Right now, my kitchen is the only room in the house that is fully unpacked and I know where everything is.  Today, I made some major headway in the basement (new art and craft area), but I have to get a few more things done before I can start up all the projects that have been brewing in my head- Halloween crafters beware!

I'd much rather be dealing with this:

Than this:
Now, on to the recipe.  I found this recipe for Pumpkin cinnamon roll pancakes on recipe girl last week when I was searching around for pumpkin recipes.  I love going out to breakfast and one of the major reasons (besides obviously not having to do dishes) is to try a unique dish that you might never have thought to make yourself.  This is a recipe I would dream of seeing at a breakfast joint- pumpkin pancakes turned cinnamon roll- yes, please!

The recipe is a slight bit labor intensive, but well worth it.  All of my kids LOVED them and we will definitely be eating them again!  Try them this weekend, you won't be disappointed.

The recipe yielded 10 medium large pancakes, enough for our family of six.

Cinnamon Filling:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 TBSP cinnamon

2 oz. cream cheese
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 cup confectioner's sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

2 cups flour
1 TBSP baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 TBSP pumpkin pie spice
1 TBSP brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
2 TBSP oil

1) Put the butter, cinnamon, and brown sugar for the filling in a microwave safe bowl, microwave for 30 seconds, stir until smooth.  Put in a sandwich sized ziploc bag and set aside.

2) Put butter and cream cheese for icing in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave about 30-40 seconds until almost melted, stir together with vanilla and confectioner's sugar.  Put into a sandwich sized ziploc bag and set aside for later.

3) In a medium sized bowl, mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice, and brown sugar and set aside.

4) In large bowl (with spout if you have one), mix together milk, eggs, oil, vinegar, and pumpkin.  Slowly add dry ingredients to the center of the wet ingredients, mix until incorporated, lumps may remain, this is okay.

5) Preheat griddle.  Pour pancake mix onto griddle, it is slightly thick, so spread it out a bit.  Knead the bag with the filling in it slightly to soften it, cut a small part of the lower corner of the ziploc bag and squeeze a spiral of cinnamon filling onto the top of each pancake.  Let pancake cook until bubbles form and pop on the top of the pancake.

6) Very carefully, flip the pancake.  The cinnamon filling will become liquid and ooze out onto the pan, its okay.  Cook on this side for about 3-4 minutes.  Take pancake off pan, put on plate with cinnamon side up.  When it is flipped, it will look like a small indent where the cinnamon filling was, it's okay. Scrape remaining cinnamon off of pan with a paper towel or use a spatula and drain it onto a plate.

7) Squeeze icing bag to soften it up, cut a small hole in the bottom corner, then squeeze it onto the top of the hot pancake, serve and enjoy-there's going to be a pumpkin party in your mouth!