Monday, June 3, 2013

Four Layer Chocolate Cake - Happy Birthday Mom!

Happy Birthday, Mom!

Let me set the scene. June 1st, a day after Mom's real birthday, 75 degrees outside, birds chirping through the open windows, "Early Jazz" tunes playing through Pandora, countless flower bouquets, handpicked from Mom's garden scattered across the kitchen, the heavenly scent of peonies wafting about with the soft breeze from outside. It was a perfect day to bake a cake.

Mom only ever has chocolate cake on her birthday, as she believes that any non-chocolate cake, isn't cake worth eating. Mom really loves chocolate. Desiring to break out of the traditional cakes Mom usually requests, I started researching other chocolate cake recipes. Jack's sister, Meghan sent me a recipe she'd come across from and my Mom chose that recipe as my inspiration for her cake.

After much discussion with my mom, I decided to tweak the original recipe. Mom's favorite chocolate sheet cake is her mother's Devil's Food Cake recipe. The two cakes seemed comparable in size and ingredients, so I decided to use my grandmother's recipe, as it was a known quantity. However, we did exchange the butter for coconut oil, as the original baker used and we supplemented the hot water with hot (instant) coffee.

Once you have the cake in the oven, start preparing the coconut filling. The blogger used a cream based coconut custard, which is probably really tasty, however, Mom knew how amazing my coconut milk based Coconut Cream Pie was, so she suggested I use that recipe for the coconut layer. Easy enough and yet another guaranteed hit.

 I should note, we opted out of the blogger's cream cheese frosting entirely. Despite my love for cream cheese frosting, it didn't appeal to either mine, nor my mother's tummies. 

The next layer I made, was the almond crunch. (All recipes are listed at the bottom of the post in the order I prepared them). Since I read in the blogger's notes that she had leftover almond crunch after putting together the cake, even after snacking on them, I also took to immediately snacking on them when they came out of the oven. We must have different ideas of "snacking", or else I used a lot more almonds on each layer of the cake than she did. I do not recommend more than a "taste to make sure it turned out right", because we had just enough almonds for the cake. 

The almonds were so amazing on their own, I am not sorry about all of my snacking. Plus, the house smelled like a Dutch bakery to boot! I might have to make them again, perhaps to go on top of ice cream? Also, not sure why cream was part of the recipe, the almonds were super soggy until the last few extra minutes in the oven. I imagine there is a good reason for the cream, but I thought it was a bit strange conceptually.

The last part of the cake was the chocolate glaze. This is what brought all of the ingredients of the cake together, and really gave the cake it's visual flair. The blogger had used a book recipe for the glaze and failed to mention it was significantly more than you needed for the cake, so you can make half the recipe, or as we did, use the leftover glaze as a dipping sauce for the cake, even though it was so moist, it didn't need it.

The cake baking process was simple, but the many steps turned the baking process into much of an afternoon. Thankfully baking, to me, is a stress release and makes me really happy, so this was a great way to spend a work free weekend at home. I was very pleased with the end result, as it looked fancy, delicious and well worth my time. That night, we finally got to eat the cake. Mom loved it! The cake was moist, and tasted just as good as it looked. I will admit, I thought that the flavors of each element were lost a bit in the combination of it all, but day two, after spending the night in the fridge, the cake grew on me. There is a definite German Chocolate flair to this cake, so if you are a fan, might be worth a try just for that.

Cake Recipe:

2 1/4 c. flour
1 t salt
1 1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t baking powder

(sift dry ingredients together)

3/4 c cocoa powder
1 1/2 c hot brewed coffee

(mix together in glass measuring cup)

3/4 c coconut oil
2 c sugar
3 eggs
1 1/2 t vanilla extract

(beat together)

Gradually, and alternately add the dry ingredient and cocoa mixture into the egg/sugar mixture and mix together, only until combined. Pour into 2 9 in round pans and bake for 30-35 min at 350 degrees.

Custard Filling

3/4 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
3 large egg yolks, beaten
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (I used unsweetened)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons coconut oil 

Combine the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium-size saucepan. Add the milk and bring to a boil. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
Remove 1/2 cup of the cooked mixture and pour it slowly in to the beaten egg yolks in a small bowl, whisking constantly until thoroughly combined.
Add the egg yolk mixture to the saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat for 2 to 3 minutes, whisking constantly.
Remove the mixture from the heat and whisk in the vanilla and coconut oil. Beat until the coconut oil is fully melted and the mixture is smooth. Stir in the coconut.
Transfer the coconut custard to a medium size glass or ceramic bowl. Cover and allow to come to room temperature.

Almond Crunch

2 C. sliced almonds
¼ C. brown sugar
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ C. heavy cream
1 Tbsp. Amaretto

Prepare the almond crunch: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper; butter the parchment. In a bowl, mix together all ingredients until almonds are evenly coated. Spread into an even layer on the baking sheet, and bake for 10 – 12 minutes, being sure to toss the almonds every 3-4 minutes to prevent from burning. Remove from oven when sugar melts and becomes bubbly and almonds become a bit more crisp. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Chocolate Glaze

8 oz. dark chocolate (60 to 72% cocoa), coarsely chopped
¾ C. (1 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened and diced)
1 Tbsp. light corn syrup (I used honey)

Prepare the chocolate glaze: Place the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in the top of a double boiler. Using a rubber spatula, stir the mixture until the chocolate and butter are completely melted and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir the glaze to release excess heat.

Glaze the cake: Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place cake on a wire rack over the baking sheet. Slowly pour about ¾ cup of the glaze over the cake. Use an offset spatula (preferably small) to smooth it out to the edges. Place the cake in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set the glaze. Remove from refrigerator and slowly pour the rest (or desired amount… I'd recommend most) of the glaze over the cake. It should run down the cake in thick streams. You should be able to control the size and length of the streams by the pour. Garnish with remaining almond crunch if desired. Chill entire cake for about 20 minutes, or until glaze is set, then transfer to serving plate/ pedestal.

via cooking with a stud,

Put the internet to work for you. via Personal Recipe 3453228

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