Valentine's Day Archives - Parsley, Sage, and Sweet

Rustic Chocolate Raspberry Almond Valentine Cake for SRC and #chocolatelove

February 6, 2012 at 6:25 pm | Posted in Cakes, Dessert, Fruit, Holiday, SRC | 89 Comments
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First I’d like to start this post with a huge WOOHOO to the Super Bowl XLVI Champs, the NY Giants!  Way to go, Big Blue!

February is definitely a chocolatey month, so when I was assigned the blog The Pajama Chef by The Secret Recipe Club for February, my cursor went straight to CHOCOLATE in Sarah’s cloud of categories.  Don’t get me wrong, Sarah’s blog is filled with loads of fantastic recipes of all sorts (Dying to try these!), but chocolate has been occupying 99.8% of my brain the past few weeks so I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I chose something chocolatey.

One Bowl Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream
Notice the one broken heart?  Everyone needs to be represented on Valentines Day.

I had this whimsical, rustic Valentine cake in mind already, but I didn’t think I would get so lucky and find this great one bowl chocolate cake recipe from Martha Stewart which Sarah calls ‘Chocolate Cake that Changes Everything’.  I think I have to agree. It’s so deep, dark, moist and super chocolatey, it’ll blow your socks off if you’re a deep, dark chocolatey lover. Sarah made hers in a 13 x 9 -inch pan, but I decided to make it as Martha’s original recipe reads..in two 8-inch cake pans.  I had serious plans for this chocolate cake.

I ended up doubling the recipe and baking four separate 8-inch layers because after the first two were baked, I felt they were a little too thin to be torted, plus, I had a ton of homemade fresh, raspberry buttercream and chocolate ganache to use .  I sliced about 1/2-inch off the tops, then spread each layer with milk chocolate ganache and a smashed assortment of red, pink and white Jordan Almonds.  They’re not just for weddings, you know.  I love candy coated nuts, so much so that I practically subsisted on Boston baked beans for a period in my early 20’s.

Oh Nuts, my favorite place for all things nuts, fruits, candy etc, sent me my choice of 1 lb of Jordan Almonds to play around with – and play I did.  I chose a Valentine mix, and after smashing  some of the Jordan Almonds to smithereens, I stirred them into the ganache while it was still liquid.  This way, you get bits of almonds and candy shell with each bite.  Oh, but I’m not done yet.  The ganache was then topped with the aforementioned deep pink, fresh raspberry buttercream.  Manna, I tell ya.

try to avoid food color at all costs, so for this luscious buttercream, a fresh raspberry reduction made that possible.  Look at that deep, hot pink hue!  I was originally going to make Swiss or Italian meringue based buttercreams for the filling and frosting, but with this decadent, deep chocolate cake and all the tempered chocolate hearts I painted, plus the chocolate shards and ganache, I felt the cake would be far too rich.  So, I made a confectioner’s based buttercream reducing the powdered sugar in both the raspberry filling and the super, silky dark chocolate frosting – another recipe courtesy of Martha dearest.


In order for the chocolate hearts to stick, you need a textured frosting.  The sloppier, the better, although I ran out of  frosting right here, above, so there wasn’t enough to really push them in to adhere.

One Bowl Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

I hit a few disasters, both of them with my tempered chocolate decor.  The transfer sheets I used for the hearts did not adhere properly to the chocolate, the red color was completely washed out  (poorly made).  I ended up painting about 20 chocolate hearts with tinted cocoa butters and melted milk and white chocolate.  Disaster #2 – The cake was supposed to be topped with long, thin chocolate curls and loops.  I wrapped chocolate coated  and tined (scraped with a fork to create thin divides to break them apart) acetate around a rolling pin to and used two bowls to support the rolling pin while the chocolate set.

Just my luck, when the chocolate was set, I accidentally knocked over the rolling pin – smack against the table.  Those shards on top of the cake are the remains of my beautiful curls and loops *sniff*.  So, a cake that was supposed to be eclectic and whimsical is now ‘rustic’.  In the end, taste and texture is what matters most, and it certainly delivers on both.

Now for the linky’s.  First one is for this month’s Secret Recipe Club.  Click the blue froggy to see a gallery of amazing dishes from all of our blog assignments!

This month also happens to be #chocolatelove in the lovebloghop I’m a member of. Link up any chocolate recipe from the month of February 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to stop by the #chocolatelove event! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove.  Click below to see a ton of beautiful and decadent chocolate creations!

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One Bowl Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Jordan Almond Ganache and  Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

I forgot to trim the top layer, so the heavy, moist cake with all that chocolate on top squished down the other layers.  Did it matter when we ate it?  Ummm..NO.

Rustic Chocolate Raspberry Almond Cake
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Yield: A lot!
 
Cake and frosting adapted from Martha Stewart Fresh Raspberry Buttercream adapted from Making Life Delicious
ingredients:
One Bowl Chocolate Cake
  • 1½ cups unsweetened Dutch cocoa powder, plus more for pans
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1½ cups low-fat buttermilk
  • 1½ cups warm water
  • 6 tablespoons safflower oil or any neutral oil
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Framboise for brushing cake layers (optional)
Almond Scented Milk Chocolate Ganache*
  • 9 ounces good quality, chopped milk chocolate
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1 tablespoon Framboise (optional)
Creamy Dark Chocolate Frosting
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • 2¼ cups (4½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
Fresh Raspberry Buttercream
  • 24 ounces fresh raspberries
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • big pinch of kosher salt
  • 3½ to 4½ cups powdered sugar
  • * You can leave out the milk chocolate ganache and just make it a chocolate cake with raspberry buttercream filling. Either option is wonderful.
directions:
Make the Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter four 8-inch round cake pans (2 inches deep); dust with cocoa. Sift cocoa, flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Beat on low speed until just combined. Raise speed to medium, and add eggs, buttermilk, water, oil, and vanilla. Beat until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  2. Divide batter between the four pans. Place two on the middle rack and two on the rack below, unless your oven is deep enough to hold 4 cake pans on one rack. If on one rack, switch pans from back to front and front to back half way through baking. On different racks, switch pans from top to bottom rack and bottom to top rack half way through baking.
  3. Bake until set and a toothpick inserted into the centers comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes. Turn out from pans. Transfer, top up, to wire racks. Let cool completely.
  4. When cakes are cooled, cut about ½ inch off the tops of all four layers of cake. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap and chill until ready to assemble cake.
  5. Make the Almond Milk Chocolate Ganache. Place the chopped milk chocolate in a medium-sized bowl. Boil the cream on the stove until it's bubbling. Pour over chopped chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes as is, then stir until uniform. Stir in almond extract, and Framboise, if using. Cover and place in the fridge for several hours.
  6. Make the Dark Chocolate Frosting Combine the cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until the cocoa has dissolved. With an electric mixer , starting on low speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until combined, then, on medium-high speed, beat until pale and fluffy. Reduce the speed to low then add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in the cocoa - water mixture.
Make the Fresh Raspberry Buttercream.
  1. In a medium to large saucepan, cook down the raspberries until they've broken down and released their juices..they will be floating in their own liquid - super saucy. If you use frozen, this will take a little longer. Strain cooked down raspberries in a fine meshed sieve into a bowl, pressing down on them to get every bit of liquid out. You should have about 1 cup raspberry juice. Place this back in a clean saucepan, and cook down until reduced to ½ cup. It should be thick - like chocolate syrup, and will be dark blood red. Set aside until completely cool (I put it in the fridge).
  2. In a bowl, beat the two sticks of butter until creamy. Add in 2 cups of powdered sugar, the reduced raspberry juice, the lemon juice and huge pinch of kosher salt. Beat until creamy and uniform in color. Continue adding powdered sugar until you get a nice, thick, but still creamy consistency. I used a little less than 3½ cups. If you end up adding too much, drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of milk or cream until you reach the desired consistency.
  3. Assemble the Cake. Place one layer, cut side up, on a cake plate or board (I glue down the first layer of all cakes with a dab of buttercream so it stays put). If using Framboise, brush top of layer with it lightly. Spread about ½ cup of thickened ganache within ⅛-inch of the edge. Top with about 1 to 1½ cups of the raspberry buttercream and spread to within ½-inch of the edge of the cake. Top with next layer and press down. Repeat above. Do the same with one more layer, then top with last layer, pressing down.
  4. If you're adding any chocolate decorations, like my hearts, frost the cake sloppily, meaning thick with swirls or lines, so the hearts can stick - do not smooth it out. If not adding decor, frost any which way you please.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 slice

One Bowl Dark Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

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‘Chocolate dipped Strawberry’ Macarons and a Winner is announced!

February 10, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Posted in Cookies, Dessert, Giveaway, Macarons | 35 Comments
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I’ve lost my macaron mojo.  I don’t know if it’s temporary or permanent, but my cocky macaron assurance has left the building.  When I finally mastered these little babies last October, I was jubilant – I bragged all over creation about how every batch turned out perfect – beautiful feet and shells as smooth as a baby’s butt.  I waxed on and on about possibly starting a ‘mac a month’ entry on my blog – I joined up with Deeba and Jamie’s monthly MacTweets- Attack and I even bought almond meal in bulk, since surely I was going to be using it quite a bit now that I’d mastered macarons!  Well..I’ve been using it alright, but the bitches turned on me.

Every attempt at macarons the past 2 months has been met with complete failure.  The thing is, I already know they’re going to fail before I put them in the oven.  It’s a batter failure – too thick or too loose..it’s always one or the other . The perfect lava like consistency has abandoned me.

I’ve changed nothing.  I age my egg whites anywhere from 24-48 hours, sometimes longer, and all the dry ingredients are weighed on my newly calibrated scale which is rarely, if ever..off.  I truly believe the macaron gods are teaching me a little lesson in humility here – as in don’t overstep your boundaries with these chicks.  Make them the center of attention rather than bragging about your sudden amazing ability to turn out pan after pan of  supermodels every.single.time. They need inclusive adoration to thrive.  Oh, and don’t call them bitches.  I think that’s what did me in.

These macarons are my third, yep count ‘em, third attempt this month.  Last month I had to skip it altogether because four tries didn’t turn out.  On the third try this month, only 8 shells turned out ‘passable’ (translation – one good side to photograph).

However, I wasn’t going to miss this month’s Valentine Mac Attack, so I soldiered on and decided to make the most of these eight shells.  Did I mention the powdered red food coloring didn’t work either?  No idea why, but I ended up with dull, mauve shells, so I air brushed the bitches red.  Back to gel paste and drying the tant pour tant – IF the macarons gods will give me another chance.

I decided, since beauty wasn’t going to be an option this month, to load these babies with chocolate. inside-out.  I needed to disguise the imperfections and what better way to do it then with drizzles of chocolate?  Chocolate dipped strawberries scream Valentine’s Day to me (well, if I had my way, they’d scream every day to me).  Okay, so here’s what I did – I air brushed them red (because my red powdered food color was bluffin’) , drizzled tons of white and dark chocolate over the cooled shells, then filled them with 1) Strawberry Dark Chocolate Ganache and 2) Strawberry Mascarpone Cream.  Let me tell you, these were super duper tasty, and you know the old adage, beauty is in the eye..well mouth in this case, of the beholder.  They may not be beautiful, but their edibility factor rocks.

That said, a friend pointed out to me the similarities between my macaron shells and Eddie Van Halen’s favorite guitar.  I suppose there is a resemblance.  Like I said, these macarons ‘rock’.  I hate that word, but it fits.

Now on to the winner of my first giveaway!  I used random.org and subtracted my 3 comments plus one of two posts from someone, leaving me with a lucky number between 1-43.   As you can see above, the number 2 turned up, and that corrresponds with the lovely Diva of Beach Eats!  Congrats, Diva!  Send your address to lismi71@yahoo.com, and I’ll get it right in the mail.

Finally, Lauren of Celiac Teen did a wonderful thing (and an amazing job – she worked so hard on this!).  She gathered a bunch of bloggers and asked we donate recipes (87 recipes, by 71 food bloggers, from the comfort of our homes and hearts,) so she could create the below ebook for purchase, all proceeds donated to the victims of the Earthquake in Haiti.  Click on the photo below and grab a copy of your own, knowing all the to.die.for yummies you make from this book will be helping so many people!

Macarons
Recipe verbatim from Helene of Tartelette
90 grams egg whites (about 3)
30 grams granulated sugar
200 grams powdered sugar
110 grams almonds

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites to a foam, gradually add the sugar until you obtain a glossy meringue. Do not overbeat your meringue or it will be too dry. Place the powdered sugar and almonds in a food processor and give them a good pulse until the nuts are finely ground. Add them to the meringue, give it a quick fold to break some of the air and then fold the mass carefully until you obtain a batter that falls back on itself after counting to 10. Give quick strokes at first to break the mass and slow down. The whole process should not take more than 50 strokes. Test a small amount on a plate: if the tops flattens on its own you are good to go. If there is a small beak, give the batter a couple of turns.

2. Fill a pastry bag fitted with a plain tip (Ateco #807 or #809) with the batter and pipe small rounds (1.5 inches in diameter) onto parchment paper or silicone mats lined baking sheets. Preheat the oven to 280F. Let the macarons sit out for 30 minutes to an hour to harden their shells a bit and bake for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on their size. Let cool. If you have trouble removing the shells, pour a couple of drops of water under the parchment paper while the sheet is still a bit warm and the macarons will lift up more easily do to the moisture. Don’t let them sit there in it too long or they will become soggy. Once baked and if you are not using them right away, store them in an airtight container out of the fridge for a couple of days or in the freezer. To fill: pipe or spoon about 1 big tablespoon of butterceam in the center of one shell and top with another one.

Strawberry-Dark Chocolate Ganache
6 ounces dark chocolate (about 1 cup chopped)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup strawberry preserves or jam, OR *reduced strawberry puree
2 tablespoons (1 oz) butter, cubed and softened

DIRECTIONS:
1. Chop the chocolate into small, even pieces and place it in a medium heat-safe bowl. Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat and bring it to a simmer, but do not allow it to boil.

2. Once the cream is simmering, pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Gently whisk it together until the chocolate melts and you have a smooth, shiny chocolate liquid–this is your ganache. Add the softened butter and the strawberry preserves, jam or puree and whisk until they are incorporated. Press a layer of clingwrap on top of the ganache and chill until it is firm enough to pipe.

Strawberry-Mascarpone Filling
1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese
1/4 cup strawberry preserves or jam, or *reduced strawberry puree

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a bowl with an electric beater combine the mascarpone cheese, strawberry preserves, jam or puree until uniform in color.  Pipe onto macaron shells and sandwich with another.

*For both fillings, if using the reduced strawberry puree in lieu of the preserves or jam, add 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar, depending on how sweet you like it.

Drizzle sandwiched macarons with melted white and dark chocolate.


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