Monday, June 2, 2008

Meg’s Birthday Cake

So last Friday night Meg's Fan Club, aka her husband and friends, toasted our birthday girl in celebration of her lastest spectacular achievement: surviving another crazy year in this mad, mad world. Here is a peak at the cake: Chocolate Buttercream Cake with Milk Chocolate and Contrieau Frosting. If you have a friend named Meg, and it is her birthday, please also make her this delicious cake (very yummy batter, very yummy frosting.) Also I encourage you to make this cake even if you have no friends named Meg and it is indeed not her birthday.
Word of caution: This recipe is gi-normous. I was afraid it wouldn’t fit in my mixer. It yields 2 very large 9 in cake layers, and 8 cupcakes. I would say feel free to ½ the recipe. Or more so… feel free to indulge.
The usual suspects:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose regular flour
2 cups good cocoa powder (apparently there is a difference in processing, so like dating, go Dutch, well atleast until you know him better)
1 tablespoon baking soda (soda, not powder, how many times…)
1/2 teaspoon free flow table salt (if you are using sea salt, add after sifting)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) good unsalted butter, at apartment temperature
1 1/3 cups regular, sugar-bowl sugar
1 1/3 cups light brown sugar, oppressed until submission into the bottom of the measuring cup
4 extra-large eggs, at kitchen temperature
4 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 2 cups buttermilk, at counter temperature
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1/4 cup brewed coffee, not hot

So first things first, before bed fish out all you need for this cake, you can choose to measure it out or not, but leave it all out, overnight, on the counter. It won’t spoil, just leave it out, the temperature difference inhibit proper combination in the mixing process. Wow, sorry, can you tell I’m a technical writer for the benjamins. What I mean, like Nike, just do it, it will make a difference in the cake tasting yummyness factor.

In the a.m. make yourself a cup-a-joe and reserve a quarter cup for the cake.

Crank the oven to 350 degrees F. Pam spray your baking vessels. I used two round 8X3in cake a pans and a cupcake mold for the leftovers.
Ok now the dry’s… dry ingredients are like men or subcontractors, they need their own special treatment, sifting, fluffing, and pampering for them to work. Take the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl, on a piece of parchment paper so you can funnel it to your mixer. I learned the parchment paper trick from Bobby Flay…ahhh, starry eyes and cartoon hearts popping over head (just kidding).

In your favorite electric mixer with paddle attachment…ahhh, starry eyes and cartoon hearts popping over head (I’m serious). On high speed, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy like an indie film cloud. Break open the eggs and vanilla and add to your creamed sugar and butter, then add in the buttermilk, sour cream, and coffee. Slow down your mixer and then add the flour mixture. I can not count how many times I have left it on high, and engulfed myself and my kitchen in a tsunami like wave of white powder. Let the mixer go just until everyone is acquainted, if you wait too long… the Cake Nazi says, “No rise for you, make another cake!
Pour the batter into your baking vehicles and send to the oven for a good cooking. It took mine a good hour and 20 minutes. But it is worth it. Cool it on a wire rack. I baked this before work, and iced after, so plenty of time for the frosting not to melt and do a one-cake homage to melting face in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom when they open the Ark.

Now the super good stuff: the Cointreau Icing

1 bag or a full pound (16 oz.) milk chocolate
3/4 of a bag or so of hazelnut chocolate
3/4 cup egg whites, I use the pasteurized version, but 4 egg whites from the more natural shelled persuasion should do you choose
1 1/2 cups sugar-bowl sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon table free-flow salt
3 sticks of good quality unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 teaspoons instant coffee, Taster’s Choice, whatever…
3 tablespoons Cointreau

This is a 3 step process: 1) melt chocolate, 2) make meringue, 3) take chocolate, meringue, and butter to make buttercream.

1) This is a lot of chocolate, and while normally I big proponent of the microwave method, I made double boiler with a metal bowl and a pot of boiling water, because of the shear amount. Chop the chocolates and add to your improvised double boiler. Stir deliciousness until almost completely melted and set aside to cool. Leave the water pan to simmer.

2) In another heat proof bowl, this time I used the mixing bowl of my kitchenade. Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl, and whisk. Place over your simmering water, (I love double duty), and let it heat up until sugar melts into the liquid. The concoction will turn a light white, continue to mix, touching the sugar goo every few seconds. In about 3 minutes, or when the good is warm to the finger tip, put back on your electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whip it into high gear for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak. I like to take this opportunity to dance around the kitchen to Devo’s Whip It.

3) Slow down the party and take your mixture to medium speed. Add the butter, a tablespoon or so at a time. You will have to scrape down the bowl, to fully incorporate. Add the melted chocolate, vanilla, espresso, and Cointreau. I was icing a lot of cake, so I let the mixer beat air into the buttercream for about 5 minutes. But please stop when your frosting has reached your desired consistency.

Also, ancient Sandy trick to frosting: Sandy say, “If runny, you must add powdered sugar. If too thick, you must add water. No recipe can tell how much, only finger.”

Happy Birthday Meg! Cheers to you my wonderful friend. I am grateful that Providence saw to bless me with such a good, fun, funny, and kind friend. I hope you get your birthday wish!

To all of you, much love, Happy Birthday, and happy baking.

1 comment:

WPWSuperhero said...

so reading your blog makes me soooo hungry and want to come over to your house everynight to see and smell what is cookin!