Sunday, July 20, 2014

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Do you ever have an intense craving?

You know, one of those cravings that don’t go away no matter how hard you try to resist.

I did.

This morning.

I had the deepest, most intense desire for a rich chocolate cake. At first I thought that I could just ignore it like I usually do. The next thing I knew, I was on Google searching for pictures of chocolate cake. I was torturing myself. I quickly closed my browser and tried to erase the images from my mind. In the blink of an eye, I was at the kitchen counter measuring flour and cocoa powder. I caved.

Truthfully, I have no regrets whatsoever for caving. The result of my cravings was quite possibly the most sinfully delicious cake I’ve ever made. The best part is that it was also the simplest cake I’ve ever made. It only consists of two things: chocolate cake and chocolate ganache.

I’m not a chocolate addict. Usually a fun size snickers bar is all it takes for me to not need chocolate for months. But there’s just something about this cake that is irresistible. Maybe it's the ridiculously moist chocolate cake. Maybe it’s the velvety smooth chocolate ganache. Whatever it is, I know that I don’t want it to ever leave. I want this chocolate cake in my life forever…till death do us part.

Recipe Review:

Taste: There is a deep chocolate flavor from the extra brute cocoa powder I use for the cake and the E. Guittard chocolate disks I use for the ganache.
Texture: So rich and moist. The cake has a nice crumb and the ganache is so smooth.
Appearance: I wanted the cake to look a bit more rustic so I left the exterior looking extra “homemade”. The inside has four lovely layers of cake and thin layers of chocolate ganache in between. It is sheer perfection.
Level of Difficulty: This cake is very simple to make. The ganache takes a few hours to cool, but assembly is a cinch. 

Chocolate Ganache

12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) heavy cream
24 ounces (3 cups) semi sweet chocolate (I used E. Guittard, 61% cacao) 

In a medium saucepan, heat the heavy cream until just simmering. Put the chocolate in a large bowl and pour in the heavy cream. Stir the mixture until the chocolate is evenly combined and there are no lumps. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap making sure that the surface of the mixture is covered and put in the refrigerator until it has cooled to a spreadable consistency. 

Chocolate Cake
yields 2, 8-inch cakes 

2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 
2 cups sugar 
3/4 cup cocoa powder 
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder 
1/2 teaspoon salt 
1 1/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature 
3/4 cup brewed coffee, lukewarm
2/3 cup vegetable oil 
3 eggs, room temperature 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Prepare 2, 8-inch baking pans with cooking spray and parchment paper. Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine.

In a separate bowl, mix together the buttermilk, coffee, oil, eggs and vanilla. Combine the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. 

Once mixed, divide the batter evenly among the prepared baking pans. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don't forget to rotate the pans halfway through the baking process to ensure an evenly baked cake. Cool completely. 


Once the cake layers have cooled completely, invert them onto a cutting board and peel off the parchment. Slice of the domed tops and then divide each layer in half, leaving you with 4 thin layers. 

Place the first layer of cake on a cake board and spread a thin layer of ganache on top. Repeat with the next two layers. Once you've done that, place the last cake layer on top and spread the rest of the ganache all over the cake. VoilĂ !

I highly recommend you make this if you’re a chocolate addict. You will never get tired of it. If you aren’t a chocolate addict, this cake will definitely make you one. Just be sure to never share. Just this once, be gluttonous.

As always,

Happy Baking!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Apple Walnut Scones

I want to open a bakery.

I've wanted to open a bakery ever since I was ten years old. Now that I'm twenty, it seems that the desire to open one is getting stronger every day. That means it's time to start making and perfecting recipes that I can use in the future. 

I’m not sure why, but when I think about baked goods and breakfast at a bakery scones pop into my head. For some reason, I think of scones as the quintessential breakfast pastry. They seem very timeless to me. What’s great about them is that you have the base recipe and with that you can transform simple dough into something amazing. That’s what I did with this scone recipe. I simply took a base recipe and added my own spin to it. Although it isn’t currently apple season, I had a hankering for apples, despite my unfortunate allergy towards them.  

It wasn’t until recently that I developed an appreciation for baked apples. I used to find them unappetizing, as they lost their sweetness and became very tart and hard to stomach. However, I could have just had some bad apple pie back in the day. It wasn’t until I made Tyler Florence’s “Ultimate Apple Pie”, that I decided apple pie is freaking awesome.

Fortunately, I had some apples on hand that were waiting to be baked into buttery and flaky scones.  So I grabbed a couple and I got to work.

Recipe Review:

Taste: Not too sweet and the cinnamon and nutmeg adds a nice spiciness. The apples are slightly tart but still have their innate sweetness. The walnuts add a nice nuttiness to the pastry as well.
Texture: The apples add a nice bite but the addition of the walnuts is what makes it. They give the scone a lovely crunch.
Appearance: They are so cute to look at. There are little specks of cinnamon all over and some apples popping out the sides.
Level of difficulty: Extremely easy. Probably the easiest recipe I’ve posted on this blog.     

yields approx. 10 scones 

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg 
1 stick cold butter, cut into cubes 
2 large eggs 
1/4 cup applesauce 
1/4 cup heavy cream 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract 
2 apples, finely diced (about 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick) 
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and finely chopped 
Heavy cream
Sanding sugar 

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. 

Work in the cubed butter evenly throughout the flour until the mixture is crumbly. The crumbs should be pea sized. 

In a measuring cup, mix the eggs, applesauce, heavy cream, vanilla, and apples. Add the liquid mixture into the butter and flour and mix until evenly incorporated. Lastly, mix in the chopped walnuts.

Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured surface and pat it out into a rectangle, about 3/4" thick. Cut the dough into roughly 10, 2 inch squares (or however large you want them to be). 

Place the scones onto the lined baking sheet and chill in the freezer for one hour. This yields the best texture and a higher rise. 

While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 400°F. Take the scones out of the freezer and lightly brush them with heavy cream and sprinkle with sanding sugar. Bake for 18-22 minutes or until they are golden brown. Let cool. 

These scones are best eaten slightly warm with some of your favorite jam. I ate mine with some raspberry jam and they were to die for. They are very buttery and flaky and the chunks of apple and walnut add a great texture. I think these scones will definitely be a great hit for my bakery one day! 

As always, Happy Baking!