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Showing posts from July, 2011

Mocha Birthday Cake

As I'm sitting here writing this column, I have before me a great big wedge of birthday cake on a nice plate and I also have an icy cold glass of milk.  For my birthday I like to bake my own cake because I enjoy it so much.  I love variety and I love experimenting with cake recipes each & every year.  How do I choose?  Well, sometimes it comes to me from reading a recipe, going through an old cookbook or from a simple craving I can't shake off.  I'm always willing to try a different cake and there isn't a type that, if served to me, I will push away.  Last year I made myself a chocolate marble chiffon cake that was covered in a rich ganache.  We all loved it.  This year I was absolutely craving the flavor of mocha.  After choosing my moist chocolate cake layers , I thought of all the different fillings and frostings that would complement the cake itself.  In my mind I envisioned and tasted a good cup of  cafe au lait , along with the very best piece of rich chocola

Whipped Cream Chocolate Cake

One of the things that I love about this cake is its simplicity.  Not only is it a quick cake to bake, it's also an easy cake to make.  Start with those beautiful  moist chocolate cake layers  that I showed you in a previous post and add some whipped cream  to sandwich and crown the cake.  That's all there is to it!  Just because there are only a few components to this cake doesn't mean that you get to skimp on the ingredients.  Find the best quality dutch-process cocoa powder you can find to make the cake, and use the freshest farmstand cream you can find to top it.  When you want to make an honest-to-goodness chocolate cake for friends or family and you don't have a lot of time, why not make my Whipped Cream Chocolate Cake?  I made 8" layers for this particular cake.  Here is one layer sitting on a vintage cake stand.  There is no need to trim the domed tops because it is a homey cake. Spread half of your whipped cream  on top of the fi

Moist Chocolate Cake Layers

We all love homemade cakes.  Some of my favorite types include those made with delicious chocolate layers.  For me, a good chocolate layer cake has to be exceedingly moist and fudgy.  While it may seem easier to use a prepackaged cake mix for most people, there really is no need to when you have a good, simple, workable recipe.  The one I'm about to show you makes layers with a velvety, well-formed crumb and a lot of chocolate flavor.  After one bite of this cake, you're going to want to bookmark the recipe, because you'll be returning to it again and again.  What's more, preparing the cake requires a minimum of fuss in the kitchen!      The Ingredients 3 large eggs, room temperature 3/4 cups buttermilk, room temperature 2 tablespoons vegetable oil (canola or safflower) 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3/4 cups strong black coffee, cooled to room temperature 1 3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising), spooned & leveled 3/4 cups dutch-process cocoa powder 1 1/2 cups

Delicious Chocolate Frosting

Chocolate frosting can be used on many types of layer cakes, cupcakes, tortes or even as a filling for sandwich cookies if you so wish.  Whether you bake occasionally or professionally, having a good recipe for an all-purpose chocolate frosting is essential.  What I look for in any chocolate-flavored frosting is the velvety smoothness and sweetness of a good, high-quality piece of chocolate.  If the frosting is made with the finest chocolate or cocoa powder, then it will meet with my standard of goodness.  The original recipe for this frosting comes from cookbook author Lisa Yockelson.  You really ought to visit her blog called   Baking Style Diary  if you're not familiar with it.  I took the liberty of changing the recipe here and there, making adjustments to quantities, while keeping the structure of the frosting intact.  Take a look and see just how chocolaty this icing really is.      This is the chocolate frosting. Delicious!   I'm using the finest Belgian chocolate by 

Whipped Cream

Freshly whipped cream is ultra delicious.  As a topping or filling, whipped cream can be used to enhance or accompany many desserts.  What would a warm cobbler, a well made shortcake or a slice of pie be without a dollop of whipped cream?  While it's tempting to pick up a can of those ready to squeeze containers at the store, avoid them because they contain syrups & other stabilizers.  Look in the refrigerated dairy case of your local supermarket or farmer's market and pick up a container of heavy cream instead.  Since you have a few options at the supermarket, there are two types of cream that you should be aware of if you want to whip it for desserts.  The readily available whipping cream is made up of 30% butterfat and is always ultra-pasteurized; this process heats the milk up to a certain temperature in order to kill any bacteria (good and bad) and is then cooled, thus extending its shelf life.  Although it will whip up, it doesn't hold it's shape very we