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Saturday, October 31, 2015

C-4, The Chocolate Explosion


Fall is a big season for my family.  My mom's, dad's, brother's, husband's, and my birthday all fall (no pun intended) from the months of September through November.  So, that's a lot of celebrations. And adding in Thanksgiving and Halloween, that's a lot of calories. The only thing saving my waistline from the never ending stampede of cakes is that everyone, except my husband and me, lives in Michigan, while my husband and I live in Ohio.  That tends to limit the sugar bomb somewhat, since I usually don't make (and eat) birthday cakes long distance.  However, this year, I felt like I had to break that little rule, at least as far as the making goes, because my poor brother is slated to work on his birthday.  Not just on his birthday, but on his Saturday birthday.  Not just on his Saturday birthday, but his Saturday birthday that just happens to be Halloween.  This is very sad to me (especially since everyone knows how seriously I take birthdays.)  So I decided to ship him a cake.  (And this actually wasn't to big an ordeal, since it's already getting super cold in Michigan, so I didn't have to worry about spoilage.  How about that -- something positive about the impending dismal Michigan weather.  "Great, it's getting cold out!". . .  said no Michigander ever.)

I came up with the perfect cake.  Those of you who know me, know that, to me, my brother is perpetually 7 years old.  Those of you who don't know me. . .he actually turns 28 this year.  Anyways, I remember this particular birthday when he was younger (I'm thinking. . . hmmm, maybe 7 years old, but probably not. . .) where the only thing he wanted was this monstrously humongous chocolate cake from Costco.  The thing probably weighed 10 lbs and it was all chocolate.  Chocolate, chocolate, chocolate. . . chocolate cake, chocolate filling, chocolate trimming. . . you get the idea.  I remember almost nothing else about the cake.  I don't even remember if it was good (or if my brother actually ended up liking it) but really, for anyone who is a fan of chocolate, it's pretty much failproof.  I mean, what's not to like?  So I replicated the chocolate, chocolate, chocolate cake, with some inspiration from the Chocolate Wasted Cake from the Art of Dessert.  (How perfect is that name, btw??)

Here it is:

Chocolate, Chocolate, Chocolate Cake
(or C-4, doubly appropriate because it seriously resembles a chocolate explosion. . .)




I used my go-to chocolate fudge doctored cake mix cake, except I thought that the Art of Dessert's idea of brushing the cakes with a liqueur, to complement and deepen the chocolate taste was such a good idea, that I had to add it to my recipe.








However, since my brother has to work on his birthday, instead of Kahlua, I decided to make a coffee simple syrup with which to brush the layers. (I know, I'm totally paranoid -- there's probably more alcohol in cough syrup than in a slice of cake where 1 tablespoon of liquor would be used to coat the whole cake. . . but you can never be too safe. . .)





So, for all of you who are alcohol averse -- for life, or for a day, here is a good replacement for the Kahlua (at least for when brushing cake layers.)

Coffee Simple Syrup

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1 tsp instant coffee

Boil sugar and water together for two minutes.  Add the instant coffee and stir until mostly dissolved.  Strain the left over particles out of the syrup.  Cool.




After the cake was torted and brushed with syrup, I  filled it with a whipped white chocolate filling, which can be found here.







Then, I frosted the sides of the cake with a chocolate fudge whipped frosting, (which can also be found here.)  For this particular technique (stay-tuned) the frosting job can be a little roughshod, because everything will get covered in the end.  Which also means that there is no need for a crumb-coat (which makes me very happy.)

Place a cardboard round on top of the cake (this end should not be frosted, not yet anyways.)





There are several techniques that can be used when coating a cake with any type of decoration.  I find that the easiest method is to simply roll the sides of the cake in the decoration of choice, whether it be sequins, or sugar pearls, or. . . drum-roll please. . . generic M and M's.

O-kay, that didn't sound that exciting, but trust me, they are delicious.  They're slightly smaller than M and M's so there is a higher candy to chocolate ratio which is just so yummy!

Anyways, I digress.  To use my method, you simply pour the topping into a large cookie sheet (any dish that is wider than the diameter of your cake will do, though,) spread evenly, and then roll the cake over the candy.

After the sides are sufficiently coated with candy, frost the top, and add your topping of choice.  I did chopped up kit-kat bars and then drizzled with white chocolate.

And here you have it! (So I know this looks kind of weird, and full disclosure -- I photo-shopped out the background.  Mainly because I constructed the whole thing on multiple layers of cling wrap so that I would be able to move it without the candy falling off.  You know what doesn't photograph well?  Cling Wrap.  So I took it out, hence the somewhat weird image. Apologies.) 


And I'll just close this post by wishing my brother a very, very happy (28th, not 7th) birthday.  Hopefully eating a slice of cake for breakfast can give you the sugar rush to get through work a little faster and happier!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Roses are pink, I need something to bake, 'Cause it's my BIRTHDAY, So I'll make a (dress) cake!



Last year, I started making my own birthday cake.  I'll spare you the multiple reasons (I listed them in my prior post, and they haven't really changed.  So this would be year two of the annual make-my-own-birthday cake post. (Two times is enough to make it a tradition, right?)

Year 2 (of the tradition) and year 35 (of my life) started off with a commitment not to make the same mistake as last year.  Namely, trying to bake the cake, make the frosting, make the filling, and decorate -- all the night before my birthday.  It made for a slightly stressful day before the big day.  So this year, I made the topper a month in advance and set it aside.  The cake was baked a couple weeks in later, filled, frosted, and frozen.  A couple days before my birthday, I defrosted the cake in the fridge, bringing it to rest at room temperature the night before.  And finally, I decorated the cake on the day of my birthday.  Now this is definitely the way to do it.

So the cake of the day (and my year, I suppose) was modeled on a fancy dress.  I took the easy way out and purchased the Wilton Wonder Mold Doll Cake kit.  Basically, this contains a pan that is shaped like an upside down beehive, which would make the skirt of the dress (or a beehive, if that's the way you wanted to go.) Technically, you can also make this cake by using a mixing bowl for pan (but I'm not sure if any of mine are oven safe,) or by baking a bunch of round cakes and then carving them to the shape desired (but I thought that may derail the whole anti-stress thing. . .)  The cake pan kit worked fine, so it was a win.

In order of how the cake was composed:

Bodice of the dress

Luckily for me, the dress kit came with a doll pick.   For those of you who are unaware, a doll pick is the top half of a barbie-doll-like figure, with a spike coming out of the torso, to attach to the cake itself.  Although I am a child at heart, I definitely did not want a barbie doll cake, so I had the somewhat macabre task of beheading the doll pick (it was pretty easy, actually -- the head just pops off, although then I had to snap off the joint with some kitchen shears) as well as amputating the upper extremities (also which pretty much just popped off, but, again, then the joints had to be snapped off.)




 Now, what's left is the dress form.  You know, the one dressmakers have on which to hang garments? To add drama , I covered the top part of the bust in black fondant.  Basically, just rolled out a circle, draped it on top of the "neck" and smoothed around and down until there weren't any creases visible.  This took a little finesse since it was such an odd shape.  Anywhere there was a crease, I lifted the fodant up and out and smoothed down again.  (Sort of like for a cake, but a really tiny, really oddly shaped cake.) Then the ends were trimmed and tidied. 


 

 

 As you can see, there still is plenty of the original colored doll; that needs to be covered as well, but will get covered eventually by the "fabric."  Adding additional black fondant would only make the whole thing bulkier and difficult to manage.

To make things easier on myself, I decided to simply do a strapless design for the top.  For this, I rolled out a strip (literally a strip, long and thin) of white fondant.  I used my imprint mat, to press a design on the strip, and then wrapped the whole thing around the mold, making sure to cover all of mold that hadn't already been covered.




 


 After that, I painted the "material" with a gold luster dust dissolved in a little bit of alcohol.  A trim of sugar pearls were added to the neckline along with a few sugar pearl "buttons" at the back.










Finally, the black portion of the mold was cleaned with some alcohol to get the excess sparkle off and the whole thing was stuck in a Styrofoam sheet to dry.



Rose Infused White Cake with White Chocolate Whipped Filling 
and 
Champagne Whipped Cream Frosting

Cake

Ingredients:
1 box white cake mix
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1 small white chocolate Jello pudding mix

3 egg whites and 1 whole egg
1 cup sour cream
1 cup milk
2 tsp rose water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup melted butter

Process:
Whisk the dry ingredients together.  
Cream the wet ingredients together until well blended.  
Add the dry to the wet ingredients and blend 2-3 minutes.
Pour into the buttered cake mold and bake at 350 degrees until baked through, approximately 70-85 minutes.
Let cool for 15 minutes, then unmold onto a cake board.  
Cool completely.

Filling 

Ingredients:
1 box white chocolate Jello instant pudding
2 cups Rich's Bettercreme

Process:

Add the cream and pudding mix together and whip to soft peaks.  (I used Bettercreme since it stands safely at room temperature for up to 5 days, but regular heavy cream works well also.  It is less sweet, so you may have to add sugar to taste.)

Frosting

Ingredients:

4 oz Champagne or sparkling wine
2 cups Rich's Bettercreme
Sugar to taste

Process:

Whip the cream to soft peaks.  
Drizzle the champagne in slowly so as not to deflate the cream.  It is very important that the champagne is flat, otherwise, the cream will curdle! You can accomplish this by stirring the champagne with a knife or spoon for a couple of minutes.  
Add sugar to taste.  Again, regular heavy whipping cream can be used, but it isn't as sweet to begin with as Rich's Bettercreme, so you will probably need more sugar.


 



When the cake is entirely cooled, split into 4 layers, fill and frost.  At this point, the whole cake can be wrapped and frozen (which is what I did.)








The Dress

A while ago, I saw a cake on Pinterest that was decorated with rose petals.  It was a simple small 6 inch round cake, but it looked luscious.  Those rose petals gave it the dreamiest appearance.  I got to thinking that it could also serve to create gorgeous ruffles for a cake. . . so I bought a dozen roses and stuck the petals onto the frosting. Of course, this works because roses are edible -- so if you choose to do this, make sure you get pesticide free ones. (Bonus: I only had to use 3, which gave me a bunch to spruce up the dining room)   





To decorate the cake with rose petals, start at the bottom and work around the cake in concentric circles.

Because rose petals naturally curve into a cup like shape, I had to create small tears at the top of each petal for it to lie flat on the frosting.

Use the larger petals at the bottom, and taper to smaller petals at the top, using the smallest petals at the center of the rose to create the last layer at the waist.




The topper goes . . . on top (obviously,) and there you have it! (And aren't these the most beautiful roses that you've ever seen?  The color is called jalah; it's exquisite -- pink at the edges and gold in the center.  Lovely. . .)