Friday, January 20, 2012

[Tish Boyle] Chocolate Buttermilk Cakes

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Half a lemon. That was what led to this cake. Every time I opened the fridge door, I would see that half a lemon sitting there, bald and sad. The zest was used to make these, and my helper had used one half to marinate some fish. I don't know about you, but when I see half-eaten food lying around, I feel the need to finish it up quickly. So, I decided to make buttermilk with that half a lemon. I was thinking pancakes.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), we were out of maple syrup, so pancakes were out. Instead, I googled "buttermilk" and "chocolate cake", and found this recipe by Tish Boyle. I like Tish Boyle. Her recipes have worked for me (see here and here). To be honest, though, I did not expect much from this recipe because I thought I had found my favourite chocolate cake (which I blogged about twice, by the way!), and I thought there was a slim chance I'd find another that would wow me as much.

But this one did. It knocked our socks off, and I had to quickly put aside these few pieces for taking pics.

You know how this cake won me over? Let me count the ways:

(1) It has a crumb texture that is totally spot-on! It is tender, yet firm enough to provide some 'bite'. I absolutely love cakes like that.

(2) The chopped chocolate bits that are mixed into the batter become melted into the cake as it bakes, and every mouthful provides a burst of gooey chocolate. Yes, drool.

(3) The flavour of chocolate is outstanding - incredibly robust and intense. But to get this effect, you have to use really good quality chocolate/cocoa. And by "really good quality", I am referring to my smooth, dark and sexy Monsieur Valrhona.

In summary, WOWZA!

How does this cake compare to the Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake? Just as good. Seriously. I love both equally. Please don't make me choose. I want to have my cakes and eat them too!

So here it is: Chocolate Buttermilk Cakes. Do leave them overnight to allow the flavours to develop. I know, I know. It's gonna be hard but trust me, you will be happier for it. Chocolate cakes always taste better on Day 2. Before serving, warm up slightly in the microwave and then, with a cuppa by your side, slowly savour the magic.

(from Tish Boyle Sweet Dreams)

Makes 6 individual cakes.
Storage: in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
Special Equipment: one 6-cake Bundt-lette pan

- 1 cup (4oz/114g) cake flour (plain flour is fine too)
- 1/2 cup (1.6oz/46g) Dutch-processed (alkalized) cocoa powder*
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks/6oz/170g) unsalted butter, softened
- 1 1/4 cups (8.8oz/250g) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 3/4 cup (180ml) buttermilk**
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) Kahlua*** (optional)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 ounces (113g) finely chopped bittersweet chocolate**** or 3/4 cup miniature semisweet chocolate morsels bittersweet
* I used Valrhona.
** If you do not have buttermilk, pour 180ml of whole milk in a cup, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, stir and let it sit for 5mins. You can alternatively use about 1 tbsp of white vinegar in place of lemon juice.
*** I used 1 tbsp rum.
**** I used Valrhona Caraïbe 66%.

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1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Generously grease the interior of a 6-cake Bundt-lette pan (it's best to use shortening here). Dust the molds with flour and tap out the excess.*
* I used my Wilton mini loaf pan and greased using butter.

2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Whisk to combine and set aside.

3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed for 2 minutes, until very creamy. Gradually beat in the sugar. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 3 minutes, until the mixture is well blended and light. At medium speed, beat in the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.

4. In a small bowl, stir together the buttermilk, Kahlua (or rum), and vanilla extract. If your mixer has a splatter shield attachment, attach it now. At low speed, add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture in three additions, alternating it with the buttermilk cream mixture in two additions, and mixing just until blended. Remove the bowl from the mixer stand and stir in the finely chopped chocolate or miniature semisweet morsels. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake molds, dividing it evenly and smoothing the tops.

5. Bake the cakes for 25 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted into the center of a cake comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pan set on a wire rack for 10 minutes.

6. Invert the cakes onto the rack and cool completely.
* If you intend to chill the cake(s), make sure they are stored in a tightly-lidded container to prevent drying out.

Not a good-looker (my fault - I don't do them justice), but as they say, never judge a book by its cover. This one's for keeps.
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Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Cream Cheese Pound (Mini) Cakes

Baked into individual loaves using my Wilton mini loaf pan. Don't they resemble gold bars?
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I made a decision. I am giving pineapple tarts a miss this year. Yes, I hear your collective gasps of horror but if I attempt to bake them, I will be the one gasping for air.

First week of school passed with lots of drama, stress and exasperation. Brutal. The second week was only a wee bit better. Now that we are into the third week (and tests have already begun!), I am keeping my fingers crossed that things will settle ... especially for my 7-year old. He who has the uncanny ability to disappear and re-appear without a sound. I should have sent him to Hogswart instead of my alma mater.

"He crawls under the tables and ends up in another 'location' when my back is turned", the teacher said to me. "He also went missing during recess. And when it comes to class work, he writes a line or two and then tells me he is too tired to finish the rest."

At that point, I just wanted the earth to swallow me whole.

So yeah, that kind of stuff. Go ahead, envy me. And since all three children are in different schools this year - Sec 1, Pri 1 and Nursery - I have a whole lot more ferrying to do. Anyway, to cut the long story short, I decided to be kind to myself and not sweat the small stuff. Like making pineapple tarts, or cookies, or whatever.

Then last Friday, when I dropped my 4-year old at the Nursery, his teacher (who previously taught my other son), remarked rather wistfully, "Oh, I miss your cakes!"

*cue awkward silence*

Oh lordy, THAT was one thinly-veiled hint!

I gave a feeble laugh, kissed my little boy goodbye and made a hasty exit.

Upon reaching home, I found myself looking into my fridge for ingredients. Argh, old habits die hard. I hate turning people down, especially when it comes to food. ;) There was cream cheese and there were lemons, so the next day, I baked Cream Cheese Pound Cake and delivered them to the teachers' homes (note: not for every teacher ... only the ones I like, ha!). I got hugs and more hugs, and I couldn't help but think teachers love me more than my children.

Back to the cake, it's one of my favourites to bake and eat. So moist, so fragrant and oh-so-delicious ... it has never let me down. For those you who have guests coming over, you can bake a day or two ahead, chill and then re-heat before serving. Do give them a try, if you are thinking of something other than the usual Almond Butter Cake (although I LOVE this particular butter cake!) or Sugee Cake.

Recipe for Cream Cheese Pound Cake can be found here. Good luck!

These were for our own consumption. The actual cakes I delivered to the teachers were secured with gold ribbons. :) In my haste to deliver them warm, I forgot to take photos!Pin It