Monthly Archives: December 2012

Meringue Mascarpone Cake and a Travel Anecdote

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Meringue Mascarpone Cake
Out of all my loves travel must be the biggest, especially when I get the chance to taste something new. Unfortunately, I do have quite high expectations for my restaurant food and if it’s something I can just cook at home I am not really interested. It takes me ages to choose a restaurant and then even longer to settle on a single menu item, treating each decision as if my life depends on it. It drives my husband crazy! That is why the story I am about to tell is so unusual.
It happened a few years ago in London, where we found ourselves on a short stopover on our way home to Canada. We just spent 2 weeks travelling through Italy and Slovenia when we found ourselves in the capital of England completely zapped of any energy and desire to see another castle or historical monument. There we were wandering around central London-not truly knowing what to do next but not ready to call it quits-when we stumbled upon a tiny bakery on a nondescript side street. The place itself didn’t look anything special and it had mostly bare shelves given the very late hour. We picked two slices that appealed to us the most-no thinking, no fuss on my part-and went to feast on them in our hotel room remembering that we brought a very special bottle of Prosecco from Italy that would go nicely with the cake. Surprisingly, both of the cakes were pretty spectacular but my story is about the one which true name I don’t know but became known between Brad and I as “the crunchy cake”. The flavour was quite pleasant but what really stood out to us was the texture. It was…well…crunchy. It was completely different from anything we’ve ever had before. We absolutely loved it.
A year later we moved to London and it seemed “the crunchy cake” left such an impression that every time we went out to central London we tried to find that little bakery. Unfortunately, when we first found it we didn’t know London at all so had no clue where the bakery was and where to look for it. The more time passed and the more we spent days fruitlessly searching the bigger the obsession grew with ‘the crunchy cake”. We talked about it so longingly that no dessert could ever compare. I started to fantasise about it in hopes of figuring out what it could possibly be made out of and how I could re-produce it. The obsession evolved but didn’t disappear.
Meringue Mascarpone Cake that brought this entire post about always intrigued me because- a.) it’s quite unique b.) I LOVE mascarpone in anything c.) it’s crunchy. I had the recipe for it bookmarked for a long time on Sweetapolita’s website but no occasion seemed grand enough for embarking on this 3- layer filled with creamy mascarpone and rich chocolate ganache extravaganza/cake making. The day before Christmas I opened my freezer and found dozens of frozen egg whites-the results of my eggnog making spree. I knew immediately what was coming next-a cake worthy of the one in my memory. This…
Meringue Mascarpone Cake
Have I mentioned that Christmas Day is also my birthday? I know that I’ve mentioned how picky about food I am, so for years I have gone without a birthday cake because I didn’t want to bake my own and the store bought didn’t seem good enough. Eating anything my husband could make was never going to be an option. Well, I am over it and loving making my own cake because it’s always exactly what I want and it’s so fun for me!!
Here is what you will need for this beauty:
Ingredients:

For the Meringue

  • Egg whites- 12/360 gr
  • Granulated sugar-2 1/2 cups
  • Salt-a pinch
  • Vanilla Essence-1tbsp.
For the Ganache
  • Dark Chocolate- 1lbs/450 gr (chopped in small pieces)
  • Whipping Cream/Double Cream-2 cups/500ml
For the Mascarpone Filling
  • Mascarpone Cheese-2 cups/500gr
  • Whipping Cream/Double Cream-1 cup/250 ml
  • Icing sugar-1/2 cup/125gr
  • Vanilla Bean-1(seeds scraped out)
  • Spiced Rum- 1/4 cup (I used Bacardi Oakheart Smooth and Spicy Rum)
Method:
1.Preheat your oven to 250F/120C. Trace 3 8″ circles on your parchment paper and place them on the baking sheets.
Separate the egg whites from the egg yolks and refrigerate the egg yolks.
merengue
Wipe the mixing bowl with a bit of lemon juice to remove any traces of grease.
Start whipping the egg whites with a pinch of salt until soft peaks form, with the motor still running add your sugar slowly and continue beating, add vanilla and beat longer until the meringue is stiff. The test that I use for the doneness is rubbing a bit of meringue between your fingers, if it’s smooth and you can’t feel any sugar granules it’s ready to be baked. If the sugar is not completely dissolved keep beating. Make sure to stop the motor of your stand mixer (if using one)once in a while to give it a good stir with a spatula as the beater doesn’t reach the bottom. Otherwise,  you will end up with uneven meringue.
Divide the meringue among the three circles and smooth it out with a spatula to give them the shape of cake layers. I would recommend making the tops as smooth as possible, opposite to baking Pavlova where you’d want swirls.
Bake in the preheated oven for 2.5 hours rotating the pans every 20 min. (yes I really did that) until the meringue is dry all the way through. Turn the oven off and leave them in for another hour or even overnight if baking a day ahead.
2. Prepare your filling once your meringue is ready as it doesn’t take long. Place your chopped chocolate into a medium bowl and set aside. Heat the cream in a saucepan, take off the heat as soon as it starts to boil. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until combined. Let it cool a bit, use it when it’s cooled but still soft and spreadable.
3. Quickly whip softened mascarpone cheese for a minute or two just to loosen it , add whipping cream, sugar, vanilla bean seeds and spiced rum until light and fluffy. Taste the filling and adjust vanilla/spiced rum amounts if necessary.
Cake Assembly:
Place the first meringue on your cake stand and spread 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture on it, then spread 1/3 of the ganache, repeat the process with the other two finishing with the ganache layer. Decorate the top however your imagination leads you. I sprinkled white chocolate stars and silver balls for the festive touch.
Meringue Mascarpone Cake
I was so happy I decided to make my own birthday cake this year, especially as unique as this one. The crunchy meringue layers are contrasted by soft and creamy mascarpone and accented by the rich chocolate ganache. Pure perfection!!
Birthday celebration

P.S. As Brad and I got to know London pretty well after 2 years of living here, eventually we were able to retrace our steps of the first and memorable night in the city and find that elusive bakery that sold “the crunchy cake”. Once again we ordered two slices for “takeaway” and devoured them on the train ride home. As so often happens, the taste was much better in our imagination:-)

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Spiced Rum White Chocolate and Coconut Truffles

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Spice Rum White Chocolate Truffles
I love chocolate truffles…I love  them in a very deep and real way. Seriously.  Appropriate for any food-related love, of course! Last year I pined for French truffles we used to buy every Christmas while still in Canada. Yet I have never tried to make them myself. How those two things are reconciled is beyond me! I guess I had a silly idea that they would be difficult and fiddly to make, and boy oh boy, was I ever wrong! Truffle making must be one of the most enjoyable activities ever and shouldn’t even be classified as cooking but rather a craft because it’s that simple and fun! So gather up your little ones, put lovely Christmas tunes on and get to it! If you make only one thing this Christmas let it be these White Chocolate and Coconut Truffles.

IMG_6228

Ingredients:

For 25-30 truffles

250 gr good-quality white chocolate choppedmelted truffles

100 ml whipping cream/double cream

25 gr soft unsalted butter

Spiced Rum or any other liqueur of your choice-a splash (optional)

For the coating:

200 gr good-quality chocolate, melted and slightly cooled ( I used vanilla bean white chocolate from Marks and Spencer)

100 gr shredded or desiccated coconut

Method:

Put the white chocolate, cream and butter in a pan over a low heat and stir until melted and combined, add a splash of Spiced Rum for a more complex flavour. Pour into a shallow bowl and chill in the fridge for 4 hours or until firm. (Go read a book while it’s chilling or do something else fun!)

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. truffles 1

Scoop out a small amount of the mixture and roll it into a ball using a spoon or your hands. I opted for the latter as I wanted mine to be perfectly round. I found I had to wipe my hands between rolling each truffle because the creamy filling made them too slippery to be effective! Transfer the truffle balls to a plate and chill for 1 hour to firm up.

Once they are firm enough to handle drop them in the melted chocolate for a quick swim and pull them out with a fork, then repeat the same with the shredded coconut. I left a few of mine coconut-free as my son claims coconut to be his latest dislike! I am curious to see how true that is in the face of temptation!

You are done! Do you see how easy that is?! I am pretty sure I will be experimenting with dark chocolate very soon.

I am very weary to compare these amazing truffles with anything but if you insisted I would say they taste like a better version of Ferrero Raffaello chocolates. Oh gasp.

Serve these delightful morsels at your next Christmas party paired with a glass of bubbly and you will surely be the most popular and sought after hostess!

Spiced Rum White Chocolate Truffles

Or give them as a clever Christmas gift to your friends although I am warning you they will be very tough to part with!

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* The recipe was adapted from Sainsbury’s Magazine December 2012

Rogalik- My Christmas Traditions Native and Adopted

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rogaliki1
One of the biggest draws of Christmas is time with family steeped in traditions. We are all creatures of habit and anticipation of something familiar is both exciting and comforting. You are probably expecting me to break into a charming little story from my childhood memories about celebrating Christmas in Russia. The truth is I didn’t start celebrating Christmas until my late teens. Among numerous holidays celebrated in Soviet Russia the birth of Christ was not one be acknowledged for 70 years! Many wonderful traditions were lost or got transferred to New Year’s Day, which became the biggest holiday of the year.

When Brad and I got married we moved away from both of our families and were very anxious to establish holiday traditions of our own to pass onto our children. Special festive food is, of course, a major part of any traditions and Christmas baking became something I dove right into! Some recipes came from Brad’s family, some from glossy foodie magazines and the one I am sharing with you today came from the Russian cookbook that was in my family for years. I was leafing through it one day when I stumbled on it. I marked it with * and jotted “Christmas” next to it. That’s how Rogalik became our family’s Christmas Tradition.

recipe
I’ve been making it ever since. For the last 12 Christmases we’ve enjoyed the taste of cinnamony walnuts drenched in honey and wrapped in flaky pastry. A cookie that has truly Russian roots but also became popular in North America through the Jewish immigrants from various Eastern European countries and known as Rugalach. Can you hear the similarity from Rogalik to Rugalach? I was also happy to learn that “rugal” in Yiddish means “royal”. Rogalik is so lovely, it’s truly fit for the King of Kings.

rogaliki 3 closeup
There are literally hundreds of recipes of Rugalach that are floating around the internet. The biggest difference between them and mine is that most of them use cream cheese to make the dough, which is not authentic at all and is rumoured to be developed by Philadelphia to help with the sale of their brand. My recipe uses sour cream and after trying all the other ones I always come back to mine. I might be partial but I believe my recipe is superior :-).
Ingredients for the dough:
Flour – 3 cups plus extra for rollingrogalik

Sour Cream (full fat)-1 cup

Butter- 3/4 cup/150gr

Vanilla- 1tsp

Egg (beaten)-1 for brushing

Ingredients for the filling:

Walnuts (chopped)-1 1/2 cupsRogalik

Sugar-1 cup

Honey-1/4 cup

Cinnamon-1 tsp.

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C and line your baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whip your softened butter together with sour cream in a large bowl. Add flour in small portions and continue mixing. Empty the contents of the bowl on floured surface and continue kneading until you have smooth and pliable dough adding a bit more flour if sticky. Cover and let sit for 10 min.

While your dough is resting chop the walnuts finely or process them in a food processor, mix with sugar and cinnamon and set aside. Make sure your honey is spreadable, heat if needed to achieve the right consistency.

Divide your dough into 4 parts and rolls out each individually into a circle. The dough shouldn’t be thicker than 1 cm. Brush honey on it and divide into 16 even triangles.

circle divided

Now sprinkle 1/4 of the nut/cinnamon mixture on your circle. My son came to help me with this important business but got bored quickly and left me to my own devices.

mitchell's hand
The next step is the funnest of them all. That’s where the famous rogalik takes it’s shape. Roll up each triangle starting from the wide end towards the centre of the circle.
one rolled up
Arrange the cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet, brush them with the egg wash and bake them for 25-30 minutes. I strongly recommend using the parchment paper because the delicious and gooey filling will leak out a bit and turn into caramel. If you don’t use parchment paper your rogalik will get glued to the baking sheet and will make it stressful to remove.
unbaked
Once baked remove them from the baking sheet to the wire rack while still warm.

rogaliki done
These little beauties take a bit of work but I get a profound sense of satisfaction and pride when they are done and put away in lovely Christmas tins. I am even happier when I get to sit down and enjoy one with my tea.
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My little girl loved them as well this year! Bonus!
Vika eatingRugelach  or Russian Rogalik

Christmas Dinner {Part 3}- Herb, Chorizo and Fig Stuffing

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Are you set on your Christmas dinner menu already? If you are anything like me you’d be changing things the last minute, adding to already existing ones and re-arranging everything from top to bottom. It’s impossible for me to stick with just one recipe for something, I get so distracted by the variety available to me and I want to try them all!
This post is about a stuffing recipe that I invented on a spur of the moment and surprisingly enough it turned out to be delicious. In fact, my husband said he could eat it alone as a meal! It wasn’t something I thought about or planned. I was simply cooking a pork roast one Saturday and I kept adding more and more sides to it. This recipe was born!
You know I actually already have a perfect stuffing recipe that I’ve been making for holidays for a while. It’s hard to beat perfection and why would I mess with it! More importantly why would I mess with stuffing when everyone knows it has a potential to taste like a bland clump of bread! The answer is I get bored when things are the same and I need to spice them up every once in a while. Also when you work with ingredients like these how can it possible not be fabulous?!

Another reason for this experimentation is I love cooking with Spanish sausage- chorizo (and I had quite a bit of it kicking around in the fridge that needed to be used), it gives the dishes such lovely flavour and zing! It also turns everything it comes into contact with yellow or orange which is like a bit of sunshine that the Spaniards share with all of us Northerners! I was curious to see if it would work with this very non-Spanish meal.
stuffing prep
Like I said this was not a pre-meditated affair so I had to use ingredients I had on hand. Next time I make it I think I am going to add chestnuts for more texture!
In my humble opinion, there are a few ‘must have’ components of a tasty stuffing besides bread or rice- a sausage of sorts, a variety of herbs, fresh or dried fruit and nuts. All things combined will give us flavour, texture, a bit of spice and comfort!
Ingredients:

  • Bread -stale French baguette- 2/3 or 200gr
  • Butter- 1tbsp
  • Onion-1 medium
  • Garlic-2 cloves
  • Apple-1/2 (grated)
  • Chorizo- 150gr
  • stuffing prep 2
  • Dried Figs-10 (chopped)
  • Sage-2-3 sprigs (leaves only)
  • Rosemary-2-3 sprigs(leaves only)
  • Pine nuts-1/4 c.
  • Stock (beef, pork or vegetable)-1c.
  • Egg-1 large (slightly beaten)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Method:

Preheat your oven to 350F/180C and butter an oven proof dish.

Cube your bread and put it in a large bowl. Chop up your onion and herbs and saute them in the frying pan with butter on a medium heat until translucent but not coloured for about 5 minutes, add garlic and cook for a minute longer. Transfer to the bowl with bread.

Dice chorizo and figs and add them to the bowl with stuffing. Add all the remaining ingredients except the egg. Mix well together adding salt and pepper to taste. Finish off with the beaten egg, mix the stuffing again and transfer to the buttered baking dish.

Unbaked stuffing

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until puffed up and golden.

cooked stuffing

This stuffing has a slightly sweet and spicy taste. It’s crazy flavourful and although it doesn’t  have that traditional and familiar Christmassy taste it’s lovely nonetheless and goes especially well with this pork roast.

I hope you are adventurous enough to add this newbie to your Christmas table. I promise you won’t regret it and your guests will be so impressed with the bold and innovative combination of flavours!

Venison Steak Diane with a Facelift – Dedicated to Hunters and Gatherers

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venison steak diane
Those of you who follow my blog know that I recently acquired a rather unusual selection of meats with some of the items being entirely new to me.  Although I’ve never cooked venison before I am not a complete wild game virgin. Brad and I spent our honeymoon in a cabin in the middle of nowhere in Northern Ontario that was  graciously offered to us by my parents -in-law’s friends. When we arrived there we discovered another present inside the cabin- a freezer stocked full of meat, venison and moose, perfectly suited to the surroundings. I had no idea all kinds of delicacies like steaks, pepperoni and sausages could be made out venison. I grew up in Russia and in a very urban setting, the wildest thing I’d eaten up to that point was a stewed rabbit!

I loved the taste of venison but didn’t have a slightest idea of how to cook it, so I approached this challenge with a lot of research. I poured over hundreds of recipes on the internet to find the perfect one and get inspired until I stumbled upon Venison Steak Diane on Honest Food website. I am not going to lie to you that the main draw for the recipe was the picture! I really hope you will feel the same about mine:-).

What was keeping me from starting immediately was the name. Steak Diane had a firmly planted association in my head with an old and tired recipe from the 50s that no one would get passionate about. However, that opinion quickly changed when I learned that the name for Steak Diane didn’t come from some old lady named Diane who invented the recipe in her 1950s kitchen but Roman mythology and one of their goddesses Diana, who was a huntress. The sauce itself originated in the turn of the 20th century France and was invented for venison, not beef. It’a classic for a reason! That convinced me to give it a try. That, and the short and simple ingredient list.

Ingredients:

steak ingredients

Venison steaks-400gr/1 lbs

Onion-1 small

Garlic-2 cloves

Worcestershire Sauce-1 tbsp.

Whole Grain Mustard with chilies (chilies optional)-1tbsp.

Tomato paste-1tbsp.

Butter-2 tbsp.

Double cream/heavy cream- 1/4 c.

Beef stock-2/3 c.

Brandy (or any white wine or whiskey you have on hand)-1/4 c.

Basil for garnish- 2-3 leaves sliced

Method:

Take your venison out of the fridge and bring it to room temperature for about 20-30 min. Pat the steaks dry with a paper towel. Melt the butter in the frying pan on medium heat and fry your steak until they develop a brown crust on both sides. It took me about 6-7 min. on one side and 3-4 on the other. They will be pleasantly browned on the outside but won’t cook all the way through provided your steaks are 1.25- 1.5 inches thick. Remove the steaks from pan and allow to rest on a plate, cover to keep warm.

steaks browned

While your steaks are frying, dice the onion quite finely and saute in the same pan for 2-3 min, then add minced garlic to it and continue sauteing while stirring constantly as garlic burns quickly and turns bitter for another 30 sec.

Add your brandy or whatever alcohol you are using and let it cook for 4-5 min so it’s reduced and the spoon leaves a trail on the pan when you stir. Brandy is not essential to this recipe but adds complexity to otherwise a very simple sauce. I usually never have brandy on hand but as you can see from my previous post I bought a bottle for my homemade eggnog which was another proof the recipe was meant to be!

Now add tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, beef stock, a pinch of salt and pepper to the sauce and cook it until thickened and looks like this…

sauce1

Take your sauce off the heat and wait a bit until the bubbles calm down. Now add cream to the sauce until it looks pretty. Yes, that’s exactly how I decide on the amounts of cream in everything-from my coffee to apparently sauces. I like this colour…

sauce2

Stir everything together to blend but don’t put in back on the heat or it might separate and although it will still taste just as great it won’t look nearly as beautiful as this…

steak diane whole

Are you hungry enough yet? You can serve your steaks whole or your can slice them in medallions.

steak sliced
I was quite pleased with the way it turned out but I was also a bit under the weather and too busy taking pictures capitalizing on a brief moment of sunshine streaming through my kitchen window that it didn’t even occur to me to taste the meat. It’s steak, right? I’ve had steak before. The reason I went for a small mouthful is to bring variety to my shots and OH MY GOODNESS. All of a sudden, I forgot that I was sick and not hungry! The meat was so tender and flavourfulI had to immediately call for Brad, the main taste tester. Big mistake. It was gone in seconds.

steak diane 2
steak diane 3
Venison Steak Diane
One last word about the garnish. Traditionally parsley is used to adorn Steak Diane. I didn’t have any. I have a basil plant growing on my window sill, so used basil. It was outstanding. I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. I love intentional substitutions and unintentional mistakes! Did you know that Worcestershire sauce was one of them? I love bold and creative people!

P.S. This recipe was adapted from the one here.

P.P.S. If you buy anything similar at a restaurant it would cost your at least £20!  It cost me £2 per person!!

Homemade Eggnog aka Christmas In A Cup

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Homemade Eggnog
In roughly three weeks from now we will be celebrating our second Christmas in England and so far this December has been much smoother than the last one. A year ago I was completely lost. As Christmas season was approaching I felt nothing but anxiety over where to do my Christmas shopping, how to stock up on seasonal goodies and keep them in a tiny London flat with no storage, and lastly I grieved the absence of Canadian holiday fare. Especially the last one. Once again December is upon us and things are quite cheery in my household. I personally credit mental preparation and my mad eggnog making skills to such success.

First of all, do you know that English grocery stores do not sell cartons of eggnog? Are you as appalled as I was a year ago? Do you share my love for eggnog? If you do you will understand what an important ingredient it is to the holiday cheer! You will also understand how crucial it is to have a great eggnog recipe. I’ve tried a few last year and made some pretty incredible drinks. Alas, they didn’t quite taste like the eggnog we were all craving. My morning coffee was downright unconsolable.

Yesterday I threw all caution to the wind, which is my custom to do and created my own recipe. The results were…well let’s just say as soon as I finished making it I left the house in a sprint to purchase a bottle of brandy because the taste was just perfect!

What I discovered is that the key to success is the right blend of spices and that’s very personal. The milk and the eggs are just the carriers of the taste-rich and delicious carriers.

spices
The recipe that I am about to share appeals to my taste but please feel free to adjust the amounts of various spices.

Ingredients:

egg yolks-4

whole milk-2 cups/500ml

sugar-1/2 cupeggnog whole pic

half and half/single cream-2 cups/500ml

vanilla bean-1

nutmeg-1/2 tsp.

mixed spice( a blend of cassia, coriander seed, caraway, nutmeg, ginger, cloves)-1tsp.

cinnamon-1 stick

Method:

Pour 2 cups of whole milk in the heavy bottomed sauce pan, slit open your vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds and add them to the milk, along with the cinnamon stick and the rest of the spices. Heat the milk over a low heat until the milk is hot and steamy and about to boil. You don’t want the milk heating process to happen quickly because the milk needs time to soak up all the wonderful flavours.

While the milk is getting infused, separate your egg yolks from the egg whites and reserve the egg whites for a different use or freeze them. Whip your egg yolks with sugar in a medium sized bowl until the mixture is much paler in colour and doubled in volume. When your milk is ready take it off the heat and remove the cinnamon stick.

The next step is a little bit tricky. Our main goal here is to “cook” the eggs so they are safe to eat but not to end up with a batch of milky scrambled eggs- trust me it’s very easy to do and happens QUICKLY!

With your mixer still running slowly add half of the milk mixture to the egg mixture to temper the eggs, blend well. Tempering should prevent the eggs from curdling in the next step. Then empty the contents into the saucepan with milk and heat through while whisking continuously on low heat. It took mine 2 minutes. Take off the heat, strain through a fine sieve to ensure eggnog is smooth and silky, add single cream to it and chill until cold.

glass of eggnog from above
Enjoy with a dash of brandy or skip it if you prefer the non-alcoholic taste. My absolute favourite way to drink eggnog is in my morning coffee. Nothing can be more satisfying on a cold winter morning than sipping a cup of eggnog latte while watching your littles lazily eating breakfast by the light of the Christmas tree. Merry Christmas!!

Chocolate Stout Cake And An Early New Year Resolution

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Chocolate Guinness CakeMy husband Brad turned…ahem…let’s just say he had his birthday this past week and there are only a few things I love more than celebrating birthdays. Quite possibly this is because my own birthday is on Christmas Day and I always feel deprived of the love poured directly on me on the day that is everyone’s holiday, I try to get as much celebratin’ from my loved ones’ b-days as I can! For weeks I agonised over his present and his birthday cake until I found the perfect cake from, where else but Pinterest! Chocolate Stout Cake looked down on me from the pages of My Baking Addiction blog and I was instantly in love. Brad is a well-known chocoholic, in fact he once confessed that he doesn’t even feel like he’s had dessert unless it contained chocolate. What could make this decadently chocolatey cake even more palatable to Brad? Why, I am glad you asked! Stout! Beer +Chocolate=One Happy Man. That was my thought process. The flavour combo intrigued me and I was set out to bring the cake to life.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out the cake was quite easy to make. The recipe doesn’t require any special skills or pastry chef credentials, and as you can see I didn’t even use any fancy piping to decorate it, just a pile of chocolate curls on top makes it a show stopper. I enjoyed the process thoroughly but nothing prepared me for an absolutely outstanding result-the best cake I ever made which spurred on, what seems to be, an untimely New Year’s Resolution. Here it goes. From now forward I will ALWAYS bake with butter. No margarine, no oil. Pure, unadulterated butter. I’ve baked many, many cakes in my life and no matter the recipe I always seemed not quite satisfied with the sponge itself. The oil based ones especially, seem to have a tinge of an after taste. Not this beauty. Its clean, rich and spontaneously addictive taste comes from butter. Well, enough of this. Let’s bake the darn thing!

Ingredients:

1 ½ cups Guinness
½ cup strong black coffee
2 cups/ 454 gr unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder

4 cups all purpose flourcake top2
4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups creme fraiche/sour cream (I always replace sour cream with creme fraiche as it tastes more Russian to me)

Chocolate Ganache

2 cups whipping cream/double cream
1 pound good quality dark chocolate, chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 350F/180C and butter 3 8″ cake pans and dust them with some flour to prevent the cakes from sticking.

In a large saucepan heat stout, coffee and butter together until the mixture comes to a gentle simmer, add cocoa powder while whisking continuously to avoid lumps until smooth. Set aside to cool. (I quite often take things like that and put them in front of an open window for 15 min. to cool it down quickly because my English fridge aka “beer fridge” is tiny!)

Blend flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in a different bowl. Mix eggs, vanilla and creme fraiche with an electric mixer in bowl no 3.

Now check on your chocolate mixture and make sure it’s cool enough to continue the process.

Add the chocolate mixture to the egg and creme fraiche mixture and blend them together. Add flour mixture a little bit a time and beat on low speed until combined. Divide batter equally among the pans. I used to always have uneven cakes until I purchased a digital scale and started weighing them. Problem solved! Bake cakes together or separately depending on the size of your oven. Once again, just like my fridge, my European oven is tiny and I baked mine one at a time for 25-30 min. Always test your cakes for doneness with a toothpick or a cake taster if you have one. Transfer your cakes on the cooling racks and get on with the ganache making!

I absolutely adore ganache and I don’t even care how pretentious it sounds! It’s crazy how little effort you put into that frosting for it to taste THAT insanely delicious! All we have to do is to bring heavy cream to a boil and take it off the heat immediately, then add your chopped chocolate into it and stir until melted! Cool it and whip it with an electric mixer until paler in colour and fluffy! Voila! The most decadent French delicacy is ready!

Assemble the cake filling with 1/3 of the ganache between the layers like so…

Cake pre-frosted

Finish off by covering the entire cake with the remaining ganache and top with chocolate curls. You can make chocolate curls by scraping the blade of your knife along the flat surface of the chocolate bar. I have to admit my curls were a bit weak and I have to practice more to achieve perfection.

However, there was nothing weak about the taste and the cake was pure delight. It’s flavourful but somehow light in texture and very hard to stop eating!

PS. I am not sure why but the recipe I followed left me with extra batter which allowed me to bake a dozen of cupcakes as well! In my world it’s NOT a problem.

Chocolate Guinness Cake