Tag Archives: cake

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:-)

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

Chocolate Stout Cake – Sneak Peek

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I am literally bursting with all kinds of excitement and pride right now. I just cannot wait to blog about this cake! Chocolate +Stout =Match Made In Heaven! Its delicious chocolatey goodness is all I can think about at this moment… BUT I have a husband whose birthday is waiting to be celebrated and a scrumptious cake to be eaten, so excuse me for now and come back LATER!