Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Blogger's Resolutions and a Big Ass Cake!

Happy belated New Year!

I’m back from a busy couple of months and I’ve brought with me my blogging resolutions and my first recipe creation!

First, the resolutions:

1.      Post More. For a while I was posting once every 2 weeks; then it slipped…BAD BLOGGER, BAD. Sometimes one just needs to get off of one’s dead ass on a weekend, bake, and blog it out!

2.      Be Real. I’ve been trying to be couth and not swear in my blog, just like I try not to swear in front of my toddler, but I need an outlet! Truth be told, I have a mouth like a sailor, and I’ve decided to blog as I would speak…which includes my colorful commentary.

3.      Be honest about my kitchen. I really appreciate all the beautiful food blogs that show a pristine, Food Network quality, kitchen and I tried to do it, but it’s just not a reality. Don’t get me wrong, my kitchen is clean. I would proudly serve anything I make in my kitchen to anyone! But when I cook or bake, even though I try to clean as I go, it still looks like a powdered sugar bomb went off. So, chances are, you’re going to see ripe bananas in the background, a bowl of onions and whatever else has found its way to the catch-all-counter top.

4.      Finally, I really believe that I’ve learned a lot about baking, and I will continue to learn, but I want to try and create more desserts of my own.

This being said, I now present to you my first creation:
Chocolate Covered Cherry Chipper Cheese/Cake!!

I spent the holidays making so many wonderful desserts that I’ve found from all over the net and my piles of cookbooks (see below), I felt it was really time to try and create something of my own.
Fa-la-la-la-la Bitches!

I thought a Valentine’s Day recipe was in order, and the first thing I thought of was how much I used to love Betty Crocker’s Cherry Chip cake with the canned Cherry Icing when I was a kid. It’s still probably my very favorite cake! It is hard to find though, usually I can never find the cake mix and the icing together in the same store, so I decided it was time to try and make my own.

What goes great with cherries? CHOCOLATE!! Especially this time of the year! I figured a whipped ganache was somehow in order, but I wanted more. I’m not a huge fan of a chocolate cheesecake, so I thought it was time to learn how to make chocolate mousse to hide between layers of cake and cheesecake. To top it all off, I needed a cherry buttercream, but not something so artificial tasting as what you would get from a can.

Cherry Chipper Cake
2 1/2 Cups Cake Flour
1 2/3 Cups Sugar
1 1/4 Cups Whole Milk
3 1/2 Tsp Baking Powder
1 Tsp Sea Salt
1 Tsp Almond Extract (I use Penzeys)
5 Large Egg Whites, Room Temperature
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Maraschino Cherries (moisture squeezed out, save Cherry Juice for Buttercream)

Preheat oven to 350. Grease bottoms and sides of two 8 inch pans with shortening and line the bottoms of the pans with parchment rounds, grease the parchment paper, lightly flour the whole deal and tap out excess.

I REALLY need to invest in those pre-cut parchment rounds!

Beat all ingredients except egg whites and chopped cherries with mixer on low for 30 seconds. Scrape the bowl down, then beat on high for 2 minutes, scraping occasionally.

Beat in egg whites on high for 2 minutes scraping occasionally, then add chopped cherries and stir in on low for a bit, just until cherries are nicely mixed in.

Bake for 20-28 minutes, or until cake springs back gently to the touch (don't be a dumb ass and burn yourself! Trust me, I've been there!)

Cool for a few minutes in the pans on a rack, then turn out and remove parchment. Allow to cool completely, level with a large serrated knife, wrap in plastic wrap and throw those babies into the freezer for a long winters nap (a.k.a. overnight).

Looks just like Betty's huh?

Now for the cheesecake. I used Heather from Sprinklebakes cheesecake layer recipe from her FANTASTIC Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake. I'm a huge fan of this recipe, and the technique for making it that doesn't require a water bath (YAY)!

I managed to get the cheesecake put together and baked up without incident, and threw the pans straight into the freezer to chill out with it's cakey brethren until frozen solid while I whipped up my very first Chocolate Mousse.

Chocolate Mousse
4 Large Egg Yolks
1/4 Cup Sugar
1 Cup Whipping Cream
6 Ounces Semisweet Chocolate Chips
1 1/2 More Cups Whipping Cream

Beat egg yolks with mixer on high speed for 3 minutes, or until thick and lemon colored. Slowly beat in sugar.

Heat 1 cup whipping cream in 2-quart saucepan over medium heat until just hot, but not boiling or anything.

Gradually stir in about half of the cream into the egg yolk mix, then stir back into the hot cream in the saucepan (nothing worse than scrambled eggs in one's mousse). Cook over low heat about 5 minutes, stirring all the while, until mix thickens (DON'T BOIL IT, YO!)

Stir in chocolate chips until melts and mixed in completely.

Cover and chill about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, just until chilled. For us folks out in Wisconsin where it was a balmy 11 degrees outside this weekend, this meant putting it in the garage.

Once chilled, beat in the 1 1/2 cups whipping cream in a chilled bowl (again, thank you Wisconsin and your frigid winters) on high speed until stiff, fold the chocolate mix into the cream.

Remove the cheesecakes from the freezer, trim any excess that's protruding up from the pan, remove cheesecake from pan, line pan with parchment so it's sticking out on sides, then throw cheesecake back in there. Divide the mousse between the two pans of cheesecake, leveling it off so it's even with the top of the cheesecake.

Wrap then entire pans with plastic wrap and put them back into the freezer for the night. Now, enjoy some cake scraps with a cold one and go to bed! The whole shebang will be there in the morning!

Ahhh, Sunday, no birds chirping, it's far too cold here for that, just a nice white blanket of frozen tundra staring back at me, maybe a fat squirrel romping around in the back yard looking for his nuts...time to assemble and ice-ice this baby!

I decided that I needed a cherry buttercream, but I didn't want to have to use any additional food coloring. As luck would have it, those maraschino cherries come floating in a neon red/pink juice...PERFECT!

Cherry Buttercream
4 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
1 1/2 Cups Room Temperature Butter
1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract
3 Tbsp Whipping Cream
1/4 Cup Maraschino Cherry Juice

Using the whisk attachment for the mixer, mix powdered sugar and butter (adding butter a few chunks at a time) on low until well blended, then increase speed to medium and beat for about 3 minutes. Add vanilla, whipping cream and cherry juice and beat on medium speed for about another minute. If you'd like the color to be more pink, or would like more of a cherry flavor, you can add more juice or even some pink or red food color, but you may need to add a tad more powdered sugar.

Now for the whipped ganache. I used the same whipped ganache as in Sprinklebakes Peanut Butter Cup Chocolate Cake Cheesecake, it's so lovely and rich and light! I could eat it by the spoonful (and my husband and son did just that)!

Now to get this baby together!

The layers are as such:

Cheesecake (mousse side down)
Cheesecake (mousse side up)
Once everything is stacked up, it's into the freezer (or Wisconsin Garage) for a while (covered with a tea towel). As for me, I cleaned my kitchen floor old school style. Hands, knees, sponge, bucket. Sucks ass, but it works. So let's say for about an hour. Then trim it out so all the layers are the same size.
"Oh HONEY...There Are Cake Scraps For You!"

Now to ice. This is the way I roll. I don't care for the traditional "crumb coat". I've found that using the ginormous piping bag fitted with the icing tip works like a charm! Get the cake covered, then use a offset icing spatula dipped in hot water to smooth the whole thing out!

Now for a few simple garnishes, I used the remaining whipped ganache in a piping bag fitted with Wilton's 1M icing tip to pipe some little swirls on the top and a nice little border on the bottom. Then I took some whole maraschino cherries, which I dried off with a paper towel, and perched them on top!

Since this is a Valentine's Day cake, it needed a heart, which I did with a cookie cutter and some sanding sugar. I used the paint brush to spread it out, then outlined with more whipped ganache.

One word...YUMMY!

I took this baby over to my parent's place for the Superbowl where we proceeded to devour it! My sister even asked if I was going to leave it there when I left (which I did)! As yummy as it was, if it were in my house, I would be eating it three meals a day for a week!!

Now for the accolades! I came up with the flavor concept for this cake on my own, but I was inspired by so many great bloggers! I got the cheesecake layer recipe from Heather at Sprinklebakes; I also credit her for teaching me the method for adding the filling to the cheesecake layers. For the cake base and chocolate mousse, I credit the Betty Crocker cookbook. Thank you so very much!!

 I’m happy to say that the buttercream was all me!! Enjoy!

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