Sinful Midnight Cake

Do you realize how many different chocolate cake recipes there are in this world?  Way too many, and settling on a recipe (in my opinion) is half the battle.

I settled on a cake that doesn’t have a single calorie in it.  No sir, I’m certain of that.  And if you believe me, I’ve got a bridge I’ll sell you.  Cash only please, and no refunds!

This recipe was adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook – copyrighted in 1969.  I’m not sure how it got it’s name because it really isn’t as dark as midnight, but I suspect it might be hard to stay out of at midnight. In fairness to Betty Crocker, it should be noted that I didn’t have enough baking cocoa on hand when I made this recipe so I substituted some of the cocoa with melted semi-sweet chocolate chips.   It’s possible that if I had used the cocoa that the recipe originally called for then it might have produced a darker colored cake.

I’ve included one of my recently learned secrets on how to handle fresh baked layer cakes in this post.  Until recently, I struggled with uneven cake tops.  If you have this problem make sure you read this entire post.. 

Sinful Midnight Cake

2 eggs

1 2/3 c. sugar

1/4 c. olive oil

1/2 c. margarine, softened

1/4 c. cocoa

1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted

1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

1/4 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

2 1/4 c. all-purpose flour

1 1/4 c. hot water

2 tsp. instant coffee

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease and line two 9” round layer pans with parchment paper.  Lightly grease parchment paper.

In a large mixing bowl, add eggs, sugar, margarine, oil, cocoa, and melted chocolate.  With electric mixer, mix for 1 minute on low speed.  Add remaining ingredients and mix for 2 minutes on high speed.  Pour into prepared pans.  Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean.

Remove cakes from the oven.  Using a clean dishtowel, while the cakes are still warm and in their pans, press them flat.  This saves you from having uneven cake tops when it comes time to decorate them.  Place two large pieces of plastic wrap on a flat surface and flip the cakes out of their pans onto each piece of plastic wrap.  Lightly wrap each cake in the plastic wrap.  This traps the moisture in and will help make your cakes super moist.  Allow cakes to cool thoroughly. 

Unwrap each cake when your ready to frost and decorate them.  

I frosted this cake with a chocolate buttercream icing, but because this recipe calls for a lot of sugar and the cake was sweet, I think I’d opt for a chocolate whipped cream frosting the next time around. 

I am definitely more of a cake fan than an icing fan.  What about you?

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Cream Puffs, You, and The Finger Lakes

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Cream puffs are one of my most favorite desserts to make.  I first made them when I was fairly new to blogging.  This was long before anyone knew who The Joy of Caking was.  Let’s just say I wasn’t on the radar back then.  And while I still don’t have one of the most popular blogs out there, TJOC has come a long way. 

I’ve made some awesome friends, established some very loyal followers, and had the opportunity to work with some great companies that have great products.  I feel very fortunate, and hope my blog continues to grow.  What do you think my chances are of replacing Martha when she retires?

This batch of cream puffs is in honor of all of you.  Friends, followers, and great companies with great products. 

I have often thought of how awesome it would be to have a huge blogger fest here in the Finger Lakes.  And if that ever comes to be, I hope for all of you to attend.  You really would be wowed with a visit to to my neck of the woods.  Wineries galore, beautiful lakes and New York State Parks, quaint towns, antiques, art, museums, history, and food.  That’s what the Finger Lakes is all about.

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Now, back to the cream puffs.  Don’t be scared of making them.  They are easy and delicious.  My suggestion; follow a recipe straight out of a dependable cookbook.  This batch was made from following a recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  The ingredients are simple.  Water, butter or margarine, flour, and eggs.  That’s it! Baker’s note: I have had the best luck using margarine over butter.

Cream puffs can be filled with whipped cream, or in this case, I made a vanilla cream pudding from the same cookbook.  And on a scale of 1-10, the pudding was a 10. 

Have you ever visited the Finger Lakes, made cream puffs, or do you want to be the new Martha?

 

Petit Fours or Petit Four-Get it?

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Petit Fours are irresistibly cute, pretty, and delicious.  It’s those characteristics that inspired me to make my own.  But when I was done making them I was chanting Petit Four-Get It!

You will probably agree that  they look cute and pretty.  And I will attest that they are delicious.  But… they were extremely time-consuming to make.

Warning!  If you want to make petit fours you will need a lot of time and patience

Since making these was a new adventure for me I decided to take a shortcut and use a store-bought pound cake. 

I started by cutting the cake into one inch by one inch cubes, or as close to that as possible.  For experimental purposes I also tried using a small round cookie cutter but found that was more time-consuming than cutting the cubes, and there was considerably more waste of the cake doing so.

I made the icing once I finished cubing the cake.  I had never made this type of icing before so I wasn’t sure what to expect.  The recipe I used came from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook.  I used a small pound cake so I only made a half of batch of icing.  As far as ratios go – that worked out perfectly.

Once the icing was ready I removed a small amount from the double boiler and then colored it.  I  set a cube of cake on a dining sized tablespoon and spooned the icing over the piece of cake.  This is where it got very time-consuming.  The only other alternative was to place the cubes on a wire rack and pour the icing over a few pieces at a time.  Neither seemed like ideal ways to cover small pieces of cake.  I found this icing was difficult to work with once it cooled down, and that happened fairly quickly.

I transferred the iced pieces of cake onto parchment paper and left them  at room temperature overnight.  The following day I melted some white chocolate wafers and drizzled it over top of each piece of cake.  I decorated each piece with Celebration pearls candy which you will see more of early next week.  You won’t want to miss that post – I promise!

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Even though my initial thought was petit four-get it!  I would make these again.  When I do, I may try a different icing recipe and see if that helps speed up the process any.

If you want to make a treat for extremely special occasion, or if you really want to wow someone, petit fours are a perfect choice.

Bakery Style White Cake & Cupcakes

What do you like in a cake?  Course or fine grained? Moist and dense, moist and crumbly, light and fluffy, or something in between? 

I prefer a cake that’s dense, and so moist, that you can practically hear it when you cut it. 

Over the weekend I decided to make a white cake.  It’s been ages since I’ve done so.   One reason it’s been so long? I have been hard pressed to find a good white cake recipe that suits my preferences.

I did a little research before deciding on a recipe from Williams-Sonoma’s cookbook Baking. 

In this case, I intended to make a couple significant changes to the recipe (which I did) so this is more like comparing apple to oranges then apples to apples.   I also wanted a smaller layer cake and planned on making mini-cupcakes with the remaining batter.  I’ll get to my opinion in a second. The altered version of the recipe is below.

 

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White Cake Recipe

Ingredients:

2 c. all-purpose flour

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 c. unsalted butter, room temperature

1/4 c. vegetable oil

1 1/2 c. granulated sugar

3 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 c. half & half

1/2 c. milk

5 egg whites, room temperature

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly grease two 6” round cake pans with non-stick cooking spray. Cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit the bottoms of both pans and re-spray. Line mini-cupcake tins with 18 paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift flour, baking powder and salt; set aside. 

In a large bowl, add butter, sugar, oil, and vanilla extract; blend until smooth and light.

Alternate adding flour, milk and half & half with butter mixture; mix thoroughly. 

In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form.  Fold egg whites into batter. 

Pour batter into 6” cake pans about 2/3 full.  Use remaining batter to fill each mini-cupcake about 1/2 full being careful not to overfill – they will rise considerably. Bake cakes 30-35 minutes; cupcakes 8-10 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean when inserted into center.

Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from in pans. Cool completely on bakers rack before frosting.

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My conclusion?  I’m still looking for white cake recipes.  This cake has a nice flavor but the texture I was looking for wasn’t there.  This cake reminds me more of a bakery cake, a little finer, crumbly, and slightly drier than what I prefer.  I’ll keep searching…

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I opted for a cocoa frosting recipe from Betty Crocker’s Cookbook. 

Cocoa Butter Frosting Recipe

Ingredients:

1/3 c. butter or margarine, softened

1/3 c. baking cocoa

2 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp. vanilla extract

Approximately 2 tbsp. milk (use more or less to obtain the consistency of the frosting you like)

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together until smooth and creamy. 

Do you have a good white cake recipe that you think fits my criteria?   I’d love to hear from you.