This is my favorite fudge cake. It is light, but also buttery, chocolaty, soft, and moist. Its
texture is strong enough to hold up to buttercream, which can drag a lesser cake down.
Makes 2 (8-inch) cake layers.
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 ounces dark chocolate,
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup whole or 2% milk 1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 large egg whites
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Prepare two standard cake pans (8 inches in diameter, 2 inches deep) by lightly spraying the bottoms and sides with cooking spray. Cut out circles of parchment paper to fit on the bottom of each pan. The paper should be flat, not inching up the sides of the pan. Set pans aside. Mix together the cake flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl with a whisk and set aside. Combine the chocolate, brown sugar, and milk in a stainless steel bowl and place over simmering water. Stir the ingredients together as they melt. This creates a chocolate base for the cake, which you can transfer to a big mixing bowl. Put the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and mix at medium speed until the butter is light and soft. Change to the whisk attachment, and slowly add the granulated sugar and continue whipping until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and beat until each one is incorporated. Add half of the dry ingredients and mix in slowly. Add half of the buttermilk. Repeat this process until all the flour mixture and milk is incorporated. This is your batter. Add the batter to the chocolate base and combine lightly using a large rubber spatula. Stir in the vanilla, then set aside. You now have a chocolate batter. Thoroughly rinse and dry your mixer bowl and whisk attachment, then mix the egg whites at medium speed for about 3 minutes, or until they hold a medium peak. Gently fold half of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate batter until the mixture is smooth. Repeat with the remaining egg whites, and fold just until all the egg whites are incorporated. The egg whites should be fully incorporated—no streaks. Pour the completed cake batter into the prepared
cake pans equally. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the cakes springs lightly in the center when touched, or a toothpick comes out clean with a few crumbs but no batter. Remove the cakes from the oven and cool on a rack until room temperature.
Remove the cake layers by using a paring knife to gently cut the cake from the sides of the pan. Take a cake circle or sturdy paper plate, and place it over the pan. Invert the cake onto the plate and remove the parchment circle the cake baked on. Repeat this process for the other cake layer. Ice the first layer with the icing of your choice, with about 1/2 inch of icing on top. Place the second layer onto the cake with the bottom side up, which will give you a flat, undomed top. Ice the whole cake thinly (this is a crumb coat to stabilize the cake and hold the crumbs in place), chill it for at least 20 minutes, then apply a final coat of icing.
Barry Callebaut Origins
(60% cacao or above), Lindt
Dark, or Ghirardelli Premium
ARTISAN CARAMEL BONBONS (pictured above) 2 cups sugar 1/4 cup water 1/4 cup light corn syrup 1/3 cup (3/4 stick) butter No because it is not available nationwide. 1/2 heavy cup cream 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 teaspoons kosher or coarse salt 8 ounces dark chocolate (70% cacao or higher), finely chopped 4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped 2 ounces unsweetened alkalized or dutched cocoa for dusting truffles
Prepare a bowl of ice water and set aside. Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a heavy pan. Stir gently until all the sugar is wet, and make sure no sugar crystals are on the sides of the pan. Place over medium heat—no stirring—and allow the mixture to boil for about 10 minutes. You can cover the pan for a few minutes as it boils, which will wash away any unwanted sugar crystals on the sides. You’ll start to see a light amber color form around the edges of the sugar. Continue boiling until the mixture is the color of honey or maple syrup. This is now caramel, so be very careful because it is very hot!
Plunge the saucepan into the ice water to “shock” the sugar and stop if from cooking. Return the saucepan to the burner, add the butter, then the cream, vanilla, and salt. It will steam and bubble up, then you can stir it together. Once the mixture has cooled off (about 10 minutes), add the dark and milk chocolates and stir until mixed. If the caramel sticks to the bottom of the pan, turn the heat on very low while you stir.
Allow this mixture to cool off in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, or until it becomes firm enough to roll into balls with your hands. With a melon baller or sturdy spoon, roll out as many balls as you need. The mixture makes about 30 truffles – any unused portion can be reheated and used as a sauce over ice cream—Refrigerate them for about ½ hour so they will hold their shape, then dust them with cocoa powder and servce on a decorative plate.
black forest cupcakes
Take a tray of these to someone who deserves them—most kids love the look of them but prefer them without the alcohol. Just add a splash of vanilla instead of the Kirsch suggested below. If possible, buy ripe, tart black cherries (like Schmidt) in season. Otherwise,
drained frozen or canned sour cherries will work, but avoid heavy syrups or cherry pie fillings. For tips on pitting fresh cherries, see page 59. If you want a shortcut, substitute 1 teaspoon vanilla extract for the vanilla bean. Makes 16 iced cupcakes
Batter for Gift of the Gods
Chocolate Cake (page 115)
2 cups fresh, frozen, or
canned sour cherries, pitted
3/4 cup Kirsch or brandy
1 tablespoon light corn
1 teaspoon kosher or
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Seeds of 1 vanilla bean
2 cups heavy cream
Dark chocolate shavings,
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease 16 muffin cups or line with baking cups.
Make the completed cake batter as directed. Ladle it into the prepared muffin pan, filling each cavity about
three-quarters full. A big pastry bag works well for this job. Bake for about 25 minutes. The cupcake tops will
form a dome and a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean. Allow them to cool in the pan to room
temperature. While the cupcakes are baking, prepare the cherries. Combine the cherries, Kirsch, corn syrup, and salt in a
small saucepan and heat over medium heat for 3 minutes. Then allow the mixture to cool.
Once the cupcakes have cooled, scoop out a big, round chunk of each top with a melon baller or a paring knife. This
will later be filled in with Chantilly Cream and cherries. To prepare the Chantilly Cream, sift the confectioners’
sugar into a small bowl and set aside. Place the vanilla bean seeds in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with
the whisk attachment and let it run for several seconds at medium speed, which will release the flavor of the seeds. Stop the mixer, add the cream to the mixing bowl, and whip at medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, until the cream
reaches medium peaks. Stop the mixer, and mix several tablespoons of the cream into the bowl of confectioners’
sugar to make a paste. Then add the sugar paste into the mixing bowl and continue whipping until stiff peaks form.
You will see fluffy whipped cream speckled with black vanilla seeds. To make the chocolate shavings, use a vegetable peeler or sharp chef’s knife on a large block of room temperature dark chocolate and shave the chocolate into large
curls. If only small pieces of chocolate are available, very finely chop them to make more of a chocolate dust. Set
shavings/dust aside. To assemble the cupcakes, take the scooped-out cupcakes out of their baking pan. Fill each one with a little
whipped cream, then a generous scoop of drained, cooked cherries. Cover them up with another dollop of whipped cream, then chocolate shavings on top. Or try icing the entire cupcake with big whipped cream rosettes and adding
a cherry on top along with the chocolate shavings. Indulgent!
yin yang cookies
These playful black-and-white cookies have the simple appeal of chocolate and vanilla as well as the universally appealing symbol of Buddhist duality, yin and yang. By giving these cookies as a gift, you get the return gift of delighting the recipient. For the shortening, look for an all-natural transfat-free brand, available in many health food stores. Use Dark Chocolate Plastique (page 134) to make the chocolate side of the yin yang decoration. Makes 25 to 30 cookies Cookies:
3 cups confectioners’ sugar; 1/4 cup light corn syrup; 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted; 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 3 tablespoons water Decoration: 1 pound Dark Chocolate Plastique (page 134)
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside. In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter at low speed for a minute or two until soft. Add the shortening and sugar and continue beating until fluffy. Add the eggs, vanilla, corn syrup, and almond extract and increase the speed to medium for about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture, then beat slowly until all the flour is incorporated. Next, add half the sour cream, then mix slowly. Repeat until all the flour mixture and sour cream are incorporated. Allow the dough to rest in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes. While the dough chills, make the icing. Sift the confectioners’sugar into a bowl. Combine the corn syrup andwater in a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Stir the hot mixture into the confectioners’ sugar, stirring vigorously. Add the butter and vanilla and stir until the mixture is smooth. Transfer the mixture to a bowl and store at room temperature until the cookies are ready to be iced. Scoop a ball of cookie dough (about 1/4 cup) onto the cookie sheet one at a time, placing them about 1 inch apart. Roll each cookie scoop into a ball between your palms and flatten each one slightly to a thickness of atleast 1/2 inch. Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, or until slightly risen and golden brown on the edges. Remove them from the baking sheet with a spatula, and place them on a plate. Ice the cookies by spreading a thin layer of icing on each one with an offset spatula while they are still warm.
To decorate, make a batch or 1/2 batch of Dark Chocolate Plastique (the recipe yields more than you will need here but freezes well). I like using a round pastry tip and a paring knife to cut out shapes. Roll out the plastique on parchment paper until very thin. Cut a yin yang shape (like a large comma) with a paring knife to fit on the top of your cookie. Use an offset spatula to move the plastique comma onto the iced cookie. You need only one side, because when you place the plastique on the iced cookie, it will stick, creating the black-and-white, yin yang pattern. This may involve some trial and error to get just the right fit, but it becomes easy as you go along. You can use your pastry tip to punch out the “eye” of the yin yang symbolbefore you place it on the cookie for the full effect.