Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake

(I swiped this recipe from my friend Kelly's blog. Her blog is private, so I couldn't really link to it. I think it originally came from Smitten Kitchen. It's Marc's new favorite cake.)

Kelly's notes:

Here's a few of my personal notes on the cake (I know you really wanted to know.). 1. I did not use any peanut brittle. To me, that's just asking for someone to break a tooth. 2. The chocolate cake is a very unique construction, but it is great. I will use this chocolate cake recipe for any chocolate cake I make in the future. 3. The cake is extremely soft. After it was cool, I wrapped it in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer until the moment I was ready to frost it, and I didn't have any trouble with crumbs. If you try to frost the cake without freezing it, I think you will be in tears. (I second that!!) 4. I kept it in the fridge, and that made it much easier to slice neatly.

This cake is incredibly rich and intense. Go easy on your pancreas. I would say you could easily feed 24 people with one cake. (I'm going to go with 18.)


2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1/2 cup coarsely chopped peanut brittle (I skipped this)

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. (Deb note: These cakes are very, very soft. I found them a lot easier to work with after firming them up in the freezer for 30 minutes. They’ll defrost quickly once assembled. You’ll be glad you did this, trust me.)

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting. (Deb note 1: Making a crumb coat of frosting–a thin layer that binds the dark crumbs to the cake so they don’t show up in the final outer frosting layer–is a great idea for this cake, or any with a dark cake and lighter-colored frosting. Once you “mask” your cake, let it chill for 15 to 30 minutes until firm, then use the remainder of the frosting to create a smooth final coating. Deb note 2: Once the cake is fully frosting, it helps to chill it again and let it firm up. The cooler and more set the peanut butter frosting is, the better drip effect you’ll get from the Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze.)

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving. Decorate the top with chopped peanut brittle.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Tarte Chocolat Caramel

from the Chocolate & Zucchini cookbook
serves 12 to 16

Rats! I forgot to take a picture of this! And I made it twice, even. Anyway. It's a delightful combination of chocolate and salted caramel, if you're into that delicious combo.

Pâte Sablée

90g light brown sugar
1 T. good-quality honey
1/2 t. fleur de sel
80g crème fraîche or heavy cream
30g unsalted butter, diced, plus a pat for greasing the pan

280g good-quality bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped
240g crème fraîche or heavy cream

Grease a 25cm tart pan with butter. Prepare the Pâte Sablée and line the pan as instructed. Wrap tightly with plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes, or up to a day.

Preheat the oven to 180º C. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until golden, keeping an eye on it. Transfer to a rack to cool.

Prepare the caramel filling: make sure you have all the ingredients measured out before you start. Combine the brown sugar and 1 T. water in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and melt the sugar slowly over medium-low heat. Swish the pan around from time to time to ensure even melting, but don't stir. As soon as the mixture turns a light amber (avoid overcooking the caramel, which would result in a bitter aftertaste), add the honey and stir to combine. Pour the caramel into the tart shell and tilt the pan slowly in a circular motion to coat the bottom of the shell evenly. Chill for 40 minutes.

Prepare the ganache filling. Put the chocolate in a medium mixing bowl. Bring the cream to a simmer over med. low heat. Pour half of the cream on the chocolate, let stand for 20 seconds, and stir gently with a whisk, gradually blending the cream with the chocolate until smooth. Repeat with remaining cream. Pour the chocolate filling into the shell, and level surface with a spatula. Return to the fridge to set for an hour.

Remove the tart from the fridge 15 minutes before serving. Cut in small slices - it is quite rich - and serve on its own, or with fresh berries. The leftovers will keep for 2 days, tightly wrapped and refrigerated.