Wednesday, April 6, 2011
Happiness On A Plate
In high school I had a boyfriend that drove me nuts. As we parted company at school on Friday he'd say something vague like, "I'll call you." Then I'd spend the whole weekend waiting by the phone for the call that never came. On Monday I'd find out that he'd been out with his buddies doing something wonderful like shooting bunnies in the desert. It made me feel tremendously special that I came in second to that.
After several weeks of this I got fed up and started making sure I had plans to be elsewhere. I'd call up girlfriends and invite them to go to a movie, ask if they needed to go to the library, or just invite myself over to watch TV. I wanted to be sure that if he did actually call, he'd get the message that my life didn't revolve around him and that I wasn't just sitting around pathetically waiting for the phone to ring.
I learned several things from that relationship, one of which was that I couldn't sit and wait for other people to make me happy. I need to be in charge of my own happiness.
Recently I was flipping through a back issue of Bon Appetite and saw a chocolate stout cake recipe. This was just before St. Patrick's Day and I thought it would be fun to put the beer in the cake and blog about it for the great boozefest, I mean Irish celebration. But life interfered and it didn't get made in time. But I had the can of stout sitting on the counter and I still wanted to make it. I had not birthdays coming up, no celebration to justify a cake, but I wanted it. So I made it. Because some things always make me happy, and chocolate cake is one of them.
The stout in the cake was really interesting. The flavor was elusive, but present. The very best part, though, was the frosting. Oh my ganache, it was good. Like a truffle turned into frosting. I'm not sure that I'll make the stout cake again, but give me a bowl of that frosting and I'll be a happy camper for sure!
Chocolate Stout Cake
- adapted fromBon Appetite
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
14 tablespoons (1-3/4 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
1-1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, separated
3/4 cup chocolate stout, regular stout, or porter
2/3 cup freshly brewed strong coffee
1 pound bittersweet chocolate (54% to 60% cacao), chopped
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter and flour two 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 -1/2-inch-high sides. Line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper round; butter and flour parchment. Place chopped chocolate in medium metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of barely simmering water and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water and set aside.
Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter and 1-1/4 cups sugar in large bowl until fluffy and pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Add egg yolks 1 at a time, beating until well blended after each addition. Beat in lukewarm melted chocolate, then stout and coffee. Beat flour mixture into chocolate mixture in 2 additions just until incorporated.
Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites and remaining 3 tablespoons sugar in another medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold 1/3 of egg whites into cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining egg whites in 2 additions. Divide batter between prepared cake pans (about 3 cups for each); smooth tops.
Bake cakes until tester inserted into centers comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Transfer cakes to racks and cool in pans 20 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks; remove parchment paper and cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and store at room temperature.
Place chopped chocolate in medium heatproof bowl. Combine whipping cream and espresso powder in medium saucepan. Bring cream mixture to simmer over medium-high heat, whisking occasionally. Pour cream mixture over chopped chocolate; let stand 1 minute, then whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Chill chocolate frosting until slightly thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 2 hours (or for quick chilling, place frosting in freezer until thickened and spreadable, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes).
Using serrated knife, trim rounded tops from both cake layers so that tops are flat. Place 1 cake layer, trimmed side up, on 9-inch-diameter tart pan bottom or cardboard round, then place on rack set over baking sheet. Drop 1 1/4 cups frosting by large spoonfuls over top of cake layer; spread frosting evenly to edges with offset spatula or butter knife. Top with second cake layer, trimmed side down. Spread remaining frosting evenly over top and sides of cake. DO AHEAD: Can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome and refrigerate. Let cake stand at room temperature at least 1 hour and up to 3 hours before serving.