Posts Tagged 'St. Patrick’s Day'

Chocolate Stout Cake (aka My Best Denver Cake Yet!)

The luck o’ the Irish was with me in the kitchen today, because I made my best high-altitude cake yet. Not my most beautiful, mind you, but definitely the most delicious. I tore this recipe out of the March 2012 issue of 5280 with some trepidation… While I’ve had some success with the recipes they’ve shared in the past (Fuel Cafe’s Chocolate-Chip Oatmeal Pecan Cookies, for instance), 5280 isn’t a cooking magazine. There’s no test kitchen. I figured, however, that a cake recipe from a Boulder bakery was worth a gamble. (Thanks, Kim & Jake’s Cakes!)

My initial game plan was to make a half recipe (which I thought would result in a single 9-inch round layer of cake, according to the recipe instructions) to make sure the cake itself behaved at high altitude and tasted good. Once I whipped up a half recipe of batter, though, I realized that it was enough to make two 9-inch round layers. My cake pans are 1 1/2-inch-deep Wilton pans; I imagine you’d have to have super deep pans to bake the entire original recipe as only two layers. Since I was going to have a full cake, I decided I might as well frost it. The cake recipe below is as I baked it (double it for the original recipe and extend baking time to 50 minutes); I made a full recipe of frosting, though. If you’re not a frosting person, feel free to cut that in half as well.

Chocolate Stout Cake
Makes a 2-layer 9-inch cake

3 eggs (room temperature)
3/4 cup oil (I used vegetable)
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder (I used a combination of Savory Spice Shop’s Black Onyx and regular Ghirardelli)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 1/4 cups flour
1 1/2 cups stout beer (I used Breckenridge Brewery’s Oatmeal Stout; 1 1/2 cups is one bottle)

Preheat oven to 300°F. Cut two 9-inch circles of parchment paper. (Use the bottom of a cake pan as a guide.) Butter the cake pans, place a circle of parchment in the bottom of each, and butter over the parchment. Set pans aside.

Mix eggs, oil, sugar, cocoa, vanilla, salt, and baking soda together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the flour, alternating with the beer, 3 to 4 times, until completely incorporated into the egg mixture. Pour into the prepared cake pans and bake for 35 – 40 minutes. (My cakes were perfect at 37 minutes.) Remove from oven, cool in pans for 30 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Remove parchment and frost before serving.

Milk Chocolate Malt Frosting

1 pound butter, softened
2 pounds powdered sugar
3/4 cup dark cocoa (I used a combination of Savory Spice Shop’s Black Onyx and regular Ghirardelli)
1/2 cup malt powder (I used Carnation Malted Milk Powder, which I found at SuperTarget)
Splash of vanilla

Cream butter in the bowl of a stand mixer. Add powdered sugar, cocoa, malt powder, and vanilla.  Incorporate completely.

Source: 5280/Kim & Jake’s Cakes

Chocolate Stout Cake

This is a phenomenal dessert.  The cake is moist with a nice springy crumb, and there was absolutely none of the center sinking I so often see with cakes at high altitude.  It has a nice level of chocolate flavor (far better than the chocolate cupcakes I posted before), though I couldn’t really taste the stout.  The frosting didn’t end up being super smooth (hence the slightly ugly cake), but the flavor is to die for; the malt powder really makes it.  Overall, the cake and frosting make an amazing combination.

So this is going to be my go-to chocolate cake recipe from here on out…  I think I’ll have some fun with it by turning it into cupcakes next time and maybe trying some other chocolate frostings.  I’ll be sure to post any updates!

TIPS: If you make this frosting (highly recommended, it’s delicious!), I’d suggest smoothing it out with a hot, slightly wet icing spatula after you get the initial layer on. Doing so improved the appearance of my cake immensely.

Sweet “Potatoes”

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!  Is it just me, or does it seem like it’s continuously been St. Patrick’s Day since last Saturday?  I suppose having it fall on a Thursday maximizes the pre-celebration.

I was thumbing through the March 2011 issue of Martha Stewart Living the other day when I found this year’s St. Patrick’s Day project: Sweet “Potatoes” (since potatoes are oh so Irish!).  I’ve done Guinness bread and Guinness ice cream, and so many others have done some variation of Guinness cupcakes.  The “potatoes” are balls of cream cheese, butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, and chopped walnuts rolled in cinnamon to emulate the look of real potatoes.  Fun and unusual, right?

Apparently, the unusual overrides the fun, at least initially.

The “potatoes” were already made when Dr. O came home yesterday evening, so he hadn’t seen what went into them.  I asked him if they looked like potatoes (so desperately wanting him to say “yes!”), and he said they didn’t.  I found out about 20 minutes later that he thought they really were potatoes that didn’t look like the kind of potatoes he was used to seeing.  Consequently, you should have seen his face when I asked him to take a bite.  He took the tiniest nibble off of an edge and wasn’t sure what to think…  Since he thought they really were potatoes in some form, he was expecting a savory bite; he was also completely caught off guard by the white cream cheese and butter interior.  Ha! Once he realized that the “potatoes” were sweet candies, he enjoyed them a heck of a lot more.  Perhaps that’s the lesson here: If you want to confuse/surprise adults or make something that kids will think is cool, this is the project for you.  I don’t see these flying off of a serving tray if people don’t know what they are, though.

For those of you with kids and/or a sense of humor, here’s the recipe:

Sweet “Potatoes”
Makes 40

4 tablespoons softened unsalted butter
4 tablespoons softened cream cheese
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound confectioner’s sugar
2 cups walnuts (toasted, cooled, and finely chopped)
Ground cinnamon

Beat butter and cream cheese with vanilla and salt until pale and fluffy. Mix in sugar and walnuts until smooth. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Roll dough (1 tablespoon each) between your hands. Shape into “potatoes.” Roll in cinnamon; brush off excess with a pastry brush. To create “eyes,” stick in walnut pieces. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Sweet Potatoes

The candies are definitely on the sweet side (to be expected since the bulk of the dough is made of powdered sugar), but the cream cheese and walnuts sure do make them tasty.  I think the cinnamon plays nicely with the walnuts, too.  They won’t knock your socks off, but they’re certainly a fun holiday project.

TIPS:  In order to make the candies look most potato-like, I found that brushing the cinnamon on with a pastry brush worked better than rolling them in the cinnamon. Grocery store potatoes have that uneven layer of soil on them, and rolling the candies coated them a bit too evenly.

Recipe link: Sweet “Potatoes”

Guinness Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate-Honey Sauce

St. Patrick’s Day is long gone, but I’m posting this one anyway. 🙂

Want to get an extra dose of love and admiration from the Guinness drinkers in your life (or anyone who appreciates gourmet ice cream, for that matter)?  Make them Emeril’s Guinness Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate-Honey Sauce.  It’s simple, delicious, and actually doesn’t taste overwhelmingly like beer.  Here’s how I made it.

For starters, the recipe says to simmer 12 ounces (1 bottle) of Guinness stout (not draught) in a large saucepan over medium heat until it’s “reduced by 3/4 in volume.”  The recipe also said this would take about 8 minutes.  Since 3/4 is 75% and I started with a 12-ounce bottle, I interpreted this as reducing the beer to about 3 ounces.  (Does anyone disagree?)  I have to say this took way longer than 8 minutes; it was more like 20.  Once the beer was reduced, I set it aside.

In a separate medium saucepan, I combined 2 cups of heavy cream, 2 cups of whole milk, and 3/4 cup of sugar.  I split a vanilla bean down the center, scraped out the seeds with a knife, and then added both the seeds and the empty bean to the saucepan.  I brought the mixture to a gentle boil over medium heat and then set it aside.

In a medium bowl, I beat 6 egg yolks (room temperature) with a whisk and then whisked 1 cup of the hot cream mixture into the yolks.  Whisking constantly, I gradually added the egg-cream mixture in a slow, steady stream back into the saucepan of hot cream.  I put the saucepan back over medium-low heat and cooked it, stirring occasionally, until the mixture was thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and about 170°F on an instant-read thermometer.  (The recipe said this would take about 5 minutes; I was there at 4 minutes.)  I removed the mixture from the heat, strained it through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean container, covered the surface with plastic wrap (make sure the wrap is actually on the surface of the liquid to prevent a skin from forming), and chilled the mixture in the refrigerator for 2 hours.

When the 2 hours had passed, I removed the chilled cream mixture from the refrigerator and whisked in the Guinness reduction.  I poured the mixture into the bowl of my ice cream maker and ran it until the ice cream was thick and frozen (about 30 minutes).  Then, I transferred it to an airtight container and froze it until I was ready to serve it.

Before serving, I whipped up a half-recipe of the Dark Chocolate-Honey Sauce to go on top.  In a medium saucepan, I scalded 1 cup of heavy cream and 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) of honey.  (See tip below if you’re not familiar with scalding.)  Meanwhile, I placed 10 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  (The recipe said to use finely chopped chocolate; I used Ghirardelli’s 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate Chips.)  Once the cream was scalded, I poured it over the bittersweet chocolate, let everything sit for 2 minutes, and then whisked the chocolate and cream until a smooth sauce formed.  (Admittedly, my cream was not hot enough – perhaps because I used chips instead of finely chopped chocolate – to completely melt the chocolate.  I had to microwave it on high for 30 seconds before I could effectively whisk it all together.)  Once I had a smooth sauce, I whisked in 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract and let it stand until it was cool but not firm.  I served the sauce over the Guinness ice cream.

Guinness Ice Cream

The ice cream was really delicious, but here’s the deal:  It’s much, much better when it’s fresh from the ice cream maker.  When Dr. O and I tasted it before I placed it in the freezer, it was smooth, creamy, and very vanilla-y; you got a taste of the Guinness on the tail end of each bite.  Mmmmm.  After we froze it, though, it lost some of that creamy texture (this stuff froze hard, let me tell you) and ice crystals developed.  I also felt like it was harder to taste the Guinness after the freeze.

The chocolate sauce was also delicious, but it wasn’t what I expected; it was super thick, like hot fudge sauce you might buy in a jar.  The term “pourable” doesn’t really apply.  There was some debate in the recipe reviews about how much chocolate was actually supposed to go into the sauce (20 ounces or 2 ounces?), but every version of the recipe I could find online said 20 ounces.  I’m sure it would be pourable with 2 ounces.  Plus, putting the chocolate sauce on top of the ice cream completely obscured the Guinness flavor, which isn’t a plus in my book.

SO, if I were to make this again (and I would), I would eat it straight from the ice cream maker.  With the awful noise mine makes while it’s churning, this makes entertaining with the ice cream a near-impossibility, but it would still be fun to eat with Dr. O or with friends I feel absolutely no need to impress.  (You know who you are!)  I would also try the chocolate sauce again with 2 ounces of chocolate instead of 20, just to note the difference.  The ice cream doesn’t really need it, though.

TIPS: To scald something means to heat it to just below the boiling point.  When heating the cream and honey, wait until tiny bubbles begin to form around the edges of the liquid; this is the point when you should remove it from the heat source.

Recipe link: Guinness Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate-Honey Sauce

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, everyone!  Hope you have your green on…  The pinchers are out in full force today.

Mia with Green Ribbon

Here's Mia avoiding the pinchers with her green ribbon. It isn't Kelly green, but it still counts.

I had every intention of posting a delicious St. Paddy’s dessert today (Guinness Ice Cream with Dark Chocolate-Honey Sauce), but I’m up to my eyeballs in wedding favor sugar cookies.  (They’re going to be fantastic!  I’m super excited for the wedding as well.)  Every time I open my freezer, the cold, gray bowl of my ice cream maker gives me the cold, gray “Have you forgotten about me?” stare.  Since taking it out and letting it thaw is like giving up, I still plan to make the ice cream.  Friday or Saturday is probably a more reasonable deadline, though.  So, for those of you who enjoy Guinness year-round (like us!), I’ll have a special treat to post later this week.

Have a great day!

The Daring Kitchen

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