Chocolate Mousse Cake a la King Arthur

King Arthur Flour (no I do not get paid for talking about them) has a monthly bake-along. February is a Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries. Looked and sounded delicious and something fun to make on one of my two February holidays. Well, if you know me, I changed it up just a bit. I was not going to spend a fortune on fresh raspberries in the middle of winter. I like chocolate covered cherries and I had a can of cherries in my pantry. I could use those.

So the original bake-along recipe is right here: Chocolate Mousse Cake with Raspberries. I made the cake exactly. I happened to find four 8-inch cake pans, two of which were three inches deep so I baked the cake in two pans and cut these into the four layers. Hint for you: this is a thin batter just like they say. It may not be that wise to use pans that have removable bottoms. Just saying. I had a bit of leakage, very little but I had to bake the cakes on a cookie sheet. I also baked the cakes at 350 degrees F. They came out nicely. They did not have domes, so I am not sure if they fell a bit. The finished product is so rich it was impossible to tell.

  • 1 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3 large eggs

Whisk dry ingredient together. Mix wet ingredients together but not eggs. Put wet ingredients into dry ingredients, combine thoroughly. Beat in eggs one at a time. Put into the greased pans and bake. The two 8-inch x 3-inch pans took 55 minutes. Cool completely and slice each layer in two.

The mousse filling was more difficult. It did not come out smoothly and was difficult to spread between the layers of the cake.

  • 2 tablespoons soft butter
  • 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Beat the butter, cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar, vanilla and salt until creamy. Melt the chocolate and stir that in. Whip the cream with the remaining sugar until stiff. Fold this into the cream cheese mixture. This ended up swirled and not a uniform color. Perhaps that was okay.

I used a can of cherries, drained, and a jar of cherry fruit spread instead of raspberries. I mixed this and spread it on top of the mousse layer. I forgot to put cherries on the middle layer. I don’t think anyone noticed this omission.

Once this is done chill or freeze the cake for 30 minutes so it will be easier to frost.

At this point I am thinking about the frosting. This cake already looks extraordinarily rich. The KAF frosting calls for another cup of butter and 4 cups powdered sugar. That just is too much. I then remember I had made a chocolate sauce to serve with the disastrous orange cake for Christmas. Since that cake was inedible I had frozen the sauce for use at another time. This seemed to be that “another time.”

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon orange extract or liqueur (it was actually the poaching syrup from the disastrous orange cake A Christmas Sponge: an Orange Upside Down Cake)

Whisk sugar and cocoa in a small sauce pan. Gradually whisk in the milk until a smooth paste forms. Reduce heat and simmer whisking constantly for 4 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate and orange extract. (the orange taste does not come through at all.)

So I thawed the chocolate sauce and poured it out on the cake. This gave it a nice glazed cover. Now this glaze looks like a ganache but does not firm up like one.

This is not nearly as good looking as the picture on the King Arthur website. But served with a bit of whipped cream it is chocolate decadence! A little dab will do ya!

Lessons learned: If you want a rich chocolate cake that makes thick layers use this cake recipe. I would make a different filling or just use the fruit and preserves in between layers with some whipped cream. Cover with your own ganache or just sprinkle with powdered sugar. That way you could have a fancy cake with less fuss. But we are enjoying our indulgence a little at a time. Store cake in refrigerator.

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Cinnamon Bread

Quite a while ago Hubby asked if I could make Cinnamon Bread, or at least I think he did, but I did not make any. King Arthur Flour’s website is a gold mine of baking recipes for us home cooks. I saw this and thought I would make this. I used to bake breads all winter long but not this winter. Not sure why? Here is the link to the original recipe from KAF: Cinnamon Bread. I made a few adjustments.

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant dry milk
  • 3 tablespoons potato flour
  • 7/8 to 1 1/8 cups warm tap water
  • 6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Whisk dry ingredients together in large bowl of stand mixer. Put butter and water together in Pyrex measuring cup and microwave for 30 seconds. Add the liquid to the dry, stir to combine, and then knead for 7 minutes at Speed 2. I first used the lesser amount of water but the recipe said the dough should barely clean the sides of the bowl. With the lesser amount the dough cleaned the sides right away so I added the extra 1/4 cup. This made a more sticky dough that seemed to match the description from the recipe.

Place the dough in a greased bowl. To do this I scrape the dough to one side of the mixing bowl, spray with cooking spray, then scrape the dough to the sprayed side, and spray the rest of the bowl and the top of the dough. Cover and let rise until doubled. This took about an hour and 15 minutes.

Transfer dough to a lightly greased work surface. I did this. I had never not used a floured work surface for bread making. And this worked out well. Pat the dough into a 6 inch by 20 inch rectangle. Lucky for me my butcher block work surface has a pattern of 2 inch squares all over the top. So measuring the rectangle was to perfection!

Make the filling: 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons flour. Beat one egg with 1 tablespoon of water and brush this on the dough before sprinkling on the cinnamon mixture. This is to keep the swirl from making gaps in the bread while baking. Roll into a log starting with the short end. Pinch the ends and the long seam to seal. Place in your lightly greased or sprayed loaf pan. Tent loosely with lightly greased plastic wrap and let rise until 1 inch over the rim of the pan.

The size of your loaf pan will matter. I spent my morning measuring the three I have and they are all 9″ x 5″ pans. This loaf, per KAF, will rise more nicely in an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ pan. In the 9″ x 5″ pan it will rise to the rim. Mine rose very slightly above the rim in 1 hour and 20 minutes time.

Bake in preheated 350 degrees F oven. “Allow the bread to completely cool before slicing.” Yeah right!

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Perfect swirls!

This was yummy and makes a nice toast with my coffee. I just have to be sure I don’t eat it all in one day; that would wreak havoc with my goal of losing a few pounds!

I like recipes from which I learn something. From this one I learned that one could substitute potato flour for instant potato flakes, using an egg wash helps the filling stay in place, and one can use a lightly oiled work surface for shaping bread dough.

Is it too early for Gingerbread?

I had seen a steamed chocolate cake recipe on my Facebook feed and thought it would be interesting to try. New technique and all that. I got out all the ingredients and when testing the pans I found I did not have a large enough Dutch Oven. Shucks! I still wanted to bake something. So then I found another recipe I had saved from my Facebook feed and went to the good old faithful King Arthur Flour website. Thus I found myself making Gingerbread Pudding Cake. My mom used to make a chocolate pudding cake and I have made a lemon pudding cake and they are scrumptious. Here is the link: Gingerbread Pudding Cake.

  • 1 1/4 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

Instead of the separate spices I used the equivalent of KAF’s Gingerbread Spice mixture. I used 1/4 half & half diluted with 1/4 cup water for the milk. Everything else was as it should be. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease or butter an 8-inch square pan.

Whisk the flour with the spices with the baking soda and salt in a bowl. Set aside. Mix the molasses, milk and egg in another small bowl. Cream the butter and sugar together and add the flour mixture and molasses mixture alternately. Pour batter in prepared pan.

For the pudding mixture:

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cups hot water
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter

Mix the brown sugar and cornstarch. Heat butter and water just until butter melts. This was about 1 minute in the microwave. Add liquid to sugar mixture. Pour carefully over the batter in the pan. Bake for 28-30 minutes. The cake part should test done.

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Serve warm. I served this with whipped cream. For leftovers, put scoop of cake and pudding (on bottom) into microwave safe dish/bowl and heat for 20-30 seconds, depending on the power of your microwave.

Enjoy!

Two years blogging!

This was a perfect day for baking.  The weather was downright chilly after a week of sweltering heat. I had printed this recipe earlier in the month and this was the day to use it. So for the anniversary blog I have made the July Bake Along Recipe from King Arthur Flour: Blueberry Hand Pies. Now I have made hand pies before: Pork Pies. But this is summer and the berries are in season and blueberry pie is so good! I had anticipated changing the recipe when I got down to making these, but I followed it exactly! That’s probably a first. I had recently bought some tart pans and thought I would make these into individual tarts and I was even thinking of making my own standard pie dough or using store bought: oh my!

I gathered the ingredients for the pastry and got out my food processor with its brand new blade that I waited 6 months for Cuisinart to replace for safety reasons. This is the part of the recipe that I did not follow. The food processor makes making pie dough simple. I never liked making it by hand.

PASTRY

  • 2 cups unbleached All-Purpose Flour; I had exactly two cups; I thought I might have had to use some whole wheat pastry flour, but I had just enough.
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup cold sour cream

I pulsed the dry ingredients and then added the butter and finally the sour cream. It does come together in clumps as described in the recipe. When I dumped that onto my lightly floured board and read the description of rolling this out, it dawned on me that this is a puff pastry. Most likely a rough-puff as it only has two turns: rolling out, folding over, rolling out again, repeat, fold over, and chill for 30 minutes. My cutting board block is marked in two inch squares so I measured it to the 8×10 inches both times.

FILLING

  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt (a large pinch)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice

Rinse berries and put in saucepan. Mix the dry ingredients and pour over. Add the lemon juice and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. My filling began to thicken in about 3 minutes over medium-hot heat so that is how long I cooked it. I don’t usually cook the blueberries before putting in pie. But this does help hold the filling together for the small squares of pastry. Let cool. I let the filling cool but not quite to room temperature. And I have leftover filling. This could be good on pancakes or to top ice cream. I will use it to top Brie cheese!

Preheat oven to 425 F and get that pastry out of the fridge and get ready to roll!

Here again I found the markings on my cutting board block helpful. Roll the pastry into a 14 inch square. Then cut it into sixteen 3 1/2 inch squares. My squares were not squared completely nor were they cut to the exact size. Put a heaping tablespoon or two on eight of the squares. Brush the edges with beaten egg. Oh yeah, make a vent in the other eight squares. Then put together and press the edges with the tines of a fork. Brush the rest of the egg yolk on the tops and sprinkle with sugar. And they are ready for the oven.

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Looking good so far…

Bake for 18-20 minutes until lightly browned. When I took these out I was in awe…

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And they taste great. I am not sure how to share this with the King Arthur website for the bake-along so I will be content sharing it with you who read this.

Many blessings to all!

What’s new in my kitchen?

The first answer that comes to mind is “nothing much”. But there is a new green bucket for compost. I have subscribed to a composting service called blue earth. This is not a paid endorsement just my newest little way of saving the planet. And we earn dirt! I would post a picture but it just looks like food scraps.

Next, I found Keurig cups that are completely compostible: Chock Full O’ Nuts. Oh, and the Keurig is also new in my kitchen. Hubby and I were drinking less coffee even though brewing a pot full each morning. This way we control the amount of coffee used and drunk.

I have not been doing much baking or innovative cooking. My creative juices seem to have dried up. Cooking dinners of meat and vegetable and sometimes rice or potatoes. No recipes required. I see recipes that I think are interesting but have not gotten around to it.

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So tonight’s dinner is soup and bread. The soup is a mix from King Arthur Flour. In fact I got my purchases in the mail today. Contrary to my nature, I ordered several mixes from them. I do not usually buy mixes or from on-line but took a survey and got a coupon. My math skills being a little rusty had the idea that 10% would be $10 but is really only $5 on $50 worth of items. Oh well.

Soup is for supper even though I had thought about barbecue chicken pizza. On Facebook I saw a video on how to make a stuffed crust pizza in a cast iron skillet. I love my cast iron skillet and I have four pieces of barbecue chicken hanging about in my refrigerator. There’s also three pieces of Popeye’s chicken in there.  But there is a nice loaf of artisan bakery bread that needs to be eaten. The soup is farmhouse vegetable and I used chicken stock. Hubby will eat a couple pieces of chicken anyway. And this dreary New England day is a perfect one for soup. I will need to steer Hubby away from the BBQ chicken so I can make that pizza tomorrow night, or Saturday, or maybe someday in the future!

So here is my three ingredient supper!

 

The Great Brownie Chase…

Back in 1999 I tried a bunch of brownie recipes on my teenagers and their friends. Over 6 months the winning brownie came out of a box. And it did not matter much which brand.

Well, I want to change that outcome so I am trying out brownie recipes on my coworkers. The biggest drawback is that brownies generally get rave reviews just for showing up and just for being chocolate.

For a two week trial so far, here is what I have done. I chose a Quick & Easy Fudge Brownies recipe from the back of a King Arthur flour bag. I clipped this and stuck it on my kitchen counter. I am not sure if I made this one before or a different KAF recipe. I have written about brownies twice before, here and here. But my endeavor here is to find a go-to recipe that gets high ratings from a variety of people. And because I am a social scientist I have a three point Likert scale for tasters to rate each brownie.

I virtually made the same recipe for both weeks. There are technical differences but I think this makes a big difference. Here is the basic recipe:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 1/ teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

KAF’s instructions are to put the ingredients in a large bowl in the order listed and beat until the mixture is smooth. Bake in a 913-inch pan for 25-30 minutes at 375 F.

Being the baker that I am I did not exactly follow the above, but almost. I accidentally used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa in the first batch. Also in the first batch, I used 4 egg whites (because I had these in need of use) and one whole egg. I used Whole Wheat Pastry Flour both weeks. The second week I used regular cocoa powder and three whole eggs. I melted the butter in the bowl, sifted the dry ingredients together, then added all the ingredients and mixed until smooth.

I had my coworkers rate these on three aspects: appearance, texture, and taste. I am sure there is some skewing of the results based on the time between samples. But, too bad!

The first was the Special Dark cocoa brownies. The sample size was n=12. The second week sample size was n=8. And the winner is…

I think these results show that Special Dark Cocoa should not be used in brownies. It is most likely best suited for dark and rich chocolate cakes. The medical student at work with a discerning palette picked up on the difference in moistness between the two which is the result of the egg whites vs. whole eggs. There was another coworker who verbally gave me her results so the second week is really a sample of 9. Three people who compared the two weeks all said the second week was better.

So don’t mess with the cocoa or the eggs! Whole wheat pastry flour works just as well as the all-purpose flour called for in the recipe. So we could say this is a healthy brownie, LOL! This is a simple enough recipe and makes a 9 x 13 pan so it could easily be a go-to recipe. Maybe I’ll try out recipes using baking chocolate next.

 

Dark. Chocolate. Eclairs.

Dark: this is the glaze on top.

Chocolate: this is the filling.

Eclairs: this is choux pastry.

Oh my! This is chocolate. For some reason I did not think that the pastry cream would be that chocolate-y. Sometimes my brain does not seem to process the information as well. Or I imagine it to be one thing and go with that thought!  After all the pastry cream has two types of chocolate in it! I think I looked at the picture and imagined the pastry as the filling. As I was making these I was debating as to whether or not to include the chocolate glaze on top. These deserve to be eaten with a cold glass of milk.

I decided to make the King Arthur Flour February bakealong recipe.Here is the link, February: dark chocolate eclairs.

Their recipe said to pipe these into 5 inch strips and it would make 12-18 eclairs. Well, I piped into 5 inch strips, had to pipe a strip along side to use up all the pastry, and this made 24 for me. The whole in my pastry bag could have been bigger.

20170220_191714873_iosEasy choux pastry: 1 cup water, 1/2 cup butter, 3/8 teaspoon salt, 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour, 4 large eggs; bring water, butter, and salt to boil. Add flour and stir until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time until smooth. KAF instructs to let the flour mix cool for 5-10 minutes before adding the eggs. Pipe this mixture out into 5 inch logs on parchment paper. This will take two baking sheets. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15 minutes; lower the temp to 350 and bake for an additional 25 minutes. KAF then instructs to cut small slit in tops and return to oven for 5 minutes to let steam escape. Well mine did not have any escaping steam so I skipped this step. Let cool slightly and then slice in half to cool completely.

20170220_195654520_iosMeanwhile make the pastry cream. This should be made first, actually, so that it cools. 1/2 cup sugar, 5 tablespoons cornstarch, 4 large egg yolks, 2 cups whole milk, 1/2  cocoa powder, 1/3 cup chopped unsweetened baking chocolate, and 1 tablespoon butter.Bring milk and cocoa to simmer. Combine sugar and cornstarch and whisk in the egg yolks. Pour some of the hot chocolate mixture into the yolks and then return to the pan and cook until thick, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add butter and chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Transfer this to a bowl, bring to room temperature, and refrigerate for about two hours. I was impatient and began assembly prior to the two hours.

Make the glaze with 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate (I used chips), 1 12 teaspoon light corn syrup (this is to make it shine), and 1/2 cup heavy cream. Bring the cream to just simmer and pour it over the first two ingredients. I just put all three in my sauce pan and brought to just boil, and then stirred until smooth. I forgot to read the instructions clearly! It worked out fine.

And the final product is….

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So I now have to decide if I will assemble all of them and refrigerate them “ready to eat” or assemble them “as needed”. Hmmmm?

Thoughts from my kitchen: this is a rich pastry cream filling. It is not pudding or whipped cream. To make these “lighter” one could use a favorite pudding or mousse. I think my Betty Crocker Cookbook has a choux pastry recipe that makes less so that would be better for just the two of us here at home. And for quick and easy just use whipped cream or a pudding mix. Jello brand is making a simple mix with no artificial flavors and preservatives now. But you must absolutely use cow’s milk and not nut milks for that mix.