Daring Bakers Challenge….Dobos Torta…sigh

Oh woe is me… if you know me, then you know I have a tendency to sigh – great, loud sighs. So imagine me typing this and sighing. Yep – this challenge left me shaking my head while I licked my spatula and wondered why I was unable to properly follow a recipe.

I’m late in posting my August Challenge. I just lost track of time and baked a whole bunch of other things on my list this past month… leaving this challenge on the sidelines. I will admit that I was so excited when I first received the challenge – a Hungarian speciality – baked in my little kitchen in Ottawa! Yay! Only, it didn’t work out as well as the recipe promised. I swear – I tried!!! But alas sometimes it doesn’t matter how good the intentions… sometimes, it just doesn’t work out :0(

Not to say the result doesn’t taste good… I mean, sugar, chocolate and butter combined – it still TASTES good, it’s just become a variation of what I had intended.

The August 2009 Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Angela of A Spoonful of Sugar and Lorraine of Not Quite Nigella. They chose the spectacular Dobos Torte based on a recipe from Rick Rodgers’ cookbook Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Caffes of Vienna, Budapest, and Prague.

This should have been simple enough – a 5 layer sponge-cake with a rich buttercream frosting and topped with thin wedges of caramel. 2 of my 5 layers didn’t bake properly. My caramel tasted of lemon. The only thing I was successful at was the buttercream frosting – I mean, whisking sugar and eggs, adding chocolate and then whisking in 2 sticks of butter – yep, rich chocolate frosting was made.. and licked… you have to taste the good rights?

So my end result was a 3 layered sponge cake, with buttercream frosting and pecans. No caramel. No special effects. This means I need to have another go at it another time…

I’ll provide you with what I did successfully complete though…

Sponge cake layers
6 eggs, separated, at room temperature
1 1/3 c. icing sugar, divided
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. + 2 tbsp sifted cake flour
pinch of salt

Position the racks in the top and centre thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 400F.

Cut six pieces of parchment paper to fit an 9″ circle template.

Beat the egg yolks, 2/3 c. icing sugar and the vanilla in a medium bowl with a mixer at high speed until the mixture is thick, pale yellow and form thick ribbons with the beaters are lifted out of the batter (3 minutes).

In another bowl, using clean beaters, beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Gradually beat in the remaining 2/3 c. icing sugar until the whites form stiff, shiny peaks. Using a large rubber spatula, stir about 1/4 of the beaten whites into the egg yolk mixture. Fold in the remaining egg whites, leaving a few wisps of white visible.

Combine the flour and salt. Sift half of the flour over the eggs, fold in, and then repeat with the remaining flour.

Line a baking sheet with one piece of the parchment paper that has the circle template. Fill the circle with about 3/4 c. of the batter (fill in the traced circle with the batter using a spatula). Bake on the top rack for 5 minutes. Remove it from heat and place on a wire rack to cool. Meanwhile, bake the remaining layers, one at a time, 5 minutes each on the top rack. Allow all of the layers to cool completely.

Grab an 8″ circle round to trim the layers so that they are all the same size and shape.

While they are cooling you can start on the frosting.

Chocolate Buttercream
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 c. white sugar
4 oz (110g) dark chocolate chips or chocolate finely chopped
2 sticks butter, at room temperature

Bring a large saucepan with an inch or so of water to a boil, bring it down to a simmer. Once the water is ready, combine the eggs and sugar in a large glass bowl. Place the bowl on top of the pot (without the water touching the bottom of it) and whisk the eggs and sugar together (I use my electric beaters for 3 minutes).

Add the chopped chocolate to the egg mixture and continue beating the batter for another 3 minutes (over the simmering water). Remove from the heat, pour into a clean bowl and allow the batter to cool down a little.

Once it’s reached room temperature, slowing start to whisk the mixture adding the butter about 2 tbsp at a time – you’ll notice that it will slowly thicken. Keep your beater going until all the butter has been incorporated. Place the frosting into the fridge to chill – it will thicken up (leave to sit for about an hour). When you’re ready to assemble the cake, remove the frosting from the fridge and allow it to sit for a little bit before using it.

Now this is where everything really fell apart for me (even though by this point I’d already lost 2 of my sponge layers)… I followed the recipe for the caramel and ended up with a sticky lemon syrup – really not the best way to highlight this dessert… so I dumped it and continued to assemble my layers…

I put some of the buttercream on the serving plate and spread it out a little. I then placed the bottom layer on top of it (the buttercream allowed the cake to adhere to the plate and not move). Spread more of the frosting between the layers – cake, frosting, cake, frosting, cake and then more frosting. You’ll want to spread some of the buttercream around the sides as well. I then grabbed some whole pecans and placed them on the sides and top of the cake.

Totally not how it was supposed to turn out… but like I said before, it still tasted rich and delicious… even through all the sighs :0)

my 2nd attempt at a cheesecake

It was my friend Sharon’s birthday – and I wanted to make sure that not only did she have a fabulous day with her friends, but that she also had a pretty fabulous birthday cake as well. For most people that means 3 things: chocolate, alcohol and cheesecake. I hit all 3 of those requirements in this one. Lots of chocolate, nice and creamy with a hint of liquor – the perfect way to celebrate the big… :0) (don’t worry Sharon, I won’t tell…)

I used the remaining cookies I had frozen from my July DB challenge (the Whippets – July 27th) so I ended up with enough cookie base for an 8 inch cheesecake AND a smaller one (4 inches)… but if you follow the recipe below you’ll end up with just the right amount of cookie base for one 9 inch cake pan.

I also pulled out a bottle of Sabra liquor – a thoughtful gift from my father. Bailey’s or Kahlua would work as well… I just wanted to make use of my gift. (merci papa)

Triple Chocolate Cheesecake
1 1/3 c. cookie crumbs (your choice – chocolate, graham crackers, etc. you decide – I used homemade butter cookies)
1/3 c. butter, melted
2 x 250 g cream cheese (block), at room temperature
300 ml can sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs
120 g white chocolate, chopped and melted
2 tbsp Sabra liquor
120 g semisweet chocolate, chopped and melted
1/4 c. whipping cream
120 g bittersweet chocolate, chopped and melted

Preheat your oven to 300 F.

If you’re going to be using home made cookies for the base, pulse them in your food processor until they form nice crumbs. Otherwise, just grab your cookie crumbs and blend with the melted butter. You’ll want to make sure that everything is evenlyl moistened (add more melted butter if you think you need some). Press firmly into the bottom of your springform pan (or cake pan if you’re using a regular one).

Set aside.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese with your hand mixer at medium speed for about 1 minute – until fluffy. While the mixer is still running, pour in the condensed milk. Beat until smooth (scrape the sides of the bowl and the remaining condensed milk from the can). Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until everything is blended. Add the Sabra.

Using a double boiler – melt your white chocolate in one bowl and the semisweet chocolate in another.

Now – divide your creamcheese batter in half – putting half in your white chocolate and the remaining half with the semisweet chocolate. Grab your beaters again and beat both mixtures until they are smooth.

Pour the semisweet chocolate batter over the cookie crust. Use a spatula to spread it evenly. Carefully pour the white chocolate on top and spread the batter on top of the chocolate.

IF using a springform pan, grab some tinfoil and make sure that the base is well sealed (so that water doesn’t get into the pan). If not, you can skip this step.

Place the pan in a large baking dish filled with 2 to 3 inches of hottest tap water.

Bake for about 45 minutes (35 minutes for the mini one) – you still want the cake to be a bit jiggly.

Cool on a rack to room temperature . Cover and refrigerate until firm.

Once your cheesecake has chilled completely, make your ganache.

In a saucepan over medium heat, scald the cream. Remove from heat and whisk in the bittersweet chocolate until melted and smooth.

Spoon onto the cheesecake and spread over the top (and sides if using a springform pan and have removed the sides). Return to the fridge and allow to cool completely.

Happy Birthday Sharon!

apples and rhubarb…

I had that left over rhubarb and needed to use it up – well, wanted to use it up rather than freeze it is more correct. As mentioned, when I made my divine strawberry-rhubarb pie i found this pie a little tricky. I learned a lesson… use more cornstarch… I needed to thicken up my filling.

So I gave it another try – only I swapped the strawberries with apples – after work, the market was closed so I had to make do with what was in my fridge – and I was not disappointed. I honestly just made the filling… and have been slowly eating away at it… I did intend to make a pie crust, but sometimes, you just can’t be bothered :0)

Apple-Rhubarb Jelly Filling
3 c. rhubarb, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 apples, cored and chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 c. white sugar
1/3 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. water
1 tbsp lemon juice

Over medium heat, dump everything except the lemon juice in a large pot. Stir everything together to well combine and allow it to come to boil. Turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot, allowing the rhubarb and apples to soften up. Once everything thickens up and softens up to your desired consistency (about 10 minutes) remove the pot from heat and stir in the lemon juice.

You can fill a pie with it, top some toast… or be like me, and just eat it by the spoonful. Seriously I ate it by the spoonful. The sour sweet taste just kept me wanting more :0)