blog revamp, chocolates & a cake

I feel as though I’ve neglected my blog for the past couple of weeks…

But I haven’t … I swear!

I’ve just been a little busy.

First off … have you checked out my new awesome blog layout?  Doesn’t it look swell?  (please be patient as I update the recipes page …)

I heart the new look.  And I have one amazingly talented and wonderful friend to thank for it … Ms. Lindsay. You might know her from her blog ORGANIC PIXELS … where she wrote one of the nicest posts about me.  Seriously … I blushed as I read it … and I’m completely flattered that she thinks of me that way.  I think she’s pretty darn incredible as well.

Seriously Lindsay.  You are TOO SWEET.

Then … it was valentine’s day.  I don’t usually celebrate February 14th … except this year I have a manfriend who gifted me the bestest box of chocolates a gal could ask for.  (Thank you Justin for hooking the manfriend up … and claps to the manfriend for doing so well).

I have to admit I LOVED each flavour … I mean … the salted caramel exploded in my mouth … one bite and the gooey caramel escaped the chocolate casing.  AMAZING.  It was the manfriend’s favourite too … plus it was covered in edible gold.

Nuff said … this one’s a winner.

The mexican hot chocolate was smooth and spicy.  I originally tried it at Justin’s chocolate & wine event … (I strongly recommend it with a good glass of red wine)  … the chocolate was so smooth and thick it was a little ridiculous.

The raspberry chocolate was … beautiful.  Justin created a work of art with this one … the dark chocolate exterior, the layer of ganache and then the layer of a raspberry gel (almost a purée).  It was the perfect balance of sweet fruit filling and bitter chocolate.  I heart this one.

And then … there was the one inspired by me.

For REALZ!!!

Justin made a chocolate truffle inspired by me.  He filled with lemon.  Obviously.  And  then limoncello.  Another obvious choice.  The white chocolate ensured the tartness wasn’t too over bearing … This one was brilliant.  That’s right … I’m declaring the “lynne”spiration chocolate brilliant.  Available for order at Easter.

Then thirdly … and to be honest … my absolute favourite part of the week.

The penguin cake.

I’d been asked to make a penguin cake for a co-worker’s sister-in-law’s grand-daughter’s birthday (did you get that???).

All you need to remember from that sentence is that I made a penguin cake.  Chocolate cake with a penguin on top.

I accept to make this cake figuring Emily would be doing the decorating.

Only … Em ended up with a bad case of strep throat.  That left me with a cake that needed to be decorated …

I decided to use the same logic as “colouring within the lines” … I printed up a picture of a penguin, enlarged it, cut it out … and then pinned the stencil to the top of my cake.

After tracing the black outline, I used a star-tip and piped in all the black (body and eyes), yellow (beak) and then white (stomach and the remainder of the cake).  It took me about 45 minutes to decorate.

It looked like this …

I am totally and utterly tickled pink about this cake.

It’s AWESOME.  And I did it on my own.

It’s been a pretty sweet week … and that’s without telling you all about the fun I had on Saturday at the Kelp Records Winter Warmer  (post to follow).

cranberry – orange chocolate soufflé cake

So I really really really heart this recipe.
Not just a little. A whole heck of alot.

Enough to make it twice … in the course of 4 days … once on Friday and again last night.  Enough to make it on television (check it out on ctv ottawa morning live)

It’s delicious. Heck … it’s ab-so-lute-ly pos-i-tive-ly delightful!

Tart cranberries poached in an orange, cinnamon, allspice simple syrup and soaked overnight … piled high on top of a bed of chocolate whipped cream and supported by a moist, rich, sinfully delicious dark chocolate – orange soufflé cake.

Mother of pearl.

Who wouldn’t love that combo? 

I do promise that the soufflé cake is easy to make (I’d never made a soufflé before … and knowing that it was supposed to sink in the centre certainly relieved me of any stress) … but you do need to plan ahead when making this.

1.  The cranberries need to poach in the simple syrup overnight.  The longer they sit … the better they get.

2.  The egg yolks and egg whites need to be at room temperature … so pull those out before you start on the soufflé.

3.  You also don’t want to bake the cake too much in advance of serving it … I found the recipe in bon appétit’s desserts cookbook and they recommended only baking it 6 hours ahead of serving …

Those three points don’t seem too challenging do they?  Nah.

You can do this.  Plus … once you make it … you’ll probably want to make it again and again.  Heck … I’m already thinking about attempting this cake as mini soufflé cakes in cupcake liners.

poached cranberries
2 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. water
3 c. cranberries
1 orange, zest only
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice

chocolate orange soufflé cake
10 ounces dark (semi-sweet) chocolate, chopped
10 tbsp butter (1/2 c. + 2 tbsp)
7 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1 c. + 1 tbsp sugar
1/3 c. freshly squeezed orange juice
zest of 1 large orange

chocolate whipped cream
3 ounces semi-sweet dark chocolate, chopped
1 c. heavy cream, cold

The night before:

In a medium saucepan, bring the sugar and water to a boil over medium – high heat; stirring initially so that the sugar dissolves. Once at a boil, add the cranberries, orange zest, cinnamon and allspice. Stir well and allow to simmer for about 2 minutes – you’ll hear the cranberries start to pop.

Remove from heat and allow to sit in the spiced syrup overnight.

Day of:

Drain the cranberries before using – discard the syrup, you won’t be needing it again.  I also let my cranberries sit in the strainer until I was ready to use them … remember to keep the strainer over a bowl since more of the liquid will drain (and you don’t want to make a mess all over your counter) ;0)

Preheat your oven to 350 F and generously spray the base and sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

In a double boiler, melt the butter and chocolate – stirring from time to time. Remove from heat.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, using your whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and 3/4 c. + 1 tbsp of sugar until light and creamy – about 3 minutes (beat at a high speed). Once the yolks have paled (they should resemble the colour of butter), reduce the speed of the mixer and slowly add the orange juice and zest. Beat until incorporated.

Turn off the mixer and fold in the melted chocolate mixture using a spatula.

Once fully combined, pour the chocolate – egg yolk mixture into a large mixing bowl. Set aside.

Clean the bowl of your stand-mixer and the whisk attachment. Beat the egg whites until soft peaks form (medium-high speed). Slowly add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar to the egg whites, increasing the speed so that stiff peaks form. You still want the egg whites to be glossy – so don’t over beat them.

Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate – egg yolk mixture using a spatula. The batter should be quite airy.

Bake for about 45 minutes – you’ll notice that the top of the cake has formed a crust … but you might not be sure about the centre. DON’T stick a tester into the centre … gently shake the pan … ensuring that no batter splashes around. The centre will be moist.

Now you’ll take out the highest chocolate cake … don’t be disappointed when the centre drops.  It’s all good. That’s what the chocolate whipped topping and poached cranberries will disguise.

Allow to cool on a wire rack.

Just before serving:

In a double boiler melt the chocolate (or in a microwave).  Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, using your whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream until thick and creamy.  Fold in the melted chocolate … you’re beautiful white whipped cream becomes rich and chocolately in mere moments.  De-lish!

Remove the side from the springform pan.  Spoon the chocolate-whipped cream over the top – especially over the fallen centre.

Spoon the cranberries on top of the chocolate-whipped cream.

There you have it.  A beautiful, rich, insanely wonderful dessert.  Like I said … I absolutely heart this cake.  I think you will too.