brooklyn blackout cake

You’d think that since the holidays have come and gone that I would lighten up on the baking right?  Or at least … bake lighter things?  Nah.  Where’s the fun in that?!  Plus … I think this cake is worth breaking any New Years resolutions.  This cake is worth the calories.  This cake is worth hosting a dinner party with your closest friends and wowing them.  Because you will wow them.

Plus … it’s a small cake.  How much damage can a 6-inch, 3 layered cake do?  ;0)

I heart many things about this cake:

1.  The chocolate custard.  Sick.  As in … too good, can’t get enough, want to run my finger across the bowl and lick up any remnants of it.

2.  It looks awesome.  And it’s easy to make it look awesome.

3.  The cake batter smells ridiculously decadent.  I couldn’t get over how chocolately it was.  And I was pleased at how moist it turned out … I was really afraid I was going to end up with a really dense, dry cake.  Nope.  Moist and delicious.

4.  It’s from the hummingbird bakery cookbook – which I love.

brooklyn blackout cake

ingredients:

6 1/2 tbsp butter, at room temperature

1 1/4 c. sugar

2 eggs

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/3 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp baking soda

pinch of salt

1 1/3 c. flour, sifted

2/3 c. milk

Preheat your oven to 325 F.  Spray your baking pans with non-stick spray.  I used 6-inch rounds – the original recipe says that you should get 8-inch rounds … the layers would be very thin … I recommend the smaller cake, thicker layers are easier to handle.  Set aside.

Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of your stand-mixer, creaming until light and fluffy (use your paddle attachment).  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well and scraping the sides after each addition.

Ensure that the mixer is on the slow speed, and beat in the vanilla, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt until well blended.  Add half the flour – mix – all of the milk – mix – the rest of the flour – finishing mixing until everything is well combined.

Pour the batter into each pan – ensuring that you evenly distribute it.  Bake for 25 – 30 minutes – you’ll know it’s ready when you stick a toothpick in the centre and it comes out clean.  Do the test – since the cake is quite dark and is quite moist.

Allow to cool slightly in the pans on a wire rack, before turning out of the pans and cooling completely.

Time to make the custard.  Please do as I say … not as I did.  I didn’t read the instructions clearly – and tossed everything into the large saucepan – it created lumps and so I had to give it another shot.  Actually … I didn’t give it another shot.  I let it firm up and then beat the heck out of it the following day.  It was fine.  But if lumps are a deal breaker for you – follow the instructions exactly.

chocolate custard

ingredients:

2 1/2 c. sugar

1 tbsp corn syrup

1 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 c. cornstarch

3 c. water

5 1/2 tbsp butter, cubed

1/2 tsp vanilla

Grab a LARGE saucepan.  Combine the sugar, corn syrup, cocoa and 2 1/2 cups water in the pan, and bring to a boil over medium heat, whisk occasionally.

Mix the cornstarch and the remaining water, whisking until the cornstarch dissolves.  Add this mixture into the large saucepan.  Bring everything back to a boil, whisking constantly.  Cook until very thick, about 10 minutes.  Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.  Pour the custard into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap – having the plastic wrap flush against the custard.  Chill in the fridge until very firm (I let mine sit overnight).

When you are ready to assemble the cake, pull out the custard.

Grab your serrated knife, and slice a layer off each of the cake rounds – it’ll level the cake, plus you’ll need those pieces.  Place these layers in your food processor and pulse until you get fine crumbs.  You’ll need these to decorate the cake.  Set aside.

Put one cake round on your plate and spread about 1/2 cup of the custard over it with a rubber spatula.  Top with the second round, spread more custard on top, and then top with the third round. 

Spread the custard on top of this round, as well as all over the sides. 

Start covering with the cake crumbs – it makes a little mess … but the effect is so totally worth it.

Chill the cake for at least 2 hours.

Then you are ready to serve.

Pretty fantastic eh?

Make this cake.  Have a slice.  Don’t feel guilty.  Bundle up, go for a walk.  And then have another slice of cake.  It’s that good.

wordless wednesdays: cake in a mason jar

What happens when you have a 1 L container full of cupcake tops (you know… those pieces of cupcake that are cut off to level the cupcake prior to frosting them) and some left over hot pink cream cheese buttercream?

This.  This is what happens.

cake in a (mason) jar

It’s amazingly disgustingly delicious.

I gifted it to Vanessa ( the incredible friend who drove me to Montréal for Cupcake camp on Sunday morning)  – only … myself and another colleague kinda (totally) dug into it prior to giving it to Vanessa.  Don’t worry – it was quality control.  Vanessa still had lots to enjoy.

Best eaten with a fork.

Vanessa’s reaction was as follows (and all quotes):

cake in a jar is extraordinary!

moist cake – check!

falvourful and not cringe-worthy sweet frosting – check!

mason jar – check!

V – don’t forget … I need my mason jar back.  There are more cakes in mason jars to make.

pumpkin spice and all that’s nice…

I have become obsessed.  Obsessed with this cake.

I’ve been looking for a good pumpkin spice cake recipe and haven’t seen anything that really caught my fancy.  That is… until I saw that cake.  It’s looks pretty darn delicious doesn’t it????  Well… I think it does.  I have heard it is.  I’ve baked it twice already…. and I still have yet to have a piece (unbelievable I know!!!).

How could this be you might ask?  Well…

My friend Tanya (the gongshow gardener) sent me an email from Kazakhstan asking me to bake her mother’s birthday cake.  First off… getting an order from Kazakhstan is pretty darn cool.  Secondly, the fact that Tanya thought of me when she was ordering her mum’s cake is doubly cool… Obviously I said yes… and then pestered her with questions; the most important being, “what kind of cake does your mom like?”  Response:  “she doesn’t really have a sweet tooth… and no chocolate.”  Seriously?  Seriously.

Ok… I can work with that.  No sweet tooth… how about carrot cake?  Or lemon cake?  Or apple spice cake?  Perhaps even my marble cake – it’s not too sweet?  And then I mentioned the cake on the cover of fine Cooking magazine – this brown butter pumpkin layer cake.  That was the one.  Both Tanya and I were excited about it;  me because I was going to get to try the recipe, and Tanya because it was the perfect dessert for a Thanksgiving weekend birthday dinner.  EXCELLENT!

I can vouch four things about this cake:

1.  The batter is RIDICULOUSLY, insanely, DELICIOUS.  I licked the bowl while I was waiting for the cake to finish baking (waste not want not).

2.  It smells incredible; the blend of cinnamon, ginger, cloves… they just permeate the kitchen (heck, my entire apartment) and make you feel warm inside. 

3.  I heart brown butter buttercream.  It’s not too sweet… again, I know this because I kinda (totally) licked the spatula when I was finished…

4.  It’s super easy to make.  Especially if you decide to use canned pumpkin purée… which really… isn’t cheating.  Don’t feel bad if you use canned pumpkin… I did – sometimes you just don’t have enough time in the day… ya know?

This is the kind of cake that you’ll make once and go back to over and over again.  I promise… even if you don’t think you like pumpkin… try it.  Pretty please… you won’t regret it.

This cake is made in a couple of stages – don’t be put off by it… it’s worth the effort.  And each step doesn’t take very long to complete.  I know you can do this.  Really… you can :0)

brown butter pumpkin layer cake

ingredients:

1 1/2 c. pumpkin purée (either from scratch or from a can)

3/4 c. salted butter

2 c. flour, sifted

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground ginger

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cloves

1 1/2 c. white sugar

 2/3 c. firmly packed brown sugar

2 eggs

1/3 c. buttermilk (add 2 tsp of lemon juice to regular milk if making from scratch)

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt your butter.  Cool, swirling occasionally until the butter turns that nutty golden-brown colour, about 4 minutes.  Pour it into a small bowl and let it stand until cool (but not set), about 15 minutes.

At this point I preheat my oven.  Ensure that the rack is in the centre of the oven, and then set it at 350 F.  Spray two 9-inch round pans with non-stick spray (this batter also works for one 13-inch round, which is what I did).  Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, salt and cloves.  Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat together the pumpkin purée,  white sugar, brown sugar, eggs and buttermilk until very well blended (a couple of minutes on medium speed). 

Turn off your mixer, add the dry ingredients, and mix until just combined.  Add the melted butter to the batter and beat until completely incorporated.  About 30 seconds.

Pour the batter in the pan(s) and bake for about 28 minutes (the 13-inch round took 40 minutes). 

You want the tester inserted in the centre to come out clean.  Let the cake(s) cool slightly in the pan(s), turning them out and cooling completely on wire racks.

Easy eh?  Move onto step two – the frosting.

brown butter cream cheese buttercream

ingredients:

1/2 c. salted butter

8 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature

1/4 c. firmly packed brown sugar

1 1/4 c. powdered sugar, sifted

1 tbsp milk (as needed)

Begin by melting the butter in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat.  Again, you want the butter to get to that nutty-brown stage – about 4 minutes.  Pour the melted butter into a small bowl and let stand for about 5 minutes (the solids settle at the bottom of the bowl).  Place the bowl in the freezer and chill until just firm – about 18 minutes.  Once firm, remove the bowl from the freezer and scrape the butter from the bowl – I used the browned bits in my buttercream – but you don’t have too.  They might not incorporate completely into the buttercream (tiny little lumps) – but I like the flavour it adds to the buttercream (makes for a very intense frosting).

In the bowl of your stand-mixer, beat together the butter, cream cheese and brown sugar on medium-high speed; it’ll lighten in colour and become fluffy (as the brown sugar dissolves).  Turn off the mixer, add the powdered sugar and gradually increase the speed of the mixer: add milk to help everything incorporate as needed.  I let my mixer go for about 10 minutes at a medium-high speed; allowing my buttercream to get nice and fluffy.

Done.

Let’s make the crunchy, nutty topping k?

nutty topping

ingredients:

1 1/2 tbsp salted butter

2/3 c. whole pecans

1/2 c. unsalted, raw, hulled pumpkin seeds

2 tbsp firmly packed, brown sugar

pinch of coarse sea salt

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the pecans and pumpkin seeds – and stir them well to cover them in melted butter. 

Keep a close eye on those nuts!  You don’t want them to burn (I did… I had to make this topping twice)… it should take about 2 minutes.  Then sprinkle in the brown sugar and salt – the sugar will melt and glaze the nuts.  Stir in the cinnamon and remove the skillet from heat.  Allow the mixture to cool in the pan.

Are you ready to assemble the cake? 

If you’ve made two 9-inch rounds, place one cake on your plate.  Spread 1/2 cup of frosting on the layer, sprinkle 1/2 c. of the nut mixture over the frosting.  Top that with the second cake round.  Again, frost the top and sides of the cake.  Arrange the remaining nuts on top of the cake – either just along the outside… or all over (like I did with my one larger cake).

Isn’t it beautiful?  Aren’t you proud of yourself for making this?  :0)

It is no hardship to make this cake.  Just writing this blog makes me want to go home and make it again.  Only this time… I would have a piece.  A nice, big piece ;0)