Friday, July 26, 2013

Chocolate Blackout Cake

I recently made this New York classic for my nephew's birthday. It's a variation on a variation.

Chocolate Blackout Cake usually consists of a chocolate cake, split, with pudding between the layers as well as on the outside of the cake, and then covered in the cake's crumbs as a decoration.

This version, which I found on the Food Network website, replaces the outer layer of pudding with two layers of ganache. Not bad.

For the cake, I used my go-to chocolate cake recipe, One-Bowl Chocolate Cake, from Martha's Cooking School, which couldn't be easier or tastier. Also I doubled the filling recipe, just to be sure I had enough.

A serving tip:  store this in the fridge, but serve it at room temperature.

Chocolate Blackout Cake
Adapted from Food Network Magazine

For the filling:
2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

For the ganache:
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream

For the cake:
One-Bowl Chocolate Cake, baked and cooled (recipe follows)


1.  Make One-Bowl Chocolate Cake as directed.  It’s best to do this in advance and chill the cooled cake in the fridge, as cold cake is easier to work with.  (You can even freeze the cake.)

2.  Make the filling: Bring the milk to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk the sugar, cornstarch, vanilla and egg in a medium heatproof bowl until smooth. Gradually whisk half of the hot milk into the sugar mixture, then return to the pan with the remaining milk. Reduce the heat to medium low and cook, whisking constantly, until the mixture boils and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl (strain through a fine-mesh sieve if it looks lumpy), then stir in the chocolate until melted. Press plastic wrap directly onto the surface and refrigerate until cold, at least 1 hour.

3.  Meanwhile, make the ganache: Put the chocolate and salt in a large heatproof bowl. Bring 1 1/2 cups heavy cream to a simmer in a saucepan over medium heat; pour over the chocolate and let sit 5 minutes, then whisk until smooth. Pour 3/4 cup of the ganache into a liquid measuring cup and set aside at room temperature. Refrigerate the remaining ganache in the bowl until thick but not set, about 1 hour.

4.  Assemble the cake: Put 1 cake layer on a platter; spread the filling on top, stopping about 1/2 inch from the edge. Top with the second cake layer and press down gently.

5.  Add the remaining 2 tablespoons heavy cream to the chilled ganache and beat with a mixer on medium speed until just fluffy, about 1 minute (do not overbeat). Frost the whole cake with the whipped ganache. Pour the room-temperature ganache on top, letting it drip down the sides. Let set before slicing, about 30 minutes.

One-Bowl Chocolate Cake
(adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cooking School)

Yield: 8-inch 2-layer cake

You can’t get much easier than this luscious cake, in which all the ingredients are thrown into a large mixing bowl and mixed by hand.  

1 ¼ cups unsweetened cocoa powder (if you can find black cocoa, use a ¼ cup of it here plus 1 cup of regular)
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups sugar
2 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons table salt
2 large whole eggs plus 1 large egg yolk
1 ¼ cups warm water
1 ¼ cups buttermilk or sour cream (I prefer sour cream)
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 ¼ sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ¼ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1.     Heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line two standard muffin tins with cupcake liners or for cakes, coat two 8 x 2-inch round cake pans with nonstick cooking spray.  Line bottoms with parchment paper rounds, then spray parchment.

2.     Whisk together all dry ingredients in a LARGE bowl.  Then whisk in all wet ingredients until smooth and combined, about 3 minutes.

3.     Bake until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out just clean, about 35 minutes.  Transfer pans to wire rack to cool 10 minutes.  Invert cakes onto rack, peel off parchment, then reinvert cakes and cool completely.

Friday, July 5, 2013

Cinnabons at home

If there's one mass market food I love, it is the Cinnabon.

Walking through an airport or shopping mall, I get hit with that sweet smell of cinnamon and cream cheese frosting and it's all I can do to keep moving, avoid giving into the temptation of stuffing my face with sticky, syrupy dough. With an extra shot of frosting.

If you troll the Internet, you can find various recipes that claim to have cracked the code of Cinnabon's top secret recipe. I'm not sure this one has it exactly, but it comes close.

Give yourself a good bit of time and lots of room on your countertop to make these. Also, I find that creating a "hot box" in your oven (meaning setting it to 400 degrees for  a minute, then shutting it off) to proof your dough makes it rise faster.

Here's the recipe I used, adapted from Lauren's Latest:

Homemade Cinnabons


For dough:
3/4 cup warm water
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast {use the fast acting kind!}
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 egg
1/3 cup canola or vegetable oil
4 1/2-5 cups all purpose unbleached flour

For filling:
1/2 cup softened butter
1 1/4 cups packed light brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons cornstarch

For frosting:
2 oz. cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup softened margarine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 tablespoon corn syrup
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 cups powdered sugar


1.  Make the dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, pour in water, yeast and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar. Stir and proof 5 minutes. Once mixture looks bubbly and frothy, pour in remaining sugar and salt. Stir on low for 15-20 seconds. In a small bowl, measure buttermilk, oil and egg. Whisk ingredients together until egg is incorporated to other two ingredients. Pour contents into the water and yeast mixture. Stir another 20 seconds in the mixer. Pour 2 cups of flour into mixer and stir on low until incorporated. Sprinkle flour in by 1/4 cup increments until dough cleans the sides and bottom of the bowl. Dough should be sticky but not sticky enough to stick to your hands when touched. Once it has reached this stage, turn mixer on and knead for 5 minutes. Remove dough from bowl, grease and replace back into same mixing bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and a dish towel. Let rise 1-2 hours or until dough has doubled in size.  (This will go faster with a hot box.)

2.  Fill and cut rolls.  In a medium size bowl, stir brown sugar, cinnamon and cornstarch together until combined. Set aside. Punch down dough. Flour a large clean table liberally with flour. Lightly flour dough as well. Roll dough out to be a 20x30 rectangle {or as close to that as possible} while moving dough around to ensure it's not sticking to your work surface. If it's a little short or uneven, feel free to cut off the edges to even it all out. {FYI-I cut off some dough on one side and filled in a spot that needed more dough on the other side to make a more even rectangle.} Spread softened butter over dough, being sure to go right to the edges leaving a 1-inch strip untouched on one of the longer sides of dough. Dump brown sugar mixture onto the middle of the dough and spread with your hands, creating an even layer over top of the margarine, still leaving that 1-inch strip of dough untouched. If you have any filling that falls off the sides of the dough, use a bench scraper to replace. Lightly press the sugar mixture into the margarine using a rolling pin. Roll the dough up into a tight log, finishing with the plain dough on the bottom to seal the entire thing together. Cut off the uneven ends to even out the log. Score log every 2 inches and then slice your rolls using those marks. Place into parchment paper lined, margarine greased pans. 12 into a 9x13, 3 remaining into a loaf pan, or 8x8 with the small ends. Cover pans with plastic wrap and dish towels. Let rolls rise another 1-2 hours or until they are touching and have risen almost double. My rolls always spread out more than up, so just be aware that they will most likely spread out more than up. Bake in a preheated 350 degree for 17 minutes, or until tops start to brown. Watch them carefully!!

3. Make frosting.  While the rolls are baking, whip cream cheese and margarine together. Stir in vanilla, corn syrup and lemon juice. Scrape sides and mix again. Pour in powdered sugar and stir slowly until it starts to incorporate. Then mix on high for 5 minutes or until frosting starts to lighten in color. Scrape sides and mix again briefly. Once rolls have been removed from the oven, frost using half the amount made. Then after they have cooled a few more minutes, frost again with remaining frosting. The first frosting will melt down into the rolls and the second layer should stay put. Serve warm.