Thursday, February 26, 2009

Spiced Chocolate Cake

I made this cake to celebrate another birthday at work. It seems like I make a lot of things for birthdays, but honestly I don’t work that that many people! The birthday girl is quite a foodie, so I wanted to make something a little unusual. I also had very little time to make this cake, only an hour or so, so I needed to find something that was quick and also something that I had all of the ingredients. I came across this cake and thought I would give it a try.

I have baked other items that contained pepper, so I wasn’t too afraid of that. I was a little afraid of cayenne, so I went a little shy of the measure called for in the recipe. I also substituted a mix of unsweetened and semi-sweet chocolate since I was out of bittersweet chocolate. The cake came together with no problem at all, very straight-forward.

The cake baked nicely, but the cake seemed really dense! I was hoping that it wouldn’t be too dry. It did contain a lot of chocolate, so I figured that was why it was so dense. The original recipe called for a simple topping of melted chocolate, but I wanted to add something that would add a little moisture, so I found this ganache glaze that would stay soft even after it cooled. I’m glad I went that route. I added some chocolate sprinkles to fancy it up a bit.

The cake was dense but it wasn’t really dry. I may have over mixed the batter a touch, as it had a couple of air bubbles that were larger than I would have liked. You could taste the spice, but it was very subtle. I think that some people who had the cake wouldn’t have liked it to be any spicier, but others would have been ok with more heat. I liked the subtleness of the spice; it was kind of like a slow burn in the back of your throat. I really liked the flavors all together. I may try to find more recipes with this type of flavor mix!

1/4 cup cocoa

1 cup flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

6 ounce bittersweet chocolate

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1/3 cup dark brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch round cake pan and line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment paper and dust the pan with cocoa. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and cayenne. In a double boiler over simmering water, melt 6 ounces chocolate and butter. Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and brown sugar until mixture thickens and increases in volume, about 5 minutes. Reduce mixer speed to low, add the melted chocolate and the vanilla, and stir until combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until incorporated. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven until cake springs back when lightly touched in the center, about 30 minutes. When cool, top with the chocolate ganache glaze.

Chocolate Ganache Glaze

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

½ cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons water

Place chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl, set aside. In a small saucepan, combine the heavy cream, sugar and water. Bring the mixture to a full boil and then pour the liquid over the chocolate. Allow to stand for 30 seconds. Carefully stir the mixture, starting with small circles and generally increasing the circumference of the stir. Allow the glaze to set slightly before pouring over the cooled cake. Smooth the glaze with a small metal spatula.

Cake recipe from Country Living. Glaze recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan

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