Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Ultimate Valentine's Day Cake

So if you don't like Chocolate, or can't eat it for some reason, I am truly sorry, as you are missing out on one delicious cake!! Isn't it gorgeous? I have been opening the fridge all day just to admire it! As you can see, I had a little trouble with the lid, the edges are a little rough, I will have to trim it a little better next time. The whole cake is actually supposed to be in the shape of a heart, but apparently stores carry heart shaped cake pans all year round except for the month of LOVE! Couldn't find one anywhere! Oh well, it still looks great, though I do say so myself!!

I've decided that chocolate mixed with berries (especially raspberries) is ABSOLUTELY to die for. I LOVE it! The frosting on this cake is also SOOO yummy. I promise you will NOT be disappointed!

This cake is of course from Epicurious (have I mentioned how much I love that site??). It had some reviews that said that it was way too time consuming and not worth it. But let me tell you, it is not that time consuming AT ALL, and it is SOOO worth it! Making the lid and the cake took me less than an hour (not including baking time of course), I made the icing about half way through the baking process (the icing takes all of 5 minutes), and then watched a movie for the rest of the time! I frosted it last night, so it set all night long. Then this morning, it took hardly anytime at all to garnish and put it together, maybe 10 or 15 minutes. So I promise, this is not as daunting as it looks. I have some suggestions to make it better, but I will save those for the end of the post! Also, I could not find a picture of this anywhere (despite numerous comments about how beautiful it was) so I made sure that I included many pictures for your viewing pleasure!!

Chocolate Heart Lid
3 ounces imported white chocolate (such as Lindt or Tobler), chopped
3 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped

9 ounces imported white chocolate (such as Lindt or Tobler), chopped
5 large eggs, separated, room temperature
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1tablespoon framboise liqueur or Grand Marnier
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted, warm
3/4 cup cake flour

12 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
3 tablespoon light corn syrup
3 tablespoons framboise liqueur or Grand Marnier

1 1-pint basket strawberries, hulled and halved
1 1/2-pint basket raspberries
1 1-pint basket strawberries with stems, halved through stem end (stems left intact)

Berry Compote
2 1-pint baskets strawberries, hulled and sliced
3 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons framboise liqueur or Grand Marnier
2 1/2-pint baskets raspberries

To make heart lid:
Cut heart-shaped piece of waxed paper about 4 inches larger than 8x2-inch bottomless heart-shaped cake pan. Place on cookie sheet. Lightly oil inside of heart pan with vegetable oil. Butter outside of pan. Place heart pan atop paper on cookie sheet. Press waxed paper up onto outside of buttered pan to adhere, to prevent chocolate from leaking out. Place white chocolate in bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water; stir until smooth. Remove from over water. Place bittersweet chocolate in another bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water; stir until smooth. Remove from over water.
Drop white chocolate by spoonfuls inside heart, spacing apart and allowing some to touch inner edge of pan. Drop bittersweet chocolate by spoonfuls into spaces. Move heart pan gently from side to side to distribute chocolate evenly and fill in heart completely.

Swirl mixtures together using tip of knife.

Holding cake pan to cookie sheet with hands, tap sheet firmly on counter to flatten chocolate. Freeze until firm, about 20 minutes.

Run small sharp knife around outside of pan to loosen chocolate. Remove pan. Refrigerate chocolate lid until ready to use. (Can be prepared 1 week ahead. Cover with plastic wrap.)

To make cake:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 8x2-inch bottomless heart-shaped cake pan. Cut heart-shaped piece of heavy-duty foil 4 inches larger that heart cake pan. Butter and flour foil. Place on heavy large cookie sheet or double-stacked cookie sheets. Center heart pan on foil. Wrap foil around outsides of pan, folding, pressing and crimping firmly to adhere, to batter from leaking out. Place white chocolate in bowl. Set bowl over sauce-pan of simmering water; stir until smooth. Remove from over water.

Using electric mixer, beat yolks and 1/2 cup sugar in large bowl until pale yellow and slowly dissolving ribbon forms when beaters are lifted, about 3 minutes. Beat in framboise and vanilla, then butter. Add melted chocolate and beat until just combined.

Using electric mixer fitted with clean dry beaters, beat whites in large bowl to soft peaks. Gradually add remaining 1 tablespoon sugar and beat until just stiff.

Mix flour into chocolate mixture (batter will be very thick). Stir in 1/4 of whites to lighten. Gradually fold in remaining whites. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 45 minutes. Cover top with foil. Bake until tip of small knife inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 20 minutes (cake will be well browned). Cool in pan on rack.

To make icing:
Melt chocolate, butter and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Stir in framboise. Cool icing until firm enough to spread, about 2 hours.

Run small sharp knife around cake pan sides to loosen. Cut cake into 2 layers using serrated knife. Place bottom cake layer on platter cut side up. Spread 2/3 cup icing over. Cover with top cake layer cut side down. Spread all but 1/2 cup icing over top and sides of cake.

Refrigerate cake until icing is set, about 1 hour. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate cake and remaining icing separately. Rewarm icing over very low heat until just spreadable before continuing with recipe.)

To assemble:
Mound some hulled strawberries and raspberries on right half of heart cake. Position lid atop berries at angle, moving berries around so that left edge of lid rests on left edge of cake. Tuck half of strawberries with stems, stems facing out, between cake and lid. Spread remaining icing over sides of cake where lid is attached, smoothing with spatula to create boxlike appearance.

Reserve remaining strawberries and raspberries for garnish. Refrigerate cake until icing is set, about 1 hour. (Can be assembled 12 hours ahead.)

To make Berry Compote:
Toss two 1-pint baskets strawberries with sugar and framboise in large bowl. Chill at least 1 hour or up to 6 hours. Add raspberries and toss gently.

Arrange reserved berries on platter around cake. Serve cake, spooning compote over each piece.

Ok, so I actually had a little trouble with my lid. It kind of bowed, so I would just make sure that you have a very flat surface to let it harden on, and hit the pan on the counter until it is as flat and evenly spread out as possible. I didn't use a bottom-less pan for any of this stuff, and they all turned out fine, actually, I think it made everything move a little faster as it cuts out some steps. Just grease some parchment paper before you pour the chocolate on it, and it comes out super easy!

As for the cake, I don't know how people can bake it for as long as it says to, I only baked mine for 45 minutes total, and I ended up trimming the edges off, as they were a little hard and dry, but the rest of the cake was great. I even followed a suggestion and put a cookie sheet on the bottom rack to try and deflect some of the heat. I think next time, I will cover the whole bottom of the pan and top of the cake with foil so that it doesn't get so dried out, and check it at like 35 or 40 minutes.

I also didn't use any liqueur, not that I am opposed to cooking or baking with it, as the alcohol will cook out, but I just didn't want to spend the money to be honest. I did add some lemon juice for the compote, as well as in the cake batter. The cake also calls for fresh berries, and lots of them. Well, it's February, and berries aren't exactly cheap this time of year. A half pint of raspberries was $4.99. Yeah right was I going to pay that. So, I ended up getting 1 pint each of fresh blackberries and strawberries, and then I used the berry medley from the frozen foods section at Costco for the compote and some of the assembly (minus the blueberries). I thought it turned out just fine, although I do think raspberries taste better with chocolate than blackberries. I also had some frozen strawberries that I used for the compote as well. So, no need to spend a fortune to make this cake! You can also cut costs by using semi-sweet chocolate chips, instead of fancy stuff. The Guittard white chocolate chips happened to be on sale when I bought them, so I lucked out there, but you don't HAVE to use really nice white chocolate either. It will still taste good!! But it might taste even BETTER if you do splurge on the good chocolate!

One more thing... since I used a round pan, I cut off a small portion of one side of the cake and the lid, so that it would be a little more like a box hinge. Ok, happy baking!!

Rocky Road

My hubby LOVES Rocky Road, so for his Valentine's Day treat, I made him a batch. The recipe is super easy, and pretty much foolproof, unless you burn the chocolate! The one thing I would change about this recipe is to either add more chocolate (1/2 C-1 C more) or less peanuts.

2 C Semi sweet chocolate chips
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
2 Tbs butter

Melt all that in a heavy saucepan over low heat
when melted add:

1 10.5 oz bag mini marshmallows
2 C dry roasted salted peanuts

Mix together and spread into 9x13 pan, put in fridge to chill until set.