It was my husbands best friends birthday this past Saturday. He moved to BC last year, but travels for business quite frequently and luckily stays with us at our house every 6 weeks or so. My hubby is very happy when he has his bud to play with. Oh, and the weather here- wow- you would think it was still the middle of summer. They got to play golf together, which for them is like little girls getting to play Barbie’s. It also happened to be his birthday. While he said he wanted to just lay low, I wanted to make a special birthday dinner. It started out with just us and morphed overnight into 7 people.
I saw a recipe for sweet corn ravioli on Lisa’s blog parsley, sage , dessert, and line drives that I kept meaning to try, and this was the perfect occasion. I added some saffron to my pasta dough, and instead of cherry tomatoes to finish, I slow roasted some plum tomatoes and then rehydrated them with water and balsamic vinegar then whirled it up in the mini processor. It was really super and I highly recommend you going over to her sight and getting the recipe.
Moving on the dessert… Last month I was looking at another great site (I am always inspired by other people and their creativity), Barbara Bakes, and she posted the Hershey’s “perfectly chocolate” chocolate cake. I thought “really??”. I’m not such a big fan of Hershey’s, but Barb raved about it so it went on the ever-growing “to bake” list. When I realized I would be needing a birthday cake (and a celebration cake for my 100th post!!!!), I thought of this one. The one big change I made was that I didn’t use Hershey’s cocoa (sorry) …and adjusted a few other things… It is super easy to put together and reminded me very much of my favorite blackout cake. Looking at it I thought it could use a little color such as raspberries on top but one of our guests was allergic to fruit so I left it as an elegant black and white cake.
For the center I chose a cream cheese cake filling and finally wrapped the whole thing in chocolate.
The cake is so moist it would be great served on its own.The cream cheese filling was light and not too sweet and played off nicely with the hard chocolate shell.
“Perfectly Chocolate” Chocolate Cake
1 3/4 Cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 Cups all-purpose flour
3/4 Cup cocoa powder (I use 1/4 C black cocoa and 1/2 c Rodelle dutch dark cocoa)
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 Cup flavorless oil (such as canola)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 Cup boiling water
Preheat your oven to 350F. Line three 6 inch cake pans (which is what I did) or two 9 inch round pans with parchment paper.
Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
Add the eggs, milk, oil, vanilla, and espresso powder; beat on medium speed for 2 minutes or by hand for 4 minutes. Carefully stir in the boiling water (by hand) and mix until fully incorporated. The batter will be quite thin. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared cake pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. cool for 15 minutes before removing from the cake pans. Let cool completely on a cooling rack.
Cream Cheesecake Filling
4 egg yolks
1 Cup granulated sugar
1 Cup whole milk
2 vanilla beans, split and seeds scraped
2 envelopes unflavored gelatin or 7 gelatin leaves
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1 Cup small curd cottage cheese
2 cups heavy cream (32-36%)
Place the sugar, milk, vanilla bean seeds, and pods in heavy medium-sized pot. Heat over medium heat stirring occasionally until the sugar is dissolved and it is steaming. Meanwhile, place the 4 egg yolks in a bowl and whisk to combine. When the milk is hot, pour some into the yolks, whisking constantly, to temper the egg yolks. Pour the egg mixture back into the pot and stir continuously over a low for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil or you will end up with scrambled eggs! Take out the vanilla bean pods (you can rinse these off, dry them, then add to your sugar bowl). Strain through a fine sieve. Set aside for the moment.
Add the powdered gelatin to 1/4 C warm water and let sit for 5 minutes. Place the custard back over low heat, add the gelatin, stirring briskly, until all of the gelatin is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
Beat the cream cheese and cottage cheese until very smooth. Gradually add the warm gelatin/custard mixture, beating constantly, until smooth and creamy. Let cool to room temperature.
Beat the heavy cream until firm, Fold the whipped cream into the cheese mixture with wire wisk.
Line the inside of a springform pan with parchment paper or acetate. Place one layer of cake in the bottom of the pan. Pour a layer of the cheese mixture over top, about 1/2 inch thick. Repeat two more times. Place in the fridge for at least 2 hours to set up.
Remove the sides of the pan and slip out the cake. Peel off the parchment paper/acetate. Cut a separate piece of parchment/acetate, measuring the diameter and the height (I like to go 1/2 inch higher). Lay this down over a larger piece of paper or foil. Melt semi-sweet chocolate and carefully spread over the measured piece of paper. It’s okay if some goes over the edges. Pick up one corner and carefully pick up the whole measured piece and wrap it around the cake, pressing lightly to adhere. immediately place in the fridge to harden the chocolate.
When ready to serve, gently peel off the parchment paper/acetate to reveal a beautiful shiny coat of chocolate! Enjoy.