Thursday, July 17, 2008

Dark Chocolate Cake with Caramel Meringue Buttercream

I have no explanation for everything I do.

Case in point: two days ago I just felt like baking a chocolate cake. So I did. It was a sudden urge that I had no choice but to follow. The next day, I was a little irritated with....oh, I don't know everything, so I did the unimaginable---I made Swiss Meringue Buttercream, or as popularly known in cake websites, SMBC. The dreaded SMBC. I've always been afraid to make this buttercream but yesterday, I was angry enough and I just did it. And it came out perfectly. Good thing it did because if it hadn't, I think I would have lost it. Somebody loves me. Anyway, here are the recipes just in case one day you get angry and you need something to calm you down...make this cake.

Dark Chocolate Cake
Makes: 1, 3-layer 9inch cake

2 cups boiling water
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease 3-9 inch pans with butter or cooking spray OR you can line the bottom with parchment paper then grease that. Set aside.
(Note: This recipe can also be made with just two pans. Read below. OR, you can halve the recipe---it makes a lot.)

2. In a 2-cup Pyrex measuring glass or a medium bowl, combine the water and cocoa powder, mixing until the powder is dissolved. Let cool.

3. In a medium bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

4. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale in color and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the sides of the bowl after every addition. Add the vanilla.

5. Mix in the dry ingredients alternately with the cocoa mixture. To do this: Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the butter and mix for about 1 minute or until incorporated. Scrape the sides of the bowl. Then add 1/2 the cocoa and mix on low, about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes or until incorporated. Scrape sides of the bowl. Repeat. You should end with adding the last 1/3 of the dry ingredients.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
(Note: My oven can only accomodate 2 pans at a time. Of course, leaving the third pan out on the counter while the other two are baking can only end in disaster and tears. So, I poured 1/3 of the batter in one pan and 2/3 on the other. I placed the pan with 2/3 batter on the lower rack and the other on the upper rack. )

7. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool on wire racks.
(Note: The 1/3 pan baked for about 35 minutes and the 2/3 pan for about 50-60 minutes.)

Do not over bake the cakes! (If you like dry, burnt cakes then ignore this.)
To check for doneness: Five minutes before the cakes should be done, insert a toothpick in the middle of the cake.
If it comes out with batter, bake 5 minutes more.
If it comes out with moist crumbs, it's done.
If it comes out clean, it's overbaked. You can still eat it, though.

To make 3 layers, cut the thicker cake into 2.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Makes 8 cups

2 3/4 + 3 tablespoons (20 ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) egg whites
2 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cubed and softened
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

I used a hand mixer to make this recipe. If you have a stand mixer, good for you!

1. In a bowl, whisk together the egg whites and sugar until well mixed. Set over a pot with boiling water. Whisk constantly until all the sugar crystals are dissolved. To test: Pick up a little of the mixture (careful, it's hot!) and rub it between your thumb and forefinger. If it's smooth then you're done. If it's grainy whisk some more and put your back into it! Do not overcook. Otherwise you'll have scrambled egg whites.

2. When it's done, put the bowl on your counter and start mixing on high until the mixture forms a stiff meringue. (When you slowly raise your mixer and the meringue forms peaks that does not fall over, it's stiff. Otherwise, continue mixing.) It took me about 15-20 minutes.

3. Add the butter a few cubes at a time while mixing on low speed. After all the butter has been incorporated, mix on medium speed until fluffy.

4. Add the vanilla and beat until the buttercream is smooth and creamy. It's ready to be used.

I added about 1/2 to 3/4 cup caramel topping to my mixture.

After you refrigerate the buttercream, you will need to reconstitute it before using. Heat 1/3 of the mixtue in your microwave until warm, not melted. Whip the remaing 2/3 for about 1-2 minutes then slowly add the warm 1/3 mixture. Beat until creamy.

My dog, longingly looking at the cake.
He wants a piece but knows he can't because he's on a diet.

1 comment:

Argus Lou said...

Sweet dog, beautiful cake! I live in Switzerland, by the way, (although I'm not Swiss) so this cake caught my attention.