31 August, 2011

Double Chocolate Layer Cake With Raspberry Filling

I am back :)
Lately, more and more people were asking me whether I gave up on my blog, so my bad conscience for being such a lousy blogger during this summer grew bigger and bigger...  but instead of giving you some lame excuses such as "I was just too busy with my studies" (which I actually was though) I'll try to make up for that much too long waiting period with a very special recipe:
A double chocolate layer cake filled with chocolate ganache and raspberry puree!

It was Emanuel's birthday cake this year and it was the first time for me to bake a multiple layer cake! As it turned out: it wasn't as difficult as I thought it would be! The only difficult task was to select a recipe; it almost took me 2 days to decide on this cake for his birthday which I found on Deb's blog Smitten Kitchen. I chose it for two reasons: 1) I love he loves the combination of chocolate and raspberry and 2) every recipe I ever chose from Deb's Smitten Kitchen turned out to be super good, so her blog is a very reliable resource!
This time was no different - this cake is just HEAVEN!!! The sponge is so fluffy, soft and moist that you could serve it just by itself! For those of you who don't like coffee - don't worry, it just adds some extra flavor to the sponge; neither Emanuel or I or our guests could taste a distinct coffee flavor. 

Regarding the ganache: Deb uses semisweet chocolate but I went for a combination of dark and milk chocolate since we like that a bit better. She's also using light corn syrup but I used honey instead which worked just fine.
Another little twist: since raspberries were/ are in season I opted for fresh ones but you can use frozen raspberries (same amount) as well.

I made the layers, the ganache as well as the raspberry puree the day before, so on his birthday I just had to assemble everything and put it in the fridge for a while. Comes in quite handy if you have to prepare a BBBQ (Birthday-BBQ) too!

Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as we did (and we did 3 days long) !

Double Chocolate Layer Cake With Raspberry Filling
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen who has it from Gourmet)

For the chocolate sponge/ layers
Note: I used one 26cm pan and baked 2 sponges in 2 turns.

3 ounces (85g) semisweet chocolate 
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups flour (Type 405)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (nut Dutch process)
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 tsp ground vanilla

For the ganache
Note: If you only want to use it for frosting and not for filling halve the recipe!

1 pound (approx. 454g) semisweet or milk chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp honey
1/2 stick (approx. 57g) unsalted butter

For the raspberry filling

20 ounces (approx. 567g) raspberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp cornstarch

To make the layers:

1. Preheat the oven to 150°C (it's important to let the sponge bake longer at such a low temperature because that helps to get an even surface!); grease the pan, line with wax paper and grease the wax paper.

2. Chop the chocolate, put it in a bowl and add the hot coffee. Let it stand until the chocolate is melted and stir occasionally.

3. In a large bowl sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In another bowl beat the eggs until they thicken (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer and 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Carefully add the oil, buttermilk (don't forget to shake it), vanilla and the coffee-chocolate mixture to the eggs, beat until combined well. Add the sugar mixture to the liquid and beat until just combined well.

4. Pour half of the batter in the prepared pan and put the remaining batter in the fridge. In case you are using 2 pans at the same time divide the batter evenly between them. Bake for 60 - 70 minutes or until a tester comes out clean; depending on your oven that can also take a bit longer.

5) Let them cool down completely before cutting. Wrapped in plastic they can be kept 1 day at room temperature. If you want to use it the same day, place the sponges in your freezer for about 30 minutes; that makes cutting it much easier. Use a long, serrated knife to cut each layer horizontally so it yields 4 layers. 

To make the ganache:

1. Finely chop the chocolate. In a saucepan bring the cream, sugar and honey to a boil over low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate and stir until it's melted. Cut the butter, add it and stir until it's melted.

2. You can keep it in you fridge until (at least) the next day;  I did that and simply used a water bath to get it smooth again the next morning before assembling the cake. In case you are directly using it, you will have to cool it down which works best if you stir it over a bowl of ice water. 

To make the raspberry filling:

1. Puree the raspberries in a food processor or blender. Press it through a fine-mash strainer with the back of a spoon to remove the seeds. In a small pot heat the puree with the sugar and the cornstarch until it just boils, stir constantly. It should thicken quickly then.

2. Let it cool down completely or place it in the fridge over night. 

Assemble the cake:

1. Cut each of the 2 layers horizontally (see tip above). Place strips of  wax paper on the edges of a large plate and put a bottom sponge part in the middle; so in case you spill some frosting, it doesn't land on the plate. Like this: 

2. Spread some ganache on the sponge followed by some raspberry filling. 

3. Place another layer on it; place ganache and raspberry filling on it and repeat it again until you end with the forth layer as top. 

4. Frost the cake with the remaining ganache and put it in the fridge for about 30 - 60 minutes. You can decorate it with fresh raspberries, strawberries, candles or whatever you like!


04 June, 2011

Strawberry-Rhubarb Muffins

Wow, how time flies... 2 weeks passed already since Emanuel and I had a wonderful guest from California: Swiyyah! The weather was perfect to show her our region and so we went to Freiburg in Germany (well, ok... that's where we live), Basel in Switzerland and Colmar in France. And of course we had some typical dishes for dinner such as Schnitzel, Brägele, Spätzle and white asparagus at one of our favorite places, the "Hischen" in Merzhausen.
What I enjoyed most though, was the BBQ we had with my family, friends and our dog Stella! We had tons of food... hamburgers, salad, noodle salad, bread and so on. The dessert was very simple yet really delicious: strawberry-rhubarb muffins! And I have never seen someone cutting the strawberries and rhubarb as professional as Swiyyah :)

Click here for the burger bun recipe

About 3 weeks ago I made the first batch of these muffins. It took me a while to find a recipe of which I liked the ingredients and the provided pictures of the results. There are great ones out there but my favorite ones have somehow all been gluten free and/ or vegan. And don't get me wrong, I wouldn't mind making and eating a gluten free vegan muffin but they require very special ingredients and are just more effort than making "regular" muffins. So I kept looking and eventually went with the recipe I found on cooklocal.com.  I don't regret it and made the strawberry-rhubarb muffins 4 times since. They are light and fluffy, not too flat, not too sweet. The combination of the sweet strawberries and the slight sourness of the rhubarb is just perfect. Another plus is that they are super easy to make and from start until the first bite it only takes about 40minutes. 

And feel free to play around a bit; once I used a bit less sugar and some maple syrup instead. Another time I added some white chocolate but you could also go for a dark one. 
According to the original recipe you get 18 muffins. Since my muffin tin is made for 12 muffins only, I halved the recipe but it still yielded 11 muffins. When making the whole recipe for the BBQ we had about 22 muffins instead of 18 and it might me worth mentioning that we filled the tins generously. So I don't know why it deviates but I'd say that you get 22 muffins from the whole and 11 muffins from the halved recipe. 

adapted from cooklocal.com

2 3/4 cup flour
1.5 cups brown sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg*
1 cup buttermilk
1,5 tsp ground vanilla or pulp of 1/2 vanilla pod
1/2 cup olive oil
1 (generous) cup strawberries
1 (generous) cup rhubarb

* Note: When I used half of the recipe I went with one whole egg which worked fine!
1. Preheat the oven to 205°C (400°F). Line one 12-cup muffin tin with papers if you go for half the recipe or two if you make the whole recipe.
2. In a bowl combine all the dry ingredients except the vanilla. Preferably you sieve the flour so you can avoid clumps.
3. Using another bowl, beat the egg and add the buttermilk and the vanilla. 
4. Carefully add the dry ingredients and stir until you get a smooth batter.
5. Chop the strawberries and the rhubarb in about 1/2 inch pieces and fold into the batter.
6. Fill the batter in the prepared muffin tin(s) and make sure you fill the cups generously, about 3/4 full since they don't rise as much. 
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.

02 May, 2011

Parma-Wrapped Mozzarella with Arugula Salad

Oh my, I wasn't posting since a whole month!!
Since I started my studies, there hasn't been a month as busy and stressful as April 2011. I know, it's a pretty lame excuse for not posting, but that's simply how it is. Thus, I am super happy it's May and a more relaxed time is coming up, filled with cooking and baking and sharing the results with you guys :)

Unfortunately there also wasn't time to cook and bake as much as I wanted to; actually, I didn't manage more than some pasta with vegetables for dinner. But, my loving honey took care of me and took over the cooking part during the last weeks. It was really, really delicious; thanks sweetie :*

The recipe I would like to share today is more than simple. We made it a couple of month ago when we had friends over for dinner. It contains mainly 4 ingredients and there is no need to cook anything. The Mozzarella cheese wrapped in Parma ham is a light starter that can be served any time of the year. The very mild cheese is perfectly complemented by the savory ham and the slightly sweet dried tomatoes. Frankly, it's a very delicious combination, especially together with the arugula salad. If you don't like arugula you can choose any other salad or skip the salad and just serve the parma wrapped mozzarella itself, maybe with some )homemade) bread. If you decide to skip the salad I'd suggest to mix up some of the lemon vinaigrette anyways and sprinkle it over and/or around the mozzarella.

Parma-Warpped Mozzarella with Arugula Salad
(Adapted from "So isst Italien")

Serves 4

3 mozzarella balls
500g (17.6 oz) arugula salad 
5 dried tomatoes, marinated in oil
4 slices parma ham
8 tbsp olive oil
3-4 tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
200ml (3.4 fl oz) water
Salt and Pepper

1) Drain the mozzarella cheese and cut each ball into 3 slices (cut horizontal). Trim, wash and spin-dry the arugula salad. Set aside about 430g (15 oz) and finely chop the remaining arugula. Chop the dried tomatoes.

2) Combine the chopped arugula with the chopped dried tomatoes. On a large plate or cutting board, place a slice of mozzarella in the middle of a slice of parma ham. Place some of the arugula-tomatoe-mix onto the mozzarella and season with salt and pepper. Place another slice of mozzarella on top and wrap the parma around the cheese. Place on a clean plate with seam side down. Repeat with the remaining ingredients. There will be one slice of mozzarella left for you to nibble or you can make a triple mozzarella package out of it. 
Cover the plate with the wrapped mozzarella with plastic wrap and put into the fridge for about 30 minutes.

3) Combine lemon juice, olive oil and water and season with salt and pepper. Save about 1-2 tbsp; give the rest to the washed arugula salad and mix thoroughly. If too sour, add a pinch of sugar or honey to the vinaigrette. 

4) Divide the salad into 4 plates and top each with a parma-wrapped mozzarella; sprinkle with the remaining lemon vinaigrette.