Sunday, April 26, 2009

Brains' Chocolate-Chocolate Cake

I met my friend Brains possibly during my freshman year at Willamette (that was back in 1991), but I remember most vividly some point during my sophomore year when he showed up at our dorms looking to hide from one of his housemates. He lived in this old, 5 or 6 bedroom craftsman house off-campus that was widely known as The Asylum. All of his housemates were Willamette students at the time, and they were all a bunch of really goofy, kind of crazy, super smart guys (and maybe one girl).

The night in question, when Brains showed up at our dorm seeking asylum--haha, get it?--he told us he and one of his housemates, Jason, had got into a little fight. I can't remember how it started, but it ended with Brains shooting the fire extinguisher at Jason, locking himself in his bedroom, and Jason waving a big knife at Brains through the crack at the bottom of his door. Apparently up until the knife came out, the fight was in jest. I can't remember how Brains snuck out of the house, but somehow he made it out to live another day.

I hadn't spent much time with Brains before that, and so I was more than a little concerned about the knife and this Jason person. (Brains kept assuring me that it was all in jest, which I guess must have been true as both of them are still alive and friends today.) We became better friends as the years wore on, and especially when I moved to Portland as he was one of the three roommates I lived with at first. Knives were never a part of our friendship.

He celebrated his 39th birthday yesterday and asked me to bake him a chocolate-chocolate cake. Chocolate has always been a part of our friendship so this I was happy to do.

happy birthday Eat My Cake
brains and a different cake in 2006

April 25, 2009
Name of Cake: Chocolate-chocolate for Brains
Occasion: Brains' birthday!
Constituents: 2 9-inch layers chocolate cake filled and frosted with chocolate fudge frosting, heavily sprinkled with sprinkles

Unfortunately, I have no photos for you as my camera is in the repair shop.

But picture this: Rose's All-American Chocolate Butter Cake, made partly with golden baker's sugar and Alter Eco Unrefined Sugar. This sugar is moist and dark and beautiful. Plus it comes from the Philippines, and I like that. E. Guittard Cocoa Rouge Cocoa Powder, which gave the cake this deep red hue, and a deeply lovely full-bodied chocolate-ness. Two layers of moist, chocolaty but not overpowering, tender and light cake.

Picture also: a dark, rich, shiny chocolate buttercream made from one pound of E. Guittard 61% melted chocolate into three sticks of butter beaten with 1/2 cup powdered sugar. As if this wasn't enough, beat in 6 tablespoons of cocoa powder paste (made from equal parts cocoa powder and boiling water).

The frosting, unfortunately, hardened like a chocolate bar after a few hours. This was a great way to keep the cake from drying out, but as a filling and frosting it was a bit too much. Next time, I would at least fill the cake with something creamier. Also, I think serving it soon after frosting would be better as the frosting would be fudgy but not hard. Also, during a hot summer day this frosting would probably stay nice and soft. On a 50 degree night? Chocolate bar.

However, this didn't stop any of us partygoers, incidentally many of whom were Asylum alumni (including Jason!), from polishing off 90% of the cake and lapsing immediately into a chocolate coma.

My work is done.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Currant Scones

The winds that blew Wicked through town a few weeks ago brought another delightful treat as well: the Grant boys. My roommate is crazy awesome, but when his two brothers are around the crazy and the awesome are exponentially greater. Which means fun will be had by all.

Since the boys were staying with us, I thought I'd whip us up some scones for the weekend. This way, I could try my hand at scones, and--bonus!--I wouldn't eat them all myself. A win-win for everybody.

April 2, 2009
Name of baked good: Wicked Currant Scones
Occasion:The Grant boys are here!
Constituents: Scones, with currants

Last Christmas my sister gave me Martha Stewart's big book of baking, or whatever it is called. It is a nice primer on all the different types of baking one could get excited about. The first projects in the book are yummy things like biscuits and scones and muffins and quickbreads. As you all probably know, Martha's hallmark are her very detailed and beautiful photos. This book is no exception, especially when these yummy things are the subject. The photos of the scone dough look so tempting--and that is just the freaking dough. I was looking forward to getting my hands in such delicious dough.

Currant Scones

After I baked the Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte I pulled out the ingredients for the scones and looked over the recipe one more time. Martha's recipe wants you to freeze the dough for a few hours before baking, which I decided was totally ridiculous. I understand the desire the relax the dough and keep the butter chilled, but freezing? I checked Dorie's book and she says nothing of the sort about freezing scones before baking. She is also much warmer in tone and much more relaxed in instruction. Martha in comparison, can be kind of clinical.

So mixing the two women's styles, I precisely--yet very relaxed and nonchalantly--cut in the butter, patted out the dough, cut up the scones, and refrigerated the dough for an hour or so. I think I could have added a tad more milk as the dough was really crumbly. But no big deal.

The scones, after baking and cooling, were absolutely delicious. Again, I think a tad more milk would have been good but again, no big deal. We ate them warm, we ate them cold, we ate them with butter and tea in the morning and at midnight. They were good. I can't wait to make them again!

Currant Scones

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

A Wicked Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte

Last fall my roommate got wind of a way to see Wicked--which was coming to Portland--at a discount. He only needed to buy tickets for a group of 20 or more people. He got the word out, twenty people pledged their support, and the group tickets were purchased.

He then invited everyone over for cocktails before the show.

April 2, 2009
Name of cake: A Wicked Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte
Occasion: A Wicked Cocktail Party
Constituents: Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte with whipped cream and raspberry puree

One of our Wicked-goers was Annmarie, and as you all know, she's gluten-intolerant. So, when I decided to bake a cake for the occasion, I knew I would either have to make it gluten free or make her a little separate gluten free treat. I don't like to exclude people, let alone when there is cake involved.

I decided on RLB's Chocolate Oblivion Torte, as it was perfectly decadent enough for a night out at the theater, it was naturally gluten free, and I hadn't made it in years.

Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte

This cake is so crazy easy, and so crazy good. It has three ingredients: one pound of bittersweet chocolate, half a pound of butter, and six eggs. With so few ingredients it is imperative to use at least the best chocolate you can. I wouldn't skimp on cheap butter and eggs, either. This time I decided on Guittard's 61% bittersweet chocolate, which conveniently comes in one pound boxes. This was probably the best decision I could have made, as this cake was the best version I have baked thus far. It had an unbelievably creamy texture and a full, warm chocolate flavor that permeated every nook and cranny of my mouth. Although rich, it wasn't what I would call death-by-chocolate, and the whipped cream and tart raspberry sauce complimented the cake nicely.

Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte

The raspberry puree was simply 24 ounces of frozen raspberries defrosted in the nuker, pureed with the immersion blender with a bit of sugar to cut some of the tartness, and strained to remove the seeds. It was good times.

After filling up on egg rolls, cheese, cake and cocktails, our large party headed out for Wicked. I haven't seen many musicals live, but this one was by far my favorite. A perfectly wicked way to top off a decadent evening.

RLB's Chocolate Oblivion Torte, the recipe in PDF

Other Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Tortes on Eat My Cake: