My new cooking bible, on the advice of my daughter Xochitl, was to get Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. I will admit I got it mostly to humor her, (plus I was able to get it at Lowe's with The Don's card) but as soon as I leafed thru it I finally understood The Power of the Martha. I've already made several of her recipes but for now I'll focus on The Cake! Just reading the name imparts its decadence, I got so caught up with it that I made 2 of these bad boys since it makes a huge amount of ganache. One goes to the party with me and the other will impress The Don's friends over poker and tamales.
DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE WITH MINT-CHOCOLATE GANACHE
Makes one 9-inch layer cake
3 sticks butter (1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted plus more to flour pans
3/4 cup hot water
3/4 cup sour cream
3 cups cake flour, sifted
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
4 lg. eggs
1 TBS pure vanilla extract
Chocolate Mint Leaves
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter 2 9-by-2 inch round cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper, butter parchment paper also. Dust pans with cocoa powder and tap out excess. In a medium bowl, whisk cocoa with hot water until smooth. Whisk in sour cream and let cool. Into a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt, set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugar of medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating to combine after each; scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Beat in vanilla.
With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture in two parts, alternating with the cocoa mixture and beginning and ending with the flour; beat until combined.
Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth with an offset spatula. Bake until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Invert cakes onto a rack; peel off parchment. Reinvert cakes; let cool completely, top sides up.
Transfer half of Mint-Chocolate Ganache (3 1/2 cups) to the bowl of an electric mixer; save the other half for another use. (reason why I made 2, I couldn't think of what else I would use it on) Let ganache cool completely, attach bowl to mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Beat on medium speed until ganache holds soft peaks, 5 to 7 minutes.
Trim tops of cakes to level out. Put one of the layers on your workspace, I put it on a cardboard round on top of a wire rack over the sink. Spread top with 1 1/2 cups of ganache, top with remaining layer, cut side down, and spread rest of ganache over entire cake, letting it run down the sides. (easier clean up with rack over the sink) Refrigerate until set.
Transfer cake to your serving dish and garnish with Chocolate Mint Leaves.
CHOCOLATE MINT LEAVES
18 fresh mint leaves (or as many as you want or have, with our weather I was able to go pick some fresh ones from the garden)
2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, melted
Wash and dry the mint leaves, with a small brush coat the underside with chocolate and drape over the round handle of a wooden spoon. (it gives them shape) Refrigerate until set, using tweesers to hold the chocolate, glently pry the leaf away from the chocolate. Arrange chocolate leaves along with some fresh ones on top and around the bottom of your cake.
makes 7 cups, next time I would cut recipe in half.
4 cups heavy cream
2 pounds best-quality semisweet chocolate-chopped or use chips
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tsp. pure peppermint extract
In a saucepan over medium heat bring cream to a full boil. Turn off heat, add the chocolate and gently whisk until dissolved. Add corn syrup, salt and peppermint extract, stir until combined. Transfer to a clean bowl to cool.
I spent all day making both cakes, by the end of it, I along with all kitchen counters was covered in cocoa, but the results were impressive. I'll report back later with what the girls had to say.
NOTE: The cake was a success per Dana who is pregnant, Carlene who depends on chocolate for her sanity, Cheryl who knows what she's talking about since her daughter-in-law is a chef, and Belisa who is just incredibly picky and critical (it's part of her charm). Would I do it again? Yes, when I need to pull out another wow dessert. This is definitely not an every day kind of cake, too rich.
NOTE TO SELF-in the recipe, Martha says to whip the ganache until soft peaks form. I realized once I had begun this step, the whole purpose of ganache is it's silky smoothness. Next time I ignore that step.