Sunday, March 28, 2010

Black Forest Cake Day Mix-Up

Happy National Black Forest Cake Day!!! Remember that auction I went to a couple of weeks ago? You know the one with the 400+ cookbooks. Well, one of the many, many cookbooks I won is titled The Cake Doctor by Anne Byrn.

As you probably all know by now, cake baking and I just don't agree. Oh we concur when it comes to the irresistible desire to savor the moment. It's the batter, bowls and beaters that gets us in a whirl. So, self I said, "if you want to be in harmony with baking and sanity, turn to the cake doctor." You see, The Cake Doctor "doctors" cake mixes into luscious desserts with from scratch taste. Or so the book cover states.

My intention was to share the author's many tips and tricks but it seems, not only time slipped on by, but I got a wee bit carried away baking my fool head off. As I skimmed through the book, the first recipe that tugged at my heart was a recipe for Cannoli Cake. The description didn't help matters, "Powerful flavors are at work and a simple white cake mix is once again transformed!" I justified my decision to bake up this quick and easy cake all for the sake of saving waste. I've had this container of Ricotta in the fridge for almost a week now. Every time I think to put it in the freezer for safe keeping, I hesitate and leave it in the fridge. It's almost like I'm playing Chess with the darn thing. I'm forever moving it from back to front, door to shelf, well, you get the idea. "Let's put a stop to this pawning around and use the darn thing up," I said to Marion. She gleefully agreed.

Choosing the recipe for a Black Forest Cake was not as easy. There wasn't one. Uh Oh!!! It just never occurred to me that there wouldn't be a recipe for Black Forest Cake in this "Deluxe Edition" of the Cake Doctor and I wasn't about to take a chance on actually baking it from scratch. Not today, not on National Black Forest Cake Day. What's a girl to do? Improvise! And boy did I improvise. However, I actually kept track of what I did just in case it turned out to be spectacular!!!

For the base of the cake, I chose a recipe called Incredible Melted Ice-Cream Cake. There was a method to my madness. The lack of cherries, or so I thought, but we'll get back to that later. How can a person make a Black Forest Cake without any cherries? The answer; Melted Ice Cream Cake; BECAUSE, this girl almost always has a pint of Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia in the freezer. (You see why I had no room for the ricotta:) Okay, the "Cake Doctor" did happen to mention that her family's favorite way to bake this "incredible' cake was with the same ice cream that just happened to be in my freezer.

"With cherry and chocolate pieces and the cream and the eggs in the ice cream, you need little else. Your liquid, your fat, and your flavoring are all in the melted ice cream."

I suppose the deciding factor in choosing this particular recipe was that it specifically suggested using a Bundt pan. I picked up a gently used Pampered Chef Bundt pan at a yard sale last week for $2.00 and I've been "dying" to test it out. Plus, I figured if the cherry flavor in the ice cream wasn't as decadent as I hoped, I could always fill the inside of the Bundt with cherry filling...if I had any. Well, it just so happens that Marion had a can of cherries "stashed" in her bedroom. No, I'm not kidding. It seems, she uses them when her gout is acting up:) When she heard me hemming and hawing about forgetting to pick up cherry pie filling, which is what I thought people used for Black Forest Cake, she came to my rescue with a can of cherries; pitted dark sweet cherries. I'm still not sure what kind of cherries one uses in a "real" Black Forest Cake. A quick check online seemed to mention Morels. Are pitted dark sweet cherries morels. Well, they are in my book!

When I opened the can of cherries, they sure didn't look like they were going to deck out any Black Forest Cake I was baking. The liquid was not as syrupy as I had hoped and the cherries were not as well formed as I had hoped. Since the Incredible Melted Ice-Cream Cake didn't include directions for cherry filling, I skipped around The Cake Doctor for a "prescription." On my way through the pages of the book in search of a recipe I could "doctor" up for cherry pie filling, I ran across an entire page devoted to ganache. Oh, I might as well confess, I've never made ganache on my own but, I sure do fall in love all over again each and every time it's put before me in any way shape or form. So, when I read these words, I mean really, I just had to create a way to include it in my Black Forest Cake.

"Making ganache for the first time is an eye-opening experience. You will wonder what took you so long to savor the simplicity of hot whipping cream and chopped semisweet chocolate stirred together in this mysterious and irresistible chocolate sauce...Begin with whipping (heavy) cream in a saucepan. Bring it to a boil, then remove it from the heat and pour it over chopped chocolate in a mixing bowl. Stir and add a tablespoon of liqueur, if desired."

How difficult can that be I thought. Turns out, I was stumped right from the beginning. Do you whip the cream before you heat it, I asked Marion? The directions assumed I knew. I didn't. So, I didn't whip it first which thank goodness was right; I think. Chopping chocolate is no easy task either. Of course, when I was down to my last cube, it occurred to both Marion and I that it probably would have been a heck of lot easier had I used the mini food processor John and Kyla let me borrow until I decide what new kitchen tool I want. I still don't know if it would have worked. I'm sure it would have made a heck of a lot less noise though and probably would have saved my tender wrists from excruciating pain. (I have very tender wrists but that's a whole other story:) The chocolate got chopped. But, when I poured the boiled whipping cream on it, it didn't melt. Uh Oh! Thank goodness Marion suggested I try the nuker to complete the melting process. (her words, not mine:) Thirty seconds later, ganache tucked safely in the fridge!

Incredible Melted Ice-Cream Cake
Vegetable oil for spraying the pan (I used Crisco; I was taking any chances:)
Flour for dusting the pan (Wondra here:)
1 package (18.5 ounces) plain white cake mix (I used Devil's Food:)
2 cups melted ice cream, your choice flavor
3 large eggs
Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting (I didn't use this although I was tempted:)
3 tablespoons bittersweet cocoa (my addition)
1. Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly mist a 12-cup Bundt pan with vegetable oil spray, then dust with flour (I used cocoa) Shake out excess flour. Set pan aside
2. Place the cake mix, melted ice cream, and eggs in a large mixing bowl. Blend with an electric mixer on low speed for 1 minute. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl with the rubber spatula. Increase the mixer speed to medium and beat 2 minutes more, scraping the sides down again if needed. The batter should look thick and well blended. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with the rubber spatula. Place the pan in the oven.
3. Bake the cake until it springs back when lightly pressed with your finger and just starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, 38-42 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place it on a wire rack to cool for 20 minutes. Run a long sharp knife around the edge of the cake and invert it onto a small rack, then invert it again onto a second rack so that the cake is right side up to complete cooling, 30 minutes more.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting, or another frosting that would go well with the flavor of the ice cream in the cake. Place the cake on a serving platter and frost the top of the cake with clean, smooth strokes.
Note: Store this cake in a plastic cake saver or under a glass dome at room temperature for up to a week. Or freeze it wrapped in foil for up to 6 months. Thaw the cake overnight on the counter before serving.
Ganache & Cherry Filling
Whipped Ganache:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
4 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate
Place the cream in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring. Meanwhile, place the chopped chocolate in a large mixing bowl. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Stir until the chocolate is melted. Whip on high speed with an electric mixer for a whipped ganache frosting.
Cherry Filling:
1 can (16 ounces) pitted tart red cherries (I used pitted dark sweet cherries.)
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup sugar
2-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch (boy was that difficult to measure:)
1 teaspoon almond extract (I omitted extract of any kind)
4 drops red food coloring (optional)
Drain cherries, reserving the liquid. Pour the liquid into a measuring cup. Set the cherries and liquid aside. Combine the corn syrup, sugar, and cornstarch in a small saucepan and stir. Add enough water to the reserved cherry liquid and food coloring if desired, to the saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is smooth and thickened, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the drained cherries and extract. Pour filling into a medium size bowl and place, covered, in the refrigerator to chill.
My Note: The cherry filling recipe was "borrowed" from a recipe for Mount Vernon Cake, also made from a cake mix and included on page 187 in the book.

So, What do you think?

How did it taste? Well, Marion is "scoffing" down her second piece "as we speak." As for me, I thought the cake was a bit dry. I'm thinking I baked it too long. Funny thing about me and Bundt pans, I can never tell when the cake is actually done; toothpick test or not. I baked it for the full time as stated in the recipe. The whipped ganache, was fabulous! I used it to frost the cake and added the dollops of unsweetened whipped cream on top. It worked out just fine because the delicate falvor of the ganache was not overcome by too much sweetness. The cherry filling was, to my surprise, exactly what I had hoped. Not to sweet, and amazingly enough, not to grainy. I was worried:) I also took a bit of the thickened cherry juice and with my turkey baster, poked holes in the top of the cake before I frosted it and filled it with the juice. At the time, I was trying to add a bit of cherry explosition, now, I think it added a bit of moisture, which it needed. As for the melted ice cream in the cake. Except for a tiny hint of chocolate and cherry flavoring, the taste was not as pronounced as i thought it would be. Perhaps, I should have used white cake mix as the directions suggested. All in all, personally, I liked this cake more than the Cannoli Cake. Marion, however, can't decide:)

Now, if one of us could learn how to take a decent picture, we'd be very happy campers:)

Daily Food Celebrations: Last View Days

There's more to the last week of March besides Black Forest Cake, although, I'm not sure that at this particular moment I'm as interested as most days. I have tons of cake to eat!!!

March 28

National Black Forest Cake Day (Have you seen this heavenly recipe for Natasha's Black Forest Smoothie? OH MY GOODNESS!!!
Something on a Stick Day (beats me:)

March 29

National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day
Passover is celebrated March 29, 2010* (begins at Sundown) Gefilte fish was does it symbolize?

Pearl Bailey was born today. *Pearl Bailey's Chicken

March 31

Bunsen Burner Day celebrates the birth date of German chemist Robert Wilhelm Eberhard von Bunsen who invented the Bunsen Burner. 

Enjoy National Black Forest Cake Day!!! I'll "see" you bright and early on Thursday for next month's goodies:)