Merry Christmas Y’all!
Its been a hectic December. In a good way. After a baking hiatus of six months, one of the first things I did when I landed in Delhi in early December was to fish out my copy of Dorie Greenspan’s “Baking – From my Home to Yours”. And then pored over the pages in absolute bliss. It soon turned out to be a month of baking excesses.
When I was back in Bangalore, a colleague approached me with the idea of jointly setting up a food stall at a Christmas fete. My mind churned out several ideas over a week, finally settling on cupcakes. So while my friend decided on cooking up Roti John (a Singapore/Malay brekkie favorite, more on that later) and spicy chicken wings and serving them fresh off a griddle, I settled on 3 kinds of cupcakes – German chocolate, chocolate with chocolate butter-cream frosting and vanilla with strawberry butter-cream frosting.
The fete turned out to be more than fun, a lesson in baking and cooking. We landed up learning and un-learing quite a lot.
A few things that we learnt after some spillage, a little mess and some nail biting moments watching several batches of cupcakes rising in the oven:
- Always keep an entire counter ready when you decide to bake in large quantities. Baking is messy, takes up several ingredients and the more the counter space you can put aside, the better
- Prepare the wet and dry ingredients separately in separate pans/bowls and whisk in the dry ingredients to the wet gently and in small batches, to avoid lumps in the batter. Yeah, baking is a lesson in patience.
- Make sure you sieve dry ingredients (baking powder/soda and flour) together to avoid lumps.
- Eggs should always be used at room temperature, and if adding to a heated liquid (such as melted chocolate, melted butter, etc) bring the liquid to room temperature
After a very successful Christmas fete (with the cupcakes selling out within an hour, whooopee!), we fast forward to a week later, when Christmas takes center stage.
We made this chocolate cake at home with chocolate liqueur ganache, making the cake from the same recipe I used for the chocolate cupcakes.
It is a dense, rich cake, with 3 chocolate ingredients – cocoa, dark chocolate and chocolate liqueur. If you’re the kind that can handle that much chocolate, then you and me will definitely get along very well!
Triple Chocolate Christmas Cake
For the cake:
Butter (unsalted), cut in pieces – 225 gms
Semi sweet chocolate, chopped – 110 gms (I used Cadbury Bournville, 40% cocoa)
Cocoa powder – 1 cup
All purpose flour (maida) – 1.75 cup
Baking powder – 1.5 tsp
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Eggs (medium size) – 4
Powdered sugar – 1 cup
Brown sugar (demura sugar) – 1/2 cup
Pure vanilla extract – 2 tsp
Fresh cream – 1 cup (I used Amul cream, 25% fat)
For the ganache:
Semi sweet chocolate, chopped – 80 gms
Fresh cream – 1 cup
Chocolate liqueur – 1/2 cup
Powdered sugar – 1/2 cup
Prepare the cake:
1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F (177 C). Prepare a 6″X6″ cake pan by coating with butter and dust with flour (alternatively use a good quality baking spray, I use Dr. Oetker). Pre-heat for 15 minutes, before placing the batter in the prepared pan.
2. Combine butter, chocolate, and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and combined. (Alternately, you can microwave the mixture at 50% power, stirring every 30 seconds until completely melted.) Set aside to cool until just warm to the touch.
3. Whisk flour, baking soda, and baking powder in small bowl to combine.
4. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla, and salt until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in cream until combined, then sift remaining flour mixture over and whisk until batter is homogeneous and thick.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, in about 30-35 minutes.
6. Cool cakes in pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes.
Preparing the ganache:
Heat the cream, chocolate, liqueur and sugar in a double boiler (place a heavy bottom pan with water on the stove and place a dry pan over the simmering water with the ingredients in the pan to melt). Stir the ganache while it cooks. Take it off the heat in around 10 minutes, until evenly combined.
Preparing the cake:
Carefully slice the cake into two, and spread half of the ganache with a rubber spatula over the surface and sides. Sandwich and spread over the top to coat evenly.
You can decorate the cake with ready-made colored marzipan, by rolling it and shaping it into mistletoe.