Pastry, in particular cakes, has always been a passion of mine. What can I say about chocolate that hasn’t already been said? Chocolate is a healthy food with aphrodisiac qualities. It is great for our heart in more than a romantic way. Chocolate is great for cleaning our blood vessels. We need a high rate of blood pumping throughout our body when we exercise or make love, so we are doing our hearts a service when we help ourselves to some chocolate.
Chocolate tastes great and is prepared in multiple forms so it’s hard to imagine how any person could fail to find a taste and texture that appeals to them.
Chocolate is made from the seeds of the tree Theobroma cacao. Theobroma is Greek for “food of the gods”. The ancient Aztecs venerated the cacao tree and used its beans as a form of currency. They saw the tree as a source of strength and wealth and assigned their god Quetzalcoatl to be its guardian.
Chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins, natural body hormones that generate feelings of pleasure and well-being. Chocolate contains a natural “love drug”. Tryptophan is a chemical that the brain uses to make a neurotransmitter called serotonin. High levels of serotonin produce feelings of elation, even ecstasy – hence the name of the designer drug that also works by increasing serotonin levels.
Chocolate sponge cake
Note that two cakes (twice this recipe) are needed for this two-layer cake.
3 tbsps. clarified butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup self-raising flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
4 large eggs
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1 packet crushed walnuts
1 jar raspberry jam
1 small tub of chocolate frosting
1 packet icing sugar
2 cups of soft margarine
1/4 cup cold instant coffee
Start with the basic chocolate sponge mix. I usually use a genois – named after its place of origin, Genoa, Italy, and belonging to the family of light and airy sponge cakes. While the technique for making this batter is similar to that of a sponge cake, it differs in that it contains melted unsalted butter (or clarified butter). This produces a more-tender and flavorful sponge cake but it also makes us perform a few extra steps in making the batter.
The butter will need to be in liquid form and warm so that it won’t solidify, which can cause streaks in the batter as well as deflating it. We will also need to warm the eggs and sugar over simmering water so that the eggs reach their full potential volume when beaten. (This will help compensate for the loss in volume that occurs when the clarified butter is added.) Taking these two steps will ensure a delicate flavoured chocolate genoise.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Butter your cake tin, or spray with a vegetable spray. A nine-inch-round cake pan is recommended; line the bottom with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, combine the clarified butter with the vanilla extract. Keep the mixture warm. If needed re-warm it for a few seconds just before using. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder and set aside.
In a large heat-proof bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, heat the eggs and sugar until lukewarm to the touch. Remove from the heat and transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of your electric mixer. Beat on high speed until the mixture has cooled and tripled its original volume, and looks like softly whipped cream.
Now sift about one-third of the flour mixture over the whipped eggs and fold in using a large rubber spatula. Fold in half the remaining flour. Do not over mix or you will deflate the batter. Fold a cup of the batter into the hot butter mixture using a small spatula. When completely combined, use a spatula to fold the butter mixture completely into the rest of the egg batter. Finally, add the crushed walnuts. Pour the batter into the greased pan and smooth the surface.
Bake the cake until it shrinks slightly from the edges of the pan and the top springs back up when lightly pressed. Cool on a metal rack. Once cool, refrigerate for a minimum of three hours. You will need two sponges for this particular cake.
For the coffee icing, place all the ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk on high until light and fluffy.
Now the fun part: remove the cakes from the refrigerator and place on a clean chopping board. With a sharp knife slice each cake through the middle, producing four pieces.
Place the first piece of cake on your serving plate and smooth chocolate frosting over it, covering the cake completely. Place the second piece of cake on top and this time spread the jam over the top of the cake. Place the next piece of cake on top, and this time spread some of the coffee icing over the top of this piece. Place the remaining piece of cake on top.
You should now have a four-tier cake. Cover the cake completely with the coffee icing.
You can decorate cake as you wish. In the photo I used crushed walnuts for half the cake, making a pattern with a slot-edged spatula. Finally, I added two iced roses on top.
Once you have decorated your cake, leave it to cool and rest before cutting a large slice off and enjoying your moment.
Originally posted by Ian Leatt on http://lifestyles55.ca