Food: Let us eat cake
THE KITCHEN DIVA
CHOCOLATE CANDY CANE CAKE
This simple, fudgy cake is the perfect go-to dessert for the holidays.
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for pan
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for pan
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Candy Cane Icing (recipe below)
Whipped cream (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
2. Butter and flour an 8-inch round cake pan; line bottom with parchment or waxed paper.
3. Place butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl and place in the microwave on high for 20-30 seconds, watching carefully so that the chocolate doesn’t burn. Stir to combine. If the chocolate hasn’t fully melted, return bowl to microwave for another 10-20 seconds. Stir to combine, and set aside to cool 5 minutes.
4. Whisk sugar and vanilla into chocolate. Add eggs and buttermilk until combined. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, salt and baking powder until well-combined. Mix flour mixture, 1/2 cup at a time, into chocolate mixture until combined.
4. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until cake pulls away from sides and a toothpick inserted in center has a few moist crumbs clinging to it, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Cool in pan 5 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake; invert onto a wire rack (and leave inverted) to cool completely, about 1 hour.
5. Set cake on a serving platter. Tuck parchment or waxed paper under sides of cake (to keep platter clean). Pour icing onto center of cake. Use an offset spatula or dinner knife to spread evenly over the top and down the sides. Let set, about 30 minutes.
6. Sprinkle the top with crushed candies and chocolate shavings, if desired. Place remaining small candy canes on top for decoration, if desired. Let it set, about 40 minutes. Sprinkle top of each slice with crushed candies, chocolate shavings and small, whole candy canes, along with a dollop of whipped cream, if desired. Makes 8 servings.
CHOCOLATE PEPPERMINT ICING
4 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon peppermint extract
1/2 cup crushed candy canes (optional)
Chocolate shavings (optional)
8 small candy canes (optional)
Place chocolate in a medium bowl. In a small saucepan, bring heavy cream to a boil over high heat; stir in peppermint extract. Strain cream into the chocolate. Let stand 5 minutes; stir until smooth (mixture will appear oily at first.) Cool until mixture falls in ribbons when spoon is lifted, 2 to 6 minutes. Ice cake as decorated above.
When they hear the words “Christmas cake,” many people shudder and wonder how they’ll manage to choke down Aunt Geneva’s infamous fruitcake. Old fashioned as they are, though, Christmas cakes are for those of us who love the traditional foods of the holidays every bit as much as the newly invented confections. And while it’s true that some fruitcakes are hard to love, others are a glamorous and — yes — delicious offering that reflects cherished customs and flavors that have been passed down for generations.
The first Christmas cakes were created in Britain and began life as something else entirely. Around the 16th century, during the early days of Christmas, a porridge was made to which dried fruits were added. By the 1800s, with the availability of flour, eggs and sugar, that simple cereal treat transformed into something more sophisticated. Over time, bakers spun the recipes into light and dark cakes, full of dried and candied fruit, or versions containing only nuts.
The French interpretation of a Christmas cake was a fussy, beautiful bûche de Noël. The recipe differed from tradition because it didn’t contain fruit. Instead, a sponge cake filled with chocolate buttercream was rolled to look like a Yuletide log. It is still a scrumptious showstopper today.
In America, we have continued making these heritage recipes and added a few of our own. There is nothing that says “holidays” more than a striking red velvet cake; a southern lane cake, filled with candied fruit sandwiched between light fluffy layers of white cake; a moist apple cake heady with spice; or your favorite variety of coconut cake.
A cake at Christmas is a treat worthy of the holiday, whether it’s an antique recipe or a new one like my recipe for Chocolate Candy Cane Cake. Nothing says “Celebration” like a slice of Christmas cake, the perfect holiday indulgence.
Visit Angela Shelf Medearis’ website at http://www.divapro.com. To see how-to videos, recipes and much, much more, Like Angela Shelf Medearis, The Kitchen Diva! on Facebook and go to Hulu.com. Read Gina Harlow’s blog about food and gardening at http://www.peachesandprosciutto.com. Recipes may not be reprinted without permission from Angela Shelf Medearis.
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