(Happy-Go-Lucky Memoirs of a Foodie and her Husband)

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

German Chocolate Cake with Ooey-Gooey Caramely Coconut Frosting


I know, I know -- I haven’t posted here in f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  But I want to get back to it, at least once in a while; if not to share recipes and adventures with others, but also to have a record of things that I want to do again (i.e. a place to easily find them).
And away we go….
This week, on Monday night in fact, I made a German Chocolate Cake for an awesome friend’s birthday on Tuesday night.  It was only the second or third time I’d ever made a cake from scratch at home.  I had hesitated to make scratch cakes because they just aren’t the same as boxed ones, and we (the collective we of society) have become so accustomed to what comes out of those boxes that the texture, and even the color, of homemade cakes can seem….odd.  Right?  But Jason reminded me that this is what cakes are *supposed* to be like, and being a food purist/snob/=P, I realize that this is the way I should have been making cakes all along, and it’s also how I *will* make cakes from now on.  From scratch.
The recipe looks complicated at first, but it really wasn’t.  A little time-consuming?  Yes.  But totally worth it.  And like I said to the group before we cut into this thing: “It isn’t the prettiest cake, but hell if it ain’t gonna taste good; between the cake and frosting it contains almost a full pound of butter!"
I Googled as I usually do to find a recipe that I thought looked good, and settled on this one because it calls for buttermilk, which we just happened to have some leftover from making pancakes with no real ideas in sight as to how else to use it up.
The very few inconsequential changes that I made to the recipe I have marked in red.
INGREDIENTS:
  • 1 pkg.  (4 oz.) BAKER'S GERMAN'S Sweet Chocolate
  • ½ cup  water
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 2 cups  flour
  • 1 tsp.  baking soda
  • ¼ tsp.  salt
  • 1 cup  butter, softened
  • 2 cups  sugar
  • 1 tsp.  vanilla
  • 1 cup  buttermilk

DIRECTIONS:

HEAT oven to 350°F.

COVER bottoms of 3 (9-inch) -- I only used two -- round pans with waxed paper; spray sides with cooking spray. Microwave chocolate and water in large microwaveable bowl on HIGH 1-1/2 to 2 min. or until chocolate is almost melted, stirring after 1 min. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.

BEAT egg whites in small bowl with mixer on high speed until stiff peaks form; set aside. Mix flour, baking soda and salt. Beat butter and sugar in large bowl with mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolks, 1 at a time, beating well after each. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add flour mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating until well blended after each addition.

ADD egg whites; stir gently until well blended. Pour into prepared pans.

BAKE 30 min -- I had to bake mine longer because I was using fewer pans -- or until toothpick inserted in centers comes out clean. Immediately run small spatula around cakes in pans. Cool cakes in pans 15 min.; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely.

While the cakes are baking, prepare the frosting….

INGREDIENTS:
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 can  (12 oz.) evaporated milk
  •   tsp.  vanilla
  •  cups  sugar
  • ¾ cup  butter or margarine
  • 1 pkg.  (7 oz.) BAKER'S ANGEL FLAKE Coconut (2-2/3 cups)
  • 1-1/2 cups  chopped PLANTERS Pecans (I omitted the nuts due to a guest's allergy)
DIRECTIONS:
BEAT egg yolks, milk and vanilla in large saucepan with whisk until well blended. Add sugar and butter; cook on medium heat 12 min. or until thickened and golden brown, stirring constantly. (I found that I had to cook it for a lot longer than 12 minutes to get a good, thick consistency suitable for spreading as a frosting that wouldn't run off the cake.  I probably hit 25 minutes.  I also didn't stir it constantly, and alternated down to low heat during the times I wasn't actively stirring it.  But beware, it will build up hidden bubbles if you don't stir constantly, and then explode/splash very hot caramel sugar onto you when you being stirring again.)  Remove from heat.
ADD coconut and nuts; mix well. Cool to desired spreading consistency.
Finally, spread the frosting between the cake layers and onto top of cake.

This was a very heavy cake.  I was actually surprised at how literally heavy it came out, given that it seemed very fluffy (whipped egg whites) when it went into the oven.  I suppose a lot of the weight comes from the frosting.  Just beware when cutting slices -- go thin.  It's quite a substantial dessert.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Chocapocalypse Cookies, and Our Goose is Cooked


So yeah, I apparently haven't been here since October 2013.  That's what....about 4 months?  Oops.  ;)

Aaaanyways, first up is a quick update on the goose endeavor.  In October, we were planning a goose adventure.  Of course, we weren't able to cook the goose when we wanted to, but did end up doing it for Thanksgiving with a great group of friends.  We decided to go truly traditional and old fashioned, so that our Thanksgiving dinner last year consisted of roasted goose, venison stew, various veggies, and....some turkey for back up.

The review of the goose goes thusly:

  • Not as gamey as one might expect, especially considering the one we had was free-range farm raised (i.e. pretty much wild caught).
  • Basically all dark meat.
  • Not a ton of meat on it; good thing we had other proteins ready for the meal.
  • Texture-wise, it was more like veal or steak than poultry.
  • And (I think) the best thing of all -- we were able to render about 3 full cups of fat from it during the roasting process.  Which we have since been using for various purposes such as frying breakfast potatoes, roasting brussels sprouts, etc., and that's a damn yummy proposition!

AND NOW, on to the cookies!

Last night, we went to Alton Brown's Edible Inevitable Tour, which btw was awesome.  So very, very spectacularly awesome.  Hehe.  In honor of the occasion, we decided to bake one of AB's final Good Eats recipes, which in my opinion, might also be one of his most complicated (you know how AB can be sometimes):  It's called Chocapocalypse Cookies.

We followed the recipe to the letter, but I will re-post it here anyways.

INGREDIENTS

  • 6 ounces of 54-percent bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces of unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1 3/4 ounces all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 6 ounces light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 ounces of 70-percent bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 ounces of 40-percent milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 ounces of cocoa nibs
Photo by Kris Jarrett

DIRECTIONS

  1. Place the 54-percent bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened chocolate in a medium glass mixing bowl and microwave on high for two 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval. If still not smooth heat for 10 additional seconds at a time and stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to 90 degrees F, approximately 15 minutes.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt together, and set aside.
  3. Put the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until combined and looks like wet sand, about 2 minutes.
  4. Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a small bowl. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly add the egg mixture until fully incorporated. Pour in the melted chocolate and mix to combine. Stop and scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture and mix until integrated. Add the 70-percent bittersweet chocolate, 40-percent milk chocolate and the cocoa nibs and mix until combined.
  6. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 45 minutes.
  7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  8. Scoop the dough using a 1 1/4-inch-diameter disher or ice cream scoop onto parchment-lined half-sheet pans, placing 2 inches apart, 12 cookies per pan. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. Do not over-bake; the cookies may look wet and doughy.
  9. Cool the cookies on the pan for 2 minutes, then transfer on the parchment paper to a cooling rack to cool completely.

THE REVIEW

First of all, this was obviously a bit of an involved process, with all the different very specific kinds of chocolate that needed to be obtained.  But like with all recipes, as long as you do your mise en place ahead of time, it all comes together pretty smoothly.  And I did get a blister from chopping up all the big chunks of chocolate.  Lol.

Number two -- At first, we weren't sure we really liked these cookies because when they came out of the oven all hot and gooey (when cookies are usually at their very best), the cocoa nibs were still really firm and crunchy, which was kind of weird.  Other than that, they are delicious.  But after sitting for a few hours, the nibs seemed to soften up while the rest of the cookie retained it's nice cake/brownie-like texture.  Even the next day, the cookies themselves remain soft with still non-distractingly crunchy nibs.

Will we make these again?  Sure, why not.  But I might switch out the nibs for regular chocolate chips.  Another thing to consider is the cost....the four different kinds of chocolate that are needed can get a little pricey, but once in a while we have to splurge, right?  =)

I love A.B.

UPDATE, February 18 -- a full three days after making these cookies and they are still mostly soft....certainly not nearly as crunchified as you'd expect homemade cookies to be this long after being baked.  Woohoo.

SECOND UPDATE, February 19 -- I made a few more of these cookies this morning, using a small portion of the dough that I had kept in the fridge with plans of baking them for my boss.  The nibs weren't crunchy immediately upon coming out of the oven, like in the original batch.  I guess they were able to soften up just by being in the raw dough in the fridge....not necessarily needing to be baked for that softening to happen.  Neat.