Friday, February 13, 2009

Cake & Coffee-- Inside and Out as Chocolate Cake with Caramel Frosting

I love a good, fresh brewed cup of dark roast coffee. I have inherited the fine art of coffee making from my mother, who was as German as you can get. I admit, that I'm almost "OCD" about what kind of coffee I drink, and how it's prepared. My precious cup of coffee needs to be freshly ground and brewed, please! I also drink my coffee with half and half creme, and no other substitute works for me. I cannot stand the thought of using skim milk-- the site of "green coffee" isn't appealing to me at all. I'd rather go without drinking coffee if I have to use Coffeemate... especially if it' s powdered. I'm a bit of a coffee purist-- I'm not a fan of flavored coffees. I don't want the flavor of vanilla, or caramel, or raspberry to interfere with my dark roast coffee. Can you tell how much I appreciate a fine cup of coffee?

So, when Lady JayPee, from the food Blog "Eating Etc." posted her recipe for OMG Chocolate Cupcakes with caramel frosting, she got my attention. I have learned that coffee really enhances the depth and flavor of chocolate. You can't really taste the coffee, but it is my favorite combination when I bake.

I love chocolate, but I eat it sparingly. Otherwise, I'd be in big trouble with my bathroom scale. I've been bombarded with Valentine's Day chocolate recipes, but I settled on making this recipe.
I made a little too much of my Blue Mountain coffee, and I did not want to toss it out-- so this was my perfect excuse to bake.

I grew up with Duncan Hines cake mixes and prepared frostings. Nowadays, I cannot fathom baking with either one of these "prefab" products. I admit that I have acquired a lot of baking gadgets, and I feel as though King Arthur Flour knows me by my first name (I so love their website).

Even if you are a beginning baker (I consider myself to be intermediate), this cake recipe is pretty darned fool proof. With experience, I've organized my baking pantry with all of the staples that I need. If I could share some beginner tips, I use the best quality ingredients as possible. I no longer buy cheap dutch baking cocoa, but I splurge and buy a quality Dutch baking cocoa (at either Trader Joe's or Whole Foods). I bring my ingredients to room temperature-- butter, eggs and I buy the best pure vanilla. Parchment paper, and my silpat baking mats are my best friends, as is my Kitchen Aid Stand Mixer.

I was craving chocolate, and I was in a hurry! I decided that I did not want to spent any extra time into icing cupcakes. I had just purchased a brand new 9X13 non-stick baking pan, so I decided to make a sheet cake. So, I printed the recipe and got started-- I had the cake batter in the oven within 15 minutes, it was that easy a recipe to make.

Now, the caramel frosting took more work. Browning butter can be intimidating to a beginner cook/baker, because it will burn if you don't watch it closely. I've gotten pretty practiced at this because I enjoy using browned butter for pasta dishes and also in baking cookies-- I love the "nutty" taste of it.

Making caramel has been intimidating to me, and it has been a while since I've made caramel flan. So, making the caramel sauce requires that you use care-- if you are not keeping a watchful eye, you can burn the sugar and then you might have to resort to canned frosting (I would not wish that on anyone). I wondered why I had to add water to the amber sugar (I found that the sugar turned crystallized, and finally liquified). Now, I understand! I took Lady JayPee's warning to be extremely careful-- I used an oven glove and poured water into my skillet with care. It was so worth it! The caramel sauce turned out a beautiful amber syrup.

I ended up baking my sheet cake for about 29 minutes. It turned out to be a beautiful dark brown with a wonderful aroma!

My son stood, anxiously, hovering over me (he's 6'3) waiting for me to frost the cake. I couldn't photograph the frosting, because he was totally impatient (he loves cake). It was almost my bedtime, so I ate a small piece. It tasted good, but I wanted to wait until morning to fully enjoy it with a fresh cup of brewed coffee. (Who says you can't eat cake for breakfast?!)So, this morning, I unpacked a setting from my storage. I have several sets of dishes that I inherited from my mother. In honor of my mother's love of coffee, I chose a set of dishes that must be at least 50 years old.
I have to tell you-- this cake is rich and moist and absolutely my favorite chocolate cake recipe, so far! The frosting has more of a browned butter flavor, with a hint of caramel. (Note, I used 4 Tablespoon of the caramel syrup, but I'd still like more of a caramel flavor).

I think that the next time I bake this cake (and I know I will), I'd be tempted to make a 7-minute frosting. This cake is the star of the recipe. It's fantastic!

Please try this recipe-- you won't be sorry that you did.

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Anonymous said...

I certainly enjoy your blog and look forward to reading it. On several occassions you have mentioned establishing a well-stocked kitchen and pantry. I think it would be nice if you posted what you consider essentials for the kitchen and pantry. I believe most who read your blog would enjoy such a posting and be thankful for it.

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Dear Anonymous-- first, thank you for leaving a comment! A well stocked pantry-- I'll have to work on that project! For now, suffice it to say that it was Rachael Ray (annoying prattle of hers and all) that inspired me on a lot of "basics" that I keep on hand.
To me, a well-stocked pantry means that if I see a recipe that appeals to my personal taste-- and I have all of the ingredients on hand, then I am doing a good job in how I shop.
Learning to be a foodie also means that I can easily adapt a recipe, or create one, based on what I have.
I hate throwing away leftovers, so I'm learning to make meals based on what I've got.
I WILL create a list (maybe photography) my pantry. You will laugh... it's in my garage because my kitchen is as small as a postage stamp!

Lois Carter Fay said...

You take amazing photos and I love the design of your site. Great job! I'm not sure I'd like coffee in my chocolate cake, though. My favorite chocolate cake is this one (no coffee, but still super easy):

Lois Carter Fay said...

I meant to tell you that I alphabetize my spices, too. Doesn't everyone? Or how would you find what you are looking for?

A Feast for the Eyes said...

Dear Lois, I hope you come back to read my reply to you. for some reason, your blog isn't set up to leave a comment. It asks me to log in and I'm on Blogger. You cannot taste the coffee in the cake, believe me. Coffee enhances the flavor of the coffee and it's a baker's trick that works beautifully. I'm familiar with your chocolate cake, because I made it as a sheet cake. It's otherwise known as "Texas Sheetcake" I blogged it, it's the Pioneer Woman's Best Chocolate Cake, ever! This particular recipe, though, is MY very favorite. It's moister and richer. Trust me. I think if you tried it, you'd agree!