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.