Friday, March 07, 2008

A Tale of Two Dogs

No, no, I'm not talking about these dogs...

...or even this old lady...

I'm talking about the kind of dogs you eat--more specifically, hot dogs and Devil Dogs! I am really embarrassed to post my recipe for Quesadilla Dogs, but confidentially, it may be one of my more ingenious creations, and every time I make them (only once in a blue moon, I swear!), Cyd ooh's and ahh's and says that I should post about them and share this culinary marvel with the rest of the world. It's not even a recipe, just a method of nuking and assembling. Again, I don't advocate these as a mainstay of a healthy diet, but once in awhile won't kill ya, especially on those nights when you crawl home, exhausted and demoralized by a rough work week, and you just can't face any real cooking. On those desperate occasions, this might just get you through in a pinch. I'm not sure how I originally came up with the idea, but it may be because I used to live near Chicago where they love to throw everything on a hot dog but the kitchen sink! And using tortillas probably comes from me never remembering to buy hot dog buns. ;-)

Ok, to make the infamous Quesadilla Dog, you slice up your favorite melty cheese (I like co-jack for this), and place the thin slices haphazardly all over a burrito-sized flour tortilla (I suppose that pre-shredded cheese would make this even easier, wouldn't it?). Deposit said tortilla in the microwave and nuke it for about 30 seconds, or until the cheese is mostly melted. Carefully remove the tortilla to a work surface, and then nuke two hot dogs for about 90 seconds until hot but not exploding. On the surface of the quesadilla (on top of the cheese), squirt some yellow mustard, spread on about a good tablespoon of zucchini relish (this may be the key ingredient!), a generous sprinkling of finely-chopped red onion, and some banana peppers (I like these chopped up a bit, too). Slice the tortilla in half, and roll up one hot dog on each side, weiner wrap-style. And VOILA! I give you, the Quesadilla Dog in all its trashy fabulousness! Believe you me, this is the best hot dog you'll ever eat--sweet, tangy, zesty, goopy, and all-around DEE-LICIOUS!

To extend the motif, you may wish to complete your elegant hot dog meal with a slice of homemade Devil Dog Cake. There was a recipe for this in last month's issue of Gourmet magazine, but I liked Smitten Kitchen's riff on it. She recommended that we use the wonderful chocolate cake recipe from Epicurious (circa 1999), and instead of just topping it with marshmallow frosting, we could make any manner of snack cake simulations, from something like a Hostess cupcake to a Ding Dong/King Don(g)/Ring Ding to a Devil Dog or Little Debbie Devil Square. As I was making this for Cyd who loves nothing so well as a King Dong (that's Ding Dong to those of you didn't grow up in the eastern U.S. or Canada), I decided to fill the cake with marshmallow frosting and then top it with chocolate ganache. The original recipe calls for the cake to be baked in two 10-inch pans (who has that size?), but don't be tempted to use 9-inch pans, as it will spill over. I baked mine in three 8-inch layers instead. And to get the right creme-to-cake ratio, Cyd suggested that I do each layer as a separate filled and glazed cake. What a fine idea! That way I was able make one for Cyd and one for my officemate, Lee Ann, and her sweet little girls, K and E, and keep one layer in the freezer for the next time that Cyd craves a ginormous, mutant snack cake. At least, that was my plan...until June came by my office yesterday and overheard me talking about the cake with Lee Ann and became instantly saddened at the news that I did not bring enough to share (apparently, Devil Dogs are a special weakness of hers). So what else could I do? I defrosted the last layer last night, made another half-batch of marshmallow filling and ganache, and brought the last Ding Dong Cake in for my beloved friend June today. Meanwhile, Lee Ann reported that her kids got a real kick out of the cake (even though I suppose that I should have taken the time to make the iconic white loops on top!), and that the adults licked their plates clean, too! The recipe follows...

Ding Dong Cake
(Sources: Gourmet, February 2008 and Epicurious, but mostly Smitten Kitchen)

Chocolate Cake Layers:
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut (I used Guittard bittersweet chips)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms of 2 10-inch* round cake pans with wax paper and grease paper (I prefer parchment for this).

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans (I used three 8-inch pans) and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax or parchment paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made one day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

* Note: This cake will overflow if baked in 9-inch cake pans. If you only have 9-inch pans, you might want to 2/3 the cake recipe instead, as following: 2 ounces chocolate, 1 cup coffee, 2 cups sugar, 1 2/3 cup flour, 1 cup cocoa, 1 1/3 tsp. baking soda, ½ tsp. baking powder, 2 eggs, ½ cup oil, 1 cup buttermilk, ½ tsp. vanilla, etc. and reduce the baking time by at least ten minutes.

Marshmallow, or Seven Minute Frosting:
2 large egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup light corn syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

Combine frosting ingredients with a pinch of salt in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water and beat with a handheld electric mixer at high speed until frosting is thick and fluffy, 6 to 7 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and continue to beat until slightly cooled. Mound frosting on top of cake. Dust with additional cocoa powder.

Ganache Frosting
(Used in the first and second options below)

1/2 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut (I used Guittard bittersweet chips)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 stick (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter

Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency). I found that stirring this over a bowl of ice water did a great job of cooling it off quickly and evenly. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Chilling the cake will harden the chocolate coating.

Make Your Own Hostess Cupcake, Ding Dong, Ring Ding, King Don(g) Cake: Bake two cake layers as directed. Halve one layer horizontally into two thin layers. Place the first one on a cake plate. Take the second cake and cut a large hole out of the center, about 6-inches across—you won’t be using this. As carefully as possible, place this on top of the halved cake layer on the stand. Fill the entire cut-out area with frosting, leaving a half cup aside if you wish to pipe the signature loops or a message across the top. Lay the second halved layer on top of this, sealing the filling in. Spread the ganache coating over top and sides of cake. Once ganache is firm and chilled (the fridge does a great job of this, quickly), you can decorate it with a piping bag or a makeshift one, a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off.

Make Your Own Little Debbie Devil Square Cake: Proceed as above, but bake the two layers in square cake pans.

Make Your Own Devil Dog Cake: Bake two cake layers, in an oblong or long rectangular pan (you can round the edges after you bake it) if you have. Use the frosting only between the cake layers.

Make Your Own Chocolate Layer Cake with Marshmallow Frosting and Filling: Double the frosting recipe and use it as filling and coating on a two-layer round chocolate cake. Set about one cup aside if you wish to tint it and pipe decorations on the cake, either it with a piping bag or a makeshift one, a sandwich bag with the corner snipped off.

And while we’re at it, because it is in a similar vein–Make Your Own Devil's Food White Out Cake in the style of the stunning one on the cover of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours. Halve each cake layer horizontally, creating four thin layers. Break one into small crumbs; set crumbs aside. Using a double recipe of the marshmallow frosting, spread some between each cake layer, stacking as you go, and then cover the exterior in the remainder. Press the crumbled cake crumbs into the sides of the iced cake, and just over the top of the cake in a one-inch ring.

1 comment:

Randi said...

Oh, you're killing me!! I loved DD's so much as a kid, that my dad called me Devil Dog. I'm glad they're not sold here!! I can get them in Florida when I go back to visit, but I feel so guilty when I read the pacakge that I pass them up. I might have to make this!!