Monday, October 28, 2013

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to me and to June!

My birthday was Saturday, and I enjoyed a whole celebratory weekend! It began with a noontime party at work on Friday with my colleagues, a lovely dinner out with friends Friday night, and then a whole day in Burlington (VT) on Saturday visiting the farmer's market and the arts and crafts and antique shows at the Expo. Just perfect!

My dear friend June's birthday is just two days after mine, and I sometimes feel like I get celebrated too much and she, too little. So I wanted to make her a very special birthday cake to prove to her how glad I am that she was born!

On the most recent episode of The Pioneer Woman's show on Food Network, and she made something with her famous Texas sheet cake that she called Chocolate Devils. They looked sort of like Ding Dongs, two rounds of chocolate cake with a thick white filling, glazed on top with ganache and topped with maraschino cherries.

This sounded like the sort of thing that June would LOVE, as she adores the chocolate-cherry combination, but I wanted to rework it into a layered birthday cake and pump up the cherry component. My kitchen floor is uneven, so the layers always come out a little lopsided, and the sides looked like they've been spackled with chocolate 'cuz I suck at frosting/decorating. But I know it tasted good, and I do believe that the birthday girl loved it! (And it's the thought that counts, or so my momma always told me.)

Chocolate Devil Cake
(Source: adapted from The Pioneer Woman)

Cake Layers:
Baking spray with flour added 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
4 heaping tablespoons cocoa
1 cup cola (or water)
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs, beaten
Cherry-Vanilla Filling:
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 sticks (1 cup) butter
1 cup granulated sugar (not powdered sugar!)
1 jar maraschino cherries, drained and chopped

3 cups heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla
24 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
1 jar maraschino cherries
For the cake layers: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray three 9-inch cake pans with flour-added baking spray.

In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, granulated sugar and salt. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Add the cocoa to the butter and stir together. Add one cup cola (or boiling water) to the pan and then allow the mixture to boil for 30 seconds. Pour over the flour mixture, and stir lightly to cool.

Pour the buttermilk into a bowl and add the baking soda, vanilla and beaten eggs. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the butter/flour mixture. Pour into the prepared cake pans and bake for 20 minutes. Cool the cake layers completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate to make sure there is no warmth to the cakes at all. (The frosting is so light and fluffy, the coolness will help keep it all together.)

For the filling: In a small saucepan, whisk the flour into the milk and heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens. You want it to be very thick--thicker than cake mix, more like a brownie mix. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. If in a hurry, place the saucepan over ice in the sink for about ten minutes or so until the mixture cools. It must be completely cool before you use it in the next step. Stir in the vanilla and almond extracts.

While the mixture is cooling, cream the butter and granulated sugar together until light and fluffy. You don't want any sugar graininess left. Then add the completely cooled milk/flour mixture and beat the living daylights out of it. If it looks separated, you haven't beaten it enough! Beat it until it all combines and resembles whipped cream, then gently fold in the chopped cherries by hand. 

For the ganache: Heat the cream until very hot. Add the vanilla, and then pour over the chocolate pieces. Stir to completely melt. Spread two of the cooled cake layers with ganache and return to the fridge to let the ganache set up.

To assemble: Place one cake layer (glazed with ganache) on a cake plate, ganache side up. Spread on half of the cherry-vanilla filling. Place a second layer (again, ganache side up) on top of that. Spread on the rest of the filling. Top with the last layer of (unglazed) cake. Using a ladle, pour ganache over the top of cake, allowing the chocolate to run over the sides. Place cherries on top in a decorative pattern. Chill the cake until ready to serve.

No comments: