Friday, November 30, 2007
Almond Bliss German Chocolate Cake
I started bugging Chris months ago about what kind of cake he wanted for his birthday. I flipped through the Dorie book listing the cakes he could have from there. I suggested pie or cheesecake as cake alternatives -- whatever he wanted for his birthday, I would bake it. He finally said something about a German chocolate cake, but he didn't want the same cake that I made for our friend Ben a few months ago -- it was a good cake, he just didn't want the same one. Therefore I was thrilled last week to find this recipe sitting in my Pastry Queen book. It was a German chocolate cake, but it used almonds instead of pecans, and it wasn't the inside-out cake I had made for Ben. (that cake was also excellent and I found it on epicurious.)
As with most layer cakes this cake was a bit time consuming to make. The cake batter itself had to mix for some time and it looked just like a chocolate mousse when I was finished with it. Then I had to make the frosting... The recipe says that you have to stir the frosting for 7 to 10 minutes after tempering the eggs, and it will thicken up to a custard like consistency -- I think I must have stood over that hot stove (and I don't like stove-top work) at least 20 minutes stirring the entire time, and I was not pleased by it. The good news is that it did come together without any real problems, and it spread on the cake quite easily after it cooled for a few minutes.
Now, on to the flavor. I got a LOT of ooohs and aaahhs over this recipe. It was incredibly, intensely sweet from the dense, brownie-like cakes to the coconut, almond frosting. I used Scharfenberger 70% cocoa chocolate chopped up and melted in the cakes, and Ghiradelli 60% cocoa chocolate chips for the chunky bits. The bittersweet chocolate gave it a deep, dark chocolate twist, and of course the sugar, coconut and cream of coconut made the frosting sweet and gooey. (it also made the cake kind of hard to photograph since it looked a bit like snot -- but it tasted good and that's what I really care about.)
As usual, the Pastry Queen produced a winner.
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups sweetened cream of coconut, such as Coco Lopez
5 large egg yolks
1/4 cup sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 1/2 cups sweetened shredded coconut
To make the cake: Preheat oven to 350. Line the bottom of three 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper rounds, grease with butter, and dust with flour.
Place the chocolate in a small saucepan, pour the boiling water over, and stir until the chocolate has dissolved completely. If it doesn't dissolve completely place the pan on the stove top over low heat and stir until it does. Remove from the heat to cool.
Using a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed about 2 minutes. Add the egg yolks and beat on medium-high for 1 minutes. Stir the baking soda in the buttermilk until it dissolves. Add half of the buttermilk mixture alternately with the half of the flour, mixing on low speed after each addition. Repeat with the remaining buttermilk mixture and flour. Stir in the salt, chocolate mixture, and vanilla. Stir in the chocolate chips.
In a clean medium bowl, beat the egg whites on high speed, using a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, until soft peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the chocolate batter using a large rubber spatula.
Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Stagger the cake layers on the oven racks so that no layer is directly over another. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean. Cool the cakes on the pans for 5 minutes, then turn them out onto racks and cool completely.
To make the icing:
Arrange the almond slices on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast them fro 5 to 7 minutes, until golden brown and aromatic (watch them closely they will burn quickly.) Cool the nuts completely.
Heat the milk, cream of coconut, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat until the butter has completely melted. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks, sugar and cornstarch until smooth. Slowly pour 3 tablespoons of the hot milk mixture, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the yolk mixture, whisking briskly until the yolks have absorbed the hot liquid. (Pouring in a little of the hot liquid helps temper the eggs, which keeps them from curdling.) Slowly pour the tempered yolk mixture into the hot milk mixture still set over medium heat, whisking constantly. Continue whisking about 7 to 10 minutes, until the mixture thickens, takes on the consistency of custard, and seems thick enough to spread. Stir in the coconut and almonds. Let the icing cool for 15 minutes.
Place 1 cake layer on a serving platter and cover the top generously with frosting. Add the second and third layers, frosting the top of each. Do not frost the sides of the cake, but it's okay if some of the icing oozes out.
Wrap the cake well if you do not plan to serve it within a few hours. It can be refrigerated up to 3 days.