Thursday, November 13, 2008
Finnegan's Irish Cream Cake with Caramel
It all started with this cake. I saw the cake on Peabody's site and told a coworker I would make it for the office. Who wouldn't want to make that cake? Chocolate cake, irish cream, caramel, buttercream frosting, chocolate caramel ganache... I mean, really. It's an awesome looking cake with a flavor combination that looks like a grand slam home run batted right out of the park.
But after confidently telling a coworker I would make it and bring it to work the next day I started thinking through the logistics of it all. I got off work at 6 am and I had to be back at work by 6 pm. Since I require and always try to get 8 hours of sleep (it's better for everybody that way -- trust me) that didn't leave me much time to make a cake. Much less a layer cake with a boiled sugar-style buttercream frosting and a cooked and cooled caramel ganache filling.
I tried to come up with different ways to get it all done, but in the end I realized it just wasn't going to happen. So I started looking for other chocolate and Irish cream combinations and I remembered the Finnegan's Cream Cake that I had made from my Passion for Baking book some time ago. Perfect. It had most of the flavor requirements I needed already -- chocolate and Irish cream -- and the caramel fit in because I would use caramel Irish cream instead of regular. Plus, as a bundt cake it would be far easier to get ready in the time I had then a layer cake.
As I was finishing up the cake batter though it occured to me that I might be able to up the ante a bit by making caramel chips like I did for the Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies I made last week. So I cut some caramels into pieces and swirled them into the bottom of the layer of cake batter after it was in the pan. My original plan was to do a layer in the middle, but I forgot so the caramels ended up on the bottom which was probably a good thing since they all sank to the top of the cake anyway. The good news is that the caramel layer gave it even more yummy gooey caramel goodness. The bad news is that it made the finished cake nearly impossible to cut since the caramel layer hardened up once everything had cooled.
Also, since I had major time constraints to make the cake I had to put the ganache topping onto the cake while the cake was still warm and had to take pictures before the ganache could harden up. Actually, now that I think about it, the ganache never did harden up, and I suspect that something was a bit wrong with it since it appeared cracked and grainy rather than smooth and shiny. At least it tasted good though...
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups white sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 tsps vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
2 1/2 tsps baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cup brewed warm coffee
1/3 cup Irish cream liqueur
Chocolate Cream Glaze
3/4 cup whipping cream
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup Irish cream liqueur
Preheat oven to 350. Generously grease a 12-cup Bundt pan or a 10-inch tube pan with cooking spray (preferably baking spray.)
In a mixer bowl, cream butter with both sugars. Then add eggs and vanilla. Blend on low for 1 minute until smooth. Add flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir briefly, the drizzle in coffee and Irish cream, stirring at the same time to make a smooth, somewhat loose batter.
Spoon batter into prepared pan. Bake 55 to 65 minutes, or until cake tester inserted into the middle comes out clean. (the Bundt cake pan will take a bit longer, I used a tube pan and baked mine for about 55 minutes, checking it after 50.) Cool cake well and then invert onto a serving platter.
For Chocolate Cream Glaze, bring whipping cream to a boil in a small saucepan. Add chocolate chips, reduce temp to low, and whisk to blend and melt chocolate. Add Irish cream. Remove pan from heat after one or two minutes and stir until smooth. Let cool to room temp before using.
Place cake in fridge to firm up chocolate after glazing. Once chocolate is set, dust with powdered sugar.