Wednesday, February 23, 2011

German Chocolate Cake

As many of you know, this past weekend we had some house guests here in the T dot.  My sis surprised her boyfriend, DD, with a trip to Toronto for the weekend.  Now quite a few people I spoke with as the day approached asked, "does he WANT to come to Toronto?"  Because let's be honest Toronto in February is not the most appealing place, it's generally grey and cold and the snow is all dirty and gross.   Luckily though he had been wanting to come up here, nether he nor my sis have ever been to Toronto or Canada for that matter AND a good friend of DD's from New Zealand just moved up here.  Seeing a new place and old friends makes for a good surprise trip as far as I'm concerned and luckily DD agreed.  When she got home from work on Thursday night she handed him a card telling him to pack a bag and plan for cold weather.   Then at the airport she handed him his passport as they got into the Virgin America international line to check-in.  He was so confused and thrown by the surprise, but also excited.

So why am I telling you all of this?  What does any of this have to do with why you visit my little blog?  Well, my tag line is "food made with love for the people I love" and a birthday can't sneak by without me making a cake, cupcakes or pie. A few weeks ago as my sis was planning the trip I asked about Dave's favorite cake.  She insisted that I didn't need to do anything, but you can't stay at my house on your birthday and not get a homemade treat and I go out of my way to make sure it's your fave.  She told me that German Chocolate is his favorite.  German Chocolate Cake has never been my favorite, but I was pretty excited to make since I've never made it before and I figured that making it might change my thoughts on it. And once I found an amazing sounding recipe on David Lebovitz's site. I knew this was the one I had to make, so as last Thursday rolled around I set to work on all of the components.

German Chocolate Cake
from David Lebovitz

for the cake:
2 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate - chopped
2 oz unsweetened chocolate - chopped
6 Tbsps water
8 oz  (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup sugar
4 large eggs - separated
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk - at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract

for the filling
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
3 oz unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup pecans - toasted and finely chopped
1 1/3 cups unsweetened coconut - toasted

for the syrup
1 cup water
3/4 cup sugar
2 Tbsps dark rum

for the chocolate icing
8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate  - chopped
2 Tbsps light corn syrup
1 1/2 oz unsalted butter
1 cup heavy cream

To make the cake:
1. Butter two 9" cake pans, then line with rounds of parchment.  Preheat the oven to 350F
2. Melt both chocolates together with 6 Tbsps of water. Use either a double-boiler or a microwave. Stir until smooth, then set aside until room temperature.
3. In the bowl of an electric mixer, or by hand, beat the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the sugar until light & fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Beat in the melted chocolate, the the egg yolks, one at a time.
4. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
5. Mix half of the dry ingredients into the creamed butter mixture, then the buttermilk and the vanilla extract, then the rest of the dry ingredients.
6. In a separate metal or glass bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold sot, droopy peaks. Beat in the 1/2 cup of sugar until stiff.
7. Fold about 1/3 of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites just until there is no trace of egg white visible.
8. Divide the batter into the 2 prepared cake pans, smooth the tops, and bake for about 45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cake layers completely and while baking and cooling make filling, syrup & icing.

To make the filling:
1. Mix the cream, sugar, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Put the 3 oz of butter, salt, toasted coconut and pecans pieces in a large bowl.
2.  Heat the cream mixture and cook, stirring constantly (scraping the bottom as you stir) until the mixture begins to thicken and coats the spoon (an instant-read thermometer will read 170F)
3. Pour the hot custard immediately into the pecan coconut mixture and stir until the butter is melted. Cool completely to room temperature. (It will thicken)

To make the syrup:
1. In a small saucepan, heat the sugar and water until the sugar has melted. Remove from heat and stir in the dark rum.

To make the icing:
1. Place 8 oz of chopped chocolate in a bowl with the corn syrup and 1 1/2 oz of butter.
2. Heat the cream until is just begins to boil. Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate. Let stand one minute, then stir until smooth. Let sit until room temperature.  It will seem way too thin to ice with but let it sit for a few hours and it will thicken up nicely.

To assemble the cake:
1. Remove the cake layers from the pans and cut both layers in half horizontally using a serrated bread knife.

3.  Repeat, using the syrup to brush each layer, then spreading filling over each layer including the top.  You may want to use a toothpick to poke holes in the cake layers that were the tops of each baked cake, to help absorb the syrup.
4.  Ice the sides with the chocolate icing.  Reserve some in a piping bag to pipe the border and use the rest along the sides of the cake.  It seems like alot but it's actually the perfect amount.  I needed to refrigerate the icing to pipe the border for 30 minutes, it all depends how long you are able to let is sit and thicken.

If you got through the whole recipe you are probably thinking that it's alot of work for one cake, but please don't let it deter you.  If you like chocolate but have never been sold on the German Chocolate Cake, I promise you it's worth it to make this one.  It's so moist from the syrup and the rich chocolate icing, with the light, moist chocolate cake and then the crunch of pecan and coconut make for a perfectly balanced cake.  Time intensive yes, but a pretty fabulous birthday cake.

I love the gorgeous rusticity of it, maybe it's just the result of my subpar cake decorating skills, but I think the look works and makes to an aesthetically pleasing cake.  Even if you've never piped anything before, a large star tip and even a ziploc bag with corner cut will give you a nice little border, since this icing is soft and very forgiving.

Do you have a favorite cake or dessert for your birthday?  The Boy loves Apple Blueberry Pie and I go between Red Velvet and Carrot Cake.


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