February 15, 2010
For Valentine's Day this year instead of going out to dinner the boyfriend and I decided on a nice homecooked meal. I love dressing up and going to restaurants but with the prices most places charge Valentine's weekend, it's nearly impossible to go on a college student's budget. I also had an exam this morning worth 25% of my grade so a low-key night was in order. We went to Fresh Market and bought two bacon-wrapped filet mignons which he cooked in french onion soup with portabello mushrooms, my favorites. I'm really pretty awful at cooking meat, something about the risks involved with undercooking always leaves me feeling the need to completely overcook anything I attempt to make. The odd part about this is that I always like things undercooked anyways, anything above medium rare is going to disappoint me so I'm not sure why I worry so much about the cooking process. Anyway, he made the filets wonderfully and they tasted amazing. Filet mignon by itself is great, the soup and mushrooms bumped it up a giant notch. I made homemade mashed potatoes with caramelized onions and garlic, asparagus wrapped in phyllo dough, and french bread brushed with an olive oil and herb blend.
For dessert I wasn't sure what I would make. He's got lots of favorites but I always like to try new recipes so I picked this chocolate cake with espresso buttercream. Like I've said before, you can tell a lot about a recipe by the way the person cooking describes it. Jamie from My Baking Addiction raved about this cake even saying, "it may seriously be the absolute best cake I have ever made." The cake did turn out really well. Although mine didn't look quite as pretty as hers, it was delicious. I loved the espresso buttercream and the basic ganache was tasty as always. I will definitely be making this cake again, it's not "the best cake I've ever made" but it's pretty darn good and was a perfect Valentine's Day dessert.
Chocolate Cake with Espresso Buttercream
Recipe from My Baking Addiction
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
3/4 cup milk
6 tablespoons canola oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup very hot water
4 large egg yolks
3/4 cup sugar
2 sticks unsalted butter , softened
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon very hot water
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate , chopped (I used semisweet)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter , softened and diced
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15 1/2″ x 10 1/2″ jelly-roll pan with parchment paper; spray paper with nonstick cooking spray.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt at medium speed until blended. In another bowl, whisk eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Gradually beat egg mixture into flour mixture, about 5 minutes. Shift mixer to low speed; add hot water until blended. Pour batter into pan. Bake until toothpick comes out of the center clean, 20 to 25 minutes. Cool cake completely.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat egg yolks at medium speed until they become lemon colored and ribbon like when beaters are lifted, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine sugar and 1/4 cup water. Cook over medium-low heat, swirling pan occasionally, until sugar completely dissolves and syrup just comes to a boil. Increase heat to high; boil syrup until it registers 238°F on a candy thermometer. With the mixer on medium speed, immediately add syrup to beaten egg yolks in a thin, steady stream. Beat mixture until it cools to room temperature and is light and fluffy, about 10 minutes. Gradually add butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until completely incorporated. In a cup, dissolve espresso powder in hot water; beat into buttercream.
In a large bowl, combine chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan, heat cream and sugar over medium-high flame, stirring occasionally, until small bubbles appear around edge of pan. Pour hot cream over chocolate; stir until chocolate and butter melt and mixture is completely smooth. Cool, stirring occasionally, until thickened but not pasty, about 15 minutes.
Invert cake onto a large wire rack; peel off parchment paper. Invert cake again onto a large cutting board. With a serrated knife, cut cake into equal thirds.
Set a large wire rack over a sheet of waxed paper. Arrange one cake layer on rack; spread half of buttercream evenly over top. Add another cake layer; spread top with remaining buttercream. Place remaining cake layer on top.
Pour ganache over top of cake, spreading with a spatula so it coats the sides. If ganache does not cover sides completely, pour any excess that has collected on the waxed paper back into bowl and spread again. Refrigerate cake until ganache sets, about 1 hour. Use two large spatulas to transfer cake onto a serving plate.
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