Good Thing: Yellow Cake with Ganache
16 November 2006
When I began this blog I swore that I wouldn't ever start a post by saying something like, wow! It's been a LONG TIME since I blogged here! Have you MISSED me? I bet you have. GEE. Here's a new post then. Chomp away.
No, I don't like that approach - it presumes that thousands of people have been waiting with bated breath for my next meandering post, and we all know that there are actually only about 8 of you. Well, maybe less, if you include the multiple times my mother checks for something new.
So, this is not an apology for not posting in two weeks; I will presume no such vast readership as to make that necessary. I have been pretty busy posting over at The Kitchen anyway. One of the things I posted there this week was a recipe for plain yellow cake. I take a strong stand against boxed cake mixes, as I think they tend to taste musty. They also are way too sweet and have no depth of flavor. So say I.
This cake, on the other hand, is a snap to whip up. I timed myself, and it only took me 12 minutes. And that was only because I dropped an egg, a whole egg with shell still attached, into the mixer bowl with the beaters running, and I had to stop and painstakingly pick OUT EVERY BIT. With my fingers. Hopefully no one who ate the cake will read that. I think I got it all out. Anyway, that's why it took so long. Otherwise, 8 minutes tops from bowl to oven.
This cake proves Betty Crocker's classic status once again. It's incredibly tender and moist, even two days later. It is SO moist. I can't believe such a quick one-bowl cake tastes like this. I have a thing for yellow cakes with chocolate frosting - the simple things are the best, I think. Once you've tried this cake I don't think you will want to go back to a mix.
I covered it with a simple dark chocolate ganache and took it to the office for a birthday, where it was officially dubbed a Very Good Thing. Which is good, because otherwise I would have eaten it all myself.
Go to Apartment Therapy for the cake recipe.
7 oz. good quality chocolate
1 cup cream
1 tablespoon corn syrup
1 tablespoon liquor, like brandy or rum (optional)
Chop the chocolate fine and have it ready in a heatproof bowl or measuring glass. Heat the cream over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, then pour it over the chocolate. Add the corn syrup and whisk briskly until everything is smooth. Whisk in the liquor.
Pour this immediately over the top of the cake layers, then put the rest in the fridge and let the ganache firm up until it's a spreadable consistency. Then use a spatula to spread it on the sides of the cake.
Holiday Twists: Pumpkin-Coconut Ice Cream
3 November 2006
One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to dream up new ways to use the obligatory foods of the holiday season. There's something gratifying and even transgressive in departing from the traditional recipes and finding new ways to prepare pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, bread stuffing and cranberries.
I neglect to mention turkey, as I am one of those people who think turkey's only redeeming service is to offer up giblets and a warm gaping cavity to the creation of excellent stuffing.
My family is sharply divided over the giblet question; I mark the good Thanksgivings by the happy occasions when my grandmother is fully in charge and the giblets are safely nestled in a stuffing of excellent character. Otherwise, turkey - eh. It's just so damn big. If a leg of lamb had giblets and a cavity for stuffing, I'd be having that every year instead.
Pumpkin is easier. I like pumpkin. It's orange and rich and good for you. Last year I discovered that the trick to really good pumpkin pie is to use a thick graham cracker crust. The pumpkin filling soaks in halfway and you end up with a three-layer pie that is suffused with the taste of sugar, butter, graham crackers and pumpkin. It's the best.
But that's stilll pumpkin pie. Very traditional. Here's another way to use up all the innards of your Halloween pumpkins - roasted, pureed and stored in your freezer in neat little 1-cup baggies. (Right? Of course right.)
This ice cream is a rich, sweet way to get your pumpkin without making a pie. The egg yolks make it velvety smooth and the cream of coconut balances the earthy pumpkin with a tropical sweetness. To keep things fairly traditional, taste-wise, serve with spicy gingersnaps at the end of a Thanksgiving meal. Or twist it up even more and serve in small scoops side by side with a sage and gin sorbet, garnished with a twist of lime!
4 egg yolks
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 can coconut cream (not coconut milk - Coco Lopez, found with the drink mixers)
1 cup cream
1 cup half and half (or whole milk)
Whisk the egg yolks in a medium saucepan with sugar, salt and spices. Whip them until yellow and lightened in texture and volume. Whisk in the pumpkin.
Stir in the can of Coco Lopez. Add to the yolks. Whisk thoroughly then whisk in cream and half/half.
Put over medium low heat and cook, stirring constantly, for 10-15 minutes. Do not let it boil. Stir until temperature is 175-180ºF. Remove from heat and strain into a bowl.
Refrigerate for four hours or overnight, then freeze in your ice cream maker. Store for up to two weeks, tightly covered with a double layer of plastic wrap or foil underneath the lid of the container.