February 16, 2010

Valentine's cake


I love Valentine's day.  I may be single but that doesn't stop me from enjoying the day.  It just means more chocolate for me. :)  This year I decided to make a ho-ho cake like my mom used to do.  This type of cake is our typical birthday cake, but when I was in middle school, my mom used to make heart shaped cupcakes every Valentine's with the same ho-ho recipe.  Me, well I hate making cupcakes so went with the heart cake instead.  The reason we call it a ho-ho cake is because it is similar to a ho-ho in that it is a dark chocolate cake with what we dubbed mock twinkie filling in the layers.  Its covered in a chocolate ganache and then we decorate it with the family icing.  It's insanely rich and chocolately and scrumdiddlyumptious .  Most of my friends could never finish a whole piece of cake it was so rich.  Me, I not only finish it, but I usually add a dollop of icing on the side because the decorations are never enough.  The icing is a family recipe but its pretty much your typical American decorator's buttercream.  Nothing too fancy but man is it good!

Obviously this cake can be made in any cake pan, I used an old heart wedding cake pan with 2 inch sides so I ended up cutting the cake in 3 layers, but two basic 8-9 inch pans each sliced in half works just as well.  (Maybe even better since thicker cakes need to bake longer resulting in a less moist cake) .... the cake is a mix.  *gasp*  I know, shame on me pastry student using a mix!  Personally I have no problem with cake mixes.  Honestly they are usually moister than scratch cakes. I grew up eating Duncan Hines, so when I want a basic cake flavor I use them and I'm not ashamed of it either.  This one was a devil's food cake with added vanilla and cocoa powder.  The water was adjusted too because of the extra dryer, but hey plain old devil's food is good all by itself. 

Cake - use a mix or make your favorite chocolate cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup white shortening
1 tsp vanilla
approximately 1 lb powdered sugar (sifted)
some water

Cream together butter and shortening about 1 minute.  Add vanilla and about a tablespoon of water.  Add powdered sugar slowly adjusting the water if it's too thick then whip.  Check your flavor and constancy.  Add more vanilla if you you feel its too plain, add more sugar if its too thin or more water if its too thick.

This recipe is really basic, and can be thinned to ice a cake or made thicker to do flowers and such.  After you've made it a a few times you get used to it and learn how to adjust it.  If you want to add color, add it before the powdered sugar to get an even mixing keeping in mind it will lighten as you add the sugar.

Mock Twinkie Filling
1 cup milk
5 Tbsp flour
1/2 cup white shortening
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt

Mix flour and milk in sauce pan over medium heat.  Whisking constantly, heat until just comes to a boil.  It will be pretty thick.  Cool to room temperature whisking every now and then to prevent a skin from forming.
Cream butter and shortening.  Add cooled milk and flour mixture, and all other ingredients.  Beat until fluffy.

I colored the filling a pale pink or you can leave it white. 

1 cup heavy cream
1 cup chocolate of your choice

Bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate that is in a heat proof bowl.  Let sit for a few minutes.  Whisk until smooth, but not too briskly or you'll add air bubbles to it.  Be gentle with your chocolate! 

I used 60% bittersweet chocolate chips because I had it on hand.  Dark chocolate works best with this recipe, but any chocolate will do.

After cake has cooled at least overnight, level your cake and cut your layers.  (you can skip the leveling if you like the old-fashioned domed look.)  Evenly divide the mock twinkie filling between the two layers.  I used a bit more on the top layer because I for some reason cannot divide in half evenly =P  wrap in plastic wrap and chill either in the freezer for about an hour or fridge for 2-4 hours.  You can skip the chilling, I just prefer to let the cake set a bit before doing the ganache.  It seems to coat the sides better for some reason.  After its done chilling, set cake on a cooling rack that is on sheet pan lined with parchment. This will catch the run off of ganache and you can save it to use for something else. Prepare the ganache.  Ladle the ganache in the center of the cake and keep adding till it begins to fall off the sides.  With an offset spatula, push the ganache to the sides so its not too thick in the center and is level.  The ganache should run off the sides evenly.  If you need more on a spot on the side, just pour it on top by that section and coax it off with the spatula.  Chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge before decorating.  You can decorate it however you like; I sprinkled red sugar around the edges before the ganache completely set.  Then I piped small hearts around and did a pearl border.  My mom used to do roses on the cupcakes, or you can leave it completely un-iced.  That's up to you!  This cake should be kept refrigerated because of the ganache and the Twinkie filling is better cold.