Monday, March 24, 2014

The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake {Recipe}

This cake, y'all. I don't even know where to start. I guess I could start by saying that it's made with quinoa. No - don't go! I promise it's delicious. My family said they liked it better than non-gluten free chocolate cake. They are self-proclaimed "cake snobs," so that is saying something!

The quinoa is cooked and then pureed, so if you puree it enough it is undetectable. I didn't puree mine quite long enough, so there were still little tiny bits of quinoa, but it didn't bother me or my family. There is no quinoa flavor, just delicious chocolate flavor. I never would have guessed that quinoa could make such a delicious, gluten free cake.

This isn't the typical light and fluffy cake - it is super fudgy and rich. It is paired with a whipped ganache so as to not be sickeningly sweet. It's amazing. I didn't call it "ultimate" just for fun.

The Ultimate Gluten Free Chocolate Cake
{Printer Version Here}
Source: Once Upon a Tier. Adapted from Barefeet In The Kitchen.
Yields 12-14 servings

The Cake:
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup cocoa powder  (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cooked white quinoa
1/3 cup milk
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup butter, melted 

The Ganache:
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups heavy whipping cream

For the cake:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray two 9-inch cake pans generously with baking spray.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
3. Add the quinoa to a food processor and pulse until the quinoa is broken up and sticks together. Add the milk, eggs, vanilla, and butter and puree until smooth and no bits of quinoa are seen, stopping to scrape the sides of the processor occasionally. 
4. Add the quinoa mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until fully combined.
5. Pour the batter evenly into the cake pans and bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out with a few crumbs. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 10 minutes before flipping them out onto cooling racks. Let cool completely before frosting. 

For the whipped ganache:
6. Place the chocolate chips in the bowl of an electric mixer. In a small saucepan, heat the cream until it just begins to boil. Remove from the heat and pour over the chocolate chips. Whisk the cream and chocolate until the chocolate is completely melted. Refrigerate until completely chilled, at least an hour.
7. When the ganache is chilled, attach the whisk attachment to the stand mixer and whisk on high speed until soft peaks form. 

Assembling the cake:
8. Place one cake layer onto a cake plate. Spread half of the whipped ganache onto the layer. Place the other cake layer on top of the ganache. Spread the remaining ganache on top of the cake. Keep refigerated.


Rachel and my mom dug in as soon as I told them I was done taking pictures. The piece was gone in seconds.

It's seriously that good.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Chocolate Loaf Cake with a Mint Cream Cheese Swirl {Recipe}

Can I join in on the discussion about the crazy weather? I'm sure everybody is just as tired of hearing about it as they are tired of the crazy weather itself, but...come on! Like everywhere else it seems, Virginia has been freezing cold one day and warm enough to wear shorts the next. This past Tuesday was an amazing 80 degrees and today the high is 40 with a wind chill of 25 degrees. In fact, I just went to check the weather and it informed me that it is "much colder than yesterday." And it looks like they are calling for snow on Monday. Again. I have seen enough snow this winter to last me 3 winters. I think I can count on this cake to help me make it through, though.

I don't have much to say about this cake, other than it is delicious. I mean, just look at all the chocolate chips on top. It is a perfectly moist chocolate loaf cake with a delicious minty cream cheese ribbon swirled throughout it. It has a perfect balance of mint and chocolate. The mint does not overpower the chocolate, but it is definitely there.

Chocolate Loaf Cake with a Mint Cream Cheese Swirl
{Printer Version Here}
Source: Once Upon a Tier. Heavily adapted from Tutti Dolci
Yields ~12 servings

Mint Cream Cheese Swirl:
6 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 Tablespoons sour cream
4 Tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon mint extract
2 drops green food coloring (optional)

Chocolate Loaf Cake:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used dark cocoa powder)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
Chocolate chips for topping

For the Mint Cream Cheese Swirl:
1. Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese, sour cream, powdered sugar, mint extract, and food coloring (if using) until combined and smooth. Transfer to another bowl and set aside.

For the cake:
2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x4 inch loaf pan with nonstick baking spray.  

3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

4. Using an electric mixer with the paddle attachment (no need to wash the bowl or paddle from the cream cheese), beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla until combined. Add half of the flour mixture and mix on low speed until just combined. Add the sour cream and mix until combined. Add the remaining flour mixture and, once again, mix until just combined. 

5. Spread one third of the batter into the loaf pan. Drop half of the cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls onto the batter. Spread another third of the batter over the cream cheese. Drop remaining cream cheese mixture by spoonfuls. Top with remaining batter. Using a knife or skewer, swirl the batter and cream cheese together. Smooth the top with a spatula. Top with as many chocolate chips as you would like (nobody is judging). 

6. Bake for 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool completely. Slice and devour. Enjoy!     

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Quickest and Easiest Way to Fix "Broken" American Buttercream

Broken buttercream is the bane of any cake decorator's existence. Many types of buttercreams can "break," but I'm talking about good ol' American buttercream, today. American buttercream is simply a mixture of powdered sugar, butter, vanilla, and a liquid.

So, what exactly is broken buttercream?

Buttercream breaks when the fat and liquid in the recipe separate from each other. It gets chunky/beady and quite ugly. This is what it looks like (I darkened the picture quite a bit to make it easier to see):

Isn't that just ugly? Definitely not something you want to put on a cake.

When I had my first experience with broken buttercream, I turned to the internet to see if there was a way to fix it, or if I would just have to toss it. There were several options to try to fix it, but they weren't very quick or easy. Most of the options included beating the buttercream like crazy for a long time or messing with the temperature of the buttercream until it was just right. Getting the temperature just right involved either heating the buttercream or cooling it down with an ice pack...but if it went too far either way, you would have to keep messing with it. In other words, way too complicated!

So what is the quickest and easiest way to fix broken buttercream?

Add a tablespoon or two of shortening. 

That's it! Just add 1-2 tablespoons of shortening and beat for about 30 seconds. That's all it takes! The buttercream will magically come back together as the shortening recovers the balance of fat and liquid. Since it is such a small amount, the shortening does not alter the flavor of the buttercream.

Good luck!

Note: A perfectly good buttercream can also break when food coloring is added. To help prevent this from happening, stick to gel based icing colors instead of liquid based ones.