Monday, February 21, 2011

German Chocolate Cake

My first German Chocolate Cake!
Back in September, I made my first German Chocolate Cake. It was the second cake I’d ever made from scratch and it was a serious process. At the time, I didn’t have this baking blog, but I did post pictures of my “Baking Adventures” on Facebook. Actually, posting all of those pictures prompted the creation of this blog/website. Anyway, I made my first German Chocolate Cake since my cousin Shannon loves it and it was right around her birthday. But this cake joins the blog today because I made it for my friend Chanel’s birthday at the beginning of February. It’s a great birthday cake because there is so much time and love that goes into making it. :) Okay, that’s cheesy, but it really is true!

I’ve used the exact same recipe from the Joy of Cooking both times, but my first attempt was a 3 layer cake and my second was 30 cupcakes. Chanel lives by herself and I didn’t think she’d actually want that many cupcakes. Okay, she might have wanted them, but does anyone ever really need 30 cupcakes to themselves? Certainly not. Plus the Super Bowl was that weekend, and I’d be seeing Shannon…I couldn’t make German Chocolate Cake without having some for her too!

So, I embarked on a cupcake journey with a cake recipe. I thought about adjusting it to make less cupcakes, but that was a lot more work than I was interested in on a Saturday morning. There was one moment right after adding the egg white mixture to the egg yolk mixture that I thought I had made WAY too much batter. It was then that I decided to make a few oversized cupcakes with tons of frosting. Good idea, right? Nope, not so much. This recipe produces a very delicate cake. The oversized cupcakes were not sturdy and could not support themselves (kind of like a rebellious teenager ready to move out…according to my roommate). Anyway, the pieces of the cupcake that hung over the edge of the cupcake liner couldn’t handle the weight of the frosting, so I decided to cut/peel off the excess (and taste-test, obviously) and cover the blemishes with more frosting!

I feel like this recipe has a lot of preparation…whisking together the dry ingredients, separating egg whites and yolks, melting the chocolate, and beating the egg whites. It’s a lot to do, but when done well and done right, produces an exquisite cake batter. It is so light and fluffy, and absolutely delicious. I should mention that the egg whites made me really nervous. I needed to know when they reached the soft peaks stage and then when they were stiff, but not dry. I consulted a few of my baking cookbooks to help me get it just right. The Joy of Cooking said “to attempt to describe the beating of egg whites is almost as cheeky as advising how to lead a happy life. But, because the success of a dish may rest entirely on this operation, we go into it in some detail” (978). Seriously? That’s a strong statement, and it only made me worry more about the state of my egg whites!

So, from The Secrets of Baking by Sherry Yard, I share with you the following very helpful information regarding whipping egg whites:

·         Supersoft peak: barely clings to the beater; it has body, yet if you run your finger through the center of the egg whites, it barely forms a line.
·         Soft peak: just clings to the beater; if you run your finger through, it will form a line, which will then come back together.
·         Medium peak: stands up, then the end of the peak falls over ever so gently.
·         Firm peak: stands at attention the egg whites have expanded to their fullest volume.

I hope you enjoy this delectable German Chocolate Cake…whether you make it as a 3 layer cake or a ton of cupcakes, it’s the perfect treat to share the ones you love!

German Chocolate Cake
2¼ cups sifted cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 ounces sweet baking chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¾ cups sugar
4 large egg yolks
4 large egg whites
¼ teaspoon cream of tarter
¼ cup sugar

Coconut Pecan Frosting
1 cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
3 large egg yolks
½ cup unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 1/3 cups flaked sweetened dried coconut
1 1/3 cups chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350°F. For a cake, line the bottoms of three 8 x 2-inch or 9 x 2-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. For cupcakes, line cupcake pans with cupcake liners.

Whisk together sifted cake flour, baking soda, and salt until thoroughly blended.
I love my brightly colored bowls and whisk!

In a small bowl, combine finely chopped chocolate and boiling water until chocolate is melted and smooth. Stir in vanilla and set aside.
I thought the boiling water with the chopped chocolate was an interesting technique.

Beat butter until creamy (about 30 seconds). Gradually add 1¾ cups sugar and beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 4 to 6 minutes. Beat in egg yolks one at a time.
I like the color of the batter with the egg yolks.

On low speed, add the melted chocolate and beat just until incorporated.

Mmm chocolatey goodness!
Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the buttermilk in 2 parts, beating until smooth.
Adding parts 1 of 3 of the flour mixture.
And then the buttermilk!
Gorgeous, smooth, and delicious.

Using clean beaters and a clean mixing bowl, beat egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form.
Soft peaks forming...

Gradually add ¼ cup of sugar, beating on high speed, until the peaks are stiff but not dry.
Stiff, but not firm. Egg white perfection!

Use a rubber spatula to fold one fourth of the eggs whites in the egg yolk mixture. Then fold in the remaining egg whites.
There's one fourth of the egg whites ready to fold in!
And the batter is complete! Light and fluffy perfection!

Divide the batter among the cake or cupcake pans and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Times vary based on the size of the pan, approximately 15 minutes in cupcake pans, 25-30 minutes in 9-inch pans, and 30-35 minutes in 8-inch pans. Allow cakes/cupcakes to cool for 3-5 minutes in pans before cooling completely on cooling racks.
My lovely little cupcakes, waiting for the frosting!

To make the frosting, combine sugar, heavy cream, egg yolks, and butter in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened and bubbling gently around the edges.
Thick and bubbling!

Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove from heat and stir in coconut and pecans. Let cool until spreadable.
Oh how I love coconut and pecans! SO DELICIOUS!
Perfectly spreadable!

On a traditional German Chocolate Cake, the sides of the cake are left unfrosted. Use Coconut Pecan Frosting to spread between layers and over the top, leaving the sides bare.
The cupcakes I gave to Chanel, the birthday girl!
Thanks for stopping by!

<3 Buttercup

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