my house is warm

September 22, 2009 § 2 Comments

stoutcake1

The process of moving into a new apartment is my least favourite thing in the world (with the possible exception of box-mix cakes). Cleaning, painting, and complaining have consumed much of my time recently. But now that things are shaping up, we decided to have a housewarming barbecue! Which provided an excellent opportunity to bake.

stoutcake2
Somehow I reined in my normal impulse to make wildly impractical things, and focused on recipes that were simple, delicious, and feed a crowd. I did break the rule of never cooking a new recipe for guests – but it worked out so well! Chocolate stout cake is ridiculously moist, and it’s definitely going to be one of my new standby recipes. It’s a rich but not too rich, very chocolatey bundt cake, covered in puddles of smooth ganache. It stuck horribly to the pan, so be warned. But luckily, when you cover anything in chocolate and cream, it starts to look pretty again.

blondies
My blondies also made a repeat appearance, and the other concoction was my favourite cupcakes, in miniature form for added cuteness. A while back, I carried out a search for a simple vanilla cupcake that was moist and rich without being too sweet. Eventually I stumbled across this one from Amy Sedaris, and after a couple adaptations I stopped experimenting. They’re perfect. Make them!

windowcupcake
Oh yeah, and my roommates made healthy food… sensible folk.

Honestly, I think all three of these recipes are pretty amazing. The housewarming was great, and all baked goods had vanished by the end of the night. I maybe shouldn’t trust the judgement of dozens of tipsy scientists, but I still chose to take that as a sign that everyone else agreed with my assessment.

cupcakes1
Chocolate Stout Cake – adapted from Epicurious via Smitten Kitchen

  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Ganache – adapted from Smitten Kitchen

  • 6 ounces good semisweet chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter or spray a bundt pan very, very well.

Bring 1 cup stout and 1 cup butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.

Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt in large bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine. Add flour mixture and beat briefly on slow speed. Using rubber spatula, fold batter until completely combined. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 50 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool completely in the pan, then turn cake out onto rack for drizzling ganache.

For the ganache, gently microwave the chocolate, heavy cream, and coffee until smooth and warm, stirring occasionally. Drizzle over the top of cooled cake.

Note: despite avid pan-buttering, my cake still stuck horribly. Next time I might try dusting it with cocoa powder as well. But if your cake does break, it’s still delicious!

Vanilla Cupcakes – Adapted from Amy Sedaris

Yield: 18 cupcakes or 45 mini-cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 1/4 cups milk

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat butter until smooth. Pour in sugar and beat well. Add 2 eggs and vanilla and beat well. In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, salt, flour. Add dry ingredients and milk to egg mixture and beat until combined. Pour into individual baking cups, until they are about 2/3 full. Bake until a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes for cupcakes, or around 12-15 for mini-cupcakes. Cool completely before frosting.

Note: Sometimes I burn these because I forget all my prior experience and wait for them to turn golden. Frequently these cupcakes are done before they brown, so a cake tester is the best bet.

Vanilla Buttercream

  • 1 cups (2 sticks) salted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups icing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Gradually beat in sugar, then cream and vanilla.

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