Arsip Tag: espresso
Of course, there was also cake. I mean, you didn’t think I’d let my better half’s 35th birthday go by without some homemade, stacked and butter-laden goodness, did you? Right, I didn’t think so.
Now, no introduction to a birthday cake for Alex would be complete without a brief tour of the cakes from years past, when there has been an Icebox Cake, a Chocolate Caramel Cheesecake, a Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake and the cake that you all liked so much, it broke the server’s back for a harrowing day or two last year, the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake. Did you sense a theme or something? There Will Be Chocolate, Like You Even Needed To Ask.
Alas, after throwing a self-catered party on Saturday night, my cake-baking ambition for Monday was just slightly diminished, not that this cake was any kind of cop-out, just perhaps not the Smith Island Cake riff (like this stunner, but with crushed peanut butter cups between the layers; yes for real) I’d been threatening for months. Besides, we’d already hit most of Alex’s favorite food groups in years past — Oreos, cheesecake and peanut butter — it was time to move onto another: coffee, and lots of it. But I didn’t want to make a mocha cake; in those, it always feels like something gets lost in them, like there’s never enough coffee or chocolate flavor. Instead, I wanted to separate the flavors out: an intensely coffee-soaked layer cake and a dark, fudgy frosting…
Did you hear me tell you that the cake was drenched in a boozy espresso syrup? How about the part with the deep chocolate frosting that comes together in ten seconds? No really, why are you still reading? If you had this in your fridge, you’d be halfway to the kitchen right now to get another slice. I know I am.
Layer Cake Tips: New to celebration cakes? Daunted by all of those layers and steps? Check out my layer cake tips post for a round-up of all of the tricks I’ve picked up over the years.
Espresso Chiffon Cake
Adapted from (what else?) Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes
Despite picking one, I actually have all sorts of biases against chiffon cakes; mostly, that they’re lovely and fluffy but dry, namely because they have just smidgens of oil or butter in them. But this one called to me. I was hoping that the lightness of the chiffon cake layers would allow the strong espresso taste to come through, and that it did, though it didn’t hurt that it was brushed with a 1:1:1 ratio syrup of sugar, rum and straight espresso [or in other words, I think I briefly forgot that I was pregnant or something. Officially the most caffeine and booze I’ve had in 34 weeks and completely worth it.] that made the cake so ridiculously moist, I will never talk smack about chiffon cakes again.
Makes an 8- or 9-inch triple-layer cake
1/4 cup (60 ml) neutral vegetable oil, such as soybean, canola or vegetable blend
6 eggs, separated
6 tablespoons (90 ml) freshly brewed espresso, cooled to room temperature (Huntsman recommends freshly-brewed over hydrating espresso powder, which she feels can be too bitter)
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups (170 grams) cake flour
1 1/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line the bottoms of three 8- or 9-inch round cake pans with rounds of parchment or waxed paper, but do not grease.
In a medium bowl, combine the oil, egg yolks, espresso and vanilla; whisk lightly to blend. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, 1 cup of the sugar, the baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Set the dry ingredients aside.
In a large mixer bowl with an electric mixture, whip the egg whites with the cream of tartar on medium-low speed until frothy. Raising the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining half cup of sugar. Continue to beat until soft peaks form; do not whip until stiff or the cake will shirk excessively upon cooling.
Add the espresso-egg yolk mixture to the dry ingredients and fold together just enough to combine. Add one-fourth of the beaten egg whites and fold them in to lighten the batter. Fold in the remainder of the whites just until no streaks remain. Divide the batter among the three prepared pans.
Bake the cakes for about 18 minutes each, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Allow to cool completely in the pans. When cooled, run a blunt knife around the edge of the pans to release the cakes. Invert onto wire racks and remove the paper liners.
To assemble the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or serving plate. Soak the cake with 1/3 cup of the Espresso Syrup (below). Spread about 1 1/3 cups of the Instant Fudge Frosting (below) evenly over the top of the layer. Repeat with the next layer, more syrup and more frosting. Finally, top with the third layer. Soak it with the remaining syrup and frost the tops and sides with the remaining frosting.
Makes one cup
1/3 cup hot, freshly brewed espresso
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup dark rum, such as Meyer’s
In a bowl, stir together the espresso and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add the rum and let cool to room temperature.
Don’t want to use rum? (I know someone will ask.) I’d swap it with water, perhaps flavored with some vanilla extract. Worried about the caffeine? Use decaf espresso.
Instant Fudge Frosting
Adapted, barely, from a Sky High recipe
Now, this is, to be honest, a fancy name for a quick buttercream but it’s got two things going for it that are worth mentioning: One, the frosting isn’t flavored with cocoa (too mild) or even good semisweet chocolate, but unsweetened chocolate. Brilliant, I tell you. I find most quick buttercreams way too sweet, and although this one still is quite sugary, the super-bitter chocolate goes a long way to mitigating it. The second thing worth mentioning is this: Did you know you can make quick buttercreams in the food processor? I had no idea, I hadn’t even considered it before. But there I was whirling everything together in ten seconds flat and I will make it no other way from now on.
Makes about 5 cups
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
4 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar (no need to sift)
3 sticks (12 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
6 tablespoons half-and-half or whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate, then process until the frosting is smooth.
Frosting tip: If your kitchen is as hot and sticky as mine is in the summer, you’ll want to watch a frosting like this carefully to make sure it doesn’t get too melty and soft. If it does, periodically put the bowl of frosting and your partially frosting cake back in the fridge to let it firm up and cool down again, then resume where you left off.
Planning to write on your cake? Whirl all of the frosting ingredients except the melted chocolate in the food processor until smooth. Set aside a half-cup of the white frosting for tinting and writing, then add the chocolate to finish making the frosting.
Cappuccino Chiffon Cake, a variation: Now, if you were with me on the espresso cake but lost interest when I got to the fudge frosting, good news! The original cake I recipe I borrowed from was actually a Cappucino Chiffon Cake — filled and frosted with whipped cream (3 cups heavy cream to
1 cup 1/3 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons vanilla, whipped until stiff peaks form) and dusted with cocoa and/or cinnamon, just like a frothy cappucino. Frankly, it sounds amazing as the light, almost foamy qualities of the chiffon cake would be matched by the almost weightless frosting and I imagine a bite on your fork would be like diving into a cappucino cloud and hey, do you think someone around here misses coffee or something?
One of my favorite desserts on this planet (yes, we’re going for High Melodrama today, also, it’s that wonderful) is affogato, which translates from Italian as “drowned.” The lucky drowner is top-notch vanilla gelato, and it is draped in a single shot of freshly-pulled espresso. I see you arching your eyebrows and you are full of questions, aren’t you? Isn’t that horribly bitter? Doesn’t it melt the ice cream? How can it be your favorite dessert if it has neither butter nor chocolate with it? All are legitimate concerns but the thing is, when it’s done right — and there really is a magical balancing point between the volume of ice cream and the amount of espresso, that is, sadly, rarely achieved — the resulting mess is a semi-slumped mound of cold and sweet vanilla cream with a trench of faintly bitter latte around it. It is the ultimate grownup dessert — sure, you get the ice cream you’ve been angling for after dinner since you were 3.5, but you also get a bracing hit of espresso, just enough to keep you up past your bedtime, you know, when all the fun begins.
Of course, we’re not going to talk about affogato today because, well, you already know how to make it now. Instead, we’re going to talk about the cups of granita di espresso con panna we fell head over heels for in Rome, which reminded me of an inversed affogato. Instead of unsweetened espresso coating sweetened creamy gelato, it’s the coffee that’s icy and sweet and the cream that’s plain and soft. The result is the same contrast of bitter versus sweet, soft versus icy that I love in affogato, but stacked in a cup that you can eat with a spoon as you wander the ancient cobblestoned center of Rome on blazing hot day when even the dapper businessman we passed along the Tiber was licking a gelato cone with the utter abandon of a kid. (Rome, you are wonderful.)
When we got home, and sadly, yes, we are back in the land of hail-able taxis and waiters that drop the check on your table as you take the first bite of dessert, this espresso granita was at the top of the list of new things I had to cook immediately, although the word “cooking” is a stretch when all you’re going to do is stir some ice around and whip a little cream. In true Roman fashion — i.e. why make things complicated if you could keep them simple — there are all of three ingredients in this dessert, and though you may wish to clutter, I mean, enhance it with vanilla extract or orange zest or a glug of Kahlua, it needs none of these things to work its magic.
Rome, Notes and Tips: I compiled all sorts of stray observations, fun things we learned, little travel tips and a list of places we ate while we were on vacation in Rome over here. Even if you’re not going to Rome anytime soon, I hope you’ll find some fun stuff to read (two words: pasta pavement!). [Notes and Tips from Rome!]
Heads Up, Google Readers! As someone has been using Google’s RSS reader from the day it launched in 2005, I’m definitely among those sad that it will be shutting down at the end of this month (i.e. less than one week from now). More than 250,000 of you subscribe to the site through Google Reader, and I think it would be a huge bummer if you missed out on everything I hope to share here this summer (popsicles! sandwich slaw! mini-pies! ribs! picnic mega-sandwiches! grilled bacon!) because of it. What can you do? 1. Google makes it very easy to download your Reader data through Google Takeout and all alternative readers make it a cinch to upload this file to import your settings. 2. But why fuss? Two alternative readers I’ve been checking out since the announcement was made, Bloglovin‘ and Feedly, make it even easier, letting you skip this step entirely by prompting you to ask if it can import your Google Reader feeds the moment you set up an account. Both are so gorgeous and intuitive to use, you won’t be missing your retired Reader for a minute.
[If you’re all “What’s an RSS reader?” right now — hi, mom! — they basically work like magazine indexes of every single website you like to read, letting you know when they’ve got something new to read, and giving you either partial or full previews to read, depending on what the publisher has chosen. What I love about these is that I only have to go to one page to find out what’s new on my favorite sites, and never have to click-reload-tap feet multiple times a day, waiting for a site to update. Because you know, some sites don’t update as often as they should. Not that we know any like that. (Cough!)]
One year ago: Chocolate Swirl Buns and Cold Rice Noodles with Peanut-Lime Chicken (still a favorite!)
Two years ago: Rich Homemade Ricotta and Linguine with Pea Pesto
Three years ago: Crushed Peas with Smoky Sesame Dressing and Chocolate Doughnut Holes
Four years ago: Spanikopita Triangles and Neapolitan Cake
Five years ago: 10 Paths to Painless Pizza-Making and Pistachio Petit-Four Cake
Six years ago: Fideos with Favas and Red Peppers and Strawberry Tart
Espresso Granita with Whipped Cream [Granita di Espresso con Panna]
Inspired by Tazza d’Oro, Roma, Italy
2 cups freshly-brewed espresso (from about 14 single shots or 7 doubles)
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup heavy cream
When espresso is still hot, stir in sugar. Chill espresso in fridge until completely cold. This will immensely speed up the time it takes to freeze. Once cold, pour into a large, wide baking dish; I’d recommend something ceramic, glass or enameled over a metal-surfaced baking pan. If you’re me, clear your horribly overstuffed freezer of things that can survive outside of it for a few hours. Place dish in now-cleared freezer and freeze for one hour, then remove the mixture and scrape with two forks to break up the ice. (Your freezing time will vary, depending on the temperature and muscle of your freezer.) Return to the freezer and freeze until solid, about 2 to 3 hours, scraping it again with forks every 30 minutes or so.
To serve, whip cream to soft peaks; estimate 2 tablespoons unwhipped cream per serving so you don’t have to make too much at at ime. Place one spoonful in the bottom of a small glass. Scoop granita on top. Top with a much larger tuft of cream. Eat with a spoon on a hot day.