Monday, September 15, 2014

Give in and indulge, give me chocolate!

After a heady few weeks of continuous cholesteral-busting mooncakes celebrating the Mid-Autumn Festival's full moon, a detox is in order.

> More summer treats    
- A summer carousel
Awesome ways to use beer
- Desserts for a hot day
- Color me happy, it's 2014!
- Ombre swirl cookies
- Sweet, sweet strawberries
- Summer day out on the golf course

But because I'm greedy and itching for some good chocolate, I decide to ditch good sense and take the path of indulgence instead.

'Indulgence' (noun): Liberal or tolerant treatment

Yep, that about sums it up.

So gingerly (guiltily... same thing) edging my gym shoes under the shoe cabinet, I reach for my valrhona chocolate and stealthily cart my Kitchenaid onto the kitchen table.

Let the indulgence begin!
> Another indulgent treat: Rich red velvet cake

This is truly a freeform cake. 

Embellish as much or as little as you like, go all out or cut back like a good girl.

All up to you.
All depending on how indulgent you want to be.

Start off by building the layers. 

Bake up some good chocolate cake (Martha Stewart's amazing recipe here), and while it's cooling off, get the frosting going.

> More chocolate goodness

I've been on the hunt for a good buttercream recipe for a while, and I think I may have finally found THE ONE from the amazing I Am Baker.

My issue with most buttercream recipes is the cloying sweetness it usually involves. 
I treasure my teeth - that's all I'm sayin.

But this recipe has the right balance of stiffness (for piping), and tastes absolutely heavenly. 
I mean, serious pillowy silken-ess.

The very first buttercream recipe that I actually enjoy eating by the spoonfuls, on its own. 

I'm in love.

Spend some time whipping up the egg whites (5-6 min) till they reach a fluffy almost-whipped-cream firmness. That's key.

I also prefer using the double broiler method for melting the chocolate, gives a more uniform heating and no lumps in your mixture. The microwave method works better when you're working with very small amounts, like in cake pops.

After that, freeform as you like assembling the cake.

I'm on an indulgence spree, so I nestle chocolate chips between chocolate frosting layers.

Time to ramp things up.

Enter stage left: Chocolate ganache. 

Any and everything tastes good with ganache. It's a synch to make, and you need just  3 basic ingredients which you'll probably have in the kitchen anyways. 

Let it cool to the right pouring consistency (just a couple of minutes after taking it off the stove), and work fairly quickly drizzling it down the sides of the cake before it starts solidifying. 

I find the best way to do this is to start pouring onto the middle of the cake and slowly edge your way out. 

Use a spatula to guide the ganache down the sides, tilt the cake as needed to encourage 'lava flow'. Just make sure you hold on tight to the cake, I've had a couple of butterfinger slip ups and the cake came crashing down arghhh.


And because we're on a rampage, we need more chocolate.

Enter stage right: Gold chocolate rocks that go round the cake border, chocolate buttercream from earlier that gets piped onto the top.

Each buttercream rosette is crowned with a chocolate malt ball, and I could have stopped right there and we'd have a perfectly scrumptious cake.

But we're in the mood for indulgence, right?

No room for unadorned cake real estate. 

More rosettes go on, more malt balls. 

Think our job here is done. 

I present 'Death by Chocolate': Chocolate cake with velvety chocolate buttercream and chocolate chips, covered with chocolate buttercream, sprinkled with gold chocolate rocks, drenched with dark chocolate ganache, topped with chocolate rosettes and malt balls.

Who says you ever need to stop?

*dust hands*