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Valentine’s Cake (Chocolate Cake with Whipped Cream, Strawberries, and Chocolate Ganache)

Valentines Cake

O yeah, I am just putting it out there.  Make this cake for your Valentine.  Today or any day of the year.  They will thank you.  My husband’s second piece yesterday was all the thanks I needed.

Valentines Cake1

Chocolate cake.  You saw a wonderful chocolate cake up on this blog yesterday.  Here is a completely different one but with some of the same components and it makes for a completely different cake.  There are a couple of things that, no matter what the recipe, must be in my chocolate cake.

1. Buttermilk (I discovered this little gem in my Cake Doctor days)

2. Coffee or espresso powder (just DO it)

This particular recipe had both and it also had cake flour!  It just kept getting better and better…

First layer of strawberry filling...

First layer of strawberry filling…

So, I broke down and made it for my aunt’s birthday a few weeks ago and paired it with Joy’s Best Chocolate Buttercream Frosting.  My aunt was in heaven!  And I was impressed that with how light and perfect this cake was, it held up to travel, a sturdy frosting, and a baker who forgot to use wax paper in her cake pans when she was greasing. (OK, it did kinda fall apart upon cutting because of that last part but it made it there and tasted wonderful.)

I knew I would be making this cake again.  But in what capacity?  Hmm…

The only other cake that I ever dreamt about and just had to get up the next day and make it was this one.  So I took my inspiration from there.  I switched the chocolate whipped cream for vanilla.  Since I was going to use less strawberries on the cake I made sure to cram a few extra into the filling.  The chocolate ganache is just a bonus.

My GeekyLink today is iGameMom.  She writes reviews and recommendations for educational children’s apps.  I love this site and have been following it for a long time and have found many an app through her.  My 9 year old even won a science experiment kit from the site.  Well, guess what?  I am going to begin reviewing apps for her as a guest blogger!  I think this is gonna be pretty cool.

Valentines Cake2

Now go make some cake!

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Sundays with Joy/Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart with Fresh Berries and Sweetened Cream

GanachTartOh my goodness…THIS TART!

As soon as I finished my first slice, I began my second but then had to wise up.  I gave my son his slice and I boxed up the rest to give away that day.  I was going out so I could make a few stops.  I COULD NOT keep this tart in my house or I would eat it all.

The journey to this wonderful tart was not easy.  As you folks can tell, I am usually one of the later posters in our group so if someone has an issue with a recipe, I can benefit from discussion on our group page.  I learned the tart shell needed more moisture.  How was I going to do that?  I didn’t want to use a whole egg because I learned that might change the structure of the shell.  I opted for less flour (1/4 cup less) and a tablespoon of cream (milk would have worked better but cream is ALL OVER this recipe so…).  I probably could have used a smidge more but I am very happy with the results.  Especially since this was my first ever tart!  I wasn’t even sure how to use the tart pan with the removable bottom but I guess I did it right.  That was partly why I didn’t go back and add more moisture after I started pressing the dough in because you have to grease and flour your pan and I didn’t want to have to do that all over again so I just made the best of it.  I could pick up a slice and eat it out of my hand so I would say the shell turned out nicely.  Some slices did crack but I could tell you exactly where in the tart pan those slices were.  I just couldn’t get them the moisture they needed.  Next time!

Silky  then silky spreadable.

Silky soupy then silky spreadable…

Another issue some Sundays with Joy-ers had was with the ganache.  They said it was too loose.  Joy says to make the ganache as soon as you put your tart shell into the freezer (for an hour before baking).  The thing is (and I do this all the time), lots of recipes say to do one thing right as you’ve finished another but most of us don’t, at least I know I don’t.  We get to the next step when we can.  But I noticed, in the recipe, that after you made the ganache you had to leave it at room temperature till the tart shell was done in the freezer, baked in the oven, and cooled.  I realized the time it took to accomplish that was about 2 hours.  I thought that was a long time and that there might be a reason. There was a GOOD reason!  The ganache went from a silky soupy consistency to a silky spreadable consistency that was just lovely.  At that point though, it was too late in the day to eat it or take pictures and Joy says the tart is best the day its made so I covered the ganache and waited till the next day to put everything together.  The ganache hardened up a bit more overnight but I warmed it in my oven that I preheated for a minute or two and let it get nice and lovely again.


See that slipper in the corner? Someone could hardly wait for Momma to be done with her pictures…

I wasn’t sure how I’d like this tart.  I do like dark chocolate and I like it more as I’ve gotten older but I’m still a sucker for milk chocolate and am always worried that the dark chocolate will be too dark (I used 72%).  That was not the case with this tart.  It was like eating just the best thing ever!  I didn’t have to pause because it was too rich, thanks to the berries and cream.  It balanced it out perfectly.  Also, the shell has spices in it that make it smell like the best pie baking ever but the ONLY thing in your oven is this tart shell.  I am going to have to add these spices into some pie crusts soon.  It all worked so perfectly together I can’t take it!  It is most definitely my new favorite recipe from Joy’s cookbook.  I keep thinking My Top 5 recipes can’t change but they keep on rearranging.  It is kind of exciting!

I used blueberries and strawberries as opposed to blackberries and raspberries just because the other two were on sale.  Raspberries wold have been nice though.  I really like this dessert too because my entire family is a sucker for chocolate and a couple of them really like dark chocolate (some don’t like whipped cream but we won’t talk about that).  This would go over very well at one of our family gatherings! Don’t forget to check out Bakeaholic Mama’s site to check out other adaptations.

For GeekyLinks this week, I have a few things to share.  First off, the guys at Bald Move have a new TV Podcast which would be no biggie except they stopped recording their exclusive Justified podcast (which was like a dagger to my heart!).  But they still cover it in their new TV Podcast along with Downton Abbey (I LOVE listening to two guys talking about this stuff, even if they don’t get Bates and Anna) and Girls (another one where it is nice to get a male perspective).  It is important to me because Justified is one of those rare shows that Justin and I enjoy together.  Also, this is what I am doing now because of him.  And I am watching this because it was my favorite show when it was on and I had been eyeing it at Costco since before Christmas, it disappeared for awhile, then it came back (but who has money after Christmas?), but it was still there and I got it last Friday!  Only finished the pilot so far because who has time?!


Nutella Banana Cream Pie and My Secret Shame

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My husband’s schedule changed this week and it seems to work out that I can bake ALL Sunday afternoon!  Not that I can’t when he is home but he is usually sleeping during the day and our room is right above the kitchen and our room can get unbearably hot if I have the oven on all day.  So even during the summer when it gets unbearably hot in the entire house, I can send the kids outside and bake till I am blue in the face.  That is what happened this past Sunday, however, all I had the ENTIRE afternoon were baking fails.  I couldn’t get this one recipe I was adapting to work and I made it twice and then something else failed later on.  Ugh, first Sunday baking day wasted.  However, an epiphany struck just before I fell asleep but after the husband came home.  I actually got to spend a bit of time with him before bed without little voices yelling at us or each other.

I hate folding, laundry or otherwise. I don't have the patience. In this case, though, totally worth it.

Anyways, I had written my epiphany down and got straight to it on Monday morning.  It was actually pretty simple.  I only had to bake the pie crust (and if you want to buy a ready made crust instead, I won’t tell) plus I was looking for a graham cracker one that wouldn’t just break apart once I cut it and now I’ve got one.  I just adapted a peanut butter cream pie recipe using Nutella and added a very special ingredient…my FAVORITE thing to go with Nutella (as evidenced by my Nutella Chocolate Chip Hazelnut Banana Bread) …bananas!  Then I topped it with more Nutella, whipped cream, hazelnuts and more bananas.  Other than layering the Nutella cream and bananas a second time or maybe adding some hazelnuts inside, (I REALLY liked the hazelnuts on top, it really made that flavor pop.  I wasn’t sure about adding them.) I wouldn’t change a thing.

Before pouring on the filling...

So on to my Secret Shame which will lead to my GeekyLinks.  It is not your sterotypically “geeky” thing but something that I really Geek Out about!  Something that some of my family knows about me (O my poor kids!) but I have only shared with a few outsiders.  I LOVE and by love I mean LOVE!!! Disco music.  There I said it.  I felt it was safe to admit it now partially after the Saturday Night Fever episode of Glee but as one who really enjoys disco, I would have to say that I was SOOOO BUMMED that the episode only focused on music from that movie.  There is so much more!  My favorite compilation is The Last Days Of Disco: Music From The Motion Picture which is what I was listening to while in labor with my first child almost 9 years ago.  My nurse said to me, “Aren’t you a little young to be listening to that?”  after asking what I was listening to.  I was 25 at the time.

Pie in your face.

So are the younger generations not allowed to listen to the classics anymore?  Yes, classics.  Dance music nowadays is OK (not that I go dancing much) but if I am home and baking (my Disco Pandora station is what I was listening/dancing to while making this pie) or want to have an impromptu dance party with the kiddos…Disco it is (or really most music from the 70s).  Give me Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King, The Jacksons, KC and the Sunshine Band, Sly & The Family Stone, or Chic any day!  It just makes you feel good!  I will now and again listen to music from the late 80s and early 90s but the music I want my kids to know and dig (yes, I used the word dig) is music from my mother’s Motown era, that she sacredly passed on to me, or music from the 70s that I discovered a love for all on my own.  Ok, my mom did have siblings younger than her that may have exposed me to it and maybe one was obsessed with Abba, however, my uncle that is only 10 years older than me certainly exposed me to metal but I am NOT fan of that.  

So pick up an album or buy some songs, get your groove on, and make some pie!

I am also entering this pie into this month’s AlphaBakes Challenge, hosted by Caroline Makes….. and The More Than Occasional Baker.  The letter for April was “b”.  Check out the recipe roundup for April on The More Than Occasional Baker‘s site on May 1st!  And thank you to her for letting me get it in just under the wire!

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Chocolate Love: Chocolate Cake with Strawberries and Chocolate Whipped Cream Frosting

My family, for all the years and all the parties, is usually big buttercream fans.  However, every once in a while my grandma or my aunt would switch it up and have a whipped cream cake with strawberries.  I don’t know if it was the season or they just wanted to change it up, but us kids were never really happy about it.  Whether the cake itself was white or chocolate was about a 50/50 chance.  Now that I am older, though, and bake more I have certainly come to appreciate a good whipped cream (really, it isn’t that hard to appreciate).

All the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl. Someone came running when she smelled the cocoa powder.

One day last week, I just really wanted cake.  Strawberries were on sale, I knew I needed them to try something but I couldn’t remember what it was (getting old, ugh), so I figured I would make a cake with a whipped cream frosting and add the strawberries in the filling.  I wanted to eat it at home alone with my husband and my kids and basically just hoard the thing.  Then my aunt called.  She said my cousin, who is a Marine Reservist, was shipping out next week and we were going to get together the next day to wish him well and send him off.  I baked the cake (I ended up choosing chocolate), put it in the fridge, and decided to save it for the family.

Chocolate Whipped Cream

I slept, not knowing what exactly I was going to do for the frosting.  I did want to still do whipped cream but sometimes whipped cream can be so temperamental.  I mean, you have to do it just right and I don’t think I have ever frosted a whole cake with it before.  Did I want to add anything to it to try and help it hold up (I did not), vanilla or chocolate (chocolate obviously), granulated sugar or powdered sugar (granulated had been working for me so I used that but then ended up adding some powdered sugar to taste)?  In the end, it turned out pretty fantastic if I do say so myself, I just wish I had added a few more strawberries in the filling.  Even my sister, a lifelong hater of whipped cream frosting, really liked it.  I also wish however, that I was able to take a better picture of the sliced cake.  I did take some cake home but my son and I got into the leftovers before it even occurred to me to take another picture. It was good, sue me!

The Filling! There should have been no spaces in between the strawberries. I should have even overlapped them. I know for next time!

So with all that family talk my GeekyLink this week is something for my sister and brother.  We were big Growing Pains fans back in the day and I bought the first two of many compilation books of the Walking Dead for my sister for Christmas (OK, kinda for me too but that’s how we roll).  This speaks to both of those things The Walking Dead Season 2 Alternate Title Sequence.

Even with the crappy picture, it still looks pretty tasty.

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