Let’s start this post with a fun fact. There are 16 tablespoons in a half pint.
Yeah, maybe “fun” was overselling that a bit, but now I know this conversation.
Ok, “know” was also overselling it. I just had to look it up on Google… twice… because I got distracted.
This conversion became crucial in the process of making this cake. I measured out the buttermilk I needed for this recipe and then grabbed my camera for a quick picture of the carton as a lone drop slid down the front. You’ll see it a few pictures down from here. Then I set my camera down and proceeded to dump in the remains of the half pint, rather than the prescribed 6 tablespoons.
Crap! Starting from scratch was out of the question because I was out of unsweetened chocolate. So I did the next best thing: figured out how many tablespoons I needed to remove from the wet ingredients, added the dry and then sent a silent prayer to the cooking gods.
In the midst of writing this post, I just realized that I took out 10 tablespoons… rather than the 4 I needed to.
I fail at math.
I wasn’t always this way. I completed college-level calculus in high school. I think I eeked out an A. I hated calculus. Much like the part of my brain that was rather fluent in French (thanks liberal arts education), I’ve let the math area go.
But you’re not here to talk about my atrocious math skills, you’re here for cake. And apparently the good news is that even if you totally screw up the math on the wet ingredients of this batter, you can serve up a great cake and no one is the wiser.
Despite Hubster’s advice that I shouldn’t continue to make cakes from a single author, I flew back to my main man, Nick, and his “Perfect Cakes” for the base of this recipe. The goal of this venture was to turn out passable layer cakes and I know those start (and sometimes end) with Nick. Between his devil’s food cake, I layered an obscene amount of cookies and cream icing. The whole thing got a coating of chocolate ganache, of which I still have 1/2 cup left.. or 3/4 cup. MATH!
This was a good one and one of the easiest despite the multiple steps. Maybe I’m just getting better at these things? I guess a year of cakes (ok, really only 11) will do that. And, just to be clear, this is the last layer cake. I had to break that news to work friends today and there were many helpful suggestions on the 2013 challenge, like cookies and steak.
Ok, “helpful” was a gross mistatement.
They make a good point, though. 2013 is on the horizon and I’m looking for a a new challenge to give me some content for this blog space and up my cooking skills. I can promise that it won’t be a strictly baking challenge. I’m looking forward to the freedom to craft whatever my sweet tooth desires. And it likely won’t involve steak.
3 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
6 Tbsp butter
¾ cup boiling water
1 ½ cups sugar
6 Tbsp buttermilk or sour cream
2 large eggs
Cookies and cream filling
8 oz light cream cheese
4 Tbsp butter
1 ½ cups powdered sugar
½ tsp vanilla extract
8 chocolate sandwich cookies
10 oz semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup heavy cream
Remove the cream cheese and 4 tablespoons of butter from the fridge and allow to soften. Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and butter the paper.
Heat a shallow pot of water on the stove until the water is nearly simmering. Break the chocolate into pieces and add it to a heatproof bowl. Melt the chocolate over the steaming water and then set aside to cool. Heat the water to boiling.
Stir together the flour, baking soda and salt. Cut the butter into 6 pieces and add it to the chocolate. Pour in ¾ of a cup of boiling water and mix well. Whisk in the sugar and buttermilk. Stir in the flour. Whisk in the eggs. Divide the batter among the two prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes or until the layers are firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted emerges clean. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 5 minutes, then unmold onto racks and finish cooling.
Whip the softened cream cheese with the butter for 2 to 3 minutes until the two are combined, light, and creamy. Meanwhile, crush the cookies. Slowly add the powdered sugar and beat together until all the sugar is incorporated. Beat in the vanilla. Add the broken cookie pieces and mix for another minute.
To make the ganache, put the chocolate chips in a heat proof bowl. Heat the cream in a small pot on the stovetop over medium heat until it is beginning to bubble around the edges. Pour the cream over the chocolate and let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes before stirring. Stir the chocolate until melted and smooth, and then let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Once the cakes have cooled, level each with a serrated knife, if necessary. Place one layer on a wire rack set in a rimmed baking sheet. Spread with all of the cream cheese filling. Top with second cake layer. Starting at the center, pour the ganache in an ever widening spiral to the edge of the cake. Use a spatula or knife to sweep the excess ganache off the top and down the sides of the cake. If necessary, touch up the sides with glaze that has dripped through the rack. Leave the cake on the rack until the glaze sets.