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Simple Chocolate Cake

By Times Staff Writer
Published August 24, 2005

Makes 43/4 cups.

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

13/4 cups hot coffee

1/4 cup bourbon, Kahlua or orange juice

5 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, cut into small pieces

2 sticks unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

2 cups granulated sugar

2 eggs, room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Grease and flour two 8- or 9-inch round cake pans; set aside. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt.

Combine hot coffee, bourbon, chopped chocolate and butter in a large metal bowl. Cover and let stand until completely melted, then whisk ingredients together. Whisk in the sugar and cool. Whisk in the flour mixture in two batches, then the eggs and vanilla.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake about 40 minutes, rotating pans halfway through.

A toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean.

Cool the cakes in the pans set on wire racks. To unmold, run a knife around the inside edge of the pan. Place a rack on top, invert and give the pan a gentle shake to remove cake.

When completely cool, wrap well in plastic wrap and again in aluminum foil and refrigerate or freeze until ready to frost.

Serves 20.

-- Source: "Colette's Birthday Cakes" by Colette Peters (Little Brown, 2000).

Basic Buttercream

1 cup butter, room temperature

1/2 cup milk

2 teaspoons vanilla extract, or other extract of choice

2 pounds powdered sugar

Combine butter, milk, vanilla and powdered sugar in the large bowl of an electric mixer.

Using a whisk attachment, beat at slow speed to mix, then turn speed to medium-high and beat until smooth and creamy.

Cover and refrigerate. One hour before using, bring out of refrigerator to soften.

Makes 5 cups.

-- Source: "Colette's Birthday Cakes" by Colette Peters (Little Brown, 2000).

White Chocolate Cream Cheese Buttercream

9 ounces white chocolate

12 ounces cream cheese, softened

2 tablespoons powdered sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

11/2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Coarsely chop the chocolate and place in the top of a double boiler set over very hot water on low heat. The water must not touch the bottom of the double boiler insert.

When about half of chocolate has melted, remove pan from heat and stir until completely melted. Let cool.

In a mixing bowl or with a food processor beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar and salt until smooth and creamy. Gradually beat in cooled chocolate until smoothly incorporated. Then beat in butter and lemon juice. If making ahead, cover and refrigerate. Beat the frosting again at room temperature before using.

-- Source: "The Cake Bible" by Rose Levy Beranbaum (Morrow Cookbooks, 1988).

Basic White Cake

31/2 cups sifted cake flour

3 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature

2 cups granulated sugar

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

8 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour three 8-inch round cake pans and set aside. Resift cake flour with baking powder and salt; set aside.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat until light in color. Add flour mixture to butter mixture in three additions, alternating with the milk. Beat until smooth after each addition. Beat in vanilla just to blend.

With a clean bowl and beaters, beat egg whites until stiff but not dry. Fold about a third into the cake batter to lighten, then fold in remaining whites. Transfer to cake pans and bake about 25 minutes, rotating the pans once during baking. Test by inserting a toothpick into the centers of the cakes, which should come out with just a few crumbs attached.

Let the cakes cool in the pans 5 minutes before unmolding onto wire cooling racks. Cool completely before frosting. (The cakes can be made a month in advance when well wrapped and frozen.)

Serves 20.

-- Source: "The Joy of Cooking" by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker (Scribner, 1997).

[Last modified August 23, 2005, 17:54:04]

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