Have Your Cake And Drink It Too…

Tonight’s recipe is another one from across the pond.  Which unfortunately for me, means conversions.  I hate math as it is, and converting grams, and ml into US measurements is less then fun.  Seriously, I would rather jab a pencil in my eye.  Kind of sad too since I would love to live or at least visit England some day, I will have to hire someone to do it for me!  So, I will be taking applications for “conversion artists” in the near future.  The other problem with conversions, at least in my case, and it may be because it makes my head hurt like there is a pencil in my eye, I feel like my measurements are slightly off.  In comparison to the original recipe, my cake is slightly more dense and my gianduja filling is not very fluffy.  I do have to say though, it is SUPER delicious! So more of a win then a fail here.  On to the baking!

This is traditionally a Christmas treat, but I felt like I needed one today, so here we go

Chocolate Brandy Layer Cake

Ingredients:

Cake

75g unsalted butter  3oz or 6 tablespoons
50g cocoa 2oz or 1/4c
125g plain flour 4oz or 1/2c
5 large eggs, at room temperature
375g caster sugar 1 1/2c

Gianduja Filling

300ml milk 10.14oz
25g cornflour 1.67 tblsp  this is cornstarch by the way

remaining sugar and cocoa
300g Nutella 10.5oz
100g good milk chocolate, chopped 3.5oz

Syrup

150gr sugar  5.2oz

50ml brandy 1.7oz

50 ml water 1.7oz
150g double cream 5.2oz

Garnish

100g toasted hazelnuts, chopped 3.5oz

To make the cake, start off by melting the butter in a microwave proof bowl and setting it aside.  Honestly if all the directions were this uncomplicated, I would bake a lot more.

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At this point you are going to sift together half the cocoa, or 1 ounce together with the flour in a medium size bowl. If you don’t have a sifter, or you are lazy like me and don’t feel like digging it out, use a fork or a whisk to blend them together.  It may not be as finely done as with a sifter, but it has always worked fairly well for me.

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In a separate bowl take the 5 eggs that you remembered to put out MUCH earlier so they could be room temperature, and with a handheld mixer beat until frothy.  Now the reason being, is that room temperature eggs make for a fluffier cake.  Maybe that is the reason my cake is flatter, my eggs were cooler then room temperature?  I rarely remember to do this.  My solution tonight was to set them out, and then make my kiddos dinner.  My oldest offered to make it for him and his brother and sister, but he got caught up in watching something on Netflix, so I took over.  Aren’t I sweet?

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Frothy, right?

Ok, so now slowly mix in 6.2 ounces of the sugar in thirds to the eggs until the mixture is thick, and the sugar has dissolved.  Again, apparently I wasn’t thinking tonight because I kind of just dumped it in.  You’d think I had never baked anything the way I am going!  Now fold in the flour mixture.

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Folding is not the same as stirring mind you.  Its like a scoop and fold method, best done with a spatula.  Gently back and forth, turning the bowl and scraping the sides until all the dry has been incorporated into the wet ingredients.  It does take some patience too.  But worth it to keep a light and airy batter.  From here, go ahead and fold in the melted and cooled butter you set aside earlier.

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Now the pan you are going to use is a jelly roll pan.  Its not as big as a cookie sheet, about 11.8 in x 15.75 in, line it with parchment paper, or in my case, since I was out, I used foil that I buttered.  Man, I am just making all kinds of changes aren’t I?

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Now, pour in the batter smoothing it out nicely.

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This is going to bake for 25 minutes at 350, thankfully, I didn’t have to figure that out! I don’t think I could have done any more.  Once its done, pull it out to cool.

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Not a bad looking cake!  I like to set it up on a wire rack to cool since that allows air to circulate under it.  Cools a little quicker and more evenly in my opinion.

Next up is making the Gianduja filling.  In a small pan, whisk together, the milk, the remaining sugar, the cornstarch, and the other half of the cocoa, and bring to a boil.

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Once it boils, remove from heat. And you get to add in the good stuff!  Otherwise known as Nutella and the “good” chocolate mentioned above.  Bringing these out really means your “helpers” will suddenly appear in the kitchen.

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I do understand why my helper showed up, this is probably the first time we have ever had Nutella in the house.  From what I hear on the streets, its like crack.  Chocolate hazelnut crack.  My middle crazy thankfully was upstairs or I would have been peeling him off the ceiling.  Since this particular crazy can hold her chocolate, I let her have a taste.

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Don’t worry, I did not let her double dip!

Ok, now that you have fed your crazies, and shooed them out of the kitchen, mix in about 10.5 oz of the crack, I mean Nutella, as well as 3.5 oz of chocolate.  I used this…

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Love this stuff.  I have always been a fan of dark chocolate, which works out well for me.  I only have to share with my middle crazy!  This is also what I use when I make my sea salt chocolate chip cookies, soooo good.  But that is a post for another day.

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Once all that is smooth and blended together, set aside.

For the syrup, bring the water and sugar to a boil, I ended up adding a teensy bit more water to this because it was mainly just a clump of damp sugar and I didn’t want it to burn in the pan.

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Once it boils add in the Brandy.  I did not use Brandy, I used Scotch instead.  Why, you ask?  Well, we didn’t have any Brandy, and I didn’t feel like going to the liquor store for a tiny bit, and then have it sit until I needed it again.  I had a friend/neighbor who had Scotch, which after googling, turns out to be a fairly good substitute.  Let me just tell you, the smell is enough to practically knock you out!  Can you get contact drunk?  I think this would be the stuff to do it.  Thankfully, the boiling cooks out the alcohol, and leaves it with a rich yummy flavor.

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See what a small amount that is?

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I loved the way it bubbled up when I added in the Scotch.  I set this aside and went to work on the cake.  Take it out of the pan, trim the edges and cut into 3 equal segments.  And with a pastry brush, apply the syrup to the top of each layer.  Set these aside and finish up the Gianduja filling.  In the ingredient listing, it called for double cream, which after searching for on the internet, I discovered that its not something we have in the states.  Yay America.  But! I can substitute in heavy cream.

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Pour the heavy cream into the Nutella custard and beat until thick.  Which I had a problem with.  Normally I have no trouble working with heavy cream, I make homemade buttercream frosting a lot.  Well, I couldn’t get it to really thicken up.  Maybe the custard wasn’t quite cool enough, I did put it in the fridge while I got the cake segments ready hoping it would thicken up for me.  But to no avail.  Oh well, it is still delicious!

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Time to assemble the cake.  For each layer, brush on the syrup and then top with the filling and a sprinkling of chopped hazelnuts if you are using them.  I chose not to, mainly because they were out at our grocery store.  And my crazies are not a fan of nuts.

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Now the filling.

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Do this 2 more times, and you are done!  It is very rich and chocolatey which completely suits my mood today.  I only sampled a tiny bit though, since I am working my way into a mostly Lacto/Paleo diet.  But then I felt I deserved it since I am super sunburned after a day at the beach with my lovelies yesterday.  Sunburned feet and knees are less then fun.  Just saying.

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I covered and put the remaining filling in the fridge and I may try to whip it again tomorrow at some point and see what happens.  Here is the original poster  http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/dec/19/chocolate-brandy-layer-cake-recipe  Great recipe, the flavors all work really well together.  Honestly I think it is simply the conversions throwing off the rise and what not of the cake.  I am considering purchasing a food scale so I can do more exact measurements.  Does anyone use one?  I would love some recommendations!  And if you decide to try your hand at the cake, link back in the comments to let me know how yours turns out!

Love,

your Bestie Baker!

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