Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Coffee Sponge Cake with White Chocolate and Cardamom Ganache!

It's become a habit of mine to celebrate my blog's anniversary in order to remind why I embarked on this journey in the first place. My blog turns four years old and my passion for cooking and baking keeps on growing motivated by all the wonderful interactions I had and I'm still having with bloggers and foodies from all corners of the globe.

For this occasion, I had to think of an easy to make cake that is really delicious and can be readily decorated for that extra effect.

Stacked cakes are best made with a base of sponge cake. Sponge cakes are easy to make and can be flavored in infinite ways leaving the door wide open for your imagination. As I really love the flavor coffee gives in cakes, I decided to go for coffee and marry flavors that work well with it. The first spice that I thought of as being coffee's ideal pair is cardamom. Between dark chocolate and white chocolate, I find that cardamom works better with the latter, therefore I used it. This flavor combination is not entirely new to me as I used it before and shared it  before in this post.

The end result was a light, spongy and delicious cake with a spicy and creamy ganache. For extra flavor and a beautiful presentation I made chocolate mirror glaze. It was the perfect topping for this blog-versary cake!

Now for the sponge you need: (4 x 15cm pan)
  • 5 eggs
  • 150 g sugar
  • 150 g cake flour
  • dash of salt
  • 60 g melted butter
  • 2 tsps of coffee melted in 1 tsp of water
  • 1 tsp coffee liqueur (optional)
First you need to put some water in a pan and heat the water to a simmer, Combine sugar, eggs, coffee and liqueur if using  in a big bowl and place over the pan with the simmering water. Whisk vigorously for about 5 minutes or until it doubles in size.The mix should reach 60 C. 

Turn off the heat and remove the pan with the mix off heat. from the pan, and keep whisking with an electrical whisk until you obtain a pale and really think mixture that is triple in volume! Now fold in the flour and salt, and at the end drizzle over the melted butter and gently fold it in!

Separate the batter into the greased pans and bake for about 15 min in a preheated oven (170C). Let them cool for about 10 min then remove the cakes from the pans and let them cool completely. You can make the cake the day before.

For the ganache you need:
  • 450 g white chocolate
  • 300 ml of cream (you can reduce or add more to change the consistency of the ganache)
  • 60 g of butter
  • 1 tsp of ground cardamom
  • 1 tsp of coffee liqueur or coffee melted in water
Chop the chocolate and place it in a bowl. Heat the cream and before it boils pour it over the chocolate, stir to melt  then add the butter and stir again. Add the cardamom and coffee and let it cool a bit. Now you can add it as it is over the cake or beat it with a whisk until creamy and fluffy. This is what I did, the ganache becomes really creamy and easier to pipe!

For the assembly:
Place one of the cakes on a cake board, generously frost it then top it with another cake layer and so on.
Decorate as you wish. In my case after frosting the cake I poured some dark chocolate  mirror glaze then piped some rosettes from the frosting, sprinkled some dulcey chocoloate and white chocolate shaves,  and splashed some gold dust over the rosettes and the glaze!

For the chocolate mirror glaze I used this recipe, but I  made half the batch, and even using half of the amount in this recipe I did not need all the glaze I made.

Now all you need is to cut a piece and dig in! Enjoy!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Zebra Berry Cheesecake!

Last week my friend asked me to bake something for her boyfriend´s birthday. We discussed all the options focusing on a cake with chocolate or one with fruits. Finally, we went for a cake featuring berries. This was a logical option now that the berry season started all over Spain and all sort of fresh berries are readily available. Moreover, I love the taste of berries in cakes and my friend couldn't agree more! 

Instead of a regular cake, like a sponge flavored with a filling of berries, I suggested to my friend to make cheesecake. A cold and creamy cheesecake would be perfect now that summer has officially arrived in Spain and Madrid is slowly heating up. 

I played around with my usual cheesecake recipe, and mixed 2 batters to create a beautiful layered or zebra look. The cake was such a hit that I decided  I deserved one just for myself. I did show some restrain and shared few pieces with my close friends. 

The recipe is simple, I baked it in a 15 cm springform pan to get a high result.  You can use an 18 cm pan or even a 23 one if you want a flatter cake. Always adjust the baking time when you change the size of pan that was used for the recipe. 

For this cheesecake you need:

The base:
  • 50 g caramel cookies and 50 g digestive cookies 
  • 20 g melted butter 
  • 1 tsp coconut sugar or brown sugar
To prepare the cookies place them in a zip-lock bag and pass a rolling pin over them as many times as you need until you end up with coarsely textured crumbs.  Add the melted butter, sugar  and  mix well. Place the cookie mixture in a springform pan that is greased and covered with parchment paper. Press the mixture to cover the bottom. You can create a rim at the edge of the pan if you want, though I didn't. Bake in a preheated oven (180 C) for 8 to 10 min.  Set aside and cool.

For the cheesecake mix:
  • 600 g cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3 large eggs at room temperature 
  • 120 g Greek yogurt (or thick yogurt, or sour cream)
  • 130 g sugar
  • 1 tbsp flour 
  • 25 g caramelized biscuits spread (Lotus Biscoff)
  • dash of salt
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon (or to your liking)
  • 1/2 tsp of kirsch (optional)
  • 3 to 5 tbsp of berry coulis (recipe follows)

In your mixer bowl, add the cheese and mix on a low speed with the paddle attachment for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add the sugar, the Biscoff spread, yogurt, cinnamon and flour and mix again until well blended and no lumps are visible. Add the eggs one by one and keep mixing on a low speed. Finally add the salt, kirsch and vanilla and mix a bit. 

Divide the batter in 2. To one batch, add the berry coulis but don´t add too much or else you will end up with a runny batter. 

To get the zebra effect, add 2 tablespoons of the white batter, then two of the berry batter  and so on. Ever so slightly tap the pan or shake it to flatten the batter.

Bake in a preheated oven (150 to 160 C). 

Usually it's customary to wrap the spring-form pan with aluminum foil and place it in another pan filled with warm water and then bake for the required time that is usually for a pan of this size one hour to one hour and a half (oven-dependent).  This bain-marie method of cooking is needed to bake your cake at a gentler heat to avoid surface cracks.

What I do is different though. I put in the middle layer of the oven a pan and fill it with warm water then place the cheesecake pan over a cookie sheet and put both over the pan. This creates  a steamy environment in my oven and allows the cheesecake to cook all the way through while retaining a smooth creamy texture and most importantly with no surface cracks whatsoever.

After one hour, turn off your oven, shake the tray, make sure the middle is still a bit wiggly and leave the oven door cracked open for another half an hour to an hour. 

Let the cake cool completely before you put it in the fridge overnight. 

For the berry sauce or coulis:
  • 300 mixed berries (strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, blackberries and I also used cranberries)
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • half vanilla pod or 1 tsp of vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in a saucepan and let them simmer for few minutes over a flame until the fruits are soft. Mash them well then and pass them through a sieve to get rid of the seeds.

You will have sauce than the cake requires. Use the remaining sauce to cover the top of the cheesecake and decorate as you  wish! 

Now you´re ready to taste a luscious and creamy dessert with the amazing tangy addition of the berries! Everybody will love it, I can guarantee it! 
Check my other cheesecake recipes here and here