Saturday, December 24, 2011

German Chocolate Cake

Whew! Christmas is just one of those seasons that, while I love even the very thought of it, I often find myself eagerly awaiting the new year so I can get back into the swing of things. Christmas parties galore, church programs, students' recitals, shopping, cooking, cleaning, extra practices, handmade gifts, mailing Christmas cards, ordering presents, and coordinating dates that work with every body's busy schedules usually leave me in a frantic frenzy by Christmas Day.
Just writing that sentence made me tired. Needless to say, with all the ways I have, once again, over-extended myself, I have not had the time necessary to keep up with my writing. I have so many recipes it is seriously ridiculous. I have two recipes I really want to share, one being German Chocolate Cake, because I absolutely love it and I use a collection of recipes from different books to get the exact cake I want, and number two is a recipe for Ham and Cheese buns. I honestly believe these babies are going to be AMAZING with day-after-Christmas ham and pepper jack cheese. But hopefully that post will make the scene sometime next week.
This German Chocolate Cake is something that I wanted to put where I could find it, so the one or two times a year that I make it I don't have to search through a stack of pages I ripped out of magazines, search through cookbooks and scour the Internet.
The cake I made from this book, the Devil's food recipe. I actually made two so it would be extra tall, because that's the way it should be, right? The frosting I used came from a Bon Appetit Magazine from last February, I believe, and I absolutely loved its rich, chocolaty flavor and dark, glossy appearance (thanks to the heavy cream and butter) that really looks amazing. For the filling, I used this recipe, that I had found online. Again, it is amazing.
Oh, and P.S. There were three holly berries until my three-year-old walked up to the counter where they were drying and popped one into his mouth as I was screaming "Nooooooo!!!!!" Just thought you would like to know.

If you, like me, want a giant, drool-inducing chocolate cake, you must double the filling and cake. There is plenty of frosting with just one recipe because you aren't putting any inside.

For the Cake:
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 plus 1 cup water
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
For the Filling:

7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut
4 ounces coarsely chopped pecans (1 cup)
14-ounces can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon vanilla

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/3 cups (packed) golden brown sugar
1 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Make the Cake:

Preheat the oven to 350 and position oven racks in upper and lower thirds. Line 2 9-inch round cake pans with parchment and lightly coat with butter or cooking spray.
Place cocoa powder in a small bow. Heat 1/2 cup of the water until very warm. Mix with cocoa until smooth. Add remaining 1 cup water and stir until smooth. Set aside until room temperature.
Place the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer. Beat on medium-high speed until very light in color, 4 to 5 minutes.
Beat the eggs and vanilla in the other small bowl to blend. With the mixer on medium, add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 Tablespoon at a time. Scrape down the bowl.
Whisk flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl. Add the flour mixture and the cocoa mixture alternately, beginning with 1/3 of the flour mixture and half the cocoa water. Finish with the flour mixture. Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand to be sure you have incorporated all the ingredients.
Divide the batter evenly and bake for 30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on cooling racks and turn out onto rack.

Make filling:
Reduce oven temperature to 325°F.
Spread coconut in a large shallow baking pan and pecans in another. Bake pecans in upper third of oven and coconut in lower third, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 18 minutes. Remove pans from oven.
Increase oven temperature to 425°F.
Pour condensed milk into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate and cover tightly with foil. Bake milk in a water bath in middle of oven 45 minutes. Refill baking pan with water to reach halfway up pie plate and bake milk until thick and brown, about 45 minutes more. Remove pie plate from water bath.
Stir in coconut, pecans, and vanilla and keep warm, covered with foil.

While the filling is cooking, make the frosting.

For frosting: Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in sugar, cocoa, espresso powder, and 1/2 teaspoon (scant) salt. Gradually stir in cream. Stir until mixture is very hot and just begins to simmer at edges. Reduce heat to low; stir 1 minute to let flavors blend. Transfer to medium bowl; stir in vanilla (frosting will resemble chocolate sauce). Chill until just thickened, stirring occasionally, about 1 1/2 hours. Let stand at room temperature.

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