Sunday, June 9, 2013

Dark Chocolate Cake with Bitter Ganache and Salted Caramel Frosting

So for some reason, I really wanted to make a cake yesterday. A rich, chocolatey, buttery cake. But I couldn't think of a reason to justify making one with just my husband and I to eat it. But I remembered that we were having missionaries over for dinner today, so what kind of host would I be if I didn't have a delicious cake for them?

Some of my Facebook friends asked for the recipe, so here you go:



  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups white flour
  • 3/4 cups baking cocoa (I added about a spoonful more; I like really dark chocolate)
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups boiling water

  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate (I use Ghirardelli 60%)
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups(ish) powdered sugar
  • Coarse sea salt for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Line two 9" cake pans with parchment paper, OR grease and flour them thoroughly, whichever you prefer.

Combine all dry cake ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

Add the eggs, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla to dry ingredients and mix with hand or stand mixer for about two minutes.

Stir in boiling water by hand.

Pour evenly into the cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.

Let cool completely (I speed this up and put them in the fridge. If you keep an eye on them and check frequently, they won't dry out.)

While cakes are cooling, melt bittersweet chocolate with heavy cream in a double boiler. You can microwave the chocolate, but doing the double boiler method ensures that the chocolate won't seize. Once chocolate is melted set aside to cool and thicken.

Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan. Cook over medium high heat until mixture turns an amber color and you smell a distinct caramel aroma, about 7-8 minutes. Do not stir or scrape down sides.

Add 1/2 cup butter to caramel sauce. It will sputter, so stand back.

When butter is melted, remove pan from heat. Add cream, vanilla, and salt.

Let cool completely. I let it cool on a hot pad for about 10 minutes then put the pan in an ice bath. The caramel has to be completely cool, otherwise your frosting will melt and it will be a huge mess.

Mix 1 cup butter and powdered sugar, 1 cup at a time, with a hand or stand mixer on high. You want it to be thick because the caramel will thin it out a little.

When the caramel is completely cool, add it to butter and sugar mixture. Add salt. If necessary, add powdered sugar and milk a little at a time until your frosting reaches a desirable consistency. Add extra salt to taste if you desire.

Refrigerate frosting for 45 minutes.

Remove cakes from pans. Level if necessary (I discovered that I didn't have to do any leveling with this cake recipe, but you might depending on humidity and other factors).

Put about 1/2 cup of frosting in a piping bag and dam around the edge of one of the cakes. (How to dam.) You don't need to put a tip on the bag. You can even just cut the corner off a ziplock bag and use that.

Pour the ganache onto the cake you dammed. Spread it up to the edges of the frosting dam.

Carefully place the second cake onto the first. Adjust to make sure they line up.

Give the frosting one more go with the mixer since it thickened and hardened in the fridge.

Frost a crumb coat. This is really important with chocolate cakes especially since they tend to be very crumby. Refrigerate for 20 minutes to set.

Finally, frost the cake. You can do decorative frosting with a piping bag or just put in on with a butter knife. I like to make a decorative swirl on top with the back of a spoon.

Garnish with sea salt.

One thing I might try if I make this again is experiment with cooking the caramel sauce longer for a deeper flavor, or even making a dry caramel. I might also double or even triple the ganache recipe and torte the cake to make 4 layers. You can also make a sweeter ganache by using a 30-50% chocolate, or you can make it even darker with 75%+ chocolate.


Monday, April 29, 2013

A year in gif's

So the past year of my life has been...not super great

Let's start with the beginning of last April. I was SO EXCITED TO GRADUATE FROM COLLEGE.

I ran out of the Marriott Center with my sample diploma and non-returnable polyester cap and gown feeling prett-tay good about myself.

Armed with my Philosophy BA, I felt like I could do anything.

I knew we were only going to be in Provo for another four months, but I still wanted to find a job. I had professional work experience and a college degree. I was sure I would find something that I liked and paid well. I was totally confident in my ability to take on the job market.

Oh boy was I wrong. Rejection after rejection after rejection after rejection. Overqualified. Underqualified. Not enough experience. Won't be here long enough.

The summer that I was expecting to be a lot of this

Ended up being a whole lot more of this

Which led to feeling a lot like this

And pretty much every day turned into feeling like this

And there was definitely a lot of this

I had a few job interviews. I would inevitably get my hopes up for them, only for things to turn out like this

And I started to believe that I made horrible, terrible, irrevocable mistakes in my life.

My wonderful, kind, thoughtful husband assured me that everything was okay. But I didn't think so.

I scraped through the summer. I was looking forward to moving to Columbus being a new start. I was hopeful.

And very soon after moving, I did find a job as a teacher's assistant at a daycare.

And I really did like it for awhile. I liked being with kids, but I didn't fit in with my coworkers or the work environment. I always felt a little out of place.

But I dealt with it. Even all the terrible poopy diapers.

And the vomit.

And that one time I had to get the steam cleaner to clean poop out of a rug.

And then the double standards with some of us being expected to follow rules that others weren't.

At month 7 of this job, my mornings became consistently like this

Monday mornings were particularly bad.

I was incredibly unhappy. The most unhappy I've ever been. 

I felt incredibly stagnant. I wasn't doing at all what I thought I was going to. But I felt stuck because what else was I going to do? The whole situation was terribly frustrating.

And then I realized something important: I have more choices than I think I do.

And I realized that it's not okay to do things that make you unhappy because you feel like you're supposed to do them.

So I quit my job.

And it's okay. We're fine on Nathan's student stipend and I'm finding good, productive ways to fill my time. I'm finishing up my application to OSU's City and Regional Planning Master's Program. I'm super nervous about it.

Hopefully the admissions committee will, in their all-powerful mercy, look favorably upon my liberal arts degree and 3.6 gpa.

But even if they don't, that's okay. I'll find other ways to spend my time with things that make me happy.

Especially because I have someone who loves me a lot.

I know I'm probably going to have some more days like this

But here's to hoping most of them are like this