Sunday, October 6, 2013

Créme Brûléed Chocolate Bundt Cake

Harrison wanted me to make créme brûlée for his birthday, instead of cake. However, we ended up having about 40 people over for dinner, so I was trying to convince him to choose something that would be a better dessert to feed a crowd. We looked in my new cookbook that Rick got me for my birthday, "Baking with Julia," and found this dreamy recipe and we just couldn't resist trying it!

I doubled the creme brûlée part of the recipe, but I think next time I will actually triple it so that each piece has a little more (I've tripled it here in this recipe). The recipe says to top the cake with the créme brûlée, and then torch it, but next time I make it, I will wait until the cake is sliced and on individual plates before topping with the créme brûlée and torch each individual serving. After slicing the cake, a lot of the pieces didn't have any of the caramelized sugar on their serving. I would also serve the raspberries on the side of each individual serving--the original recipe calls for them to be added to the middle of the cake.

If you choose to just make the chocolate bundt cake, and not worry about the créme brûlée topping, it is still a fantastic recipe. It's a type of chiffon cake and was one of the best chocolate cakes I've ever tasted!

Créme Brûlée Topping (tripled from original recipe)

1 1/2 c. heavy cream
3 vanilla beans
15 egg yolks, at room temperature
9 T. sugar

Pour the cream into a medium saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the pan, toss in the pod, and stir to mix. Bring just to a boil over low heat.

Meanwhile, in a medium heatproof bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together just to blend. Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk, continuously and energetically, until the mixture is very pale and hot to the touch. Remove the yolks form the heat. Gradually, but steadily, whisk the cream into the yolks, pod and all.

Put the bowl back over the hot water and let it sit there, with the heat turned off, whisking occasionally, from 5-10 minutes, until the cream thickens. Set the bowl into a larger bowl filled with ice cubes and cold water and allow the mixture to cool, whisking now and then. When the custard is cool to the torch, retrieve and discard the vanilla bean and push the mixture through a strainer into a clean bowl. Cover the bowl tightly and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (can be made a day ahead).

The Cake

1 1/2 c. sugar
1 c. flour
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
4 eggs, separated
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. water
1 t. vanilla extract
2 egg whites

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-cup bundt pan and dust the inside, including the center tube, with cocoa powder; tap out the excess.

Sift together 1 cup of the sugar, the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and baking soda into a small bowl and then add the salt.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yolks, oil, water, and vanilla until blended. Whisk the dry ingredients gradually into the yolk mixture; set aside.

Beat the 6 egg whites in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or work with a hand-held mixer. At low speed, beat the whites until they're foamy and form very soft peaks. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and gradually add the remaining 1/2 c. sugar, beating until the whites are thick and shiny and hold peaks. Fold about one third of the whipped egg whites into the yolk mixture to lighten it, then turn the yolk mixture into the whites and fold it in gently but thoroughly.

Pour and scrape the batter into the pan. Place the pan on a jelly-roll pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the cake is springy to the touch and starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. (My cake was done in 30 minutes, so watch oven closely.) The top of the cake may show some cracks and a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove the cake to a cooling rack and let it cool for at least 25 minutes before unmolding it onto a rack and allowing it to cool completely.

Finishing the Cake

2 pints raspberries
1/4 c. + 1/2 c. sugar

Toss the raspberries in some sugar and let sit while prepping the cake. Right before serving, cut cake into pieces and put on serving plates. Put a dollop of créme brûlée topping on each piece of cake and put a few raspberries on the side. Sprinkle each dollop of créme brûlée with a little sugar and work with a blowtorch to caramelize the sugar.

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