A Passion for Chocolate

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Peppermint Chocolate Ice Cream Cake Roll

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These cake rolls are really versatile, as well as surprisingly easy and quick to put together. I’m going to use this recipe to show you the basic method, then you can go to town and customize it however you like.  The one above is packed with peppermint ice cream,  and I served with a hot fudge sauce. You can adjust the proportion of cake to filling, mine is slightly overstuffed but I was going for something cold and refreshing.

I have filled these with chestnut ganache for yule logs, filled them with ice cream, jam, mousse, you name it! As long it will firm up enough to slice it’s fair game.

The cake roll recipe is the basic sponge sheet from Paula Pecks’ The Art of Fine Baking. This little book is very unassuming from the outside, but it is a treasure and worth much more than many cookbooks twice its size. It’s out of print, but there are typically quite a few copies on ebay. Her sponge cake recipe is a great example. She found a way around the whole steaming it in a towel mess.

Basic Sponge Sheet, The Art of Fine Baking (Paula Peck)

4 eggs

1/3 c. sugar

1 t. vanilla

1/4 c. cornstarch

1/4 c. flour

Separate the eggs.  Beat the whites to soft peaks, and then beat in the sugar one tablespoon at a time. Continue beating on high for five minutes until you get a VERY stiff meringue.

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In another bowl beat the yolks and vanilla together with a fork.

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When they are well-combined, fold in 1/4 of the whites to lighten them.

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Pour the yolk mixture over the remaining whites. Add the flour and cornstarch. Fold until combined.

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Line a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with parchment. Grease and flour it lightly then pour the batter into the pan.

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Bake at 350 for about 10 minutes, or until barely colored.

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Let cool. The cake will be light and very flexible.

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When the cake is cool you’re ready to fill it! In our parts the peppermint ice cream is only available around the holidays, and the kids love it. So I turned the cake out onto a large sheet of plastic wrap and spread it with a 1/2 gallon of ice cream that I whipped in my Kitchenaid to make it easier to spread.

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Begin to roll the cake up from the end. When you’ve finished, wrap it tightly in the plastic wrap.

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At this point I returned it to the freezer for an hour to harden since I was working with ice cream. To finish the cake. Unwrap it and turn it out on a large platter.

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Any tan crust on the cake will probably peel off with the plastic wrap, leaving you with a lovely light yellow sponge exterior. You could easily just dust it with powdered sugar and call it a day, but if you want to dress it up you have lots of options. For yule logs I ice it with a batch of chocolate ganache, and draw some bark lines in it with a knife. I was going to something a tad lighter this time, so I covered it in stabilized whipped cream with a dusting of powdered sugar.

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I typically slice it at 3/4″ intervals, which will give you about 12 servings. I sauced the plates with some bittersweet ganache before I set the slices down.

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Cake Truffles

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Today’s cake pop trend really has its roots on the rum ball family tree – for many, many years bakers have been using up their extra frostings and cake on these little dainties. When I used to do a lot of wedding cakes I did the same thing. I kept the extra ganache and buttercream, mixed it with cake trimmings, added some brandy and then gifted them to the serving staff when I delivered cakes. Call me a stick in the mud but I have a few beefs with the whole cake pop concept – one, things on a stick are cute but hard to eat gracefully and two, most of the recipes call for canned frosting. If you’re going to the trouble of turning a cake pop into a miniature frog or some-such, you might as well take an extra five minutes and make it taste way better.

I wanted to share a primer on these little treats, because they make very easy and chic mini-desserts or holiday gifts. Since these were for a group of ravenous teens, I’ve just covered them in ganache. But you can dip them in chocolate or roll them in nuts, cocoa, more crumbs, etc. They would be terrific as part of a holiday champagne bar.

Cake Truffle Recipe, Makes about 36

1 recipe Guinness cake, baked and crumbled (or just bake two 8″ layers of your choice)

1 recipe basic ganache

2 T. liqueur, rum or brandy if  desired

Crumble the cake into a large bowl. Pour the liquid ganache over the crumbs and mix until well-combined.

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Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, or until the mixture starts to firm up. Form into balls (I just use my hands but a melon baller would work) and drop onto cookie sheets.

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Coat them as desired (see notes above). I’ll be doing a related post soon on chocolate dipping.

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Irish Hostess Cupcakes, Part III: The Icing on the Cake

Okay, so you have the cupcakes and the filling. Now all we need is the icing! I threw together a quick and easy icing from one my favorite cookbooks, Baking by Dorie Greenspan.

Quick Chocolate Glaze (Frosts 10 cupcakes)

3 oz. chocolate (I used Hershey’s Special Dark chips)

1 T. confectioner’s sugar

2 T. butter, slightly softened

Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring until smooth. Let cool slightly and stir in the sugar.

Then stir in the butter, until everything is smooth and glossy. Mine was spreadable immediately, but if your kitchen is warm you might need to put it in the fridge for a bit.

Assembling the cupcakes:

Cut a small core out of each cupcake with a small paring knife, put the cores in a bowl – you’ll need them again later. Fill the holes with fluff and use some of your cut pieces to cover the top of the fluff on each cupcake.

Ice half of the cupcakes with the frosting, ice the rest with the remaining marshmallow fluff, reserving 1/2 c. of fluff. Sprinkle the fluff-topped marshmallows with the leftover cake. Fill a piping bag with the reserved fluff and pipe it in swirls over the chocolate frosted cupcakes.

Next time I’m going to try and find some dessert glasses shaped like pints, and put the cake in the bottom with a “head” of fluff on top.