In exactly seven months I will be living in my brand new condo. I went down to the construction site last week, the building is far from done but it is definitely a building. I’m getting pretty excited thinking about living there. I’ve been scoping out deals on line for all the things I need. I think I’ve got my couch and bed picked out, and I’m now moving on the colour schemes. What do you think of white, grey, and yellow?
I’m also getting really nervous. A downtown condo on my own is a huge deal financially. I’ve gone over the budget a million times, and even though I know I can do it I still worry. I’m good at worrying. I sometimes find myself stuck in a loop of “what ifs”. My latest solution is to give myself a firm action plan and then listen to Bob Marley. Every little thing is gonna be alright.
Of course the classic stress reliever is chocolate. This cake will calm me down even on my most anxious days. Thanks to the marzipan it’s dense and moist, and the almond flavour perfectly complements the chocolate. This recipe is also really easy to make, just be sure your ingredients are at room temperature so that the eggs and butter combine properly.
Chocolate Marzipan Cake
Adapted from Anna Olson
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 250 g marzipan
- 6 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp almond extract
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 3/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup whipping cream
- 1/4 cup icing sugar
- berries to garnish
- Preheat the oven to 350 F. Grease and flour a 10 inch springform pan, set aside.
- In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy with an electric mixer. Break the marzipan into pieces and mix into the butter mixture until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure they are well combined after each addition. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts.
- Sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Beat into the butter mixture until well combined.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes until a tester comes out clean. Let the cake cool in the pan for 20 minutes then turn it out onto a rack to cool completely.
- Whip the cream with the icing sugar until stiff, cover the cooled cake with cream. Garnish with berries.
Have you ever started to write a sentence in a card then completely lose your train of thought? It happens to me all the time. In fact it happened to me this weekend. I was signing a card for my friends wedding and for some reason I started a sentence with “after”. I’m still not sure where I meant to go with that. I do know that what I ended up writing might not have made much sense, I got myself all flustered. So Steph, if you’re reading this, I meant to say I love you and I’m so happy for you.
The wedding had me in a celebratory mood the following day. Celebrations to me mean cake, and the best cake I can think of is my mom’s famous chocolate cake. Family members have left their sick beds for a slice of that cake. I would to share the actual recipe with you, but my mom honestly can’t say what the recipe is. It’s been altered and modified so many times it only exists in her mind. I can tell you it’s chocolate cake spiked with Kahlua, with layers of ganache and whipped cream. I based this cake on that but made it my own. I used a chocolate genoise baked in a jelly roll pan, and filled it with chocolate mousse and whipped cream. I think chocolate can always use a little fruit, so I topped the cake with pomegranate seeds. And, of course, I spiked the cake layers with Kahlua.
Chocolate Mousse Cake with Pomegranate
For the Chocolate Genoise
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 4 tbsp butter
- 6 eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- Preheat the oven to 400 F. Line a 15 by 10 inch jelly roll pan with parchment, then grease the parchment.
- Sift the flour and cocoa together. Set aside.
- Melt the butter. Set aside to cool.
- In a large heat proof bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together. Place the bowl over and pot with 1 inch of simmering water and whisk until the eggs reach a temperature of 130 F, about 4 minutes depending on the size of the bowl and pot. Remove the bowl from the heat. Using an electric mixer (hand held or standing) beat the eggs until the have tripled in volume are back to room temperature (about 10 minutes).
- Fold the flour into the eggs in three additions. Stir a spoonful of the batter into the butter, then fold the butter into the batter gently. The batter will deflate a little at this point.
- Pour the batter into the prepared baking sheet, then bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until the center springs back when touched.
For the Chocolate Mousse
- 4 oz semi sweet chocolate, chopped
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 2 eggs separated
- 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
- Over a double boiler, melt the chocolate and butter. Add the cinnamon once melted. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk the egg yolk till double in volume and the colour has lightened. Mix into melted chocolate. Refrigerate while whipping the egg whites.
- In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar to stiff peaks.
- Take a small amount of the egg whites and mix it into the chocolate to thin the chocolate, then fold the chocolate into the egg whites.
- Set aside.
For the Cream
- 1 cups35% cream
- 1 tbsp icing sugar
- Using an electric mixer, whip the cream until soft peaks. Add the sugar and continue whisking until stiff peaks form.
For the Kahlua Syrup
- 1 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup Kahlua
- 1 cups water
- In a saucepan bring sugar and water to boil. Remove from the heat, let cool, then add the Kahlua.
- Slice the cake into three 5 by 10 inch slices. Place the bottom layer on the serving plate. Soak with 1/3 of the Kahlua syrup, then top with the chocolate mousse. Place another layer of cake on top of the chocolate mousse. Soak that layer with 1/2 of the remaining Kahlua syrup. Top that layer with half of the whipped cream. Place the final layer of cake on top of the whipped cream layer. Soak with remaining Kahlua syrup. Top with the remaining whipped cream, then decorate with the pomegranate seeds.
- Chill for at least 1 hour before serving to allow the cake to set.
This weekend we celebrated my dad’s birthday. When I asked him what he wanted, he said it didn’t matter. Birthday’s aren’t important to him because growing up they were never celebrated. To me that’s all the more reason to want to celebrate now. At the very least, a birthday needs a cake.
I was eventually able to get a request for cake with pudding out of him. I had originally planned to make a chocolate pudding tart, but when my mom came home with raspberries those plans changed to a Charlotte. Charlotte’s are molded cakes filled with mousse or custard and surrounded by cake or lady fingers. They are relatively easy to make and look very impressive.
I say relatively because I had a really, really hard time getting the Lady Fingers to stand up. I read several recipes from blogs, cook books, magazines, they all gave the same instruction: stand the lady fingers around the mold. None of them explained how to get them to stand. In the end I cut them in half to give them flat bottoms, making them more balanced.
I filled the Charlotte with a layer of Grand Marnier flavoured pastry cream and another of whipped cream, then topped the whipped cream with raspberries. To tie the flavours together I dipped the Lady Fingers in a Grand Marnier simple syrup. The result was creamy and decadent; the raspberries added the perfect touch of freshness.
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (divided)
- 2 tbsp flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 1/4 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3 tbsp Grand Marnier (divide)
- 1 package store bought Lady Fingers (or home made)
- 250 ml whipping cream
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 1 pint raspberries
- Make the pastry cream: In a heat-proof bowl whisk the egg yolks with 1/4 cup granulated sugar. Whisk in the flour and cornstarch, the mixture should look like a paste. Set aside. Heat the milk and vanilla in a medium sauce pan. Heat till just before boiling (there will be some small bubbles popping up). Pour a small amount of the hot milk into the egg mixture and whisk to combine (this will temper the eggs). Pour in the remaining milk, whisking constantly. Return the custard to the saucepan, turn the heat to medium and whisk constantly until thickened. Stir in 1 tbsp Grand Marnier. Pour into a clean bowl, cover with plastic wrap then set aside to cool.
- Place the Lady Fingers: In a small sauce pan, heat 1/2 cup water with 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tbsp Grand Marnier. Let cool slightly. While cooling cut some the Lady Fingers in half, you will need enough to line the inside of a 9 inch springform pan. Lightly dip one Lady Finger in the simple syrup, then stand it up in the closed springform pan; the flat bottom of the cut Lady Finger should help it stand. Repeat until the entire rim is lined, then fill the base with dipped Lady Fingers. Pour the pastry cream into the springform pan. Refrigerate until set (about an hour).
- Once set whip the cream with the icing sugar. Spread on the pastry cream, then top with the raspberries. Refrigerate until ready to serve, then remove the springform mold.