Sunday, January 12, 2014

German Chocolate Cake

     I did not post much recently, and I wanted to give some explanation for my disappearance. In the food blogging world, the holidays are a frenzy of recipe testing and posting to pair with the merriment and holly hanging around the house. I was definitely recipe testing through the month (top contenders go to an old-fashioned apple cake with bourbon brown-sugar icing and a chocolate zucchini clove cake with whipped honey hazelnut frosting). However, the beginning of November through New Years Day is my absolute favorite time of the year and I was already working and thinking about baking in that fashion all the time. I needed some time to bake for myself, for my friends, and for my family. I needed to enjoy the time baking for what it sparks in me and what I can give to those around me with a brief intermission from writing and photographing it. 
     Luckily, I felt very rejuvenated in this process. I hope you guys all had a chance to bake for your own peace and to share with those you love over the holidays as well. Coming back, I was thinking about what I wanted to post next and in the fashion of baking for my soul, I settled on a German Chocolate Cake. I have wanted to make one for a long time and really what could be better for your soul than that?? 
     Then I made the cake...the filling did not thicken up as much as it was supposed too, so instead of being a thicker frosting-like consistency, it was more coconut and pecans as the filling with a lighter liquidy mixture. I was so bummed and I felt I could never post what in my mind was seemingly a "disaster cake." However, then I tried it and good god, I went back and forth deciding what to do. It is true, it was not the perfect traditional German Chocolate Cake. However, such a delicious resulting mishap could not be hidden from people. The cake had to be shared.
      The cake is moist chocolate, whose depth comes from cocoa powder, semi-sweet chocolate and sour cream. The edges caramelizes ever so slightly on the to form the perfect sugary bite in the cake with just the right balance. Then the two layers are cut in half to form four thin layers of cake. This is absolutely perfect for maximizing coconut-pecan goo enjoyment. Since the frosting did not thicken up enough, it formed a slightly thick, rich, moist, milky, sweet simple syrup that soaked through each layer into pure bliss. It left the coconut and pecans behind to form a sugary coated delicious filling between each layer. It was decadent and rich. You know what, folks? I don't care if it wasn't like your traditional German Chocolate Cake. It was to die for and I at more of that cake than most I have ever made. So now, I am sharing this unique treat, embracing my imperfection, and enjoying the heck out of another giant slice of this lovely cake. 
(If you want the thicker frosting, we will go over that in instructions, but really I think you should give this a try!)
Very very barely adapted from Cook's Illustrated "Baking Book"
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (broken up)
1/4 C Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 C boiling water
2 C all-purpose flour
3/4 TSP baking soda (a scant 3/4 TSP at altitude)
12 TBSP unsalted butter
1 C granulated sugar
2/3 C packed light brown sugar
3/4 TSP salt
4 large eggs, room temp
1 TSP vanilla extract
3/4 C sour cream

4 large egg yolks
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated milk
1 C granulated sugar
1/4 C packed light brown sugar
6 TBSP cold butter, cut into pieces
2 pinches of salt
2 TSP vanilla extract
2 1/2 C sweetened shredded coconut 
1 3/4 C toasted, chopped pecans

1. Place oven rack in lower two thirds of oven and preheat it to 350 F. Grease two 9 in cake pans and line them with parchment paper.
2. Combine chocolate and cocoa powder in a small bowl, then pour the boiling water over it and stir until it is all melted together. Allow the mixture to cool.
3. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.
4. Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer and very large bowl) beat the butter and both sugars together on high until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes). 
5. Add the eggs, one at a time and beat until combined.
6. Add in the vanilla extract and beat until light and fluffy on medium-high speed (for about 45 seconds.) 
7. Add chocolate, beat on low to incorporate, then increase to medium speed for an additional 30 seconds.
8. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour and sour cream in alternating additions (3 additions for the flour and the sour cream in 2; start and end with the flour mixture.) Scrape the sides down as necessary and give the mixture a final stir by hand to make sure all is fully incorporated.
9. Divide the batter evenly into the pans, smooth the tops with a rubber spatula, and bake for 30 minutes until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.
10. Remove the cakes and let them cool for 10 minutes before inverting. Then let the cakes cool for an additional 2 hours before assembly. 

1. Whisk the egg yolks in a medium-sized saucepan, then gradually pour in the evaporated milk. 
2. Add both types of sugars, butter, and salt and continue to whisk constantly over medium-high heat, until the mixture is frothy and thickened. The mixture should coat the back of a spoon and not fill in the lines if you were to draw your finger across it horizontally (Nappe consistency).
3. Remove from the heat, transfer the liquid to a bowl and stir in the coconut.
4. Cool until warm, cover directly with plastic and place in the fridge until it has completely cooled.
5. When you are ready to assemble, stir in the pecan pieces and begin. 

-There are not photos for most this this because I had to be whisking constantly to prevent the eggs from curdling.

 1. Using a sharp, serrated knife, cut each 9 in cake in half so you have 4 thin disks. Begin by tracing an even line around the perimeter of the cake with your knife then following that line, cut in and around the cake.
2. Lay down one piece, then scoop 1 cup of filling onto the cake and spread evenly, making sure to bring it all the way to the edges. Repeat with each layer until all four have been place down. Pour all of the remaining filling mixture over top and spread in the same fashion as before.

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