Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Blackberry Red Wine Chocolate Cake

Hello! This is my first post of my online database of recipes, tips, and tricks. I hope you like it! I made this cake for my master's cello recital, and it went over very well, definitely recommend making this if you get a chance~ 

2 cups sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dark or dutch-processed cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 eggs at room temperature*
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup blackberry wine** 

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened and cut into cubes
3 3/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 cup heavy cream, cold
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 cup blackberry preserves

Chocolate ganache:
3.5 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
2 tablespoons heavy cream
4 tablespoons powdered sugar, sifted
4-5 tablespoons warm water

* If you just took your eggs out of the refrigerator and they are cold, you can place them in a bowl of very warm water for about five minutes, which will bring them to room temperature. Room temperature eggs will create more volume in baked goods than cold eggs. 

** If you can't find blackberry red wine, don't fret! You can experiment with any sweeter red wine, if using a dry red you can add a little more sugar. Blackberry definitely imparts a distinctive flavor though.  


     Preheat oven to 350ºF. Butter and line two 9-inch round baking pans with parchment paper. Butter parchment. You can use a cooking spray for convenience, or take a paper towel and dip it in some cooking oil. 
     In a large mixing bowl, combine your dry ingredients: sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder. Mix for about thirty seconds, until everything is thoroughly mixed. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, buttermilk, wine, oil, and vanilla. Mix lightly to combine, and add to the dry mixture. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until all dry ingredients are incorporated. Don't over mix! Divide evenly among prepared pans. One trick is to lift the pans a couple of inches off the kitchen counter, and then drop them- this will release air bubbles, giving the cakes a more even rise. 
     Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack until cool. Run a butter knife around the edges of each pan, then take the cakes out carefully. Let them finish cooling. During this time, you can either pace around your kitchen, pausing every minute or so to check on them, or finish cleaning your dirty dishes (you know what to do, people). Once cool, if not using for awhile, you can wrap them in plastic wrap and aluminium foil and pop into the freezer for up to a month. I would go ahead and freeze the cakes anyway, since it makes frosting the cake much easier. 
     Whip butter for about five minutes, until the color lightens and butter looks fluffy. Don't set your mixer above medium- setting it on high will overheat and melt the butter, and the frosting won't be as light and airy. Add in the powdered sugar a little bit at a time, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Keep mixing, adding the cream, and then vanilla. 

Frost it: 

     Take your cakes out of the freezer (put them in the freezer for 30 minutes- they will be easier to frost). If necessary, level the tops of them using a serrated knife. Place one cake bottom side down on a flat plate, or cake stand. Place half of the blackberry preserves on the cake, smoothing with a spatula. Then cover with 1/2 cup of frosting. Top with second cake, this time flat side up. Again, layer with second half of the blackberry preserves, and then lightly frost the entire cake. This will be your crumb coat- it shouldn't look pretty. The purpose of the crumb coat is to create a smooth surface for the final frosting layer. Make sure that no patches of cake are showing underneath, then put in the refrigerator to set for about fifteen minutes. While the cake is setting, make your ganache!


     Combine dark chocolate and heavy cream in a microwave proof bowl. Microwave for 20 second intervals, stirring in between. Keep an eye on the chocolate to make sure it doesn't overheat and burn! Once the chocolate and cream are deliciously melted and smooth, then add in the powdered sugar, whisking well. Add in the water, one tablespoon at a time, mixing well until the consistency is very viscous. Set aside to cool to room temperature. At this point, take the cake out of the refrigerator, and frost it for realz!

     Put a big dollop of frosting on the top of the cake. With a spatula, sweep the frosting to the edges of the cake, and work your way down to the sides of the cake. Sometimes it helps to keep a cup of warm water nearby, and when needed dip the spatula in the warm water, and wipe dry. This will warm up the spatula, which warms up the frosting to make it easier to spread, and smoother to boot!   
     Take the cooled ganache, and pour it slowly over the top of the cake. Use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate ganache over the sides of the cake. Pour as little, or as much as you want! Decorate, and place in the refrigerator to set. I decorated my cake with blackberries and edible gold hearts (alas, not made out of real gold), but the blackberries bled a little juice, so make sure to put the fruit on at the last minute to prevent splotchy juice on your cake! You can pipe some decorative frosting at the bottom of the cake, or any design you want, have fun with it! 

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