Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Chocolate Tres Leche Cake

Well the holiday is here.  It seems as if everyone has their "specialty" when it comes to food for the holiday table.  However, when it comes to bloggers, we always like to dazzle guests with something new.  However, I was advised that someone else was in charge of the baked goods this year and there would only be one dessert.

This did not bother me because of my co-workers.  Such as the guy that apologized for having to eat all the time at his desk, but as skinny as a rail. Others eat what they want and put on the tennis shoes shortly thereafter for a workout.  Then their are the bland eaters, who have ramen noodles every day for lunch.  All of them are always ready with a fork when it comes to dessert.

This recipe is a spin on the traditional tres leche cake.  I have never had the original, but when I came upon a chocolate version, it gave me the right incentive to try a tres leche cake.   Like most tres leches cakes this one was oozing with flavor.  The blend of chocolate, rum and dairy soaked into this chocolate sponge type cake made this cake a memorable one.  Also, the light whipped cream frosting was the perfect topper.

Chocolate Tres Leche Cake
adapted from website

8 egg whites
5 egg yolks
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup water
1 tsp vanilla extract
butter for greasing pans
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp instant coffee crystals
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp plus 1 pinch salt
1 3/4 cup cake flour and some for dusting pans
1/2 cup unsweetened dutch process cocoa

Ingredients/Tres Leche
1-12 oz can evaporated milk
1-14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup half and half
1/2 cup dark rum
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate chopped
pinch of salt

Ingredients/ Topping
3 cups heavy cold cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1-two to four oz chocolate bar for garnish with curls or grated on top

To make the cake, prepare 2- 9 inch cake pans by buttering the interior.  Then line the bottom of each with parchment paper and butter the face up side.  Then dust the interior with flour and empty out excess.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Fill a small heatproof bowl with the cocoa.  Then put the water in a microwave bowl, or a saucepan bring to a boil.  Remove and stir in coffee crystals until dissolved.  Pour into the bowl of cocoa and whisk until there are no lumps.  Let mixture cool 15-20 minutes.

In one bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder.  Then stir in only 1/2 cup and 2 tbs of the sugar.  In the next bowl (which should be large) whisk together the egg yolks, vanilla extract and the oil. Pour the cooled cocoa mixture into the eggs and whisk, until evenly blended.  Then pour this batter into the sifted, dry ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Set aside.

For the egg white mixture, fill the bowl of a stand mixer with the egg whites, cream of tartar and pinch of salt.  Beat at medium high speed for 2 minutes.   Add the remaining sugar (1/2 cup and 2 tbs) slowly into the egg whites as you continue to beat.  This should take about a minute to blend and then continue to whip for an additional two minutes until the mixture has stiff, glossy peaks.

Fold 1/3 of the egg whites into the chocolate batter, being careful with the blending so as to retain the consistency of the whites.  Once no white streaks remain, add the rest in two increments, following the same process for each addition.  Pour an equal amount of batter into each pan.

Place pans in oven side by side.  Bake for 40-45 minutes and rotate at the halfway mark.  Cakes are done when tester comes out clean.  Cakes should cool in pans on racks for 10 minutes.  Invert and peel off parchment paper and let cool completely.  Then invert again.  Using a serrated edge knife, cut a thin layer off the top of each cake.  This exposes the sponge for the soak and also gives you an opportunity to even out the layers.

Wash and dry the cake pans and place each cooled layer back into a clean cake pan.

Then prepare the soak.  Fill a heat proof bowl with the chocolate.  Then bring the half and half to a boil, either in a saucepan or in the microwave.  Remove from heat and pour over the chocolate and let sit for 1 minute and then whisk to make sure it is blended and all chocolate is melted.  Stir in the rum, evaporated milk, condensed milk and salt.

Using one third of the soak, divide evenly and pour onto each cake.  Let sit for 1/2 hour.  Continue with the process until all soak has been poured on the cakes and 30 minutes has passed between each session.  Cover and refrigerate for 4 hours or freeze for 1 1/2 hour.   After the chilling time, invert each onto a plate over the sink.  There still may be some of the soak mixture that drips off and was not absorbed.

For the filling/topping, beat the whipped cream on medium high for about 2 minutes.  Add the powdered sugar and vanilla and beat until soft peaks form.  Put one layer of the cake onto a cake plate.  Top with 1/3 of the whipped cream.  Then divide the remaining whipped cream in half.  Place the other cake layer on top of the cream topped layer.  Then smooth one portion of the whipped cream over the top and the rest on the sides.  Refrigerate at least 20 minutes for whipped cream to set.  Then garnish the top with grated or curled chocolate prior to serving.

Notes and tips:
1. The longer the soak the stronger the rum, so use the chilling time as a guideline indicating the minimum amount of time required.
2. if you have issues releasing the cake from the pans after the soak & chill time, take a sponge that is rinsed with hot water and squeezed out and wipe over the bottom of the pans.  This make take 2-4 passes but it does help with the release.
3. I used whipped cream stabilizer and followed directions on the label to figure out the amount to
add to the topping.
4. I always measure batter before filling pans for more even layers.  The split batter worked out to
about 3 2/3 cup for each pan.
                         **LAST YEAR: Chocolate Banana Slices***