Thursday, 14 February 2013

Valentine's Day and Everyday Chocolate Cake

Valentine's Day + Chocolate Cake

Happy Valentine's Day! I have mixed feeling on this holiday. It is a fun day to celebrate love and all things chocolate but it also can be a letdown as there is pressure to get the right gift, get reservations at your favourite restaurant and having a romantic evening even if you don't have a romantic bone in your body that day. As I type this, I realise that there is more Valentine's Day pressure happens in the US, where kids give out Valentine's Day cards and candy at school, couples go out to dinner and the consumerism of buying candy and all things red at stores (t-shirts, chocolate boxes in heart shapes, teddy bears, etc.) is ever present. Australia is very low key on holidays. Except for Christmas and Easter, I don't see much craziness or consumerism around me. In fact, I don't think my daughters even knew it was Valentine's Day until this morning when they found some candy and card on their place mat at breakfast. If only we could get chocolate at breakfast every day, they remarked. They wouldn't give out cards nor candy and they will wear their blue uniforms to school as always. 
Since I don't know much about the history of Valentine's Day, I looked it up on Wikipedia. St. Valentine's Day began as a celebration of an early Christian saint named Valerntinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote "from your Valentine" as a farewell to her. The day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished. By the 15th century, it had evolved into an occasion in which lovers expressed their love for each other by presenting flowers, offering candy, and sending greeting cards (known as "valentines").Valentine's Day symbols that are used today include the heart shaped outline, doves, and the figure of the winged Cupid. Since the 19th century, handwritten valentines have given way to mass-produced greeting cards. Geoffrey Chaucer, author of 'Canterbury Tales' started modern day Valentine's Day....who knew?!
movie poster by
I am a movie buff - comedy, epics, drama, art house, subtitles, you name it. My favourite movie concerning love is 'Love Actually.' The first line, spoken by Hugh Grant, showing people arriving at the airport is the best. (Note, the movie was made in 2003, hence the referral to the Twin Towers) - "Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think about the arrivals gate at Heathrow Airport. General opinion's starting to make out that we live in a world of hatred and greed, but I don't see that. It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends. When the planes hit the Twin Towers, as far as I know, none of the phone calls from the people on board were messages of hate or revenge - they were all messages of love. If you look for it, I've got a sneaky feeling you'll find that love actually is all around." Ahhhhh.......

I have made an everyday chocolate cake this week. I call it that because it is very easy to make in just 1 saucepan. You probably have all the ingredients you need in your cupboard, except for the sarsaparilla or root beet soda. I know, sounds weird, heh? You can't taste it in the cake but the cake is delicious and moist and seems to taste better as it ages so it really keeps well. I buy a 4-pack of Sars or Bundaberg brand here in Sydney and use 1 bottle for the recipe and store the other 3 bottles for the future. This is my go to cake and a recipe I have made often. The recipe below can be used to make a 2-layer cake or a bundt cake or a tube cake. It can be frosted or served with whipped cream, ice cream and/or berries. 

For Valentine's Day, I made a 2-layer cake with frosting. As soon as people hear that a cake has to be frosted, they lose all confidence thinking they can't frost a cake, they don't have the tools, it wouldn't look pretty,etc. Say it isn't so - you can do it! 

Everyday Chocolate Cake
evolved from Root Beer Bundt Cake in the Baked cookbook 

  • 1/2 cup or 115g salted butter, cut into several chunks
  • 1 bottle or 2 cups Bundaberg or Sars sarsaparilla or other root beer (do not use diet root beer)
  • 1 cup cocoa powder, unsweetened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup  brown sugar, firmly packed 
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature if possible
  • 2 cups all-purpose plain flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

Vanilla Dream Frosting
  • 1/3 cup or 75g butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups powdered or icing sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tablespoons milk

  • 1) Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degrees Celsius.

  • 2) In large saucepan, slowly melt butter then add sarsaparilla and cocoa powder and stir until  melted and combined.

  • 3) Remove from heat and *wait 20-30 minutes* for it to cool down. 
  • (If it does not cool down, when you add eggs, they will cook....think egg drop soup - yuck)

  • 4) Add eggs and vanilla essence and stir in until smooth.
  • aren't the eggs are so bright ?! delicious

  • 5) Add 1 cup of flour + all baking soda and hand stir until smooth. Then add remaining cup of flour and hand stir again until smooth. It should be lumpy; do not over beat as it will affect the texture.
  • all in 1 pan - easy!
      see, it's a bit lumpy

  • 6) Divide batter between 2 greased round cake tins.

  • 7) Cook for 35-40 minutes, rotating pans 1/2 way through cooking if you remember.

  • 8) Remove from oven and cool.

1) Place all 4 ingredients in a mixer or a bowl with hand mixer and beat on low (so sugar doesn't "dust" your kitchen) and then once blended, beat on high for 2-3 minutes, until frosting is light airy and has increased several times in size. 
whip it, whip it good

2) Compare both cakes and place the flatter one on a plate.

3) Put 1/2 the frosting in a big "blob" on the centre of the cake. Using a spatula, start spreading the frosting in a circular direction until all the batter is evenly spread out into 1 thick layer. Do not frost the sides. That is where it gets tricky and messy; leave the sides of the cake bare.

4)Add the top layer of the cake and frost the cake the same way as above.

5) Add you own decorations to accent the cake. I happen to have red heart sprinkles in the closet so I used them. Use any sprinkles, candy, fruit, etc. that you'd like. Enjoy!

0 yorum:

Post a Comment

Special design for SuzyQ Under Down by GeCe