12 febbraio 2013

Rustic Chocolate Raspberry Almond Valentine Cake for SRC and #chocolatelove, plus, Bad Boy First Love Part Three

First I’d like to start this post with a huge WOOHOO to the Super Bowl XLVI Champs, the NY Giants!  Way to go, Big Blue!
February is definitely a chocolatey month to me, so when I was assigned the blog The Pajama Chef by The Secret Recipe Club for February, my cursor went straight to CHOCOLATE in Sarah’s cloud of categories.  Don’t get me wrong, Sarah’s blog is filled with loads of fantastic recipes of all sorts (Dying to try THESE!), but chocolate has been occupying 99.8% of my brain the past few weeks, so I knew I wouldn’t be happy unless I chose something with chocolate.  I had this whimsical, rustic Valentine cake in mind already, but I didn’t think I would get lucky and find this great one bowl chocolate cake recipe from Martha Stewart which Sarah calls ‘Chocolate Cake that Changes Everything’.  I think I have to agree! It’s so deep, dark, moist and super chocolatey. Sarah made hers in a 13 x 9 -inch pan, but I decided to make it as Martha’s original recipe two 8-inch cake pans.  I had serious plans for this chocolate cake!

One Bowl Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream
 Notice the one broken heart?  Everyone needs to be represented on Valentines Day.
I ended up doubling the recipe and baking four separate 8-inch layers because after the first two were baked, I felt they were a little too thin to be torted, plus, I had lots of homemade fresh, raspberry buttercream and chocolate ganache.  I sliced about 1-inch off the tops, then spread each layer with a milk chocolate ganache peppered with a smashed assortment of Valentine colored Jordan Almonds.  They’re not just for weddings, you know.  I LOVE candy coated nuts.  I used to subsist on Boston Baked Beans in my early 20′s.
Oh Nuts, my favorite place for all things nuts, fruits, candy etc, sent me my choice of 1 lb of Jordan Almonds to play around with – and play I did!  I chose a Valentine mix, and after smashing  some of the Jordan Almonds to smithereens, I stirred them into the ganache while it was still liquid.  This way, you get bits of almonds and candy shell with each bite.  Oh, but I’m not done yet.  The ganache was then topped with that deep pink fresh raspberry buttercream I mentioned above.
I try to avoid food color at all costs, and a fresh raspberry reduction made that possible.  Look at what a beautiful, deep, pink hue it gave the buttercream!  I was originally going to make swiss or italian meringue based buttercreams for the filling and frosting, but with this decadent, deep chocolate cake and all the tempered chocolate hearts I painted, plus chocolate shards and the ganache, I felt it would make the cake far too rich with all the butter.  This is why I made a confectioner’s based buttercream reducing the powdered sugar, for both the raspberry filling and a super, silky dark chocolate frosting – another recipe courtesy of Martha dearest.
I hit a few disasters, both of them with my tempered chocolate decor.  The transfer sheets I used for the hearts did not adhere properly to the chocolate, the red color washed out  (poorly made).  I ended up painting about 20 chocolate hearts with tinted cocoa butters and melted milk and white chocolate.  The cake was supposed to be topped with long, thin chocolate curls and loops.  I wrapped chocolate coated  and tined acetate around a rolling pin to set.  I used two bowls to support the rolling pin while the chocolate set.
Just my luck, when it was set, I accidentally dropped it on the table.  Those shards on top of the cake are the remains *sniff*.  SO, a cake that was supposed to be eclectic and whimsical is now ‘rustic’.

Now onto Part Three of My Bad Boy First Love.  Part One is HERE.  Part Two is HERE.
I couldn’t believe what was happening – this was going to end up being the best and now worst night of my life.  I could already feel my tear ducts conferring with me.  Should we?  Shouldn’t we?  Remember, you don’t wear mascara, so no scary, psycho mime or clown face if we let the waterworks go.
He opened the door and jumped out of the car.  Oh great, I’m so repulsive he couldn’t even stay in the car with me.
Then I saw it.  While we were kissing, I was on another planet.  Meanwhile, on earth, I had still been holding my giant lemonade filled with loads of shaved ice, water, sugar and lemon halves, in my right hand, perched on my knee. Being completely immersed in his awesomeness, wrapped up and taken to all kinds of nirvana over and over, my wrist slowly bent over and the whole lemonade had spilled onto his lap.  I stared at the remaining lemon halves and bits of ice on driver’s seat, almost mocking me.  I heard the trunk open.  There was a little shuffling, then he slammed shut.
He came back to the front and started wiping down the seat with towels.  He had changed into shorts he had in his trunk, along with the towels, for spontaneous ocean dips before or after work.  He gave me a huge smile while wiping everything down to let me know it was ok.  I couldn’t stop apologizing as I grabbed one of the towels and helped him clean the seat and floor of the Beetle.
“Wow, I forgot you were still holding the lemonade!” he exclaimed
“Me too!..I’m SO SO sorry!” (for the 10th time) *this is what you do to me, nothing existed but every bit of body was no longer connected to me, it was part of you*
He stopped, leaned in and gave me a kiss.
“You’re SO sweet, such a sweetheart”
I am?
“Don’t worry, baby, it was accident, but man was it cold!’  He laughed, I laughed.  I was no longer feeling worried or down, although I’m pretty sure something most definitely went ‘down’.  Now, what should we name our first child?  Dreamboat Jr has a nice ring to it.
He put some dry towels down on his seat and got back into the car.  With the interior light on I noticed scar..a healed wide open gash above his left knee on his thigh.  I ran my finger over it..
“How did you get that?”
“Some guy got me with his switch blade in a fight outside L’Amours (a rock club in Brooklyn that closed down in 2004) last March.  A bunch of idiots were giving one of my buddies a hard time over a chick, so we went after them” (bad boy – check one)  He was so nonchalant about it, no different then saying - I went to the store to buy peanut butter.

“OMG, did you call the police, is he in jail now?”
He looked at me quizzically and with amusement.  “Why would I call the cops?  I was just lucky the blade got me there instead of here” He patted his chest.
“BUT, he stabbed you!  You could have bled to death!, He should be in prison!” I almost squealed
He laughed and flashed me his gorgeous smile.  “I just wrapped it in a ripped t-shirt to stop the bleeding, then cleaned it out and taped it when I got home” (tough guy – check)
I was flabbergasted.  That wound most definitely had needed stitches. He was enjoying my wide-eyed innocence over the situation, but he didn’t understand.  Where I come from (or where most people come from!), if someone gets stabbed, not only does the stabber get locked up, but a trial ensues and lawsuits would be hitting the switch blade guy, his family, his friends, friends of friends, and anyone associated with him, like paint balls with the target in full view.
God forbid it affects Chip’s tennis swing and there would be hell to pay if he had to sit out the JV football season even though he sat most of the time anyway because he sucked or wasn’t big enough to play football.  In High School, everyone makes the team, because that’s what they’re supposed to do so no one is left out.
I still remember 5’3″ guys strutting down the hallways in their football jerseys, thinking they were so damn cool, when realistically, the only time they got into a game was in a blowout with 30 seconds to go in the 4th quarter.
I digress.
While I was thinking of names for our second child, I realized, he was not only ‘baaaaaaaad’ in such a good way, he was also wicked tough and incredibly brave.  Nothing seemed to rattle him.  You’d never find this guy hiding under a table if a fight broke out.  Pinch me.

In order for the chocolate hearts to stick, you need a textured frosting.  The sloppier, the better, although I didn’t use enough myself to really push them in.
He took out a joint and asked if I minded if he took a hit or two and did I want one too? (bad boy, check two).  Of course I didn’t mind..he could do just about anything and I probably wouldn’t mind.  OK, I never liked pot..the few times I tried it, all it did was make me laugh a lot (only good part of it), eat a lot, induce paranoia, then put me to sleep.  What the heck, I or two hits wouldn’t kill me.
After our 5 second stoner interlude, he pulled me close to him. He wrapped his arms around me….”Hug me..I’m still a little cold”
We hugged each other tight..and remained that way for a while, my face nestled in the crook of his neck..inhaling him, while he kissed my head and stroked my back and hair.  I could stay like this forever. (The stanza ‘we danced so close and danced so slow, I swore I’d never let you go’ kept running through my head when I typed this paragraph.  Bon Jovi, NJ – kill me now.)
Soon, we were back to kissy face…for what seemed like hours.  The DJ’s voice broke the kiss for moment when he announced that it was quarter to 4 in the morning.  Holy sh*t, my mother usually woke up at 5 or 6 am.  I needed to get home quick!  I didn’t want to..I wanted to stay with him forever.  He was 18, maybe he could adopt me or become my guardian, kind of like that whole weird Elvis and Priscilla thing.
I had a hard time saying it.
“I..I umm..have to get home, my Mother will probably be really worried if she wakes and I’m not there”  I omitted any sentences that included ‘curfew’ and ‘we snuck out after curfew’.

One Bowl Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

“I know, baby..just so hard to let you go..but I don’t want your Mother worrying” – he caressed my cheek with such tenderness, I wanted to cry.
He turned the key in the ignition..a few coughs and chokes.  Turned it again, more coughs and chokes.  He waited a minute, then tried again.  More long coughs and chokes.
Great, not only did I soak his jeans and freeze his lap with mega-iced lemonade, but now the spill has caused his Beetle, the one he brought back to life all by himself, to die.
Oh wait, the engine isn’t in the seat or on the floor.  OK, maybe the mad heat between us, for hours, caused the Bug to not coöperate.  Helloooo, Christine.  I waited for more 70′s tunes to start blasting on the radio.
“Well..looks like I need to walk you home, sweetheart” (I loved when he called me that – it’s something older people usually called me, which just accentuated his maturity).
He gave me yet another huge smile, locked up the car, and took my hand.  He wasn’t bothered in the least.  It was at least a 3 mile walk.
“You’re just going to leave your car here?  Maybe we should find a pay phone and you can call a tow..”
“Nahh..she does this every so often, just needs a jump, I’ll get one later”
She?  Yep, the bitch hated me.  I was stealing her man. I looked back at her uneasily..expecting her to start-up on her own, Black Sabbath blaring – and try to run me down.
Those thoughts were gone in a second as he wrapped his arms around me and pulled me into yet another amazing kiss.  Then we held hands and walked.  Then we’d look at each other and start kissing as we were walking.  Then we’d stop and hug and kiss, ad infinitum. This is what went on the entire walk back to my Seaside cottage, this is what also disgusts people when they see it or read about it, as in ‘get a room already’, but when you’re IN IT, it’s awesome and you don’t give two sh*ts.

We finally made it back to the cottage..where my friend was probably tucked snuggly in bed and my Mother was probably starting to stir.  It was almost 5 am. It took us forever to say goodbye.  He took both of my hands in his and said ..
“I’ve never felt like this before with anyone” *OMG*
“Neither have I” *Yeah, with only a few kisses and one ‘sort of’ BF under my belt, Miss Lisa big talker*
We kissed some more…hugged for a while…sort of rocking.  This was so nice, I wished we could fly away together.  Then I heard a toilet flush inside the cottage.  Uh Oh.
Can I see you tomorrow night after I get off of work?” *YES! YES! YES!*
“Sure, I would like that”
“Carousel, ok?”
I watched him walk away, god he even walked sexy.  When he turned the corner, I did something like THIS (again) - starting at 2:53.
BUT, when I opened the door, my world changed forever, still floating, there she was..My Mother, red in the face.  I could almost see the steam spewing from every orifice as she screamed at me.
I ran to my room and slammed the door.  The yelling woke my friend up, but just briefly. I put the covers over my head to drown out her yelling..I didn’t want to lose one modicum of every moment with him.  I could still smell him on me.
Keep checking back for Part Four of Bad Boy First Love – I’m thinking the 14th, but aiming for sooner.  In case you were wondering…there will also be a Part 5 and it will be the last installment.  I had no clue it was going to go this far..seriously..but so much more to tell!
Now for the linky’s.  First one is for this month’s Secret Recipe Club.  Click the blue froggy to see a gallery of amazing dishes from all of our blog assignments!

This month also happens to be #chocolatelove in the lovebloghop I’m a member of. Link up any chocolate recipe from the month of February 2012. Don’t forget to link back to this post, so that your readers know to stop by the #chocolatelove event! The twitter hashtag is #chocolatelove.  Click below to see a ton of beautiful and decadent chocolate creations!
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One Bowl Deep Dark Chocolate Cake with Jordan Almond Ganache and  Fresh Raspberry Buttercream
I forgot to trim the top layer, so the heavy, moist cake with all that chocolate on top squished down the other layers.  Did it matter when we ate it?  Ummm..NO.

Rustic Chocolate Raspberry Almond Valentine Cake

2 recipes Martha Stewart’s One Bowl Chocolate Cake – Making 4 8-inch layers - omit frosting in this recipe
Martha Stewart’s Dark Chocolate Frosting

Jordan Almond Milk Chocolate Ganache

9 ounces good quality, chopped milk chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Framboise (optional)
2/3 cup Oh Nuts whole Jordan Almonds, preferably in Valentine colors (red, white and pink), smashed to bits in a ziplock using a mallet

Fresh Raspberry Buttercream

Adapted from Making Life Delicious

24 ounces fresh raspberries
2 sticks unsalted butter
1 teaspoon lemon juice
big pinch of kosher salt
3 1/2 to 4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1.  Make the milk chocolate – Jordan Almond ganache.  Place the chopped milk chocolate in a medium-sized bowl.  Boil the cream on the stove until it’s bubbling.  Pour over chopped chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes as is, then stir until uniform.  Stir in bashed to smithereens Jordan Almonds and Framboise, if using.  Cover and place in the fridge for several hours.
2.  Make the cakes. Cut about 1/2 inch off the tops of all four layers of cake. Wrap each layer tightly in plastic wrap, and chill until ready to assemble cake.
3. Make Dark Chocolate Frosting, cover and set aside.
4. Make the fresh raspberry reduction for the buttercream.  In a medium to large saucepan, cook down the raspberries until they’ve broken down and released their juices..they will be  floating in their own liquid – super saucy.  If you use frozen, this will take longer.  Strain cooked down raspberries in a fine meshed sieve into a bowl, pressing down on them to get every bit of liquid out.  You should have about 1 cup raspberry juice.  Place this back in a clean saucepan, and cook down until reduced to 1/2 cup.  It should be thick - like chocolate syrup, and will be dark blood red.  Set aside until completely cool (I put it in the fridge).
5.  Make the fresh raspberry buttercream.  In a bowl, beat the two sticks of butter until creamy.  Add in 2 cups of powdered sugar, the reduced raspberry sauce, the lemon juice and huge pinch of kosher salt.  Beat until creamy and uniform in color.  Add as much powdered sugar to get a nice, thick, but still creamy consistency.  I only used a little less  than 3 1/2 cups.  If you end up adding too much, drizzle in a couple of tablespoons of milk or cream until you reach desired consistency.
6.  Assemble Cake.  Place one layer, cut side up, on a cake plate or board (I glue down the first layer of all cakes with a dab of buttercream so it stays put).  Spread about 1/2 cup of thickened ganache within 1/8-inch of the edge.  Top with about 1 to  1 1/2 cups of the raspberry buttercream.  Top with next layer and press down.  Repeat above.  Do the same with one more layer, then top with last layer, pressing down.
7.  Frost cake sloppily, meaning thick with swirls or lines, so the hearts can stick - don’t smooth it out.  Use the icing spatula to make swirls or lines all around it.
8.  Top with homemade or any chocolate hearts and decorations you like, placing them around the cake too – pressing them lightly into the frosting.  Top with a few Valentine Jordan Almonds.  Chill for a bit for easier cutting.  Enjoy!

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