Monday, July 19, 2010

Espresso Chocolate-Chip Pound Cake with Ganache Glaze . . .

I've been wallowing lately, but not in anything bad. Not in mud, self pity, or anything unpleasant like that. Just in some really luscious cookbooks. Have you ever seen this one? It's not new, or even newish, but that doesn't diminish its appeal one bit.

Baking by Flavor, written by Lisa Yockelson, could keep you busy for a long time. Tossed onto a deserted tropical island--one with a fully equipped kitchen--you'd be content to work from this book right up until you were rescued a few months later. (Oh, and when you arrive on the island, I highly recommend you turn first to the coconut based recipes. Nothing like using local produce, right?)

The book is organized by primary flavors, rather than by particular food type. Personally,  I find this approach enormously practical. This is almost always how I first embark upon  the search for a good recipe. My quest begins with the desire to feature a particular flavor, and not necessarily the yen to produce a cake versus a pie versus a cookie versus a you-name-it. Is it like that for you too?

About this cake . . .
This velvety pound cake is like a well orchestrated composition. It's flavors are deep, rich, and expressive.  My husband, coffee maniac that he is, is quite enamored. My younger son--the chocolate fan extraordinaire--also gave it high marks, and augmented his slice with a scoop of homemade chocolate-almond  ice cream (that boy knows how to enjoy a dessert!).

While baking this last week, I stuck pretty closely to the original formula with a few very small alterations. The most obvious adjustment entailed cloaking the baked cake in a creamy ganache instead of brushing it with a coffee and liqueur syrup.  (The ganache recipe isn't from the book. It's something for which you hardly need a recipe, and it's a pretty standard formula, anywhere you look.)

This cake can accommodate a massive crowd and, rich as it is, thinner slices are usually the way to go. Don't forget to serve it along with a big pot of java . . . but you might want to make that decaf! (And don't panic, all those little coffee beans in the photos are just there for effect; I'm not suggesting you sprinkle them on the cake!)

Espresso Chocolate Chip Pound Cake . . . with Ganache Glaze

(For a printable version of this recipe, click here!)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a tube pan, or a 9" to 10" springform pan fitted with the tube insert, with vegetable shortening. Line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper cut to fit. Grease the paper. Dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess.

2 tsp. instant espresso powder
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. hot water
2 and 3/4 cups unsifted All-Purpose flour, unbleached
1/4 cup unsifted cake flour
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. Dutch processed cocoa
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 cups dark chocolate chips, coarsely chopped
1/2 lb. unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, with all lumps broken up
5 eggs, large
1 cup sour cream, thick style
2 Tbsp. heavy cream

For the ganache: 
1 and 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 and 1/2 cups chopped dark chocolate

To make the cake:
Stir together the espresso powder, vanilla extract, and hot water in a very small bowl.

Onto a large sheet of parchment or wax paper, sift together the flour, cake flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium size bowl, toss the chocolate pieces with about 1 Tbsp. of this flour mixture. Set both aside.

In the large bowl of your mixer, cream the butter on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl.

Pour in the granulated sugar in 3 additions, mixing for about 1 minute after each addition. Scrape the bowl frequently to ensure even mixing. Add in all of the brown sugar and beat for 1 more minute. Scrape again.

One at a time, add in the eggs, beating for 45 seconds after each one. Scrape!

Blend in the espresso mixture.

On low speed, add in the sifted ingredients alternately with the sour cream (3 additions of flour and 2 additions of the sour cream). Scrape after each addition.

Blend in the heavy cream.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in the chocolate pieces well with a spatula.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top.

Bake the cake on the middle rack of your oven for about 70 minutes or more, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake starts to pull away slightly from the sides of the pan. (I put my pan on top of a baking sheet to help prevent the possibility of burning the bottom of the cake. If you are concerned about this too, do the same. I also checked the cake about half an hour into baking, and covered the top lightly with foil to prevent over-browning. My oven is temperamental this way.)

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 to 15 minutes. (If you used a springform pan, remove the sides of the pan after only 5 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge if there seems to be any resistance at all.)

Invert the cake onto another cooling rack, remove the parchment paper and invert the cake again so it's right side up. Allow the cake to completely cool on the rack.

To make the ganache:

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium size bowl. In a heavy sauce pan, warm the heavy cream over a low flame. Do not let it boil. Pour all of the warm cream over the chocolate and let it sit undisturbed for a few minutes, then gently stir until all the chocolate is melted, completely blended in, and the ganache is smooth.

Wait until the ganache is closer to room temperature before spooning or pouring it over the cooled cake. (Be sure to place the cake on a rack over a sheet pan, to catch the drips, before pouring or spooning on the ganache! You can save and refrigerate any extra ganache to use for something else.)

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