Sunday, July 21, 2013

Cookies n' Cream Chocolate Cake

It's been a very long time since I last wrote a post, and before that my posts were few and far between. Most of you who follow my posts are likely aware that my lack of attention towards blogging was due to being in school and being rather busy. Well, I am happy to announce that I officially finished my Masters of Social Work degree at the end of June. Yippeee!!!! No more school for a bit [and yes I say a bit because I may pursue further studies down the road, who knows!]. As for the last month, I've started a new job as a Researcher Assistant [which really means a glorified student that gets paid -insert sigh and eye roll], although it allows me to work from home, hours are completely flexible and it's not full-time, which is absolutely wonderful for the summer. Come the fall I will likely look for an additional part-time job, but for now I'm enjoying the downtime. I've also gone through some significant personal changes in the last month that have thrown things a little topsy-turvy for me, so I'm just trying to get back into my groove now. Hopefully that means more blogging!

But enough about me, let's talk about this Cookies n' Cream Chocolate Cake, now there's an alliteration for ya. I've made the chocolate cake base that I used here several times now, and would say that it's tried and true. I made a small adjustment this past time because I didn't have espresso powder, and everything turned out just as delicious as always. The dark, rich and moist chocolate cake paired perfectly with the sweetness of the frosting, which by the way, deserves a platter on it's own. Now I love all frostings (although some are a bit too sweet for me), but this one tasted exactly like cookies n' cream ice cream, which I haven't had in years and years and now I'm craving... hmm that gives me an idea! Topped with a satiny chocolate glaze, swirls of frosting and oreos and you've got yourself one decadent cake.

For the cake:
1 1/3 cup flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
heaping 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened to room temp
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temp
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temp
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon sour cream, at room temp
1 oz melted bittersweet chocolate
1 1/2 tablespoon milk

For the buttercream frosting:
10 oreos
1 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temp
4-5 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons whipping cream (1/2 & 1/2 or milk works too) depending on how stiff frosting is

For the chocolate glaze:
5 oz bittersweet chocolate
1/4 cup butter

Additional oreos for decoration

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease two 6-inch round cake pans with butter or shortening. Line the bottoms with parchment paper, grease the paper, dust the pans with flour, and knock out any excess flour.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs and vanilla and mix well, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. In a separate small bowl, combine the buttermilk, sour cream and melted chocolate. On low speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk mixture into the creamed butter in thirds, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Mix the batter only until blended.

Divide the batter between the two pans and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean (my oven seems to bake things slower so my cakes often take a little longer). Cool for 10 minutes on a rack, remove from the pans, and allow to finish cooling.

To make the frosting, beat the butter in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment until light and smooth. Add the powdered sugar to the butter and mix on low initially (to avoid a poof of sugar in your face), and gradually increase speed. Beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes.

In a food processor, gently pulse oreos until they are broken down into fine pieces (not crumbs). Alternatively, you can chop by hand. Combine the chopped oreos, vanilla and 2 tablespoons of cream into the whipped butter. If the frosting is too stiff, gradually add 1 tablespoon cream into frosting until it reaches your desired consistency.

To assemble the cake, level the tops of both cakes, and then cut each layer in half, resulting in 4 layers. (At this point it helps to freeze the cake layers for 20-30 minutes to make it easier to frost). Frost the top of the first layer with the buttercream. Place the next three layers on top, repeating the first step. Once all 4 layers are assembled, frost the sides and smooth over. Reserve 1/2 cup of frosting for decorating.

I like to use a rotating cake table to decorate, found here, as well as an angled spatula for the tops, such as this one, and a flat spatula for the sides, like this.

Refrigerate cake. In the meantime, roughly chop the bittersweet chocolate and place in a microwave safe bowl. Microwave chocolate in bursts of 20 seconds, stirring after each time, until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into small cubes and add into melted chocolate, stirring until all of the butter is melted. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Remove cake from fridge and spoon chocolate glaze over top, allowing it to drip over the edges. Once glaze is on, return to fridge for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, fit a piping bag with a decorative tip of your choice, and fill with remaining frosting. Once the glaze has set on the cake, top with decorative swirls and an oreo on each swirl.

Sources: Cake slightly adapted from Annie's Eats, who adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook by Ina Garten and Martha Stewart. Chocolate glaze taken from Tracey's Culinary Adventures. Buttercream by Sweet Treats n' Healthy Eats.
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