Chocolate Raspberry Charlotte Cake

Hello again!

I have had an extended absence from the blogging world, and for that, I am sorry! It has been a crazy last month and a half. Since my last post (almost a month ago! Agghh!) classes have ended, final exams are over, graduation is done, and I have been to, and am back from, Edmonton, where I marked diploma exams for a week.

After I got back from Edmonton, I got sick with a cold for a week, got better, went to Lethbridge, and began to clean out and move my classroom.

With all that insanity behind me, I decided to make something a little fancy before the insanity starts again. I have a friend’s wedding coming up, and I am making centerpieces and the cupcakes.

A charlotte cake is French in origin, usually with a sponge cake of some kind at the base, and ladyfinger cookies surrounding a fluffy smooth mousse filling.

I decided to make my own version of a charlotte. I did use recipes I found for all components, but put all the recipes together for my own version. I used the sponge cake and raspberry mousse filling from this site, and the chocolate mousse from here. Honestly, I should have halved the chocolate mousse recipe, because it made so much. I have reflected the proper measurements below, but if you want just a chocolate charlotte, double the recipe and use just the chocolate mousse as a filling.

The recipe I used consists of the following: a ladyfinger cookie outline surrounding the pan, a sponge cake base, a raspberry mousse, a chocolate mousse, and a middle layer of ladyfinger and sponge cake trimmings.

Here is a fancy dessert that (other than the sponge cake), requires no turning on of your oven. In fact, some versions of a charlotte use more ladyfingers as a base instead of a spongecake. This is a perfectly fine, and the only reason I didn’t use ladyfingers was because I ran out, so I made a sponge cake base. Them’s the breaks.

I will warn you: this dessert is not for the faint of heart! It’s a time and labour intensive dessert, but SO worth the effort.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch cake

For the sponge cake:

4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
3-4 tbsp. raspberry preserves, jam, or liqeur

For the raspberry mousse:

2½ c. frozen raspberries
½ c. sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. unflavoured gelatin
2 c. heavy cream
6 tbsp. icing sugar

For the chocolate mousse:

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. milk
¼ c. plus 2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, separated
¼ c. sugar

For the lining and garnish:

2-3 dozen ladyfinger cookies (more if you use ladyfingers as a base as well as the lining)
1 c. heavy cream
Fresh raspberries (if desired)
Chocolate shavings (if desired)

To prepare, line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper, and the sides of the springform pan with plastic wrap. Trim ladyfinger cookies ½ inch, so there is one flat edge. Place upright in the springform pan, sitting on the flat edge. If desired, line the bottom of the pan with more ladyfinger cookies, and use the cut pieces to fill in gaps.

If not lining the cake pan with ladyfinger cookies, begin preparation by making the sponge cake. In a 7 inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs for 1 minute. Add the sugar, and beat again on high speed approximately 7 minutes, until light, fluffy, and 3-4 times the volume.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Sift the flour mixture into the egg mixture in two additions, folding after each addition. Be thorough, and catch any hidden flour pockets, but keep the air in and do not over-mix.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 23-25 minutes, until top is golden and springs back when poked lightly.

Let cool completely, then slice cake in half. My cake did not slice evenly, so I had one even layer, and I turned the remainder into a secondary “crumb” layer with my ladyfinger pieces in the middle.

For the raspberry mousse, combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the raspberries reach a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the fruit to extract as much liquid as possible.

Into the strained raspberry juice, stir in the lemon juice and gelatin. Transfer back to the saucepan, and over the warm burner whisk together until gelatin dissolves, then take back off the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and the icing sugar together until thick and spreadable. Once the raspberry syrup is at room temperature, fold into the whipped cream a ¼ at a time, until all of the raspberry syrup is incorporated. Set aside, at room temperature.

For the chocolate mousse, in a heat-proof bowl add the chocolate, and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 second blasts, stirring constantly.

Add the milk, and whisk completely. Add the butter, and the egg yolks, whisking again until fully incorporated.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream until fluffy and thick. Fold in the chocolate mixture.

In a clean mixer bowl (with no grease whatsoever!), whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and whip egg whites into stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture until cohesive.

To assemble the charlotte, in the prepared springform pan lined with ladyfingers, place the sponge cake in the base of the pan. Brush with the raspberry preserves, jam, or liqueur if using.

Spread half of the raspberry mousse in an even layer, and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to set up. Top with half of the chocolate mousse, and refrigerate again to begin setting up. Be careful not to knock the ladyfingers out of place.

If desired, use another layer of ladyfingers and cake crumbs on top of the chocolate mousse layer.

Top with remaining raspberry mousse, set for 10-20 minutes again, the remaining chocolate mousse, and refrigerate 3-4 hours until set.

To garnish, whip the cream into soft, thick peaks. Fill a piping bag with a star tip, and the whipped cream. Pipe onto charlotte, and garnish as desired with raspberries or chocolate shavings.

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Texas Sheet Cake

Texas sheet cake is like a combo cake/brownie. It is soft, moist, tender, and delicious!

The school I worked at last year would do Hot Lunch day once a month. The Foods class would make everyone a meal, usually with dessert included, and texas sheet cake was the dessert staple! It’s not hard to see why. You make one batter, throw it onto a sheet pan, and off you go! Easy to make, and it can feed a crowd with delicious results.

The recipe I used is not from my school, but instead from this blog. I found it, decided to try it, and was not disappointed. The only thing I changed is how I prepared the icing. I know that many Texas-style sheet cakes have a boiled icing. This one did not, and because you put the icing on the hot cake anyways, it melts, and I figured that why couldn’t I throw everything together in a saucepan, and have it work that way too?

This actually worked beautifully. The hot icing soaked into the cake, and made it more moist and delicious, as well as really amping up the chocolate flavour and fudge factor.

This cake takes so little time to prepare, and is so easy. Trust me, and go make this!

Ingredients
Yield: Approx. 3 dozen slices of cake (from a 17 x 11 sheet pan)

For the cake:

2 c. flour
2 c. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 c. butter, softened
¼ c. cocoa powder
2 eggs
½ c. buttermilk
1 c. hot water
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tbsp. vinegar

For the icing:

½ c. butter. softened
6 tbsp. milk
¼ c. cocoa powder
3¾ c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt.

In a saucepan, add the hot water, cocoa, and butter. Stir until the butter melts, and the mixture comes to a boil. Pour over the dry ingredients, and whisk together.

Add in eggs, buttermilk, baking soda, vanilla, and vinegar. Whisk to combine well.

Pour batter into prepared sheet pan. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.

To make the frosting, while the cake is baking, combine butter, milk, and cocoa in a saucepan, until butter is melted and cocoa is incorporated. Whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla.

As soon as the hot cake comes out of the oven, pour the frosting over the cake. Go slow to avoid splashing. The frosting will be slightly absorbed by the cake.

Cool completely, slice, and serve.

Tiramisu

Ahh, Tiramisu. The classic Italian dessert. Layers of ladyfinger cookies soaked in a coffee/alcohol mix, with layers of smooth mascarpone cream and a light dusting of cocoa powder on top. Beautiful!

I made this when Paul’s brother Riley came to visit. It had just recently been Riley’s birthday, and well, he said he likes Chocolate, Lemon, and Tiramisu. I figured I already have a recipe on the blog for Chocolate and Lemon cake, but no Tiramisu, so here we were!

I had never made Tiramisu before, and I have to say, having a beautiful layered dessert with minimal effort AND I didn’t have to turn on my oven? Amazing! I got the recipe here, and the only things I didn’t have on hand were espresso, ladyfinger biscuits, and mascarpone cheese. (Be warned: mascarpone cheese is a little on the pricey side, so this is a dessert I would make once in a while, not a regular rotation type dessert.)

Still, easy effort with a high-yield result. Perfect!

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Ingredients
Yield: 1 8×8 inch square pan

3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
½ c. caster or superfine sugar (I used icing sugar and it worked fine)
½ tsp. vanilla
8 oz. or 250 g. mascarpone cheese
1½ c. espresso coffee, brewed and strong
2-4 tbsp. liquor (I used Kahlua and amaretto, and 2 tbsp. of each)
24-30 ladyfinger cookies or savoiardi biscuits
Cocoa, for dusting

Put the yolks in the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and set whites aside for later.Add sugar to yolks, and beat on medium high speed until sugar is incorporated, and yolks turn white and thick. (This may take up to 12 minutes.)

Add vanilla and mascarpone, and beat until evenly combined. Transfer mixture to a bowl, and set aside.

Wash your mixer bowl and whisk thoroughly. Make sure there is no grease or yolk left in the bowl or the egg whites will not whip properly.

Beat egg whites until stiff. Add 1/3 of the mascarpone mixture to the egg whites, and fold until incorporated. Gradually fold in the rest of the mascarpone mixture, and mix until combined. Set aside.

Mix together the coffee and liquor. (If you don’t like Kahlua or amaretto, there are tons of different options. Brandy, Kahlua, amaretto, Frangelico, rum, Bailey’s, go with what you like!) Quickly soak the lady finger cookies, one at a time, in the coffee mixture, and line the bottom of an 8×8 inch square pan.

Spread half of the mascarpone cream over the soaked ladyfingers, then repeat the process of soaked ladyfingers over the cream layer, finished with the rest of the cream.

Do not put cocoa on until right before serving, or the cream will soak it all up.

When ready to serve, dust with cocoa powder, cut into slices, and enjoy!

Funfetti Cake

It’s not my birthday, but is there ever a bad time for Funfetti cake? I thought not!

I’ve been in a cake-baking mood lately, but have had no time, so with the long weekend that I have this week, I decided to just go for it. I surfed around the internet (a.k.a. Pinterest) until I found a cake that caught my eye, and this was it!

I was extremely pleased with the results, because I had been searching for a Funfetti cake from scratch recipe that didn’t need a ton of egg whites (because I always find it hard to find something to do with the yolks). This recipe calls for cake flour, but I used regular all-purpose and it turned out just fine.

There was never a ton of Funfetti cake in my house growing up, unless someone went out and specifically bought the boxed version. If we were making cake though, it was going to be a chocolate boxed version. Now, the boxed versions of cake mix are great when you are in a pinch. But I’ve found that I can taste whether or not the mix came out of a box. It’s a gift?

Either way, I much prefer homemade cakes to boxed versions (who wouldn’t!?), and this one takes the cake… Sorry. I had to.

If you have a Funfetti fan in your life, this is the cake for them! I will also note that the icing recipe was at best, sparse to cover the cake, hence I kind-of went for the “naked cake” decorating look. It’s not perfect by any means, but I’m still growing as a cake artist. If I were to make this again, I would one and a half times the icing recipe, and I think that would yield the perfect amount of frosting to fill, and decorate.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 8-9 inch three layer cake

For the cake:

3 c. flour (cake flour or all-purpose)
2½ c. sugar
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1½ c. butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
1¼ c. buttermilk, divided
5 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 c. confetti sprinkles

For the frosting:

2 c. butter, at room temperature
3¾ c. icing sugar
¼ c. heavy cream or milk, more or less as needed
1-2 tsp. vanilla
Food colouring, as desired

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8 or 9 inch cake pans. (I used my Miracle Cake Release. A 1:1:1 ratio of flour, vegetable oil, and shortening.) Set aside. I also used my homemade “Bake-Even” strips: strips of damp towel that are pinned around the sides of my cake tins. If you use these, the cakes will bake perfectly level, no cutting required!

In the bowl of a mixer, add the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix to combine. Add the butter and 1 cup of buttermilk. Mix on low until incorporated, then on medium until mixture is light and fluffy.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ¼ c. of buttermilk with the eggs and vanilla. Add to the batter in three additions, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the sprinkles, and divide the batter evenly between pans.

Bake in the preheated oven for 35-45 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove pans from oven and cool completely on a wire rack. Turn out of pans to decorate.

To make the frosting, in the bowl of a mixer beat the butter on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add in the icing sugar, a half cup at a time, until fully incorporated. If the mixture is getting too thick, add a tablespoon or so of the milk or cream. Add in the vanilla and the food colouring, if using.

To frost, place the first cake layer on your serving platter. Top with about a half cup of icing, and spread evenly. Repeat with the second and third layer. After that, spread remaining icing around the top and sides of the cake. Decorate as you like. I used a few extra sprinkles, but small round ones instead of more confetti sprinkles.

Slice, and serve!

Lemon Rhubarb Bundt Cake

I found something amazing to do with some of the rhubarb my parents gifted to me! This cake was the perfect option. It is sweet, tart, lemony, moist, and has a beautiful splash of rhubarb right in the middle.

You know me by now, and when friends come over, I love to have some baked goods of some kind to offer them. If I don’t have anything prepared and friends come over to visit, I actually feel bad! I’ve built up a bit of a reputation in that I always have something delicious to munch on if we have visitors, and if I don’t live up to the name, there’s a little bit of guilt.

Well, a friend of mine came over last night for a dinner/movie date. We made dinner, I made dessert, and then we just caught up over a movie and just had some relaxation time. It was awesome. I was looking for a sweet treat for dessert, and I had a ton (and I mean a TON) of rhubarb in my freezer. Bless those parents of mine, they gave me so much!

I took to Pinterest, and found this eye-catching recipe. It looked amazing, used mostly pantry staples, and seemed to yield some delicious results. Boy, were my expectations lived up to! This cake is phenomenal. It’s got a little bit of tartness, some sweet, and a whole lot of AWESOME. If you have some time, and some rhubarb, I highly suggest you go make this cake!

Ingredients

Yield: 1 Bundt cake

For the cake:

1 c. butter, softened
1¾ c. sugar
Zest of 1-2 lemons (I used the zest of 1 lemon, and about 2 tsp. of lemon juice)
3 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2½ c. + 2 tbsp. flour, divided
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
¾ c. buttermilk (or milk with 2 tsp. vinegar or lemon juice mixed in)
3 c. diced rhubarb

For the glaze:

Juice of 1 lemon
2-3 c. icing sugar

Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease and flour a Bundt pan (or use some Miracle Cake Release. 1:1:1 ratio of flour, vegetable shortening, and oil.) and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine the butter, sugar, and lemon zest/juice and whip until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, combining after each addition. Add in the vanilla.

In a separate, medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour (the first amount), baking powder, and salt.

Add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture alternately with the buttermilk, ideally in 3 portions of each, until everything is fully incorporated.

Toss the rhubarb with the second measurement of flour to coat rhubarb evenly. Fold into the cake batter with a spatula.

Transfer cake batter into prepared pan, and smooth evenly with a spatula. Bake in preheated oven for 60-70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. (Mine took even longer, because my oven tends to run a bit cool.)

Remove the cake from the oven and let cool about 30 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and let cool. If you glaze your cake while warm, the glaze will be a bit runnier, but you can still do this.

To make the glaze, in a small bowl whisk together the lemon juice, and 2 c. of the icing sugar. Add more icing sugar for a thicker glaze, depending on how much juice you got from the lemon. (I needed to add an extra half-cup or so.) Pour the glaze evenly over the cake.

Slice, serve, and enjoy!