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Terror before baking
Posted: 02 January 2008 08:10 PM   [ Ignore ]
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Help. I need some words of support. I am about to make one of Rose’s recipes for the first time - the Ultimate Chocolate Cake [I’ve never been good with names, something like that…] and considering doing the layering with fudge sauce, and going easy to top it with whipped cream cause I’m not going to make vanilla ice cream with vodka [does that sound divine or what?] and brandied cherries - I have to draw the line somewhere.

Still, a perfectionist at heart, I’m tormented because I’m skipping adding a liqueur to the cake - what Rose says really brings out the chocolate. However she calls the hot fudge sauce layering with ultimate chocolate Chocolate Torture, so I guess I’ll be okay.  Now I’m gonna be really gutsy.  As exactingly specific as her recipes are, I wouldn’t dream of altering them - however, she adds coffee [instant espresso] to the fudge sauce. I adore coffee - and cinnamon - added to chocolate - it enhances the richness and depth of flavor no end.  So if I do the fudge sauce I will be compelled to add a dash of cinnamon.  There I’ve said it.  Are you with me . . anyone?  Will the Chocolate Torture police arrive in the middle of the night and haul me off to chocoholic prison? I’m just going to have to risk it - my cat will protect me, she has sharp claws, used to be feral.  Maybe my husband will too, he loves me, but . . . he’d be happy w/any kind of chocolate cake s maybe not. 

And lastly, am I nuts. It’s just a cake, isn’t it?  If my friends like it great. If not, tough.  [big words for a chocoholic and a perfectionist.]

happy new year,
Mary

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Posted: 02 January 2008 08:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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MaryMS - you are too funny!!!  I so loved reading your post.

Have no fear - a dash of cinnamon would be divine I’m sure!!!  Flavorings are easily adjusted without harming the recipe - its the structural stuff you need to be worried about (flour, sugar, eggs, butter, leavening, etc)

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Posted: 02 January 2008 10:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Cinnamon and chocolate is a classic.  Go for it. smile

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Posted: 03 January 2008 11:16 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Thank you guys. I’m encouraged.  My biggest terror, though, is not the cinnamon, it’s the cake!  Somehow I’ve been appointed to make the chocoholic cake for our networking group’s [late] holiday gathering - okay, I volunteered.  As time has passed I find myself very attached to a fabulous outcome - which usually makes me more neurotic than usual, read: freaking out over every detail, treating cake prep with the exactitude of neurosurgery [they are pretty exacting in neurosurgery, right? I mean, I’m not planning on having any right now, but one wants to know these things.]

So back to my point, there really is one:  I’m terrified of having the temperature exactly right to melt the chocolate bars [did I get good choc bars for this purpose] with the butter. [Water hot but not simmering. I assume it means heat the water really hot then shut it off.  But if the choc. bars stop melting that would mean turn it back on. Oy vey, and I’m Italian!]  Then there’s the next terror:  Will I appropriately determine the exact moment when the eggs are warm enough, having heated them over simmering water, so that I can begin to beat them.  I’m not so concerned about the folding.  The pan needs to be wrapped in tin foil. I’ve never even used a springform pan, but we have one.

Okay, by now I’ve made my case.  You don’t need to hear any more, I’m sure, to know this is a neurotic reaction.  But writing about it helps. So thank you for the therapy time smile  I do have a serious question though.  If you read the Hot Fudge Sauce recipe, at first it seems you add the espresso powder to it. Re-reading it, it seems it is supposed to be added to the Ultimate Chocolate cake instead.  Have any of you made this? Do you know?  Rose are you out there?  Also, the Ultimate Choc., is made with melted choc. bars [and eggs and butter only, just 3 ingredients - I imagine being transported into a divine state of ecstasy, IF I do it right.]

But if you layer the Hot Fudge Sauce with it, the cake bible says you should use extra bitter choc bars. I’ve already bought the bars. On sale and still over $10 worth. I don’t want to go find new bars. I don’t recall seeing any edible choc that said extra bitter.  I’m figuring, the heck with perfectionism, go for using what I already bought and not driving in a ton of snow back to the health food store for really good extra bitter choc. they might not even have, or if they do will cost $47.89 a bar.  Are you with me? Does this work?  So maybe the Ultimate Choc Cake will be a tiny bit sweeter than it is ultimately supposed to be when layered with Hot Fudge sauce. I can live with that.

Thank you.  You are good people.

wink MaryMS

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Posted: 03 January 2008 11:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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The chocolate will melt just fine as long as you don’t burn it - it will melt fine with fairly in fairly low heat - just don’t let the water boil, and don’t forget to stir, stir, stir.  If you break the chocolate up into small pieces, it will melt much faster.  Oh, be careful not to get water into the bowl of chocolate :(.

What pages are the recipes on?

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Posted: 03 January 2008 12:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Mary, The eggs should just feel slightly warm to the touch.  If they start getting too hot, they will start to cook and you won’t be able to whip them.  I would recommend a ceramic or porcelain bowl instead of a metal one for the eggs.  Metal seems to fluctuate faster and there is more of a chance that they would heat too quickly.  It would be difficult to burn or damage chocolate in a double boiler, so I wouldn’t fret too much about this.  If you are really feeling a lot of anxiety making this for company, why don’t go out and buy a few cheap Hershey’s bars (probably would only cost a couple of bucks for this recipe) and do a trial run—it won’t be as good of course, but it might be nice to practice.  I think the chocolate you bought should be just fine—I think Rose was just expressing her preference for the extra bittersweet.  Add the espresso powder to the cake mixture itself.

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Posted: 03 January 2008 01:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Matthew makes a very good point about using a glass or ceramic bowl instead of metal - I would point out that your chocolate can still burn or scorch if the bottom of the bowl or double boiler touches the water below (if the water is too hot that is). 

I also agree that the bitterness or sweetness of chocolate is a personal preference the will vary from one person to another.  It’s been my experience that most people will eat chocolate cakes/desserts that they consider to be sweeter than they would normally prefer, but less willing to eat it if they found it to be too bitter (I don’t think you will have that problem with this recipe though).

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Posted: 03 January 2008 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Patrinca and Matthew, your replies are excellent. They do take some of the anxiety away. And I love the idea of doing a cheapo version first.  Brilliant. Thank you both.  Do you think it matters if I simply use instant coffee instead of espresso powder?  I could take some of my husband’s espresso coffee and grind it superfine in my spice grinder [which was originally a coffee grinder] but I don’t know what effect it would have.  I guess I could try it in the trial run cake.

Whew!  Really, clowning aside [if I have to], you’ve given me a bbiigg sigh of relief!  Thanks,

MaryMS

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Posted: 03 January 2008 02:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I can buy espresso powder at one of my local grocery stores, but none of the others carry it, so I imagine it could be hard to find.  It is Medaglia D’Oro brand—you can also order it online, but it may be too late for that.  It is just like instant coffee—it dissolves completely—but it tastes much better.  I guess I would try regular instant if I couldn’t find the Medaglia D’Oro.  I’m afraid the ground beans might be gritty, but I might be wrong.

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Posted: 03 January 2008 02:41 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Agreed, go with instant coffee instead of ground beans.  The Medaglia D?Oro is actually espresso that has be dehydrated, so it reliquified when water is added.

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Posted: 03 January 2008 02:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Patrincia, the recipes are on pages 84-86; Choc. Torture is on the bottom of p 87.

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Posted: 03 January 2008 05:25 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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I also think the ground beans would be gritty. If you can’t get instant coffee powder or instant espresso powder, you could try making some extra-strong brewed coffee or espresso and adding a little to the cake. Another option would be coffee extract or flavoring. And I agree that a little cinnamon would be wonderful—I often add it to chocolate recipes!

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Posted: 04 January 2008 07:28 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Well I did it!  I bit the bullet and made a practice cake - Ultimate Choc. Oblivion w/ Hot Fudge = Chocolate Torture Cake - last night. It looks wonderful. It’s duly wrapped in saranishness, in the fridge and tomorrow night we will find out how it is cause it is not longer a practice cake.  It looks too good and took too long to make. the first cake I ever made was at age 10 - it didn’t take as long as this cake did. Of course, at 10 I don’t think I cared nearly as much.  I didn’t use Hershey bars as one of you dear folks recommended, but did use a less expensive dark chocolate bar from a discounter, and I used Earth Balance instead of butter, and agave syrup instead of corn syrup and sugar in the hot fudge sauce.  Since the ingredients tasted great raw and look so fab, I’m calling it good. And . . . it turns out our springform pan was too big so I used a regular 9” cake pan. Seems to have worked fine.  I appreciate all your encouragement.

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Posted: 05 January 2008 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Congratulations Mary!

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Posted: 06 January 2008 12:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Congratulations. smile

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Posted: 06 January 2008 09:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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I wish I had a chance to give you some words of encouragement…before you baked, I really enjoyed reading your postings…you are great!  Let us all know how the cake tasted!  Don’t ever be afraid…the recipies are well written and they all work.  Just jump in and have fun!.  And if you like a dash of “this or that” to add extra flavor…go for it.  Baking should be a precise scientific venture to get good results, but it is creative as well! 

Good luck in all your baking ventures!

Bill

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