Friday, August 14, 2009

Chocolate what? Cake

Here's how a party works around here. We have an exchange student from France staying with us for a few days. We found out that another friend also has a French exchange student, so we agreed to get the two girls together for dinner. But then our friend knew some other people with exchange students, so we invited them as well. Then I ran into another friend on campus and invited her family and exchange student. And then I ran into another friend at the farmer's market and invited him.
So what began on Wednesday as a dinner for 8 rapidly became a blowout for 20 on Thursday. But we find that if you invite the right people, you end up with a lot more food and booze making it into the house than you're going to need for all those people. Our refrigerator runneth over...We also had lots of kitchen help--at one point there must have been about six people cutting up tamales and making cheese plates and setting out fruit and frosting my cake. William, who frosted my cake, is welcome to come any time I make cake. He is 100 times more skilled than I. Again, I wish my camera were functional :-(.
Right, the cake: the cupcakes were pretty much gone, so I decided to make what I thought would be our next dessert: Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake. Aside from it having sauerkraut in it, it did look like a good cake for a crowd: a big 2-layer chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. I figured that the strong coffee and chocolate flavors in the cake, plus the pound of chocolate frosting, would offset any "ickyness" associated with the sauerkraut. After all, you have to be careful when you're cooking for Frenchies...
By the way, I still don't get the point of this recipe. The sauerkraut doesn't enhance the recipe; in fact, the recipe seems designed to mask the sauerkraut's taste. Was the origin a sauerkraut recipe contest? It's a mystery to me.
I made the cake pretty much to the letter, except for using about half and half dark and milk chocolate in the frosting. I was able to make the cake when no one was home, so no one could see the sauerkraut going into the cake batter. I pretty much had to avert my eyes as well, and that addition also kept me from licking the bowl, which is probably a good thing. Unfortunately for my bowl-licking propensities, the frosting had no sauerkraut in it.
Results: The cake was quite crumbly. I wish my camera worked so that you could see all the crumbs on the plate. One layer cracked and needed a lot of frosting to glue it together. But it's moist and chocolaty, and the frosting is really yummy (it's pretty much the same frosting as for the last cake). There's only about a quarter of the cake left over from last night, and no one said, "ew, what's in this cake?" So I would say it's a qualified success: not so bad for a novelty cake.

Here's the recipe, in case you have leftover sauerkraut:

Chocolate Sauerkraut Cake
2/3 c. (4 oz.) drained packed sauerkraut
2-1/4 c. (9 oz.) sifted flour
1/4 t. salt
1 t. baking powder
1 t. baking soda
1/2 c. (1.5 oz.) Dutch-process cocoa
10 2/3 T. (5.3 oz.) unsalted butter, room temp.
1 t. vanilla
1-1/2 c. sugar (10 oz.)
3 large eggs
1 c. cold, strong coffee

Heat the oven to 350. Line two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment circles and then spray and flour them.
Rinse the sauerkraut and drain it. Squeeze it, but "don't overdo it." Pulse it in a food processor until it's in pretty fine pieces but not a purée.
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cocoa.
Beat together the butter and vanilla in the large bowl of an electric mixer. Then gradually add the sugar and beat about 2-3 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating after each until it's well incorporated and scraping down the sides between each. Then alternately add the dry ingredients in three additions and the wet ingredients in two additions. Make sure it's all smooth, taste it now, and then remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the sauerkraut.
Divide the batter among the cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake for about 22-25 minutes, "until the tops of the cakes just barely spring back when pressed lightly with a fingertip. Do not overbake." (I think I did overbake; thus the crumbliness). Cool the pans on a rack for a few minutes, then invert onto the rack. Let the cake cool completely.


16 oz. chocolate, some milk and some dark (I used most of a Ritter Sport milk bar, a Hershey's Symphony bar, and a Ghiradelli 60% bar)
1 c. sour cream

Break the chocolate into pieces and put into a big microwave-proof bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds, stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds. Stir until everything is melted. Add the sour cream and beat by hand or with a mixer until smooth. Find someone to frost your cake for you, and use it (the frosting) right away.
Serves about 20 people, if you cut your pieces small enough.

Oops, you're supposed to refrigerate this! Maybe that's why it crumbled? I really should read my recipes. Must find room in fridge...

1 comment:

  1. I agree with your thought "why sauerkraut?" It could have been zucchini or parsnips. Why bother? Good for you, following through to do all 200.