Thursday, January 26, 2012

in the mood for cake

The whole time I was in Cancun, I was desperate for a good chocolate cake. I don't know why. I never did end up finding one. This morning I couldn't take it for one more minute. So I baked this cake and ate it for lunch.

The recipe makes quite a lot of batter. I had enough for two nine inch rounds, plus more in a loaf pan. The cake is fudgey and moist and delicious, but I'm still not sure if I like the frosting. The browned butter flavor is very strong. I think next time I might try it with a plain buttercream.


  1. i've made her chocolate orange cake, and it was wonderful. and i stink at baking cakes. i'd recommend that one too (maybe the batter is the same?).

  2. The first time I went to Cancun (when I was a ninth grader) I was desperate for a Baby Ruth candy bar. I was on a mission to find one....and don't think I ever did. Funny how you crave something that is hard to find when you go someplace new like that! The cake looks delish, by the way!

  3. I don't think another cake has ever looked better to me!

  4. Ooh, I think I can see the problem just from the picture. The reason the browned butter flavor was overpowering is because her recipe probably instructed you to brown the butter too much, and then did not instruct you to discard the browned solids that settle at the bottom of the pan when you brown the butter. That sounds complicated, but it's not.

    In the fall, I make a pumpkin cake with a browned butter, brown sugar frosting, and it is just about the most divine frosting you have ever tasted. But you have to really get the hang of using browned butter that way; there's definitely a technique to it.

    First of all, browned butter goes from nutty and toasted to bitter and burned REALLY quickly. The only way to avoid it is to take the butter off the heat before you think it's really done. You use your nose: the very minute that you can smell that browned butter smell, it's done. You take it off the heat and then immediately pour it into a small bowl, to stop the cooking completely. By the time you do that, you will actually see the browned solids appear, even though you thought you stopped cooking too soon. You really have to rely on that smell.

    Then here's the next step: you put that small bowl of browned butter in the freezer for 15 minutes. When you take it out, it will have solidified enough that you can scoop out all of the butter except for the part in the very bottom, where all of the browned solids have settled. Then you proceed and make the frosting with that butter you scooped out.

    Without the browned solids, the butter will still have that lovely, nutty, browned butter flavor, but without being overpowering. Try it again! If you do it this way, I can almost guarantee you will think the frosting is absolutely to die for.

  5. Sorry, I know that was already epically long, but I forgot to say one thing at the end: DO try browned butter frosting again, using the method I described, but I would suggest just trying it with a pumpkin cake instead! Browned butter and pumpkin are a match made in heaven, but I'm not sure how the browned butter flavor goes with chocolate. Honestly doesn't sound all that appetizing to me. Here's the link to the pumpkin cake I'm talking about, since I know you love pumpkin desserts in the fall:

    Bookmark that one and make it next fall, for a Christmas party, or do what I do and serve this cake instead of pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving. You will be the star of the meal if you do! And the recipe is really long, but don't be intimidated. It is a time investment, but it's not difficult and it's worth it. You can even skip the nut topping if you want, the cake is still divine without it, the nut topping just takes it over the top and, I will say, looks absolutely gorgeous. But from a flavor standpoint, the cake and frosting can stand alone without it.

  6. dear andrea and kara,
    thank you! i will add your recipe to my list of things to try. this was my first attempt at browned butter, so i think i need to give it another go with your recommendations.
    happy baking!

  7. Looks so delicious think I will need to make a choc cake this afternoon!


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