Friday, April 27, 2012

The Devil's Food Cake Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake Cookie Dough Cake of Heaven and Happiness

The view below 

So I’m not a cake baker. I enjoy cooking, and this is in part because I don’t have to follow rules. Baking requires you to follow lots and lots of rules to a T. Many of the things I bake, I don’t follow the recipe, but I’m also baking cookies and S’mores bars, so it’s okay to be a little more relaxed with the directions. Cakes however, have always scared me. They fall, they crack, they get super dry or don’t cook enough. However I found these (there are actually two recipes here that I combined and made into one…so I didn’t TOTALLY follow the rules) on and thought they would be pretty awesome. 

We were having a dinner party and I knew that 8 people could at least make a dent in the behemoth.  The original two recipes were actually larger (one was 10 lbs and fed 20 people). And more than anything, I’m impressed that I iced this thing, it could have turned out looking like a blob of goo.

But I did have help and I have to give credit where it is due: The Husband made the frosting and  a Good Friend sat with me through the cheesecake and walked me through direction by direction (seriously people, I hate to read them). I was actually finished the cheesecake and took it out of the pan (in the parchment) to put in the freezer. THAT was a mistake. The Good Friend was 5 feet away but preoccupied with our dinner of Indian food and didn’t notice. She was rather upset at me (and for good reason, I mean, I got through the ENTIRE cake but messed up at the last step). Good thing I was able to put it back in the pan and drop it in the freezer.

Anyway, this is not for the weak of heart, I did it over a three day period of time. Day one: Cheesecake, Day Two: Devil’s Food and Cookie Dough, Day Three: Icing and assembly. But it was worth it. Everyone really enjoyed it. And honestly, even though it has a lot of parts, each part was SUPER easy…especially if you follow the directions.

Besides, the thing looked professional. What a difference an offset spatula and a pastry bag make!

I promise, you will enjoy!

Crustless Peanut Butter Cup Cheesecake:
30 mini peanut butter cups, each one quartered
1 stick of softened butter
1/2 Cup granulated sugar
2  8 oz Packages cream cheese, softened
1- 1.5 oz. package cook and serve vanilla pudding (just ½ of a box of the pudding)
2 Eggs
1 TSP baking powder
1/2 TBS lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease one 9 inch circular pan with butter and then line with parchment paper. This will be a little tricky, as you won’t be able to get the paper to be totally smooth on the sides, that’s okay. You will also grease the parchment. Trust me, it will make a huge difference.

To start, cream the butter and sugar in a mixer, use the paddle attachment.  Add cream cheese a little at a time until smooth.  Scrape bowl down and beat again on medium speed, adding eggs one at a time.  Add all of the remaining ingredients except peanut butter cups.  Mix again until smooth.

When everything is smooth, take a rubber spatula (use the same one you scrapped down the sides) and fold in quartered peanut butter cups. 

Place batter into pan and smooth the top. I gently (GENTLY!) tapped the pan on the counter to make sure the top got smooth and the sides moved into the crevices of the parchment.  Bake for 55 minutes to 1 hour. Cheesecake will puff up during baking, and then deflate when taken out. It’s going to get slightly browned on the top that is okay.

When you’re finished baking, put the cheesecake directly into the freezer (keep it in the pan!). You are now finished day one J

So you’re back for more, eh?  Okay, the next two steps can be completed in short order.

Devil’s Food Cake:
1 oz. fine quality bittersweet chocolate chips, I used Ghirardelli
1/4 Cup plus 2 TBS unsweetened dark cocoa powder
1/2 Cup hot water (I boiled it in my teapot)
1 Egg
1 Egg yolk (toss the white, you won’t be using it)
2 TBS sour cream (sounds gross, trust me)
1 TSP vanilla extract
1 Cup plus 2 TBS flour (I used baking flour, you don’t have to)
3/4 Cup light brown sugar, tightly packed
1/2 TSP baking soda
1/4 TSP salt
1 Stick of unsalted butter, softened

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.   If you’re awesome and have TWO 9 inch cake pans, then ignore what I’m about to say and just grease and flour.  If you’re like me and you don’t, then go into the freezer and remove the cheesecake from the pan. Just pull the parchment up and take the pan and grease and flour that.  

In a medium bowl, whisk the chocolate, cocoa and hot water until smooth. Set aside that aside.

In another bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, sour cream, half the chocolate mixture and vanilla until just combined.

In the bowl of your mixer (again with the paddle attachment) mix the flour, brown sugar, baking soda and salt on low for 30 seconds. Add the softened butter and the remaining chocolate mixture.  Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds.

With the mixer off between additions, add the egg mixture in two parts, starting on medium-low speed and gradually increasing to medium (around 7 if you have a Kitchenaid) . Beat on medium speed for 45 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. The batter will be slightly fluffy.  Make sure you keep scraping down the sides of the bowl so everything gets mixed up.

Pour the batter into the cake pan, pat it on the counter to even it out and then make for 30-40 minutes.  The cake is done with the toothpick comes out clear.  Let it cool.

While the cake is cooling, start on this

Chocolate chip cookie dough:
3 Cups flour (again I used baking flour, you don’t have to)
3/4 TSP Salt
1 ¼ Cup light brown sugar, packed
¾ Cup granulated sugar
1 Stick of unsalted butter, melted
1 ¼ TSP vanilla extract
1 Cup good milk chocolate chips (again, I used Ghirardelli)
6 TBS whole milk

I waited for an hour or so until the above cake was cooled, you can wait another day, it’s up to you. Either way, line a 9-inch pan with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (more paddle attachment!), stir together flour, salt, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Pour in butter and vanilla extract.  Mix until a dry dough forms. Add chocolate chips and mix on lowest speed (this is "Stir" on Kitchenaid machines). 

When chocolate chips are evenly dispersed, add whole milk 1 tablespoon at a time with the machine on low speed.  The dough will take a little time, but will turn into cookie dough. Remove dough from mixer bowl and press into the prepared pan. I just pressed it down on all sides until it was even.  Place in freezer until ready for cake assembly.

And day two is complete. Rest up, tomorrow is going to be more intensive (all the icing) but more delicious (all the eating!).

Okay, so this is the final hizzah. This has been exhausting, but I promise, deeelicious.

Chocolate ganache frosting:
1 2/3 Cup semisweet chocolate chips (I did a half and half mixture of milk chocolate and bittersweet)
1 1/2 Cups heavy cream
1/2 TSP. corn syrup

Remove cheesecake layers from freezer and unwrap.  You will need to level each of the cakes. I used a serrated knife and leveled the chocolate cake. The cheesecake you should only have to take off cake from the sides, again, this doesn’t have to be perfect, just so they can all fit on one another without toppling over. Finally the cookie dough, honestly I didn’t do anything to this. I just flipped it over so the flat part was on top. Choose your serving plate and line it with wax paper strips.  Place cake over strips (this will help make the cake plate not a total mess when you decorate. Trust me, you should do it. 

Heat cream in a saucepan over medium high heat until very hot but not boiling; in a medium bowl, pour hot cream over chips and stir until smooth.  Remove 2/3 cup chocolate mixture and pour into a small bowl, to this mixture, add 1/2 tbsp. corn syrup and stir. 

Take a little bit of the remaining chocolate, and pour it over the devil’s food cake; just enough to lightly cover the top of the cake. Place the cheesecake on top of that and the cookie dough on top of that.
When combined, immediately pour over top of cake. It will create a dark shiny top creating a shiny dark topping, make sure that most of it stays on top of the cake and doesn't spill down the edges Return cake, uncovered this time, to freezer.

Take the remaining ganache and place it in the mixer, this time with the whisk attachment. Beat the chocolate until it becomes fluffy and can stand up in stiff peaks. This should be about 10 minutes. It will be a lighter color than the chocolate you put on top.

Peanut Butter Frosting and Garnish:
2/3 Cup creamy peanut butter
I Stick butter, softened
1 Cup confectioners' sugar

Cream peanut butter and butter together in stand mixer with whisk attachment.  Gradually add powdered sugar.  Whip on high speed until light and fluffy.

Transfer icing to a piping bag fitted with a large french piping tip.  Pipe 8 large swirls around the top edge of cake, and pipe one swirl in the middle.  Garnish each swirl with a peanut butter cup.

Pull cake out of freezer, using an offset spatula, cover the sides of the cake with the ganache. It’s a messy process, so be prepared, but you’re going to need to get a fair amount if it on there. You will have extra, so don’t be shy.

Once you’ve smoothed out the side of the cake, in a pastry bag with the star tip, add the Peanut Butter Frosting. Pipe the frosting on the top edge of the cake, covering up the seam between the two ganaches. You can make stars on the sides, I made a few and topped them with Bittersweet chocolate chips and one large one in the center that I put a peanut butter cup in.

Remove the wax paper strips from the bottom (see, so clean!) and put in the freezer until 15 minutes before serving. This is thick, so you’ll need a heavy knife to cut. But enjoy!

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