Whenever one of the math teachers has a birthday, I get to go nuts and make something fun. I really love cakes with whipped cream, but they don't travel well. After a few hours, the cream can get limp and start to "weep"---not a good thing.
I knew I wanted to make this Tiramisu inspired cake I'd make at home a few weeks back, but I needed to lighten it up (who eats mascarpone cheese anyhow?) and get it sturdy enough to travel to school and hang out in the staff room. I also wanted to make sure the cake would cut cleanly into nice slices. My cake at home was super delicious but more a jumbled heap of stuff rather than an actual slice of cake.
I decided to substitute a pudding based filling for the cheese filling. I firmed up the pudding with a little extra cornstarch. It's not terribly pretty--the pudding got very lumpy and gummy, but it tasted fine, and once in the cake--no lumps.
I also firmed up the whipped cream with an old trick: Knox gelatin. Works like a dream. That whipped cream stays whipped for days and days.
The result? Sean said it may be the best cake he ever had! Yippee!
So first: the photos...
|Make a syrup out of the sugars, espresso powder, Frangelica, and water.|
|In a blender or food processor, grind chocolate chips, ginger cookies, espresso powder.|
|Vanilla pudding make with whole milk and 1/2 and 1/2, and with syrup and cornstarch added.|
|Not the prettiest as it cools off. Don't worry, no one will see or detect the lumps.|
|Whipped cream with the Knox gelatin.|
|Split both layers in half.|
|Ready to assemble? Each cake layer gets brushed with syrup. Except it's really hard to do that without tearing up all the crumbs and making a mess. For me, it's more of a drizzle, dab, dab, dab to get the syrup evenly on the cake.|
|For some reason, constantly turning my head to read the recipe is preferable to actually taking it down to read :p|
|After the syrup, spread a layer of whipped cream.|
|Sprinkle with a layer of the chocolate/cookie crumbles.|
|Last cake layer: Dab on syrup. Spread last 1/3 of pudding on top. It will be pretty gummy. Don't worry! This is really just to the last layer of chocolate/cookie mixture has something to cling to.|
|This layer can be nice and thick.|
|Chill well. I doubled the recipe since I was making such a mess. Might as well have 2 cakes for the mess of 1...|
13 T butter, soft
1 c. sugar
1/3 c honey
1 t vanilla
1/2 c milk
2 c flour
2 t baking powder
Preheat oven to 325F. Prep two 9" baking pans with butter, flour and parchment and set aside.
In small bowl, empty one envelope of Knox unflavored gelatin and pour over 1/3 c boiling water. Stir till dissolved. Set aside.
In another bowl, whip eggs, yolks, espresso, vanilla and milk. Set aside.
In a small bowl, combine flour and baking powder with a whisk*.
( To be honest--I never do this. I just do a little flour, a little baking powder, a little flour till it gets mixed. But if you're a purist, follow the directions.)
In a mixer bowl, beat butter and sugar with the paddle attachment till light and fluffy. Add honey and beat well again.
Taking turns, add a bit of the egg mixture and then a bit of the flour and baking soda-- beat after each addition and continue till thoroughly mixed and ribbons when you pour it. Divide equally between the two pans and bake for 35 minutes, till a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let stand 5-10 minutes before turning layers out on to a cooling rack.
1 c sugar
2T Instant espresso powder
1/2 c Frangelica (or Kahlua, or any other sweet liqueur)
1/2 c water
In a small saucepan, bring to a boil and cook till sugar is totally dissolved. Set aside and let cool.
Get a box of cook and serve vanilla pudding. DO NOT USE INSTANT. Make according to directions using whole milk ( or whole milk and half and half) and adding 2 t cornstarch. As soon as pudding boils, add 1/4 c of the syrup. Let cool completely.
Whip a half pint of heavy cream with 1.5 t of sugar. When it looks gloppy, but no peaks have formed, take about 1/2 c of it and mix with the Knox gel till well incorporated. The Knox gel should be totally liquid and warm room temperature. If it's cold, it becomes JELLO and will make unattractive, gooey "bugers" in your cream.
If the gel has set up, add a little more hot water or pop it in the microwave for a few seconds.
Add the cream/ gel to the bowl and continue to whip till stiff peaks form. Chill.
In a blender or food processor, combine
1/2 c chocolate chips
1c Ginger cookies (I like the Trader Joe's Cat Cookies)
1T of espresso powder
1T unsweetened cocoa powder
Blend till the chocolate chips are tiny bits. Set aside.
When everything is totally cool (cake, syrup, pudding, whipped cream), assemble the cake.
First, split the 2 layers horizontally and separate. Set aside one "bottom" half. This will be the very top layer and I use it 'cause it has a nice flat top and crisp edges.
Put first half layer of cake on your serving plate cut side up. Brush with syrup by drizzling some syrup on cake and them dabbing the brush around. Actually BRUSHING the syrup will drag up crumbs and make a mess.
Spread half of the whipped cream on the layer and then sprinkle about 1/4c of the chocolate-cookie crumbs mix on top. Put another layer of cake on top of this, cut side up.
Repeat the syrup dabbing and spread this layer with 2/3 of the pudding. It will look and feel gummy and lumpy. It matters not.
Sprinkle with the chocolate/cookie mixture and top with another layer of cake, cut side up.
Repeat syrup dabbing and top with remaining whipped cream and sprinkle with choc-cookie mix. Top with last layer BAKED SIDE UP. Spread last 1/3 of the pudding on. It won't be very thick, and sprinkle heavily with choc-cookie mix.
Chill thoroughly, 6 hrs or over night. After about 2 hrs, you can cover it with some plastic wrap.
This cake should be good to go and cut beautifully. Keep any left-overs in the refrigerator.
Here's the original recipe if you are interested...Tiramisu Birthday Cake