Baking | Sinful Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche … chocolate + toffee = heavenly!

“In today’s world, when many of yesterday’s fashionable habits are today’s misdemeanors, we should rejoice that a chocolate dessert can bring so much innocent pleasure.”
Marcel Desaulniers

hocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche 1Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche … a sweet beginning to 2014. Always fun to end a year decadently {Dark Chocolate Kumquat Amaranth Mousse Cakes}, and begin the next one on a clean slate. As in my case, maybe with a dose of some more decadence? Actually, it’s more of a ritual because the daughter was born on the 2nd of Jan. Every year begins with a baking frenzy, and of late, chocolate is being demanded more than ever before!

Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche It was more frenzied when she was young as there had to be cookies, brownies, dips too. The works! As they grow up, the pressure here falls … increases everywhere else I have to add! This year was the big 18 and most of her day went with friends as expected. For me, it was a situation which reminded me of Driving Ms Daisy … I drove her up and down all day long! Since I love driving, I cannot complain!

Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche The previous day was busier than I could manage. The cake became a rushed affair. I did have this fancy fondant cake in mind, the colours that she would have loved, with stuff on top which might have knocked her breath away etc… that remained in my dreams! Instead, between racing around like a headless chicken for two whole days, I threw in one genoise after another. Cakes baked, frosting was the next challenge. Thankfully I had a tin of dulce de leche made from an earlier batch when I did this Banoffee Pie.

Dulce de leche,” meaning candy of milk or milk jelly in Spanish, is a rich and decadent sauce or syrup, similar in flavor to caramel. Unlike caramel, however, which is made by heating sugar, dulce de leche is prepared by heating sweetened condensed milk. Dulce de leche is especially common in the desserts of various South American countries, including Argentina and Uruguay.

Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche Might work I thought. Well it had to because I had cut it too fine. While she had a friend over to ring in her birthday at midnight, the poor mother stood in freezing January temperatures trying desperately to fill a chocolate genoise with a hair brained ‘toffee inspired‘ filling idea. Fast approaching the Cinderella hour, I ended up using an adjustable dessert ring  {one of my best buys in Sydney many years ago} and gelatin to stabilize the filling.
Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche Thankfully it turned out fine and ‘set‘ overnight, else I might have wept copious tears. Chocolate and toffee are a wonderful combination. With less than an hour in hand, I did a quick dark chocolate ganache to frost the cake, and made some shards to garnish. There was just enough time to give it a dusting of powdered sugar, take a few snaps …

Chocolate Cake with Dulce de Leche … and the rest is history! I didn’t get any shots of a slice as the cake went pretty quick after the 18 year old did the honours. I am however sure I will make this again soon. Maybe as soon as I get those cans of condensed milk into the pressure cooker again!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | OMBRE … Almond Layered Cream Cake {for the teen who craved pink!}

“Laughter and tears are both responses to frustration and exhaustion. I myself prefer to laugh, since there is less cleaning up to do afterward”
Kurt Vonnegut

Ombre ... Almond Layered Cream CakeHappy New Year with an Ombre Almond Layered Cream Cake. Sorry I haven’t made an appearance yet. The beginning of the year is always BUSY! Call it bad planning, but the elder teen was born on the 2nd of Jan 17 years ago. In this absolutely freezing cold, where the temperature dips and the power trips, I’ve been baking birthday cakes every 1st January for the past 16 years.

Ombre ... Almond Layered Cream Cake 2We’ve broken ‘cold‘ records for the past 45 years this January. With a country not planned with central heating, we are surviving in ice boxes at 0.7 C temperatures. Absolutely bone chilling here these days. It’s one thing to shiver; another to shiver and bake!! Must be a glutton for punishment as I shiver through the process every year. I made an ombre cake a while ago for a dear friends birthday. It was TALL with many shades of pink. How the daughter whined! “You never make tall cakes in shades of pink for me”, “Why have I never got one like this”, “I WANT pink for my birthday”.

Ombre ... Almond Layered Cream Cake 3Then I saw this beautiful piece of art at BS in the Kitchen. Stunning and inspiring. I set off to replicate it but this January has been tougher than ever. Bitterly cold, power cuts galore … and if I may be allowed some more whining, cream that refused to oblige! I got down to whipping the low fat cream thrice … every single time we had a power cut. It usually obliges. Not this time though. I almost wept.

Ombre ... Almond Layered Cream Cake I should have made a buttercream; really should have. We don’t particularly love buttercream at home, so I decided to innovate. Lesson learnt: roses are made from firmer stuff i.e. buttercream! In sheer desperation, I began piping my frosting which was good enough to pipe roses on top, but played slip sliding roses on the walls of the cake. Thank heavens for lace collars. When all else fails, it seems to salvage the situation somewhat.

Ombre ... Almond Layered Cream CakeThe cake tasted great and the birthday teen loved it to bits, pink and all. It got over really quick. In all the running around that day, I never did manage a proper picture before it was cut. It was worth the heartache though, well worth it!

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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

Baking | Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake …Happy Birthday to me!

“Coffee smells like freshly ground heaven.”
Jesse Lane Adams

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake

A Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake … this is what my dreams are made up of. Coffee in a birthday cake has become a quintessential part of my birthday, a flavour that inspires me like no other. A lot of friends express surprise, dismay and even chide me for baking on ‘my big day’ every year… yet this is what relaxes me the most – baking!

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeThe teen did offer to bake for me the night before! She said she would begin baking after Grey’s Anatomy which continued late into the night. She offered to do a rainbow cake {her current obsession} but I wanted coffee. “How about rainbow coffee cake?” she asked. I was soon out cold after a hectic Diwali. She passed out soon too!

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeI tiptoed into the kitchen the next morning to get a head-start while the teens snoozed. Throw coffee into the cake batter and I can climb the highest mountain, sail the roughest sea and still come out good! This is a cake I look forward to baking, one with no plan in particular.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake It’s a good relaxed feeling when you are bake for yourself. No disappointments, no one judges your slips and you get to enjoy the fruits of your own ‘labour‘! Therapy at your own pace, in your own time, in your own space!

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeCoffee is my favourite flavour in dessert, so my birthday cake is predictable. The tiramisu we did for the Daring Bakers sang to me. The tiramisu variants that the Olive churns out call my name. I thrive on cold coffee even in the winter.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeI use generous doses of Bru instant coffee to get depth of flavour. Bru is one of India’s best known and oldest chicory coffee powders. We love that first mug every morning! It’s a blend we grew up on, the green packaging a nostalgic bit of our teenage years.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeWhen we were young, coffee was forbidden. As teens, we took our first steps into the delicious world of coffee. Both our kids are true lovers of everything coffee, often the first flavour they reach for. Sometimes, chocolate comes second. 

Coffeestudy from the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences found that a daily dose of caffeine may block the disruptive effects of high cholesterol that scientists have linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Coffee is now listed as one of many brain foods.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeI am not advocating the benefits of coffee. Just saying that if you are a coffee lover, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a cake like this. Use your best loved coffee brand; indulge your palette!! This Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered Cake is testament to it.

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeThe flavours developed deeply and nicely. Alternate layers of vanilla bean and coffee sponge sandwiched with a light whipped coffee cream. I did contemplate a chocolate filling but the clock grew wings. Time flew away!  So I grabbed a huge bowl of chilled low fat cream and beat the daylights out of it. 2 tbsps of coffee later, junior teen dug a spoon in …. “Yummm. Can I finish whats left?”

Coffee & Vanilla Bean Layered CakeI asked him to take a teeny video of me assembling the cake if he wanted the cream! Bribery works. Little hands, sometimes shaky, sometimes distracted, tired easily, we did get something on camera. Will process and post it soon. It was shot basically for the chocolate lace collar as I get a lot of mails asking me how I make it.


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Also find me on The Rabid Baker, The Times of India

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