Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

I can’t believe how long it’s been since I’ve last posted here on Cassie’s Kitchen! It’s been pretty hectic over the past few weeks (months?) and my poor kitchen and blog have been sadly neglected. But I’m back, and I apologize profusely for keeping you from this decadent Chocolate Brandy Cake recipe because we have so many things to celebrate and what’s better to celebrate with than Chocolate Cake! Well..Chocolate Brandy Cake!

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

I have so much news, I don’t even know where to start! (Deep breath…) Okay, first I had a pretttttty big birthday. At least it seemed pretty big to me…I entered into my 3rd decade on this planet…eek!! I love birthdays, any reason to bake glorious layer cakes and boozy cupcakes is okay by me…that is…as long as they’re not my own. For some reason I try to avoid my birthday at all costs. Possibly because I was born on St. Patricks Day, which was a glorious day to celebrate when I turned 21 (I actually did so in Dublin – who am was I?), but now that I’m 30 (double eek!), the idea of being surrounded by drunken obnoxious people in overcrowded bars is nauseating. So the last few years I’ve decided to escape the city and celebrate my birthday anywhere but NYC. Since this birthday happened to be a big one, my boyfriend, Jordan, and I decided to take a trip first to Austin for SXSW (so I could surround myself with drunken, obnoxious people in crowded music venues…hm..), and then to Costa Rica.

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

My birthday was spent with some of my favorite people, including Jordan (obviously), his best friend Steve and his very talented girlfriend, Miss Katie from Butterlust, who generously baked a fabulous mini chocolate cake for me (thank you Katie!). I also was able to see two of my closest friends, Catherine and Cordelia, whom I’ve known since my first decade on earth! I couldn’t have asked for a better, low-key birthday. To top it off, the birthday week was just starting as we continued with a trip to Costa Rica! Pura Vida!

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

Five years ago, Jordan and I went on our first vacation together to Costa Rica, and we were excited to go back to relive the amazing time we had there. I still look back and think it to be one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. Jordan was the perfect travel companion, we got along so well and had the same exact travel style (mostly relaxation, a little bit of adventure, some sight-seeing, and a lot of time spent at cafes, bars and restaurants.) We returned to the same hotel we had stayed at on our previous trip, Banana Azul, which was even better than we had remembered.

Costa Rica

Little did I know, the first day we arrived in Puerto Viejo, Jordan had a surprise waiting for me. He suggested we bike to Punta Uva, a popular beach in Puerto Viejo, and then hike the cliff next to the beach to the serene and secluded beach we knew was on the other side. This was our favorite spot when we visited last, and for years to come Jordan and I would send each other pictures of the beach anytime the weather was bad, we had a rough day, or because we knew the other needed a pick-me-up. When we climbed down the cliff and the brush opened up to crystal blue water and white sand, Jordan got down on one knee and asked me to marry him! I couldn’t have been happier, and we celebrated with a bottle of champagne overlooking the most beautiful blue water on a perfect warm day. We enjoyed the rest of the week celebrating, drinking far too much lots of bubbly, eating fresh, local seafood and relaxing beach side.

Costa Rica

When we returned to NYC, we didn’t even bother unpacking, because we moved to Brooklyn 2 weeks later! Phew! I’m seriously exhausted even typing all this.

Now that we’re fully settled into our new hood, I’m hoping to get back on the saddle and start blogging again. I hope you’ll forgive me for my absence, but I hope you caught up on recipes in the archive. And now can we talk about cake already?

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

This cake really doesn’t need much of an explanation. It’s rich, decadent, and intensely chocolate. The prunes soaked in liquor adds an elegance to the chocolate making this cake refined and almost luxurious. It’s perfect for a birthday celebration, Memorial Day party, Christmas dinner, or seriously, just because. Yes, it is a little involved, but I can tell you it’s ever so worth it. Because there are always reasons to celebrate, especially when chocolate is involved.

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

Celebratory Chocolate Brandy Cake

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: medium
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Note: This cake is relatively straight forward and simple to make. The one intimidating step (at least for me), was setting the prune and brandy mixture aflame. I was expecting massive showy flames, but the flame was very tame and didn’t creep above the top of the saucepan. Even so, always exercise caution when using this technique.
 
Adapted from Baking, From My Home to Yours

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 2/3 cup finely ground pecans (or walnuts)
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 12 plump, moist prunes, pitted and chopped into small bits
  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 cup Brandy (or cognac, Armagnac or Scotch whiskey)
  • 7 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar

For the glaze:

  • 3 ounces good quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

Recipe

For the cake:

  1. Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375º F. Butter an 8-inch springform pan, fit the bottom of the pan with a round of parchment paper, and then butter paper. Dust the inside of the pan with flour and tap out the excess. Place the pan on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the nuts, flour and salt.  Set aside.
  3. Place the prunes and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat and cook until almost all of the water has evaporated.  Be sure not to scorch the fruit. Pull the pan from the heat and pour in the brandy, stand back and set the prunes and liquor aflame with a match or utility lighter. Allow the flame to die out, then transfer the fruit and any remaining liquid to a bowl and let cool. (This step can be done up to a day in advance.)
  4. Add the chocolate, butter and remaining 3 tablespoons water to a heatproof bowl, and set it over a pan of simmering water.  Stir occasionally until chocolate and butter are melted. Remove from heat as soon as it is melted and not overly hot.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together until pale and thick, approximately 2 minutes. With a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate mixture, then the nut mixture and then finally the prune mixture.  Mix to combine and evenly distribute all ingredients.
  6. With a stand mixer or hand held mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold firm, glossy peaks. Stir one quarter of the beaten whites into the chocolate mixture, then gently fold in the remaining whites. Turn the batter into the pan and spread the top evenly with a spatula.
  7. Bake the cake for 25-30 minutes, until it is puffed, firm on top and starting to pull slightly away from the sides of the pan; a thin knife or toothpick will come out streaky, but not wet. You don’t want to over-bake this cake.
  8. Transfer the cake to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes before carefully removing the sides of the pan. Invert the cake and pull off the bottom and paper, and then turn right side up to cool to room temperature. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

For the glaze:

  1. Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a pan of gently simmering water. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the sugar, then butter, stirring until the glaze is smooth.
  2. Pour the glaze over the top of the cake, allowing excess to run down the sides. Use an offset spatula to smooth the top of the cake and sides if necessary.

Cake will keep for 1 day at room temperature, or 3 days in the refrigerator, stored in an airtight container. Bring to room temperature before serving.

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