mocha brownie cake with whisper creek ganache: a tuesdays with dorie post

for this weeks challenge, the tuesdays with dorie bakers baked up marcel desaulniers mocha brownie cake recipe from the book, baking with julia.   with a texture more like a devil’s food cake, this rich little cake wasn’t much of a brownie for this chocolate fan.  did that make it a poor choice for a chocolate fix?  no, especially not with the thick coat of ganache on top of each little two-bite cake.  but truth be told, i would much rather have a traditional, dense and dark chocolate brownie.

the recipe calls this a mocha brownie cake.  that was a bit confusing since the cake itself had not a drop of coffee in it.  to punch up the mocha flavor, i tried to add a bit of coffee extract to it but did not add enough-my fear of over doing it cancelled out my good intentions.  the result was just a really strong chocolate flavored cake with the texture of a devil dog; remember those?  for the ganache frosting, i decided to switch the coffee, a mere 1/4 cup, for an equal portion of whisper creek tennessee sipping cream.  it seemed like the perfect choice for a dessert to be served at a pot luck dinner.  trust me, it was.  i came home with an empty plate.  good thing i stashed a few at home for my husband and me to indulge in!

as a rule, we do not post the recipes we bake from.  it isn’t fair to the author for us to give away the recipes without permission.  my suggestion, buy a copy of the book or borrow it from a library or a friend.  honestly, it isn’t hard to find; i found it on several websites with a quick google search.

the mini cupcake pan baked up 24 cakes plus a few large hearts to make a shamrock.  the ganache recipe was more than i needed to frost the tops of all of the cakes.  i had plenty left for the ones i stashed-we couldn’t skimp on the frosting for those!

yeah, it’s hokey.  so what, this green eyed irish girl (hey, i’m also italian-what a combo!) had to get a little festive for the pot luck!  not sure that anyone noticed it though…

and this is how the husband and i indulged; laid out on a silver platter with a bit of sipping cream to wash it down…perfect. chocolate. indulgence!!!

be sure to check out the tuesdays with dorie page to see how the other bakers fared.  perhaps, bake up a batch yourself.  if you do, the whisper creek substitution is worth trying.  and no, they did not pay me to say that-i do not do endorsements and do not accept payments or advertising.  but if someone wants to give me a bottle to bake with, i won’t turn it down!  the truth is that i happen to have an open bottle in the fridge and grabbed it rather than brewing up a pot of coffee just for a 1/4 cup, and i am glad i did!  bake on friends!

mocha swirl bundt cake

when colors are swirled together, they catch my eye.  the intricate pattern created by the marbleization of two or more colors has always fascinated me.  it can be paint or it can be cake, doesn’t matter.  one of my favorite mediums for marbleizing is biscotti dough but cheesecake is a close second.  then there are bundt cakes; my new favorite “canvas” for mixing swirls of color.  almost as much fun as choosing the colors is choosing the flavors to combine.  if chosen correctly, it is a perfect yin and yang of both color and flavor.

working the marbleizing magic with cake batter is a little tricky.  depending on your leavening agent, the colors can shift.  baking soda can give blueberries, blackberries and raspberries a greenish tint that is not very pleasing but it will turn chocolate a much darker brown or even black.  baking powder on the other hand will keep the berries looking like their natural shades of purple and red but will cause the chocolate to turn a muddy red.  to further complicate things, mixing two completely different cake batters can be difficult since they may not bake the same.  finding the balance is part of the challenge.  luckily, dutched cocoa powder is not hard to find and that makes it a little easier to prevent the color shift.  and for those of you who cannot find the dutch process cocoa, try adding a small amount of baking soda to simulate the higher alkaline content; i added an 1/8 teaspoon to the 1/3 cup of cocoa and had good results.

mocha swirl bundt cake
1 10 cup bundt serving about 12

1/3 cup dutch processed cocoa powder (or 1/3 cup natural cocoa and 1/8 teaspoon baking soda)
2 tablespoons instant espresso powder
1/3 cup boiling water
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
3 cups cake flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/3 cup buttermilk

preheat the oven to 350.  grease and flour a bundt pan and set it aside.  in a small heat proof bowl, whisk the cocoa and espresso powder to combine.  add the boiling water and stir to make a smooth paste, set this aside while you mix the batter.

to mix the batter, cream the butter with the sugar, vanilla and salt until it is light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes.  add the eggs one at a time and mix until combined, scrape the bowl as you go.  sift the cake flour and the baking powder over the top of the batter.  fold this a couple times and then sprinkle the buttermilk over the top of the batter.  fold the batter together until it is just combined.  remove 2 cups of the batter and stir it into the chocolate paste.  place dollops of batter into the prepared pan, alternating between dark and light.  using a skewer or thin knife, carefully swirl the batters by dragging it through and stirring it occasionally.  be careful not to go overboard or the pattern will not be visible after baking.  bake until a pick inserted into the cake comes out clean, about 45 minutes.  allow the cake to cool in the pan for about 20 minutes.  turn the cake out onto a serving plate and allow it to finish cooling.