Monday, October 22, 2007

The Most Awesome Cake Ever - Chocolate Brownie with Dulce de Leche Filling and Chocolate Orange Cream Cheese Frosting

I made this for Channing one year for his birthday, and perfected it over a few occasions. However, it had been a while and we were way, way overdue. Since it was recently my birthday, we threw together a party, but the entire motivation, really, was so that I could make (and eat) this cake. And why did we need to have have 20 people over? Why couldn't I just bake it and eat it ourselves? Because it's so incredibly rich, you have to share.
I'm not entirely sure where all the inspiration came from, but the main source was the Acadian Bakery's Brownie Chocolate Mousse cake. I had it for the first time at a friend's birthday party years ago and was completely hooked. If you're in Houston, I can't recommend them more. They may have the monumentally bad judgement to think that a photo of Pres. Bush on their home page is a good idea, but the cakes are outstanding.

The Brownie cake is just what it sounds like. Two layers are dense, moist brownie. I just use the Duncan Hines plain recipe (no nuts, caramel chunks, etc). There's enough going on in this that you don't want to have to work with their additives as well.

Now, Channing is a big fan of cream cheese icing, so that was a must. He loves red velvet cake, but I suspect that it's because that cake is a cream cheese icing delivery mechanism. Incidently, he joked that he wanted "a red velvet cake shaped like an armadillo" for our wedding. You know, marrying another man is gay enough. Adding in references to Steel Magnolias is really just too much. Though with the crappy job that La Royale Icing in Oak Park turned out on the wedding cake we did have, we may have been better off. Yes, that is an anti-endorsement. They suck. HUGE waste of money.


The Joy of Cooking recipe for cream cheese icing has variations for chocolate and orange flavors. So, immediately, I say, "Screw it, I'm doing both." I took the chocolate recipe (3 oz of melted unsweetened chocolate to the base recipe - I used semisweet instead) and added orange extract and a sharp cinnamon to taste (about 1/2 tsp and 1 tsp respectively).

Then, I decided to fill it with Dulce de Leche in the middle and used the Heath Bar balls to top it. Diabetes inducing goodness. To use the Dulce de Leche as a filling, open the can and stir the caramel a bit until it's a smooth, spreadable texture (it starts out as a flan-like custard). I've also added a Mexican vanilla to it at times, which works well.

It'd been a few years, so I was really out of practice in assembling and decorating cakes. The result was, frankly, a mess. But it's really, really hard to mess up the flavors and, damn, it tastes so freaking good, it doesn't matter.

I did learn a few things:

  • Brownie Layers - Use one box per standard cake pan. I tried doing the 13"x9" pan (I wanted to make a larger version, as we ran out one year), but the layers are just too thin to get from the pan in a single sheet. Also, do NOT use the "cake-like" recipe (adding the extra egg). It makes them rise, which makes frosting very difficult. My top layer started sliding off the Dulce de Leche filling (which was admittedly laid too thick, as well).
  • Toffee Topping - I recently discovered Terry's Toffee here in Chicago. Not only is it hands down the best toffee I've ever had, they make an Orange Blossom flavor which worked just great with the other flavors. I chopped up those and put them on top instead of the Heath bar. Highly recommended.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey Hal,
I'm glad Terry's Toffee was the perfect topping for your cake! Next time you come in - ask for me so I can say "hi".