Saturday, February 13, 2010

Hangin' it up

My dad's been longing to retire for a while now; and after over 30 years in the coal biz he's finally hung it up.

His last day was at the end of December, but my parents live in Missouri, so getting back for a lil' retirement shindig hasn't been easy to figure out.  So, with my parents visiting this last week, I thought I could do a little something here at the house.

I decided to make a German Chocolate Cake.

This is something I've never made before, but it's my dad's favorite and I desperately wanted to have one made by the time they arrived Monday night. 

So, on Sunday I did a quick search for GCC online and found one on Rachel Ray's site.  It was Trisha Yearwood's special recipe, one she makes for Garth Brooks every year on his birthday.  It looked easy enough - there was even video of Trisha baking it - and, from the looks of Garth these days, I figured it was really delicious! 

Extenuating circumstances kept me from baking the cake on Sunday.  There was cleaning for my parents' arrival, and the Superbowl...and the fact I forgot to sit the butter I needed out BEFORE the Superbowl so it would be appropriately softened by the time we got home.  Oops.

Clearly not getting done Sunday night, I decided to get up early and bake it Monday morning before work.  This is something I have done several times, and I never seem to learn: Making desserts before work...will never, ever work.

I did it anyway.

And, as to be predicted, everything was so frustrating.  It took forever.  It got so annoying at one point I called Trisha Yearwood a liar.  She promised the cake wouldn't run over the pans...with the many whipped egg whites it would be fluffy and would rise ABOVE the pans but would settle back down.

Well, that didn't happen.  Instead, chocolate cake ran all over the bottom of my oven, burning to little crunchy crisps that basically set on fire causing the smoke alarm to screech.

It was easiest to blame Trisha, and not the fact I probably overfilled the pans.  Or that I went against my better judgment and didn't put the pans on cookie sheets.  Instead, it was all Trisha's fault.

I didn't have time to make the icing over lunch, so, of course, it had to be made quickly before my parents got here.

Needless to say, the cake got iced while my dad wasn't looking.

And Trisha Yearwood isn't a liar.  It's delicious.  And my dad loved it.

My dad reading his retirement card with the cake and the six-pack of Cutthroat Porter Todd gave him...

My dad loves the Cutthroat Porter because it has fish on the packaging and bottles.  I think he likes the taste too... 

Happy retirement!  To a rest well-deserved! 

Trisha Yearwood's Not a Liar German Chocolate Cake
  • 4 ounces sweet dark chocolate (Baker's brand has a German Chocolate flavor. This is what I used. I would also suggest breaking it up a bit so it melts a little faster.)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature (This is what I didn't do before the Superbowl - and you gotta.)
  • 1/4 cup warm milk
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5 medium egg whites (Save your yolks! They come in two ingredients down!!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 medium egg yolks (Here you go...)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, well shaken
  • For the coconut frosting:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 medium egg yolks (These are additional yolks.  I separated the eggs and saved the whites for a different recipe.)
  • 1 cup evaporated milk (I used the skim kind)
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 10 ounces grated coconut (Check that the coconut shreds are kind of finely shredded.  If they aren't you might want to SLIGHTLY chop them in a blender a bit.  I think it helps the cake ice better.) 
  • 1 1/2 cups finely ground pecans (Do NOT chop these in a blender for too'll end up with pecan butter.  Which was pretty delicious too.  Just not right for the recipe.)

Melt the chocolate in either the top of a double boiler, or if you're like me and don't have one: Put a heat-proof glass bowl in a saucepan and add water to the saucepan - not the bowl! - so the water comes half-way up the sides of the bowl - but not in!  Heat the water on the stove to a low boil and place the chocolate chunks in the bowl.  This will melt the chocolate without fear of burning it. 

Stir the chocolate until it's smooth. Add 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) of the butter and stir until it is melted and blended. Add 1/4 cup of warm milk and stir until smooth. Set the chocolate aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Line the bottoms only of three 9-inch cake pans (I only have two, so I tried to make cupcakes with the remaining batter.  Do not overfill the tins or they will run out too - just like the cakes did!  Ugh.) with circles of wax paper, or grease only the bottom of each pan with solid shortening/butter and dust lightly with flour.

Sift or whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Whip the egg whites until stiff using the wire beater of a mixer.  This takes about five minutes.  They will get big and foamy.  Treat them gently!  You don't want them to fall!  Transfer the beaten whites to a separate bowl and set aside.

In the mixer bowl, cream the remaining 1 1/2 sticks of butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg yolks one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the melted, cooled chocolate and the vanilla. Mix well.

With the mixer on very low, stir in the flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk. Do this by adding about a third of the flour and slowly stirring it in completely. Then add about half the buttermilk and stir it in. Continue adding flour and buttermilk in this manner, ending with flour. Scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir again.

With a long-handled spoon or spatula, GENTLY fold and stir the beaten egg whites into the batter until the batter is smooth with no visible clumps of whites.

Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans (this means less than half full or you'll be scrapping burnt cake bits off the bottom of your oven in the middle of blow drying your hair for work) and bake for 30-40 minutes.  (I'd also set them on cookie sheets IN CASE it still happens to run over.  May as well cover your butt.) 

Bake on the middle rack of the oven, allowing at least 1/4-inch clearance between the pans and the oven walls. The cake will rise above the pan edges as it bakes but will not spill over and will settle back down as it continues to bake. The cake is done when it begins to pull away from the sides of the pans and springs back to a light touch. Cool layers in the pans for about 8 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of each pan and turn the layers out. Cool layers completely before frosting.  

To make the frosting, Tricia suggests combining the sugar, egg yolks, and evaporated milk in the top of a double boiler, but I say this doesn't work. This mixture needs more of a direct heat to get the desired consistency.  I'd just dump it all directly into a saucepan and watch it so it doesn't burn.  Just stir it frequently.

Stir with a wire whisk until the yolks are fully incorporated. Add the butter.  Simmer for 12-15 minutes longer, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Add the vanilla, coconut, and nuts. Cool. Completely.  Take it from me: if this is even remotely warm you're going to have a heck of a time keeping it on your cake.

To assemble the cake, place one layer on a cake stand and spread with frosting. Frost each layer completely, top and sides, as it is added to the cake.



You can have it for breakfast like my parents did this week.  And for a snack...and...

1 comment:

MOM said...

It WAS good! Thanks for going to the trouble, Kimberly. Your Dad liked it, too. You notice he ate a piece for breakfast, as did I, and yes...for snack.....