Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Z is for Zebra- Chocolate Zebra Cake

Chocolate Zebra Cake
from Chocolate Cakes: 50 Great Cakes for Every Occasion by Elinor Klivans

Chocolate or Vanilla- the age old question.  I prefer chocolate, but if vanilla has to be included, my favorite combination is chocolate cake with white icing. For those who don’t have a preference, this is the perfect party cake- chocolate layers with white chocolate icing and a chocolate design on the white frosting to give it that animal print look.   The layers are very thin and light, and although the filling/frosting is rich, the cake is not overwhelming.  This was a fun and easy cake to make, although I definitely could improve on my zebra stripes. A good cake for those who don’t want to weigh in on either side of the chocolate vs vanilla debate.

For the Cake:
¾ cup flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened dutch process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt                                                                     
3 large eggs at room temeperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon almond extract
¼ cup heavy cream

For the filling and frosting:
8 ounces white chocolate chopped
1 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 tablespoon amaretto or other almond liqueur
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter a jellyroll pan, 15x10 inches. Line the bottom with parchment and butter the paper.

For the cake: Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat the eggs and granulated sugar until thickened and lightened to a cream color, about 4 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.  Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts.  Mix in half the flour mix until just incorporated.  Stir in the cream and then the remaining flour mixture, mixing until the flour is incorporated and the batter looks smooth.  Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and spread it evenly.  Bake about 15 minutes or until the top feels firm when gently touched and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Run a knife around the edges to loosen it from the pan.  Cool cake in pan on rack until cool to the touch, about 2o minutes.  Spread a long sheet of wax paper on the counter,  Invert the cake onto the paper. Peel off parchment and discard it.
Filling and Frosting: Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place it over barely simmering water to melt.  Stir constantly til melted and smooth.  Scrape into a large bowl and set aside to cool slightly.  In the chilled bowl, with a chilled beater, beat the cream, confectioner’s sugar, vanilla and almond extracts and amaretto at medium speed until firm peaks form.  Whisk about ½ cup of this whipped cream into the melted white chocolate until blended.  Then using a spatula, fold in the remaining whipped cream.

Cut the cake into 4 equal rectangles, each about 7 ½ x5 inches.  Transfer one rectangle to a serving plate.  Spread about ¾ cup of the filling/frosting over the layer.  Carefully place another rectangle over on top of the filling and repeat with remaining layers.  Spread remaining filling/frosting over the top and sides of the cake. I didn’t have quite enough for frosting the top and sides, so I beat some additional heavy cream with a little confectioner’s sugar and spread this over the white chocolate whipped cream.
Melt the bittersweet chocolate in a heatproof bowl over simmering water, stirring until melted and smooth.  Spoon the chocolate into a medium pastry bag fitted with a small round tip about 1/8 inch opening.  Pipe zigzagging lines over the top of the cake, to look like zebra stripes.  Cover and refrigerate.  The flavor mellows overnight and is better the next day. ((post by Susan))

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