Thursday, May 22, 2008

Jello Wrestling

Well, maybe not jello wrestling. But there is wrestling involved. And there is food too.

First up, a few pictures from our trip to Shadow Cliffs last Friday:

Mac hamming it up for the camera

"... Let me tell you 'bout my best friend..."

Mac really swam this time. I tossed a stick out a little, then a little farther, and a little more. All of a sudden he was diving under the water since the stick sank a little, did a turn, and paddled back to shore. I think he surprised even himself, and he wasn't much interested in actual swimming after that. He was very happy to wade though.

Now for the food: We had a going-away party at work today for a coworker so I made a cake. I used Orangette's Banana Cake with Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting, but doubled it to make a two-layer cake and added a chocolate ganache filling.

Banana Cake with Chocolate Ganache and Coconut Cream Cheese Frosting
adapted from Orangette
For the cake:
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1.5 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large egg
1.5 cup puréed very ripe bananas (I used 4 bananas)
0.5 cup sour cream
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

Chocolate ganache:
9 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Ghiradelli chips)
1 cup heavy cream
1 Tbs dark rum

For the frosting:
6 oz cream cheese, at room temperature
6 Tbs unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners sugar
6 Tbs well-stirred canned cream of coconut; not coconut milk
2 tsp dark rum
2/3 cup sweetened flaked coconut (optional, I put it on the side to add as desired)

Place a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly butter or spray a 9-inch round cake pan (I added parchment rounds, then sprayed again), and dust it with flour, shaking out any excess.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and brown sugar on high speed until pale and fluffy, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add the egg, and beat until well combined. Add the banana purée, sour cream, and vanilla, and beat to combine well. Reduce the speed to low, and add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined. Do not overmix. (Its best to add the flour in thirds or quarters. The batter will be very thick so you'll probably have to mix by hand toward the end.)

Divide the batter equally between the two prepared cake pans, and bake until the top is pale golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20-27 minutes.

Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan; then invert the rack over the cake and invert the cake onto the rack to cool completely.

While the cake is cooking or while it cools, make the ganache. In a small saucepan, heat the heavy cream until nearly boiling (but do not allow to boil). Pour over the chocolate in a bowl and stir to melt the chocolate and combine. Allow to cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Once cool you can whip the ganache if desired to make it fluffier.

While the cake cools, make the frosting. In a medium bowl, beat together the cream cheese and the butter on medium speed until smooth. Reduce the speed to low; then add the confectioners sugar, cream of coconut, and rum. Mix until combined; then increase the speed to high and beat until light and fluffy, about two minutes.

Even the cake layers by slicing off the domed tops with a large serrated knife in a gentle sawing motion (and save the scraps to snack on!). Place the bottom layer on your plate, pour some ganache in the center and spread outward, stopping about half an inch from the edge of the cake to avoid overspill. I used about half of the ganache to fill the cake (put the rest in the fridge, then use a melon baller to scoop out truffles!). Top with the second layer. Spread frosting around the sides and over the top of the thoroughly cooled cake, and sprinkle evenly with coconut if desired.

One of these days I need to get a proper cake stand or plate, instead of using a dinner plate. I also need an offset spatula to make frosting easier and prettier. My dreams are rather humble. This cake is really tasty and moist, like banana bread. The only leftovers from today was one little piece I brought home for Chris, and he's going to have to share it with me!

Finally, the wrestling portion for today. Here's a video I shot of Ayla and Mac playing bitey-face. You can hear Mac grunting and breathing, but Ayla decided to stay quiet tonight. She'll growl and even bark sometimes when they wrestle, but I guess she was camera shy.

I love having two dogs to wear each other out!

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