Thursday, January 31, 2013

A Semi-Success

In a perfect world I'd cook and blog full time. I'd have a team of assistants and an awesome professional kitchen. We'd come up with out of this world ideas for fantastic foods then test and retest and tweak until it was the most wonderful thing ever made. It would be paradise and everything on this blog would be a culinary home run. I'd have a book deal and my own Food Network show. In a perfect world.
But. . .
It isn't a perfect world. . .
And I don't have a team of assistants. . .
Or a professional kitchen. . .
Or a book deal. . .
Or my own show on the Food Network. . .
Or the time or resources to test and retest and tweak. . .
Or blog full time. . .
What I am is a full time wife and mother, a part time bank teller, sometime helper for the Little League, owner of two cute mini dachshunds and hobby blogger. So, unfortunately I don't have the time and resources to make a recipe 5 or 6 times until it's just right. I barely have time to make them once. For the most part, the recipes I post here, I've made before. Or it's someone else's recipe that I'm reasonably sure will turn out. And they do. But every now and again, I have a flop, or a semi-flop, like this week. Remember Mandelhoernchen Melancholy?  I call this week's recipe a semi-flop because I tried two new recipes, one worked and the other didn't.

I had this cockamamie idea for my husbands birthday cake. Every year, when I ask him what kind of birthday cake he wants he always says: "I don't need a cake, why don't you make me some chocolate chip cookies." Seriously dude, no cake on your birthday? Not on my watch. So I decided to make a Chocolate Roll Cake (or Swiss Roll) with Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Swiss Meringue Buttercream filling. My friend Dina and I had made a Pumpkin Roll Cake back in November with great success and I was reasonably sure I could pull it off again. I chose to go with the cake part of this recipe from Martha Stewart. As for the filling, I've seen TONS of recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Buttercream all over the web lately but they ALL are powdered sugar based buttercreams. I am a steadfast believer in Swiss Meringue Buttercream. It's my totes favorite. So I took a leap and replaced some of the sugar in my favorite buttercream recipe with brown sugar. Added vanilla flavor and then stirred mini chocolate chips in at the end. Wanna know how it all turned out?

Start by greasing a sheet pan, then line with parchment, grease the parchment and dust with cocoa powder. Don't use butter to grease the pan, use shortening or cooking spray. Butter can burn.

Sift or whisk together cocoa powder, cake flour and salt. Set aside.

 In a heatproof mixing bowl, set over a pan of simmering water, whisk eggs, egg yolks, and sugar until sugar is dissolved and mixture is warm to the touch.

Transfer mixture to a mixer bowl and beat on high speed about 6 minutes until mixture is very pale, thick and cooled to room temperature.

Sift dry ingredients over the egg mixture.

Gently fold dry ingredients into the wet. When almost mixed, add the melted butter along the side and fold in.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan and bake 6 to 7 minutes at 450°F until springy when touched.

This is where I think the recipe goes wrong. First the pan is too big and batter too thin. The recipe says to use a 12 1/2 x 17 1/2 inch pan. I would instead recommend a 15 x 10 inch (jelly roll) pan. Also, the recipe says to position the rack in the bottom half of the oven. To me this is too low in the oven. I would leave the rack in the center of the oven. You'll see why I recommend these changes as we move along.

While the cake it baking lay out a clean tea towel (not a terry cloth towel but a smoother woven towel) and dust liberally with cocoa powder, powdered sugar or flour. Use the cocoa powder if you want to avoid a white powdery outside on your cake. I was planning to glaze the cake anyway and was lazy so I just used flour.

When the cake is done, run a knife along the edge to loosen the edges and then flip out onto the tea towel. Sprinkle more cocoa powder, powdered sugar or flour on top of the cake.

You can't see it here but the bottom (top once flipped) of my cake burned. I think its because I used butter to grease my pan and the rack was too low in the oven.

Working quickly, while the cake is still warm, roll it up tightly in the towel and let cool completely. At this point you can wrap it again in foil and refrigerate it until ready to fill and finish. In one or two days.

To fill the cake, I whipped up a batch of my favorite Swiss Meringue Buttercream. I replaced 1/2 cup of regular sugar with 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar. Then flavored it with vanilla and stirred in mini chocolate chips at the end.

To fill the cake, allow the rolled up cake to come to room temperature. Then carefully unroll and spread evenly with the buttercream filling.

Then roll it back up. You can see that my cake was too thin and a bit dried out and started to crack. I don't think this will happen if you bake it in a smaller pan.

Wrap the cake tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil and refrigerate until firm and ready to glaze.

After the cake has chilled for at least and hour it's ready to glaze. I made a batch of my favorite Chocolate Glaze. Then lined a cookie sheet with parchment, set a rack over the top and put the roll on top of that. (See this post for directions on how to make both the Chocolate Glaze and Swiss Meringue Buttercream.)

Ladle the glaze generously over the cake until it is entirely covered. The extra glaze on the parchment can be poured through a strainer and then refrigerated to use later.

Here's the bottom line on how the whole thing turned out. The ratios of cake and buttercream are way off. It should be 1/2 inch layer of cake filled with 1/4 layer of buttercream. Not what I've got going here. My cake was way too dry and overcooked. I used the larger pan in the lower part of the oven and the cake burned on the bottom and was too thin. The flavor was good. Chocolaty without being too sweet. A good compliment to the buttercream. I would try this again but use a smaller pan and bake in the middle of the oven. As for the buttercream, I loved it! It had the smooth silkiness of the Swiss Meringue Buttercream and the flavor was just like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough. I may even replace more of the granulated sugar with brown sugar for a more intense cookie dough flavor next time. Oh yes, you can be sure there'll be a next time with the buttercream!

So, all in all, a semi success. For sure there's room for improvement but with a few tweaks and adjustments, this could be an awesome dessert.

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