Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sixth Anniversary Celebrated with a Chocolate and Cherry Cake

Six years! Wow, it seems like yesterday that I started my food blogging journey and I couldn't be happier to celebrate with you my blog's sixth anniversary.

Food bloggers make everything seem effortless. However, behind every single post there's an enormous time invested into perfecting the recipe, styling the food, taking stellar photos, and writing the post among many other big and small steps. It has been a hectic year for me and I did not have enough time to blog as often as I wanted. This made me have a new respect for those who lead very busy lives and yet find the time to inspire us with their wonderful food recipes.

Busy as I am, I could not let this occasion pass unnoticed. The blog's anniversary is the perfect occasion to slow things down, make a wonderful cake and just savor the moment (and the cake of course!).

I am surely not the only one who is a die-hard fanatic of chocolate and fruit combos. For my blog's anniversary, I went for a cherry and chocolate cake and let me tell you that it was as delicious, scrumptious and divine as it can be.

The base of the cake is a simple chocolate sponge as I wanted the filling and the frosting to shine through unhindered. With ingredients like dark chocolate, mascarpone, amarena cherries or Italian sour cherries, you are one step away from perfection.

Although elaborate cakes are usually reserved for special occasions, no occasion is more special than treating yourself or your loved ones with a cake made with delectable ingredients and a whole lot of love!

There are a few steps to making the cake, but they are not complicated. You just need some planning ahead.

Let´s start with the sponge base.
For 4 layers you need (15 cm pan):
  • 4 eggs at room temperature
  • 120 g sugar
  • 90 g pastry flour
  • 30 g cocoa powder
  • 40 g melted butter
  • half tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp kirsch (cherry based brandy, or you can use any other cherry liqueur)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

First mix flour, cocoa powder and salt and set aside.

In a bowl, combine eggs, kirsch and vanilla and start beating on a low speed, then slowly increase the speed until the eggs become frothy. Start adding the sugar, and beat for at least 10 minutes or until the batter triples in volume, is pale in color and can hold shape.

Turn off the mixer, and gently fold the flour mixture. Once well combined add the butter and mix carefully.

Grease and line 4 pans. Divide the batter into the pans and bake in a preheated oven  (170 C) for 12 to 15 minutes.

Leave to cool for 5 to 10 minutes then remove from pans and set aside to cool completely, preferably on a wire rack. 

For the mascarpone filling:
  • 250 g mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 100 g soft butter
  • 100 to 150 g powder sugar (adjust to your liking)
  • 30 g amarena cherries syrup (if not available use any other cherry syrup)
Combine the cheese and butter and whisk until well incorporated, add the sugar and mix again, and finally add the syrup and mix for 30 seconds. Put in the fridge to harden. 

For the chocolate ganache:
  • 170 g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 140 g cream, 35%
  • 1 tbsp kirsch or vanilla extract
Heat the cream on a gentle flame and remove it before it boils. Pour over the chopped chocolate, and leave for a couple of minutes. Whisk until you get a smooth ganache. Add the kirsch and mix again.

For the chocolate frosting:
  • 250 g mascarpone at room temperature
  • 170 g of the previously prepared ganache 
  • 40 g powdered sugar
Combine all the ingredients and beat until well combined and fluffy. Refrigerate.

Now that all the elements are ready, it's time to assemble.

Dollop some of the filling on your serving plate and add the first cake layer. Spread  a generous amount of the mascarpone filling over the cake and then add amarena cherries cut in half. You can use fresh cherries if you don't have the amarena ones. Top with another layer cake and repeat the process until you the last cake layer.

With a spatula cover top and sides of the cake with what´s left of the mascarpone cream and refrigerate for half an hour.

Take the cake out of the fridge and cover it with the chocolate frosting. Leave some if you want to decorate with it. 
Once you covered the cake, and decorated it to your liking, add the remaining ganache. If it has set too hard, heat it over simmering water. Pour over the cake and let it drip over.

To add a nice touch, I piped some chocolate frosting around the edge of the cake. I topped the frosting with cherries. Voila, you're done!

What a light and rich cake! It has the perfect level of sweetness and marries beautifully the distinctive flavor of amaerna cherries and the deep notes of chocolate. Seriously, this is a cake you should try! 

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