Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Chocolate Truffle Chai Tea Cake

I love all of the traditional Christmas desserts including everything gingerbread.

Molasses cookies, chocolate crinkles, biscotti (I make a TON of biscotti around the holidays!), sugar cookies, swiss rolls... All are fabulous which is why they appear year after year.

Sometimes it's nice to introduce something different. Change excites our taste buds and gives us something to think about.

This year you might decide to try this elegant and impressive Chocolate Truffle Chai Tea Cake that is way easier to make than its fancy name leads one to believe.


First, the cake. You make one layer in a standard brownie pan (8x8-inch) and slice it in half to make two layers. This is Easy part 1 because you don't even need two pans to make two layers. YEAH.

Easy part 2: make the cake batter in one bowl with a whisk - no beaters even required.

While the cake cools completely (and let's be honest - it's probably going in the fridge or on your back deck if you live somewhere cold to speed things up), you can make the filling and the frosting.

The filling is just two ingredients: 4 oz dark chocolate + 4 oz 35% whipping cream. It's a 1:1 ratio so there's no way to screw this one up.

Heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it just bubbles (but really we're pouring it into a glass measuring cup and microwaving on high for 1 minute until it bubbles up).

Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for a minute to melt the chocolate before gently whisking until smooth and glossy. Let it cool until thick and spreadable. If you want to rush this step in the fridge (there seems to be a theme here...), keep an eye on it and stir every 5 minutes before it sets too firm.

The frosting is magic. It starts with cream cheese so we know we're headed somewhere delicious.

Beat about 5 tablespoons of butter until very creamy then beat in sifted icing sugar and 4 tablespoons of cream cheese. To make it truffley, beat in about 3 tablepoons of your cooled ganache. It's rich, tangy, lightly chocolaty and such a lovely complement to the warm spices in the cake.

Your guests will wake up their taste buds when they tuck into a slice. And another great thing about this recipe is that it stays so moist that there's no worry it will dry out while you have it on display all day. Even sliced and ready to go - it still stays luscious.

So here's to being fancy and fuss-free. This is proof that those two things can go together in one divine dessert, and rushing a few steps won't hurt ;)

Happy Happy Holidays!

Chocolate Truffle Chai Tea Cake
makes 9-12 servings

For the sponge:
1 cup (142g) all-purpose flour
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¾ tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground ginger
1/8 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp  ground clove

1 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
¾ cup plus 2 tbsp (175g) granulated sugar
1 bag of black tea (English Breakfast or Orange Pekoe)
3 tbsp (42g) unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
½ cup (120ml) buttermilk

For the chocolate filling:
½ cup (120ml) 35% whipping cream
4 oz (113g) dark chocolate, finely chopped

For the frosting:
4 tbsp (56g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup (125g) icing sugar, sifted
1/3 cup (75g or about 1/3 package) cream cheese, room temperature
3 tbsp (45ml) reserved chocolate ganache

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8x8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper.

Sift flour, spices, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add sugar and the contents of the black tea bag and whisk to blend evenly. Add melted butter, oil, eggs, vanilla and buttermilk and whisk together until well combined and smooth.

Pour the batter into your prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake for about 25 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cake cool completely and then wrap well until needed.

To make the chocolate filling, heat the cream in a saucepan over medium heat until it just bubbles (or do it in the microwave in a heatproof jug).Remove from heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let it stand for a minute to melt the chocolate before gently whisking until smooth and glossy. Let it cool until thick and spreadable.

When the cake is cooled, slice it in half horizontally and place the bottom layer on your serving plate. Spread all but 3 tablespoons of the ganache over the bottom layer and replace top layer. Refrigerate until ready to frost.

To make the frosting, beat butter in a medium bowl with a hand mixer until smooth. Beat in sifted icing sugar until blended – it might be a bit thick or crumbly at this stage but that’s because there’s not that much butter. Beat in soft cream cheese until smooth and lump free, then begin to beat in cooled ganache. If it is still too runny, beat in additional icing sugar or cocoa powder. Refrigerate to firm up a bit and then spread over cake. Place the whole cake in the fridge on a baking tray to set for an hour or until ready to serve.

When ready to serve, dust the cake generously with cocoa powder and slice it into even rectangles using a long knife, making sure to wipe the knife off in between each cut for clean slices.
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