Sunday, August 19, 2007

Pure Indulgence

I've been wanting to make a cake for a while...I've been itching to pull out my tool box and play. I've also been quite intrigued by a recipe I saw in the March 2007 issue of Food and Wine magazine for a Malt Ball cake. Well, it took almost six months, but I finally made the cake that I've been thinking about. Well, it was worth the wait!! A dense rich malt cake wrapped in a whipped ganache icing that can be described as nothing short of heavenly decadence.

The cake uses three 8" cake pans, which means that when all is said and done, this makes for one tall cake! And the ganache frosting is rich enough that even this hardcore chocoholic had a hard time finishing it. My parents joined us for dinner, and my dad claimed it was one of the best pieces of cake he's had in a long time...worth of the top shelf at Cafe Intermezzo.

If you're looking for a cake to impress, this is it.

2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup instant malted milk powder
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, room temperature
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups ice cold water
4 large egg whites, room temperature
Frosting and Garnish
10 ounces quality bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
10 ounces quality milk chocolate, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1 inch chunks, softened
malted milk balls, for garnish

1. CAKE: Preheat the oven to 325. Butter and flour three 8 inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk the flours with the malt powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg.
2. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter with the shortening until creamy. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in the dry ingredients in 3 batches at low speed, alternating with the ice water, occasionally scraping down the side of the bowl.
3. In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites at medium high speed until soft peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the batter. Divide the batter between the pans, spreading it evenly and bake the cakes for 40-45 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then invert them onto a rack and let cool completely. Peel off the parchment.
4. FROSTING: Place the chocolate in a large bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil, then remove from the heat. Add the corn syrup; immediately pour the mixture over the chocolate. Let stand for 2-3 minutes until the chocolate has melted, then whisk until smooth. Let cool to room temperature.
5. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk. Gradually beat in the butter at medium speed, a few chunks at a time and beat until thoroughly incorporated between additions. The frosting should be smooth and silky. Refrigerate the frosting just until it is thick enough to hold its shape, 10-15 minutes.
6. Place one cake layer on a serving platter and spread 1 1/4 cups of the frosting over the top in an even layer. Repeat to form 2 more layers. Spread a thin layer of frosting over the side of the cake and refrigerate briefly until firm. Frost the side with the remaining frosting. Garnish the cake with malted milk balls and refrigerate briefly to firm up the frosting before serving.
7. The cake and be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days. Bring to room temperature to serve