This is a story about the bestworst cake idea I ever had. Oh sure, it looks all charmingly melty with all of it’s delicious raspberry sauce and creamy jasmine ice cream, it looks like a cake that would do exactly what you wanted it to, a perfectly compliant cake. But no. No, no, no. So, what I am going to do is tell you what I did, and tell you what I’d do next time (never going to be a next time).
Okay, just kidding, there will definitely be a next time. The amount of delicious in this manipulative, deceptive little cake would make me do it all over again. As badly as it treated me, I can’t help but go back for more. A bit of a cakey stockholm syndrome thing happening, I actually feel I’ve been held hostage in my kitchen for the last week.
On the subject of things that seem one way and appear another, I was reading an article about the way sugar affects our brains, its addictive qualities, etc etc and David informed me that I’m basically a drug dealer. I corrected him, I am not the dealer, I am the cook. I am the Walter White. I am The Walter White of Cake. Two things. 1.) I realize we were late to the Breaking Bad game but we just binged our way through the last season on Netflix and we may be having some withdrawals. 2.) I am not proud of #1 or the fact that I referred to myself as the Walter White of cake, but seriously.
Okay, cake. The things I did wrong: I did not freeze between each step during the assembly. Next time, I’d pop the cake in the freezer for 10 min or so between layers of cake/ice cream/raspberry sauce to set it, so that the bottom layers don’t get so melty. What I really wanted was a tall naked ice cream cake with distinct layers, but because homemade ice cream doesn’t have all the yuck stabilizers store-bought does it melts much faster. Even if you work really quickly, you’ll likely end up with less-attractive very melty layers if you don’t take the extra time to freeze it. If you’re wanting to cover the outside with ice cream like I ended up doing, you could also assemble separate ice cream/cake/sauce layers in multiple cake pans, let set, then stack and cover with ice cream.
I’d also use a cake board next time so I could finish assembly on a plate or something that actually fits in the freezer instead of the cake stand that just barely fits and caused more than a few bad words to come out of my mouth when the cake skimmed the side of the freezer, which now looks like a crime scene with all that raspberry sauce smeared all over it. I’d also not make it in the middle of the hottest summer in Seattle history…a 90 degree kitchen makes all of this so, so much worse.
I adapted the chocolate cake from Sweetapolita’s chocolate nutella cake, which is one of my absolute favorites. I’ve made it a few times and it comes out perfectly every single time. I figured why mess with that? I also adapted my meringue recipe from Sweetapolita’s cookbook. You can find the jasmine ice cream recipe here, it’s a recipe from 1878 out of the New York Times cookbook, another favorite. I know there is a lot going on in this recipe, the great thing here is that you can make everything in advance and store the cake in the freezer for 2-3 days (so it’s served before ice crystals form). The ice cream, meringues, and raspberry sauce can be made up to 3 days before assembling and the cake can be baked up to 3 days before assembling.
- 2¼ cups (285 grams) all-purpose flour
- 2⅓ cups (470 grams) superfine sugar
- ¾ cup (90 grams) good quality, dark Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 2½ teaspoons (12 grams) baking soda
- 2 teaspoons (10 grams) baking powder
- 1 teaspoon (8 grams) salt
- 1¼ cups (300 ml) buttermilk (use real buttermilk here, no substitutions)
- ¾ cup (180 ml) brewed coffee or espresso
- ⅔ cup (160 ml) vegetable oil
- 3 eggs, room temperature
- 1 tablespoon (15 ml) pure vanilla extract
- Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease three 6 in cake pans (7 or 8 in will work fine as well), line with rounds of parchment and dust with flour, tapping out the excess.
- Whisk or sift all dry ingredients, including sugar in a large bowl or the bowl for an electric mixer. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a bowl and whisk gently.
- Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients mix on medium speed for 1 min. Divide batter evenly between prepared pans.
- Bake for 20 minutes and rotate pans in oven. Continue to bake until toothpick or skewer comes almost clean (a few crumbs), about 5 more minutes. Cool on wire rack for 20 minutes, then invert on rack until completely cool.
- To store, wrap each cake layer in 2 layers of plastic wrap and put in a freezer bag. Store in fridge for up to 3 days.
- 3 large egg whites, at room temperature
- pinch of cream of tartar
- ¾ c (155g) superfine sugar
- ½ tsp vanilla extract
- ½ tsp almond extract
- ¼ c cacao nibs, if desired
- large pastry bag
- decorating tip 1A
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees and position racks in upper and lower thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
- Remove all traces of grease from a stainless steel bowl and whisk attachment with a paper towel and lemon juice or vinegar.
- Put egg whites in the bowl and beat for about 30 seconds or until foamy. Stop the mixer, add the cream of tartar and beat on medium speed for about 1 minute or until soft peaks form.
- Increase the speed to medium-high and and add the sugar one spoonful at a time.
- Beat on high speed until very stiff peaks form and the meringue is glossy and thick, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and almond extracts beat for 1 more minute.
- Add the cacao nibs (if using) and gently stir until combined.
- Fill a large pastry bag fitted with a large, round decorating tip and pipe 11/2 inch cookies about an inch apart on lined baking sheets. If tip becomes clogged, use a wooden skewer to remove clog.
- Place baking sheets in oven and prop oven door open with a wooden spoon to vent. Bake for 1 hour, then turn oven off and leave cookies in for an additional hour to dry out. Meringues should be dry, remove from parchment easily and sound hollow when you tap on the bottom.
- Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 days before use.
- 3 c (about 2 pints) raspberries, frozen or fresh
- ½ c sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Combine raspberries and sugar in a saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until raspberries begin to release their juices. Allow mixture to come to a boil, stirring frequently, then remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Strain mixture to remove seeds, cool and store in fridge until ready for use.
Now here comes the fun part, assembling the cake.
To make a collar: butter a 6 inch cake pan and cut a piece of parchment long enough to line the diameter. Cut the width in half. Fold in half by placing shorter edges together, then repeat. Cut a ‘fringe’, making cuts about 1 inch apart on one side of the collar. Cut a parchment circle to line the bottom of the pan. Place fringed edge of the collar in the bottom of the pan so the fringe lines the bottom with the bottom edges of the parchment pointing toward the center, like an inverted sun. Press the parchment into the edges of the pan to adhere and place circle of parchment on the bottom to hold collar in place.
Save a few of your best meringues for decorating and place the rest in a large ziplock bag. Crush with the back of a knife.
You can level your cakes if necessary using a serrated knife or cake leveler. Place a layer in the pan, place a few scoops of ice cream on top and level with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Drizzle raspberry sauce over, sprinkle with crushed meringues and some extra cacao nibs. Freeze for 10 min or until firm and repeat. Top with last layer of chocolate cake and freeze again until firm.
Fill a large bowl with an inch of hot water and dip the bottom of the frozen cake pan in for 5 seconds or so, running a knife around the edges to loosen. Invert cake, remove collar, and place the bottom layer on a cake board, then on a plate or whatever you wish to use while icing.
Fill a small bowl with hot water and set aside. Place a scoop of ice cream on top of the cake and spread with an offset spatula, dipping the spatula in the hot water and drying before spreading the ice cream as needed to achieve a smooth finish, freezing the cake as needed. Finish icing the cake with the ice cream and freeze for a minimum of 4 hours before serving, transferring to a cake stand, drizzling with leftover raspberry sauce and decorating with raspberries, crushed and whole meringues and cacao nibs as desired. Cut with a knife run under hot water. May be made up to 3 days in advance.