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Monday, January 30

Brown-butter layer cake

Butter, unsalted
12 ounces +
greasing pans
Flour, all-purpose
2 ¼ cups +
dusting pans
Baking powder
2 ¼ teaspoons
1 teaspoon
1 2/3 cups
Vanilla bean, split, seeds scraped
3 yolks +
2 large
Milk, whole, room temperature
1 ¼ cups
  1. Start with the filling as it takes the most time to set; recipe follows.
  2. Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter two 9-inch cake pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper, butter the paper, and then dust with flour, tapping out any excess.
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the 3 sticks of butter over low heat, stirring occasionally, until foamy, about 5 minutes.
  4. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the milk solids turn brown, and the butter smells nutty, about 4 minutes longer.
  5. Scrape the melted butter and browned bits into a large heatproof bowl.
  6. Set the bowl in an ice water bath until the butter begins to set around the edges, about 8 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  8. Remove the bowl from the ice water, and scrape up the hardened butter.
  9. Transfer the butter to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle, and beat until creamy.
  10. Add the sugar and vanilla seeds, and beat at medium-high speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  11. Beat in the egg yolks, followed by the whole eggs.
  12. Beat in the dry ingredients and milk in three alternating additions, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl as necessary.
  13. Pour the batter into the prepared pans, and bake in the center of the oven for about 40 minutes (rotating the pans halfway through baking, if you lack a nice convection oven), until the cakes are golden brown, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
  14. Cool in pans on a rack for 20 minutes, and then invert them onto a rack to cool completely.
  15. Peel off the parchment paper!
Loving my new Wolf double ovens! These are the best looking fresh-from-the-oven cakes I've ever made (and, yes, they taste great: crusty outside, with a perfect spongy, moist center).
    Dark chocolate mousse filling
    Gelatin, unflavored
    ½ teaspoon
    ½ tablespoon
    Cream, heavy, chilled
    ½ cup
    Coffee (or hazelnut) liqueur
    2 tablespoons
    2 yolks
    2 tablespoons
    Chocolate, bittersweet,
    melted, cooled
    4 ounces
    1. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over the water, and let stand until softened.
    2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat the cream until softly whipped.
    3. Refrigerate until chilled, about 10 minutes.
    4. In a small bowl, heat the liqueur until hot, about 45 seconds.
    5. Stir in the softened gelatin until dissolved.
    6. In another medium bowl, beat the egg yolks with the sugar and salt at high speed until pale and thickened, about 5 minutes.
    7. While beating the yolks, beat in the liqueur-gelatin mix; scrape the side and bottom of the bowl.
    8. Beat in the melted chocolate.
    9. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the whipped cream in two additions.
    10. Scrape the mousse into a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 4 hours or overnight.
    • Milk chocolate mousse: Substitute milk chocolate for the bittersweet.
    • White chocolate mousse: Substitute white chocolate for the bittersweet, and substitute orange liqueur for the coffee.

    Chocolate buttercream frosting
    1 cup
    3 whites
    ¼ teaspoon
    Vanilla extract
    ½ teaspoon
    Butter, unsalted,
    cut into tablespoon chunks
    1 cup +
    2 tablespoons
    Chocolate, extra bittersweet, melted, cooled
    4 ounces
    1. In a blender or food processor, pulse the sugar until powdery.
    2. Transfer the sugar to a medium heatproof bowl, and whisk in the egg whites and salt.
    3. Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, and whisk gently until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 5 minutes.
    4. Transfer the warm egg mixture to the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk.
    5. Add the vanilla, and beat at medium-high until stiff and glossy, about 8 minutes.
    6. Beat in the butter a few pieces at a time, ensuring it's fully incorporated before adding more.
      The buttercream should be light and fluffy; if it appears runny at any time, transfer the bowl to the freezer for 5 to 10 minutes, and then return it to the mixer and continue.
    7. Beat in the melted chocolate until fully incorporated, scrapping down the side and bottom of the bowl.
    8. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and beat with a wooden spoon to remove any air bubbles.
    • Hazelnut buttercream: Substitute 2 tablespoons hazelnut-praline paste for the extra-bittersweet chocolate.
    • White chocolate buttercream: Substitute white chocolate for the extra bittersweet.
    Second attempt on May 29, 2012, which came out even better than the first. Tried the hazelnut-praline buttercream this time.
    Recipe by Tom Douglas, published in the Feb. 2012 Food & Wine.

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