Thursday, May 10, 2018

Marcela's Magic Cake.

 Pretty, isn't it?
And it tastes even better.
It was a rainy Sunday afternoon.  On such a day, I like nothing better than to cook something.  I have a very thick file of "to-do" recipes - clippings from the assorted magazines I subscribe to - Bon Appétit, Food and Wine, Cooks Illustrated (my favorite), Cooks Country, Milk Street, and even Food Network magazine (Don't judge me.  I got a deal for $1 an issue) plus I get food-related emails all the time and I print out selected recipes from those too.  My magazines all have post-it notes stuck in strategic places.  At any time, I have a ton of recipes I can wander through and pull something out that whets my appetite.  So that's exactly what I did.

I was in a sweet mood, so I pulled out two recipes in the dessert genre:  a chocolate popsicle recipe (to be blogged about soon) and this "Chocoflan" recipe from Marcela Valladolid.  Marcela is the Hispanic chickie on Food Network and I've always liked her, in spite of the fact that she drank the koolaid and ended up on The Kitchen program on Food Network which is nothing less than ghastly.  The Kitchen features former The Next Food Network "Star," the "Sandwich King" Jeff Mauro, former DJ, Sunny Anderson, former Billy Joel's wife, Katie Lee (What was Billy drinking?), and former has-been Geoffrey Zakarian, who's referred to as GZ like he's hip and cool, but he's anything but. 
Anyhoos, back to the chocoflan.  I am convinced that this cake is magic and you'll see why later.
The chocoflan is a two-layered bundt cake, with a dense, fudgy chocolate layer on the bottom and a lighter vanilla flan layer on top.  Plus, plus caramel is involved, so you know Rosie's on that like white on rice.

For this recipe, you will need a Bundt pan coated with softened butter and a larger pan with an inch or so of hot water in which to place the Bundt pan while cooking.  (This is called a bain Marie. It's simply a hot water bath used for custards and terrines to create gentle heat around delicate dishes resulting in uniform cooking.)  For the cake, you need 1/4 cup (or more) of caramel sauce, a chocolate cake layer, a flan layer, and pecans to sprinkle on top.  I would not be averse to more caramel sauce drizzled over top either.

The Caramel
 Most caramels require diligence while making.  One must stand over the melting sugar and patiently watch it until it turns the perfect amber color.  Not so this caramel.  This is a quick, mix-and-go caramel and no flavor is lost in the process.  Actually, I made this caramel over a month ago, used some of it in an orange pound cake, then poured the rest in a container and kept it refrigerated so I'd have caramel on hand, which is a wonderful thing to have on hand.
The chocoflan recipe called for only 1/4 cup of caramel, poured in the bottom of the Bundt pan, but I could see putting more caramel in with no harmful effects.

Rosie's Quick, No-Fuss Caramel Sauce 
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
Melt butter and brown sugar over medium low heat.
Whisk in cream and vanilla until smooth.

Pour  1/4 cup of the caramel in bottom of the prepared Bundt pan.
I'd go with more caramel.  Couldn't hurt.

Heat oven to 350°.

Rosie Note:  In my experience, I have found that in baking cakes and/or cookies, it helps to have a mise-en-place, which means having all ingredients put in place, measured, and ready to roll.  That way, when you're in the middle of preparing something, you don't go, "OOOPS, I forgot the eye of newt!"

For the chocolate cake layer:

 My mise-en-place.  All ingredients are ready.

More mise-en-place.  Dry ingredients are sifted.

Chocolate Cake Layer
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
1 egg, room temperature
1 3/4 cups flour
3.4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

For the cake:  In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the butter, then gradually beat in sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in the egg.  Sift flour, baking powder and soda, and cocoa powder.  Beat in 1/3 of the flour mixture, then 1/2 the buttermilk.  Repeat with 1/2 the remaining flour mixture and rest of buttermilk, and ending with the last of the flour mixture.  Blend until combined well.

 Prepare the flan layer:

Flan Layer
1 12-oz can evaporated milk
1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
4 ounces cream cheese, softened 
3 eggs
1 TB vanilla extract

In a blender, combine all ingredients.  Blend for 30 seconds or so, until well incorporated.

  For the assembly: 

 Ladle the chocolate batter into the prepared Bundt pan and spread evenly over the top.

 Gently and slowly, pour the flan layer over top of the chocolate layer. 
Place the Bundt pan in a larger roasting pan.
Cover the Bundt pan with foil and pour an inch of water in the roasting pan.
Carefully slide the pan into a 350° oven and bake for about 1 hour, until the surface of the cake is firm to the touch or a toothpick comes out clean.
Remove from water bath and let cool for an hour.

Place a large serving platter over the Bundt pan and flip over.  Jiggle a bit and let the cake release itself onto the platter.

Sprinkle pecans over top.
And I'd pour some more caramel sauce over individual servings.


 Sprinkle pecans.

Now here's where Rosie is stymied - the magic of the layers.
Notice that the layers switched themselves.
Apparently, the flan layer, being denser, sank to the bottom, and the chocolate layer, which I would have thought was the denser, heavier layer, rose to the top of the Bundt pan.  And the layers were perfectly delineated.  No cross-contamination of layers.
Now, that's magic!

 A winner!

A little more caramel never hurts.


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