Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Cranberry Cake Recipe

This coming Christmas holidays, I am sure many moms are busy planning what prepare for the big dinner with the family. Very often, black forest is made and served in the dining table. But let me suggest another recipe close to the black forest clan,Cranberry Christmas Cake. The name itself tells us that this recipe is apt for this holiday season. It consists of a chocolate genoise that is cut in half, brushed with a kirsch flavored syrup, filled with a silky smooth chocolate mousse and ruby red candied cranberries. The whole cake is covered with glistening white frosting. The cake really looks so festive-- just the right stuff for Christmas.

The key to success of making Cranberry Christmas Cake is to make the chocolate genoise and candied cranberries ahead of time. So as soon as the cake is ready for assembly, everything is ready.

The chocolate genoise can be made and frozen for a couple of months while the easy to make candied cranberries, have to be made few days ahead of time as the cranberries have to be 'steamed' in a sugar syrup and then left to 'steep' in the syrup several days in order for them to become "candied". Candied cranberries can be kept in the refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Since Cranberry Christmas Cake is similar to Black Forest Cake, you can actually replace the cranberry with bottled Morello Cherries in syrup or substitute the candied cranberry with fresh raspberries.

If you plan to substitute the candied cranberries with fresh raspberries, intensify the taste of raspberries by spreading a layer of raspberry puree or raspberry jam on the genoise before you fill it with the chocolate cream and fresh raspberries.

Candied Cranberries:

  • 220 grams fresh cranberries, washed
  • 250 grams white sugar
  • 200 ml water

Chocolate Genoise:

  • 45 grams melted unsalted butter
  • 130 grams white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 65 grams cake flour
  • 30 grams Dutch cocoa powder (unsweetened)
  • 4 pieces large eggs

Important: When warming the eggs and sugar, whisk constantly to ensure the the eggs do not overheat and curdle.

Filling and Frosting:

  • 600 ml heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons Kirsch (cherry brandy)
  • 115 grams semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons granulated white sugar

Candied Cranberries Procedure:
  1. Pick over the cranberries and remove any berries that are soft or rotten
  2. Place 2 cups of cranberries into a 2 liter heatproof bowl. The cranberries are going to be 'steamed' so you will need a steamer or pot that is large enough to hold the bowl of cranberries.
  3. Fill the large pot or steamer with a few inches (5 cm) of water and bring to a simmer.
  4. Meanwhile, combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.
  5. Pour the boiling syrup over the cranberries and cover the bowl with a plate. (You need to 'weigh' the bowl down so it will not move around once it is in the pot with the water.)
  6. Set the covered bowl of cranberries into the pot or steamer.
  7. Cover the pot and steam the berries over low to medium heat for about 45 minutes.
  8. Remove from heat and let cool.
  9. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and let the berries sit in the syrup for 3 to 4 days at room temperature.
  10. The syrup will become a little jellied.
NOTE: If using right away, drain the berries before using, keeping the syrup for some other use. If storing, place the covered berries, still in their syrup, in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.

Chocolate Genoise Procedure:
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Butter, or spray with a non stick vegetable spray, a 9 inch (23 cm) round cake pan and then line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the melted unsalted butter with the vanilla extract. Keep this mixture warm.
  4. In a medium bowl sift together the flour and cocoa powder.
  5. In a large heatproof bowl whisk together the eggs and sugar.
  6. Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Whisking constantly, heat the eggs and sugar until lukewarm to the touch approximately for 5 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and transfer the egg mixture to the bowl of your electric mixer.
  8. Beat on high speed until the egg mixture has cooled, tripled in volume, and looks like softly whipped cream. This will take approximately 5 minutes and the batter is beaten sufficiently when it falls back into the bowl in a ribbon-like pattern.
  9. Sift about one-third of the flour mixture over the whipped eggs and fold in using a large rubber spatula or whisk.
  10. Fold in half of the remaining flour, and then fold in the rest. Do not over mix.
  11. Take about 1 cup (240 ml) of the batter and fold it into the hot butter mixture with a small spatula.
  12. When completely combined, use a spatula to fold the butter mixture completely into the rest of the egg batter. Pour the batter into your prepared pan, smoothing the top
  13. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cake shrinks slightly from the edges of the pan and the top springs back when lightly pressed.
  14. Cool on a metal rack. When the cake has cooled completely, run a small knife around the edges to release the cake. The genoise can be kept well-wrapped in the freezer for three months.

To Assemble the Cake:
  1. Drain the candied cranberries, reserving the syrup. Make a liqueur syrup by combining 1/3 cup (80 ml) of the drained cranberry syrup with the 2 tablespoons of Kirsch.
  2. Melt the chocolate and water in double broiler. Let cool to room temperature.
  3. Cut the chocolate genoise, horizontally, into two layers. Turn over the top layer of the cake (so the top of the cake becomes the bottom) and center it on your serving platter. Brush the layer with about 2 tablespoons of the liqueur syrup.
  4. Make a chocolate cream by beating 1/2 cup of the chilled heavy whipping cream until soft peaks form. Quickly fold the cream into the chocolate mixture. Immediately spread the moistened genoise layer with the chocolate cream.
  5. Place enough drained cranberries evenly over the chocolate cream to cover the cream completely. (The remaining cranberries should be placed back into the left over cranberry syrup, refrigerated, and they will be used for decorating the top of the assembled cake.)
  6. Moisten the cut-side of the second genoise layer with 2 tablespoons syrup. Place cut-side down on top of chocolate cream, gently pressing to compact. Brush the top layer with syrup.
  7. Beat remaining whipping cream with the 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 2 tablespoons white sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread a thick layer of whipping cream over top and sides of cake.
  8. Place any remaining cream in a pastry bag fitted with a large star tip and pipe large rosettes over the entire top surface of the cake.
  9. Refrigerate the cake, covered, for 24 to 36 hours before serving to allow the aroma and flavor to be set in the cake.
  10. Just before serving, drain the reserved candied cranberries and blot with paper towels to remove any remaining moisture, and randomly place on top of cake.
  11. Enjoy you festive Christmas Cranberry Cake.

Serves 10-12.

Source:Medrich, Alice. Cocolat. Warner Books. New York: 1990 via

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