Donna Hay's Our Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake

>> Wednesday, February 15, 2012

It occurred to me the other day how sentimental I can be.  It's not so much that I keep and refuse to part with 'old' things (to some extent, yes), but I do find pleasure in saving things up.

As a child, I used to save the best bits on my plate till last while others around me dig straight into them first...and must confess that I still do e.g. eating the egg whites before the yolks, saving that piece of tender fish cheek (do you do that too?). But I've learnt in the company of certain greedy food-snatching people, it is safer to eat the best bits first ;)

There are certain things in my life which must be done in a certain way or order. And I definitely don't mean in an OCD kind of way. I just think there is a time or season for everything. And we shouldn't skip that warm up or jump to the end of that really good book.

Well this cake was definitely saved to the end of Hawaiian hens party we threw for my sister this past weekend. Yes, it's that cake in the photo above with the orange lily! But it wasn't intentional and was simply left untouched because, well, there was just way too much food! What a shame that we weren't even close to finishing half of the food prepared. To some extent, I was relieved because I wasn't confident at all about how the cake would taste as I am not much of a layered cake with icing type of baker.

So I put the cake back into the fridge after the guests left, unsure what to do with it (eating it all myself did occurr to me but thankfully I had more sense than to listen to that gluttonous voice.) One thing I do dread the most is having leftovers.

Thankfully the next day, all I saw was the last piece of it. Yes, just that piece you see in the photo. The lone orphan of a piece. Turned out my sister took the rest of it to church that day!

So, I systematically turned on the music, made myself some black tea and and curled up on the couch with a plate on my hand.

That's the only way I know to savour that last piece.

p.s. the cake was addictively delicious with the layers of not-too-sweet cream cheese icing (I did adjust the amount)! Keep watch on the oven time for the chocolate cake to make sure it doesn't dry out too much, as I would've preferred the cake just slightly more moist.

p.p.s. I actually halved the cake recipe - the recipe is meant for a 6-layer chocolate cake! That would've been even prettier!

Our Ultimate Chocolate Layer Cake
Donna Hay Magazine Nov 2011 & Channel 7 Sunrise
N.B. I halved the recipe to make it 3 layer chocolate cake.
  • ¾ cup (75g) Dutch cocoa, sifted
  • ¾ cup (180ml) hot water
  • ¾ cup (180g) sour cream
  • 350g butter, softened
  • 2 ¼ cups (495g) caster (superfine) sugar (I reduced it almost half)
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 cups (450g) plain (all-purpose) flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of (baking) soda
  • cream cheese icing
  • 270g butter, softened
  • 1.5kg cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups (480g) icing (confectioner’s) sugar mixture, sifted (I reduced it - so instead of the 240g I would use for my half portion, I used < 200g)


1. Preheat oven to 180ºC (350ºF). Place the cocoa and hot water in a bowl and whisk until smooth. Add the sour cream and whisk to combine.

2. Place the butter, sugar and vanilla in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 4 minutes or until pale and creamy. Gradually add the eggs and beat well to combine. Set the mixer to low speed, add the cocoa mixture, flour and bicarbonate of soda and beat until well combined.

3. Divide the mixture between 2 x 20cm-round lightly greased cake tins lined with non-stick baking paper.

4. Bake for 50–55 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Allow cakes to cool in tins for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Trim the tops from the cakes to create a flat surface. Slice each cake evenly into 3 horizontal slices.

While the cakes are baking, make the cream cheese icing.

5. Place half the butter and cream cheese in an electric mixer and beat for 8–10 minutes or until pale and creamy. Add half the icing sugar mixture and beat for a further 8–10 minutes or until pale and fluffy. Repeat with remaining butter, cream cheese and sugar. Using a palette knife, spread 1 cake layer with cream cheese icing and top with another cake layer.

6. Repeat with remaining layers and more icing, reserving enough icing for the sides and top of the cake. Spread the sides and top of the cake with the remaining icing.

Serves 6–8. Tip: Use a palette knife to ‘drag’ the icing up the sides of the cake for a smooth finish.

Oh, and Happy Valentine's Day! :)

I've always loved reading this story. Good reminder that love isn’t worthy of the name if we aren’t willing to share it with everyone.


Korean BBQ Wings - Flavor Forecast 2012

>> Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I have discovered this week:

*I'm slowly losing my resistance - it’s about time for me to get a smartphone…like one where you can actually whatsapp people the photos you've taken throughout the day or navigate yourself out of being lost in the city.

*Purple is so not in at the moment.  I have struggled like never before to find a purple bridesmaid dress!

*The last thing I want to do after a long day at work is to come home and sit in front of the computer…I feel terrible about the emails to be sent and comments to be replied...

*The very first frangipani flower appeared on our balcony...aloha!

*It’s now February…no more excuses for putting things off just because “it’s still the beginning of the year.”

*I am supposedly chronically allergic to peanut butter and milk (according to a recent blood test). I wonder if I’d puff up if I have a peanut butter milkshake!

*This flavour combo – Korean Pepper paste with Sesame, Asian pear and Garlic is kinda amazing on my palate.

Remember the McCormick Flavor Forecast I posted a few weeks back, where I told you how I really wanted to try this flavour combo?

It's garlicky, peppery, slightly hot, sweet...and juicy (from the pear!)

Totally Tuesday night kinda food as you repeatedly wonder why it's not even half way through the week yet. It sure feels like a Friday to me!

Just mix together the Korean pepper sauce, garlic, ginger, honey, soy sauce, and a bit of sesame oil into a bowl.

Toss the wings/drumsticks into the marinade and refrigerate for 30 minutes (the longer the better!)

(I'm feeling uneasy putting photos up of uncooked chicken as this is mostly a flour-butter-eggs-sugar kinda blog...)

Bake (then grill, which I didn't) and enjoy!

I can see why people love this flavour combo! The juicy sweetness from the pear along with the garlicky Korean pepper sauce causes some serious finger licking actions until you find yourself with an empty plate in front of you on a feels-like-a-Friday Tuesday night!

Hurry up weekend. Come already!

"Korean BBQ meets Buffalo wings. These succulent finger foods are served with crunchy Asian pear to create a unique flavor adventure."

Korean BBQ Wings
Makes 12 appetizer servings.
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) Korean pepper paste (Gochujang)
  • 1/2 cup (125 mL) soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup (60 mL or 85 grams) honey
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL or 20 grams) minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL or 2 grams) McCormick® Ground Ginger
  • 4 pounds (2 kilograms) chicken wing pieces (I used both drumsticks and wings)
  • 1 Asian pear
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL or 7 grams) McCormick® Sesame Seed
1. Mix hot pepper paste, soy sauce, honey, garlic, sesame oil and ginger in medium bowl until well blended. Place chicken in large resealable plastic bag or glass dish. Add 1/2 cup (120 mL) of the marinade; toss to coat well. Refrigerate 30 minutes. Reserve remaining marinade.

2. Remove chicken from marinade. Discard any remaining marinade. Place chicken on shallow foil-lined large baking pan. Bake in preheated 375°F (190°C, Gas Mark 5) oven 30 minutes, turning chicken halfway through cooking.
3. Meanwhile, quarter and core the Asian pear. Cut each quarter into 3 pieces. Place pear slices in large bowl. Add cooked chicken and 1/2 of the reserved marinade; toss to coat well.
4. Grill chicken and pear slices over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until grill marks appear, turning occasionally. Toss chicken and pear slices with remaining reserved marinade in large bowl. Sprinkle with green onions and sesame seed.
Test Kitchen Tips:
  • Gochujang or Korean pepper paste is made from chile powder, glutinous rice powder, fermented soybeans and salt. It is used to flavor stews, soups and marinades, and as a condiment at the table. It is available in Asian markets and online specialty stores.
  • Chicken wings may be grilled without prebaking. Grill marinated chicken over medium-high heat 15 to 18 minutes until cooked through, turning frequently. Grill pear slices as directed, brushing with 2 tablespoons of the reserved marinade. Continue as directed.

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