Thursday, December 20, 2012

Aunt Ellie Cake with Minty Trees

Every birthday and holiday, as I was growing up, we could count on my Aunt Ellie to show up with a spectacular cake. These weren't just your ordinary, out of the box, chocolate birthday cakes; they were fancy "from scratch" creations. Around the time my brother reached high school he developed an affinity for one cake in particular that the rest of the world would call a flourless chocolate cake. It quickly became the cake for his celebrations. As a family, we dubbed this particular delicacy "Aunt Ellie Cake."

When I was 15 and Aunt Ellie moved out of state, she gave her recipe to me so that I could keep the tradition alive around our house. After years of careful practice, the Aunt Ellie Cake is now my go-to dessert to impress friends. So, when asked to bring a dessert to a fancy holiday dinner party, I knew exactly what to make. And, because I simply don't believe in "secret family recipes" (I think food is supposed to be shared and loved), here is the recipe:

Cocoa powder for dusting
2 sticks butter
12oz bittersweet chocolate
6 large eggs
1 c sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 350˚. Line the bottom of a 9" round cake pan with round of wax paper. Dust the paper with cocoa powder. Cut the butter and chocolate into small pieces and melt over a double boiler, whisking occasionally. When melted, stir in the vanilla. Remove the mixture from heat and set aside.
In another bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until well combined. Add a small amount of the chocolate mixture to the eggs to temper the mixture. Slowly w
hisk in the melted chocolate and butter mixture until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed, forming a batter. 

Pour the batter in the cake pan and set in a water bath. Cover tightly with foil and bake until the cake has set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. When you touch the center your finger should come away clean. Remove the cake from the water bath and cool completely. Invert cake onto serving plate.

Of course, anyone who uses pinterest has seen the image of the little chocolate trees on a cake. For added effect, since it was a fancy dinner party, after all, I wanted to add trees. This is where the mess of the day began...

I still had about half a bag of white chocolate mint candy melts kicking around from peppermint bark, so I microwaved them for about 2 minutes until it was good and melty, put it in a plastic bag, and tried to draw trees on waxed paper. But, even melted the candy was too thick. It broke open the side of the bag and oozed a thick green goo all over the waxed paper. I tried to salvage it by making trees with a spoon, but the result looked more like an outtake from Ghostbusters than a Christmas decoration (I may have to remember this for Halloween, instant slime).
When the ugly trees had hardened, I took a handful of them and the rest of my mint chips and tried again, this time including about a teaspoon of canola oil to loosen up the mixture after it was microwaved. That's the trick. Pretty trees in about 5 minutes. I used a little extra melted chocolate to attach the trees to the cake, and shockingly they survived the hour long drive to Long Beach with no problem.

I think Aunt Ellie will be proud.

1 comment:

elbird63 said...

Yes, I am extremely proud!! It's beautiful and so festive with mint trees. Glad you shared the recipe, too!