Thursday, October 29, 2009

improving on the nie nie mud cake

My friend suggested that I make Nie Nie's Mud Cake Magnifique by Tongue-n-Cheeky. And of course, I made it because I love special requests. The cake was delicious and not particularly complicated. But the recipe drove me a little crazy, what with the unusual ingredients (olive oil in a chocolate cake?) and lack of explanation for instructions that veered from the cake making norm. But despite this, the cake was a big hit and I've made it three times already.

With this experience, I do have a few improvements to suggest for the cake filling and frosting. The methods in the original recipe resulted in lumpy textures for me. It might have been user error, but regardless, the methods I've described below have given me better and more consistent results. I've also rewritten the recipes to include metric measurements so my local friends can easily make it. The original cake recipe can be found here.

Mud cake

This recipe uses a simple mixing method which make a lush, dense brownie-like cake. Don’t overthink it.

8 oz unsweetened chocolate (227 gr) - (or 5 oz/144 gr cocoa powder plus 4 oz/113 gr unsalted butter)
6 oz olive oil (3/4 cup, 177 ml)
14 oz sugar (2 cups, 397 gr)
4 oz powdered sugar (1 cup, 113 gr)
4 eggs
5 oz flour (1 cup, 142 gr)
3.4 oz cocoa powder (1/2 cup, 96 gr)
½ tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder (above 5000 feet altitude, only use 1 tsp)
½ tsp baking soda
8 oz buttermilk (1 cup, 237 mL) - (or 1 cup warm milk mixed with 1 TB lemon juice, let stand 10 mins to curdle before using)

1. Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Grease and dust with cocoa powder two 9in cake pans.
2. In double boiler, melt the chocolate and olive oil and mix until smooth. Take mixture off heat and bring to room temperature.
3. Meanwhile, beat both sugars and eggs until well creamed.
4. Add the room temperature chocolate mixture to the sugar mixture and beat a couple minutes.
5. Add remaining ingredients and mix until all ingredients are incorporated.
6. Pour batter into the prepared cake pans (approximately 27-28 ounces of batter into each pan).
7. Bake for 26-28 minutes, or just until center of cake springs back to the touch. Remove from oven. Allow to cool before inverting on a cooling rack and removing from pan.
8. Before layering cake, use a knife to gently cut away any uneven parts at the top or sides of the cake.

Some tips:
1 & 2. Line your cake pans with parchment paper so the cakes pop right out.
3. Use room temperature eggs. Take them from the fridge and let them sit 5 minutes in hot water before using.
4. Use magic cake strips around your cake pans to help them cook evenly and prevent the dome that has to be cut off.

Perfectly Smooth Chocolate Marscapone Cream Filling

The original recipe had you first whip the cold cream and cheese (you can't whip warm cream) then stir in the melted chocolate. This inevitably creates lumps of chocolate. Instead, the below method combines the chocolate and cream into a smooth ganache before whipping (a more traditional method used by every cookbook I own).

6.25 oz dark chocolate (60%), chopped (177 gr)
8 oz heavy cream (1 cup, 237 mL)
8 oz mascarpone (227 gr)
1.25 oz sugar (1/4 cup, 35 gr)

1. Place chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer.
3. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it sit for a few minutes to melt the chocolate.
4. Stir the mixture until all the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
5. Stir in the sugar.
6. Chill until cold enough to whip, but not more than 1 hour (I read that if it gets too cold, the chocolate and cream will separate later).
7. Whip the ganache into soft peaks.
8. Stir in the marscapone.

You can use it immediately between the cakes or refrigerate for later use.

Dark Chocolate Ganache Frosting

original frosting: curdled texture and way too much sugar

better frosting with super smooth texture, whipped and unwhipped versions

I had a lot of problems with the original recipe – curdled texture, way too sweet, etc. The recipe below uses roughly the same ingredients as the original but employs a food processor method used by both The Cake Bible and Cook’s Illustrated that perfectly emulsifies the chocolate, cream, butter mixture. I’ve also drastically reduced the sugar, but of course, you can add more to taste

8 oz heavy cream (1 cups, 236 ml) – for denser, thicker frosting
~~~~ or ~~~~
16 oz heavy cream (2 cups, 473 ml) – for a lighter, fluffier frosting

11 oz dark chocolate (60%), chopped (312 gr)
2-4 oz powdered sugar (1-2 cups, 57-113 gr)
4 oz cold butter, cut into 8 pieces (113 gr)

1. Place chocolate in food processor.
2. In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmmer.
3. With food processor running, pour hot cream over chocolate. Process until combined, a minute or two.
4. Stop processor and add powdered sugar. Process until combined, about 1 minute.
5. With processor running, drop the butter pieces in through the feeding tube. Wait until the butter is combined before dropping in the next piece. Let the mixture process about 1 minute after all butter has been combined.
6. Now some options:
• If you used 8oz cream, you can cool the frosting to room temperature (about 1 hour) then frost the cake. The frosting will shiny and thick.
• If you used 8oz cream and prefer a lighter color and fluffier texture, chill the mixture until cold (about 1-2 hours) then whip until thick and spreadable. Do not overwhip or it will curdle!
• If you used 16 oz cream, you must chill the mixture until cold (1-2 hours) then whip until thick. Do not overwhip or it will curdle!

it's nice to have a friend to eat the extra batter


Tania said...

I made this for Aiden's birthday this weekend and it's now officially his most favourite chocolate cake! Thanks for the conversions too.. huge help!

Tanya D said...

Yay! I'm glad you liked it. I agree, it's my fav chocolate cake too!

Romy said...

Love that last picture! And the cake looks fabulous!

Elisa @ Globetrotting in Heels said...

ooooh, that looks fantastic!! I am a sucker for a richy, chocolatey, yummy cake. I am definitely going to make this!!

And the extra batter never survives very long here ;-)

Zhivago3 said...

I feel awful for never having commented before, but I love your blog. The pictures, the design, all of it. I wonder if it would be alright with you if I put your blog on mine?

Duchess said...

I think the link on previous comment was wrong? this should be right.

Katie said...

What kind of olive oil do you use? My olive oil is cold/first pressed - very strong tasting. Would it better to buy a lighter olive oil for this?

Kimberley said...

I have had the original recipe since it was first posted, and always had the same problems that you indicated. Thanks so much for taking the time to analyze the original and make it even better. From what I remember, the recipe was developed spontaneously. I just finished icing mine, with curdle free icing, and it is resting in the fridge until I pick hubby up from the ship tonight. Still gotta go and get the grapefruit juice to go with it for breakfast...

Tanya D said...

Kimberley - Glad I could help. I hope the cake was delicious!

Tanya D said...

Katie - I know it's ridiculous for me to answer your questions so many months later, but I'll do it anyway. I used just a mild supermarket brand. I think you can use any neutral oil in this recipe. The main reason to use olive oil is simply that it's a healthier oil, not for the flavor. Happy baking.

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