May 8, 2012

Mini Chocolate Cream Cakes


Mother's Day and Chocolate

I recently saw a recipe on a container of ricotta cheese claiming to be the "Best Chocolate Cake Ever", so of course, I had to try it.  It is actually quite simple because it uses a cake mix, but I found a way to make it even better.  

I decided to make 2 1/2 inch mini cakes and fill them with three different cream fillings:  sweetened whipping cream, ganache and chocolate whipping cream. 


The ricotta cake mix recipe is light and quick to mix. If, however, you prefer to make everything from scratch, then use the chocolate cake recipe from Chocolate Cake with Sugared Walnuts (also listed below).  I actually prefer it to the ricotta cake recipe because it is heavier and is a great contrast to the light cream filling.

These make wonderful party desserts any time of the year but they would be especially good for this upcoming Mother's Day weekend celebration.  Everyone gets their own mini chocolate cake.  Combine that with food from the chocolate chip pancake brunch.

What could be better than that? I know mom would be happy.

RECIPE #14 (from 10 Pounds of Chocolate Chips)  

Individual Chocolate Cream Cakes

1/2 box Devil's Food Cake Mix (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup Ricotta Cheese
1/4 cup Vegetable oil
1 egg

Mix all ingredients until smooth (about 2 minutes)

Spread into a 12x12 pan lined with parchment paper.  Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake then cut into 2 1/2 inch rounds.  I used a small drinking glass to cut the cake.  This recipe makes about 12 rounds (enough for 6 individual mini cakes).  

Prepare fillings.

Fillings:

Sweetened whipping cream
1 pint whipping cream.  Whip 1/3 of the container of cream until soft peaks.  Sweeten with granulated sugar.  Set aside.

Ganache
Heat the remaining cream.  When hot, pour over 1/2 cup chocolate chips.  Allow to sit for a few minutes and then whisk.  Place in refrigerator to cool (about 20 minutes).

Chocolate Whipping Cream
Remove 1/2 of the ganache mixture to a separate bowl.  With a whisk or beater, whip the ganache until the color changes to milk chocolate.

Assemble the cakes

This may look time consuming, but I promise it goes really fast.  Assemble the layers however you want, but here is how I did it.

1.  Place a round of chocolate cake on a small parchment lined cookie sheet or baking dish.  (Why a cookie sheet or baking dish?  It will be easier to move all of the cakes to the refrigerator later - or freezer if desired)

2.  Spread chocolate whipping cream on top of the cake round.  (Of course you could also go to the effort of piping the cream layers, but I don't think it is necessary.   I prefer to save time and just spoon the cream layers onto the cake.  It is faster and still tastes delicious, plus this extra time can be used to do other fun things!)  

3.  Next, spread a thin layer of ganache.  

4.  Spread another layer of chocolate whipping cream.

5.  Finally, top with whipping cream.

6.  Place a round of chocolate cake on top of the whipping cream.

7.  On top of the cake spread a thin layer of ganache.

8.  Sprinkle some chocolate shavings on top.

9.  Place a chocolate chip on top if desired.

10.  Refrigerate the cakes for at least an hour before serving.  These cakes can also be stored in the freezer.  Thaw frozen cakes for about 15 minutes before serving.

11.  Now for the best part- Eat and enjoy the party!


Note:  This recipe also makes a really good full size cake.  Use the full box of cake mix, double the rest of the ingredients and bake in two 9" round pans.  Layer fillings in the middle of the cooled cake.  End with chocolate ganache on top.   Serve in slices.  Store in the refrigerator or the freezer.



Chocolate Cake - Alternate Recipe

1 cup flour
1 Tablespoon unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chocolate chips
3/4 cup butter
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 eggs
1/2 cup milk

Melt chocolate chips with the butter.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda.

Whisk sugar and vanilla into the melted butter and chocolate.  Stir in eggs and milk.  Mix well.  Add dry ingredients.  Pour batter into a parchment lined 9-inch round cake pan (If making a full cake.  Use larger pans if making mini cakes.  See notes below for full size and mini cakes)

Bake 350 degrees for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool.

Full size cake:  If you do not have a 9-inch round cake pan, a smaller pan will work if the sides are high.  The batter in the pan should have room to expand.  The pan should be about 3/4 full of cake batter.  Anything more than that could create a messy overflow in the oven.

Mini Cakes:  use a larger rectangle pan or cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Ideally the cake should be 1/2 - 1 inch thick when completely baked.  The cake will expand while baking by about 1/4.  Mini cakes will also bake faster (about 20-25 minutes).  The cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool and then cut into circles with a 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter (or use a small drinking glass)

Add fillings as listed above.  Store cakes in the refrigerator or the freezer.  If frozen, thaw for about 15 minutes before serving.