For those of you who have been here, done that…I am sorry for the reposts lately. I am without a kitchen at the moment so I have decided to share some old favorites of mine and now hopefully yours…
Are you in the Thanksgiving spirit yet? Perhaps dreaming of cranberries and pumpkin pie? Cranberries are so nice and tart that they are the perfect accompaniment to a deep, dark Devil’s Food cake laced with both white and dark chocolate ganache.
This particular Devil’s Food cake is from Bobby Flay, and it has a half a cup of brewed coffee in the batter which gives it a whisper of coffee flavor and adds to the utter decadence of the cake. Coupled with the burst of tartness from the cranberries and creamy richness of the duo of ganache, this cake will definitely make your taste buds sing and keep you in the Thanksgiving frame of mind. It might even replace one of your traditional desserts if you want to opt for chocolate which is always a good idea in my book.
This time of year definitely lends itself to a plethora of family traditions or is the perfect opportunity to make new ones. Our family has a pretty traditional sit-down dinner for Thanksgiving. My mother is an amazing cook and those who attend are all fanatical foodies. So anything we are eating that day, whether provided by mom or her guests, is out-of-this-world delicious. There is not a dry turkey slice nor canned, weirdly jelled cranberry in sight. You are jealous, aren’t you? I don’t blame you. I would be too.
But if your family has not started their own tradition or is in need of a great idea for a new tradition, I have a friend who has started her own Thanksgiving morning multi-family football game extravaganza. About 15 families (at least) come out for a supersized game of Flag Football and the number grows every year.
She is the hostess with the most-est and brings fresh doughnuts, coffee, water and milk for players and spectators alike and has added a community service component to the festivities as well. Each family is encouraged to bring new toys for our local “Toys for Tots” drive, and she delivers them to the nearest fire station.
The game is sweaty, loud and ridiculously funny as men in their forties and fifties are beginning to feel the pain and angst from competing with their now teenage boys. It used to be the boys were little guys, barely keeping up with their big, strong dads, but I am afraid the tables have been turned, and the dads are the ones lagging these days. Their macho bravado is not lacking though as they dive for catches and run their hearts out to the goal line.
Moms sometimes jump in, but mostly they sit back in comfy folding chairs, sip coffee and gab about the big dinner to come. Many of them already have a turkey roasting in the oven and a long to-do list, but it’s a great chance to take a breath from the feverish cooking, enjoy the good company and laugh a whole heck of a lot.
So keep in mind traditions can be re-invented. You don’t have to stick with your old stand-by’s if they are not working for you. Feel free to just whip out some new ones and have at it. Make a lovely beef roast if the daunting task of roasting a whole turkey seems a bit overwhelming or serve a cranberry chocolate cake if pumpkin isn’t your thing. Go with the flow, and make your holiday full of good times and good food, and the traditions will be memorable for all the right reasons!
Bobby Flay’s Devil’s Food Cake
Adapted from his Cream Filled Devil’s Food Cupcake recipe
1 1/4 cups cake flour
1/2 cup Dutch processed unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup strong, hot coffee
1 bag (12-ounce) cranberries (6 cups)
1/2 tablespoon(s) grated orange zest
1 t. cornstarch
1/2 cup(s) fresh orange juice
3/4 cup(s) granulated sugar
1 t. grenadine syrup
White Chocolate Ganache
8oz. good quality white chocolate, chopped in small pieces
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
Dark Chocolate Ganache
8 oz good quality dark or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
For the cake:
Preheat your oven to 350
Grease and flour a large glass square baking dish or use nonstick cooking spray in. I actually used a rectangular dish and cut the cake into a square before removing it from the pan.
In a large mixing bowl, sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt together 3 times. I didn’t. I simply sifted once, but I wanted to give you Bobby’s exact instructions here. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together at high speed for 15 seconds until combined. Add the eggs 1 at a time beating until each is incorporated. Continue beating until light and fluffy, about 6 minutes longer. With the mixer at its lowest speed, beat in 1/3 the flour mixture. Beat in the buttermilk and vanilla, then another third of the flour. Beat in the coffee slowly, being careful not to splatter hot coffee on your face, and then the remaining flour. Bake your cake for about 25-35 minutes or until it is soft but spongy to the touch and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool in the pan for about ten minutes. Carefully remove from the pan and let cool completely on a wire rack.
Cranberry Compote: In a small measuring cup or dish, mix together the cornstarch and 2 T. of the orange juice to dissolve the cornstarch. Then pour that into a medium saucepan along with the rest of the orange juice, cranberries, orange zest and grenadine. Cook over medium-high heat on a low boil or simmer, and stir occasionally. The berries will begin to pop open when they are done. It will take about 4-6 minutes for all of them to pop. Place the cranberries in a separate bowl and refrigerate for 2 hours. It will thicken as it cools.
After the compote has finished cooling, make your ganache. For both ganache, place 8 oz. of white chocolate in a heat proof bowl and 8 oz of the dark chocolate in a separate heat proof bowl. Heat 1 c. of heavy whipping cream in a small saucepan until it just begins to boil. Cream burns easily so please watch it and stir occasionally until it bubbles. Then pour 1/2 c. of the cream over the white chocolate and pour the remaining 1/2 c. of cream over the dark chocolate. Let sit for 3-4 minutes until the chocolate has melted and stir vigorously to dissolve all of the bits of chocolate.
Assembling your cake: Pour and spread the cranberry compote over the chocolate cake. With a small spoon drizzle half of both the chocolate and white chocolate ganache over the cranberry topping. Refrigerate the cake for an hour before serving to let it set up a bit. Reserve the remaining ganache in the refrigerator. When serving, heat the remaining ganache in the microwave for 20 seconds or until thin again. Use the white chocolate to spoon as a base sauce on the serving plates and drizzle the dark chocolate over the white for effect. I like to use a plastic condiment bottle for this type of drizzling. It works great! Or for an easier serving style, serve the two ganache in small serving pitchers on the table and guests can freely pour the ganache over their cakes if they want extra ganache.