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Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

A new year a new beginning... so the saying goes. Seems like it is ringing true for us right now.

When we left France for our summer holidays in Singapore, little did we know we will be staying here for good. You see, Pierre's application for his Employment Pass (EP) to work in Singapore has been dragging on for nearly a year without any fruitful outcome. Would you believe that even on the day we went to collect his precious EP, the lady officer scrutinized the approval documents from top to bottom again, letter to letter, as if trying to hunt for another potential flaw that would make the EP null and void. Now collecting that little green credit size card stating Pierre is now a legal alien at another counter took less than 30 seconds (I kid you not). Needless to say, Pierre could hardly believe his eyes, kept saying 'pinch me, please. This is not a dream right. This card is not going to disappear over night right.' Slap him I did.

So what have we been so busy next? Well, last minute rushing here and there, getting documents done to enrol Little One into the French school. Why not a local school? you might ask since Singapore education system is one of the best in Asia. We would dearly love to (and it would cost a lot less) but sadly we couldn't as within 2 months here, Little One had already partially lost the ability to converse in French with her grandparents on the phone and she couldn't even remember simple words like "bird", "I love you", etc. in French. In the event that we had to move back to France in a year or two, getting her back into the French system would be a real issue. So French school it is for her, no matter if it costs us an arm and leg!

And now we are busy house hunting for our nest. So far it is either the apartment/house isn't to our liking or the asking rental price is way too high - classic. Tomorrow we have another viewing of an apartment. Let's hope we will find a place that fits us soon!

To celebrate this beautiful new beginning of our life here in Singapore, I present you this delicious chocolaty cake with chocolate ganache. I learnt to how to make this cake from Kim Cabe of our little ateliers culinaires group in Clermont-Ferrand.

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake

(Adapted from The All-New Ultimate Southern Living Cookbook)

prep: 15 minutes
cook: 1 hr, 5 min
other: 15 minutes
serves: 12

Ingredients
  • 1½ cup (200g) semisweet chocolate or dark chocolate bars, 54% cocoa
  • 1/2 cup (113g) butter, softened
  • 1½ cup package light brown sugar or ¾ cup light brown sugar, ¾ dark brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs (I used 3 medium eggs)
  • 2 cup plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 cup (8 oz) container sour cream or Bridélice, crème légère, 15% or crème fraîche)
  • 1 cup hot water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Chocolate Ganache

  • 12 oz (200g) package semisweet chocolate (dark chocolate, 54%)
  • 1/2 c. whipping cream
  • 3 tbsp butter
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4).
  2. Melt chocolate in a bain-marie ie. using a bowl and pan/pot. (Make sure the bowl fits snugly over the pan) Break the chocolate into pieces and place in a heatproof bowl. Place the bowl on top of the pan/pot containing hot water. The hot water mustn't touch the bottom of the bowl. Bring the pot of water to a simmer. Stir gently as it melts with a wooden spoon or spatula. Remove from heat once all chocolate pieces are melted. Gently stir until smooth. Set aside.
  3. Whisk butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer for 5 minutes or until well blended.
  4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until just combined after each addition.
  5. Stir in melted chocolate, whisking just until combined.
  6. Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt. Beating at low speed, add flour mixture to chocolate mixture, alternating with sour cream (or crème fraîche) - beginning and ending with flour mixture. Mix until blended after each addition.
  7. Gradually add 1 cup hot water in a slow and steady stream, beating at low speed until just blended. Then stir in vanilla.
  8. Pour batter into a greased and floured 10-inch tube pan. Bake at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4) for 60-65 minutes or until a long wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Cool in pan on a wire rack 15 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on wire rack.
  10. Just before serving, garnish it by dripping small spoonfuls of choclate ganache around edge of cake.
  11. Enjoy!

Making Chocolate Ganache

  1. Melt chocolate pieces and whipping cream in bain-marie. Whisk until smooth, then stir in butter.
  2. Let stand for about 30 minutes. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer for 3-4 minutes.
Chocolate Velvet Pound CakeChocolate Velvet Pound Cake
The Verdict

The cake on its own is very chocolaty and velvety - soft and moist like a dense sponge cake. Each bite of this cake with the chocolate ganache gives you an orgasmic chocolaty bliss! OK so maybe I'm pushing it a little, but it's really good:-)

I have made this cake twice and each time, it was a total winner with everyone young and old. The 1st cake was for home and it was quite massacred by me (I turned it out a wee bit too early when it was not cooled down yet) but nobody minded the ugly presentation. And the cake was devored in no time at all! The 2nd one was for Little One to celebrate her birthday in school with her teachers and classmates. I made 2 cakes and it was all polished up. The teachers loved it and asked me for the recipe.

Another idea is to make this into a layered cake with the chocolate ganache. It'll be the ultimate heavenly chocolate cake. Can one get enough of chocolate! Clearly NO.

Notes

If you don't have large eggs but have some egg whites sitting in your fridge, use 3 medium sized eggs and a few tablespoons of egg white for this cake and it will turn out marvellously good too.

I have baked once in a 10 inch tube pan and the other time, it was in 2 smaller heart-shaped baking pan. However with smaller pan, please adjust the baking time accordingly.

For the chocolate ganache, I didn't let it stand for 30 minutes. Once it is done, I spread it all over the cake. Alternatively I used a 64% or higher dark chocolates and add 1 tablespoon of icing sugar (powdered).

Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake
22 comments on this post.

Chocolate-Pear Cupcakes

What do you know - it's the time of the month again - the Velveteers' Challenge (Aparna, Alessio, Asha & I). This month we decided to go nutty fruity to lift up our spirit to welcome summer after a long spell of rain and gloomy weather in Europe. At the beginning, I had in mind to make something with cheese, nuts & fruits but I got seduced by Aparna & Shellyfish chatting about their moist, oh so heavenly tasting cupcakes. So curious was I to know if their cupcakes are that good that I started dreaming of it. Soon, my imagination took a different angle - imagining all sort of ways to improvise over the Velveteers' project. Et voilà ! An adapted recipe was born.

I made these cupcakes earlier but didn't have time to post it as I was in the rush to put the house in order, before I left with Little One for a long weekend trip to visit friends and attend a little boy's (Noah) birthday party in Nantes. This time, I was able to meet Jamie of Life's a feast for lunch, had our dessert at her place, met her shy Man & handsome (very French) son, Clément, and of course her adorable but very shy Marty (ooh, I so love Marty). After dessert, we went for a "walk" (I mean shopping spree). I had in mind to shop for a few things for Little One's birthday party but in the end, I bought some tops and a dress for her instead. Jamie got herself a great bargain - a Curnonsky's cookbook for 10 €!! I'm so dying of jealousy! Little One & I had a wonderful time in Nantes and wish that we could stay longer than just over a long weekend. I would also like to thank my wonderful mother-in-law Michèle & sister-in-law Irène for driving us to Nantes and back to Clermont-Ferrand and for taking care of Little One the whole Saturday so that I could spent the day alone with my girlfriends.

Chocolate-Pear Velvet Cupcakes

(Adapted from Aparna's Cinnamon Cupcakes)

Makes: 8 - 10 cupcakes

Ingredients
  • 1½ cups cake flour (sifted and then measured)
  • 1¼ tsp baking powder
  • 2 - 3 tbsp cacao powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt (omit if using salted butter)
  • 100 gm butter (softened)
  • 3/4 cup demerara (or light brown) sugar, packed
  • 1 egg (room temperature)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cups milk (room temperature)
  • 1 pear (peeled & cut into 4 or 8 parts)
  • walnuts (roughly broken up)

Caramel Sauce

  • sugar
  • water
  • about 2 tbsp salted butter
  • about 2 tbsp cream or crème fraîche
Directions
  1. Sift together the flour, cacao powder, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk the butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and mix well.
  4. Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating it with milk. Starting and ending with flour. Beat just enough to combine the ingredients and do not overmix. After all the ingredients are in, beat it for just one minute.
  5. Divide the batter equally between 8 to 10 paper lined cupcake tins (depending on the size of your tins) so that each one is 2/3rds full.
  6. Lightly insert a slice of pear in the middle of the cupcake.
  7. Bake the cupcakes at 180°C (350°F - gas mark 4) for 20 to 25 minutes till done or a skewer inserted in them comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes and then turn out and cool completely.
  8. Spoon some caramel sauce on top of the cupcakes. Sprinkle some walnuts on top of the caramel sauce. Then drip some caramel sauce all over the walnuts.
Chocolate Pear CupcakesChocolate Pear Cupcakes

Making the caramel sauce

  1. While your cupcakes cool, you can start preparing your caramel sauce.
  2. Put some sugar and enough water to wet the sugar in a small pot and heat it up on medium heat.
  3. Sugar will dissolves and when it turned into bubbling brown and golden, turn off the heat.
  4. Quickly stir in the salted butter until combined.
  5. Put the pot back on stove under very low heat and stir in the cream.
  6. Continue stirring until you get a thick consistency like crème patissière.
  7. Voilà, your caramel sauce is ready for your cupcakes.
Chocolate Pear Cupcakes
The Verdict

The cupcake is very soft & moist like a sponge cake with a light touch of chocolate flavour. The pear compliments the chocolate cake very well. Everyone loves the cupcakes and the caramel sauce with walnuts topping. I'll make it more chocolaty next time.

Chocolate Pear CupcakesChocolate Pear Cupcakes

The 4 Velveteers

The 4 Velveteers (as we called ourselves) are hosting a monthly event that explores food & cuisine and share our recipes, experiences and verdicts on our blogs. Every month will be a surprise - we never know what we'll make next. So if you're interested in joining the Velveteers, please feel free to drop by our food blogs and leave a comment and we will get back to you.

Do check out what the other Velveteers have come up with:

9 comments on this post.

Coconut Squares

Of late, our household has been on a "strict" diet (except little ninja) in our effort to shed that few centimeters off our waistline, which is why I haven't been baking much sweet stuff. But when 5 o'clock rings, our mouth really start to crave for something sweet to go with that cup of tea. It doesn't help either that our friends dropped by with delicious pastries. Resist as I might, I caved in to temptation yesterday, browsing excitedly through my pastry books, salivating at each and every cake and cookie (oh gosh, there are so many delicious cakes to make *swooning with pleasure at the photos*). And these little coconut cakes caught my attention - nice beautiful squares looking so inviting and tempting... and coconut plus strawberry? That sounded like an interesting combo.

Coconut Squares

(taken from Le Grand Livre des Desserts)

Preparation: 40 minutes
Baking: 45 minutes
Makes: 20

Ingredients
  • 120 g plain flour
  • 60 g self-rising flour
  • 150 g butter (cubed)
  • 60 g icing sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 150 g strawberry jam

Toppings

  • 3 eggs
  • 120 g sugar
  • 270 g grated coconut
Directions
  1. Preheat oven at 180°C
  2. Lightly greased the sides of a 22 cm square baking dish and lay baking paper with sides overhanging a little out of the opposite sides of the tray (to enable lifting the biscuits out of the tray easily).
  3. Put the flour, icing sugar and butter in the processor. Using the pulse action, press button for 30 seconds or until mixture is fine and crumbly. Add the egg yolk, process a further 20 seconds until mixture forms a dough.
  4. Roll the dough out onto the baking dish and refrigerate it for 10 minutes.
  5. Bake it for 15 minutes till it is slightly golden.
  6. Let the dough cool down before spreading the strawberry jam on it.

Toppings

  1. Beat the eggs and sugar in a bowl until it is light and creamy.
  2. Stir in the grated coconut.
  3. Spread this coconut mixture on top of the jam and lightly press on it with the back of the spoon.
  4. Bake it for 25 to 30 minutes: the cake should be lightly golden.
  5. Let it cool down completely before lifting the cake out and cutting it into squares
  6. These squares can be stored up to 4 days in an airtight container.
Coconut squares ingredientsCoconut squares
The Verdict

It turned out very delicious: yummy sweet tasting coconut flavour! However the strawberry jam is probably too thin and remains rather quiet (we do taste it a bit, but the coconut flavour is more pronounced). Perhaps it's because the home made jam I used is thin and runny. I'm usually not a big fan of coconut but this one is really good:-D

These coconut squares are more like a pastry than a cookie or biscuits. It's soft and moist - prefect as little cakes (as the book calls it 'les petits gateaux') for tea or coffee time - just what I was looking for;-).

Notes

I found the dough to be a bit too soft and sticky to roll out onto the baking dish. If I bake it again, I will let the dough sit in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes or more to firm up before rolling it out on the tray.

I baked my dough at 220°C for 10 minutes instead of following the book.

Coconut squares
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