Root Beer Bundt Cake

Potluck
Potluck insanity. Too many tall friends.

Every year during the winter holidays we get together with our Ottawa friends and have a potluck.  We started doing this when we were all students because it was the one day we could guarantee that we were all in town at the same time and we could spend some time together.  We even get fancy with the planning, starting with a Doodle scheduler to pick the right date (if you’ve never used their free software to make an appointment, check it out).  Then we set up a Google spreadsheet to figure out who is bringing what, to ensure that not everyone arrives with chips and dip and that the people who are bringing appetizers don’t show up just as we’re starting dessert.  Inevitably the spreadsheet gets hacked by someone (or everyone) and chaos ensues.  Graphs and pie charts and graffiti abound.  It’s madness.  But fun.  This year the Pie and I decided to host, and as each person brings a dish, this was the Pie’s contribution to the festivities: Baked’s Root Beer Bundt Cake.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

He’s made it before, for my birthday, and it’s always a favourite.  Anything Baked does is a favourite with us.  The problem is that because I was busy doing my own thing and making a superb leek and leftover turkey pie (which I will save as a post until the next turkey-related holiday), I didn’t actually get a chance to photograph the finished product.  So you’ll just have to guess as to what it looked like.  Sorry.

Now, the recipe calls for 2 cups root beer to go into the batter.  Don’t you dare use diet root beer — you’ll regret it enormously.  Use a stronger-tasting brew like Dad’s or Stewart’s or even Barq’s to get the best flavour, and feel free to replace some of the liquid with a root beer schnapps or even a tablespoon or two of root beer extract.  Not having any of these things, however, the Pie decided to make himself a root beer concentrate.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

He started by pouring two cans of root beer into a pot. Then he simmered it for about half an hour to boil off the water and reduce the liquid.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

The resulting fluid is dark and opaque, and we hoped it would enhance the flavour of the cake when added to the regular root beer.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

While you’re doing that, preheat your oven to 325°F.  Generously butter a large bundt cake pan.  Dust the inside with flour and knock out the excess.  If you don’t have a bundt pan you can make this in an angel food pan.  If you have to make it in a pan that doesn’t have a hole in the middle you will need to cook it a bit longer and keep an eye on it so the bottom doesn’t burn.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

In a small saucepan, melt together 2 cups root beer, 1 cup cocoa, and 1/2 cup butter and stir until the mixture is smooth.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

Add in 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar and 1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar and whisk that until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is smooth.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

Root Beer Bundt Cake

Remove that from the heat and allow to cool a little bit. You want it to cool a bit (enough that you can poke your finger in it and it will be nice and warm but not hot) because you’re about to add in 2 lightly beaten eggs. And if you add the eggs in while it’s still hot they will cook on their own and that will be super gross.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

Add the eggs in and whisk thoroughly.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

In a big bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour with 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

Gently pour the chocolate mixture into the flour mixture and fold with a spatula until just combined.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

You don’t want pockets of flour or anything but you want the batter to still be a mite lumpy.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

Pour that into your prepared bundt pan and bake for 35-40 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until you can stick a skewer into it and it comes out clean.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

Set that puppy on a rack to cool completely.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

In the meantime, you can make your root beer fudge frosting. In another bowl, whisk together 2oz melted dark chocolate and 1/2 cup room temperature butter. Add in as well 1/4 cup root beer, 2/3 cup cocoa, and 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s (icing) sugar and beat until smooth.

Root Beer Bundt Cake

When you cake is cooled, plaster on that icing in a haphazardly charming manner and eat it all up. Cover what’s left over in plastic wrap and keep up to a week at room temperature.  Sorry again that I have no pictures.  It disappeared! Instead you can have a picture of Gren in the Christmas hat that he hates.

Gren on Couch

Advertisements

Simple Butter Fudge (Tablet)

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Oh.  Hello.  Can I help you?

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

You want to learn to MAKE this stuff?  And you want me to teach you?

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Sorry.  Can’t.  I’m too busy cramming it in my face.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Come back later.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Okay fine.

I’ve wanted to teach myself to make fudge for an age and a half. Fudge is one of my favourite things, especially the simple traditional ones.  Butter and Maple fudge?  I could eat those forever.  And whenever I can get my hands on them and the Pie is out for the evening, I frequently do.  I pay for it, oh yes, I pay for it.  But it’s totally worth it.

This year my New Year’s Resolution was to learn to make fudge.  That and eat more vegetables.  I never thought vegetables would be a problem for me.  But of course that was before I moved to Newfoundland.  Anyway.  Fudge.  Resolution for fudge.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

So last week I decided that enough was enough.  It was time.  Plus I keep trying to think of luscious dessert-y-type objects that also happen to be gluten-free so that I can bribe Fussellette to drive me places.  I figure it’s a win-win situation for all concerned.

In searching for crumbly oh-so-melt-in-your-mouth fudge recipes on the internet, I came to the realization that the stuff I am thinking of is also known simply as TABLET, a traditional Scottish bon-bon.  I wish I had known this sooner.  Finding a good recipe would have been quicker, and every time I passed a package of tablet in the specialty store I would have purchased it.  So perhaps it’s a good thing I didn’t find this out sooner.

Enough with my blathering.  I found this recipe by Stewart C. Russell and it seems to be the best, mostly for the clear instructions.  And if I’m going to experiment and things are going to go horribly, spectacularly wrong, I want it to count.  So I doubled the recipe and modified things a bit.  I’ll give you my version here, and if you don’t like the craziness of it you can go back to Stewart and do his recipe the right way.

You will only need four ingredients for this, but you need a lot of most of them:

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

1 cup cold milk (this is for dampening down your sugar.  The measurement is approximate.)

200g butter (I used salted instead of unsalted, because I like my fudge a little less than sickly sweet.  This measurement is slightly less than half of the 1lb [454g] block you get in the stores.)

3, 300g tins sweetened condensed milk (Stewart’s recipe calls for a 400g tin, which doesn’t seem to exist around these parts, so this is the reason I doubled the recipe.  In the end I had 100g more milk than the math called for but I don’t think it did any harm.)

2kg brown sugar (you can use white here for a lighter fudge, but this is what I had around)

First thing: generously butter two rimmed baking sheets.  I mean GENEROUSLY.  And you will need these ready to go before you do anything else, because when you need them you will have no time to spare.  Put them somewhere handy, on a heatproof surface.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Take out your largest saucepan (this stuff foams up quite a bit). And a big wooden spoon (you always make candy with wooden spoons).   I also recommend using a candy thermometer.  We’re going to do some other tests here but if you want surefire accuracy I would use one as well as a fail-safe.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Plop the sugar in that there saucepan and pour on the milk.  Give that a wee stir.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Add in your butter and your condensed milk.  Take a dobble of that and put it on a plate.  Admire the grainy texture and pale colour.  You are going to have quite the colour chart on this plate by the end.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Heat the stuff in the saucepan on medium-high, stirring, until the butter is melted and everything is starting to get smooth.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Bring the mixture to a boil.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Turn it down to a simmer (this will depend on the thickness of your pot, the amount you have in it, and the temperature of your element). You’re going to simmer it for a while, stirring occasionally to keep it from sticking. It’s gonna get foamy and scary.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

You’re waiting for the “soft ball” stage in candy making, which is when your thermometer hits 240°F.  If you’re simmering and you can’t get the sugar to increase in temperature, try turning up the heat a little bit at a time until you see a difference.  Just make sure not to burn it!

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

While you’re waiting, keep testing out your liquid on your plate.  Dobble some on and let it cool.  Watch it darken in colour and smooth out in consistency.  On this one the latest dobble, the one at the far right, is exhibiting some caramel tendencies, as it’s starting to stretch out when I pull it.  That means we’re almost there.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Another way to test is to take a teaspoon-full of your sugar mix and plunge it into a small amount of cold water for a second or two.  Then tip the spoon and watch the sugar pour off the spoon.  Here it’s coming off in a smooth string, so it’s not ready.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Still too stringy here.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Ah.  Here we have a SOFT BALL coming off the spoon.  It’s ready.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Remove the pan from the heat and start stirring it vigorously with your wooden spoon.  Not so vigorously that you splash yourself with molten sugar, but put some energy into it.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Pause occasionally to scrape the crystallized sugar off the sides of the pot.  These crystals will help to seed other crystals in the mix, which is what we want.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

When you start to feel the grate of crystals on the bottom (when scraping your spoon down there feels a little gritty), then your fudge is starting to set.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Quickly pour the contents of the saucepan onto the baking sheets. Use a spatula to get it all.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

You can see how it started to set as I was pouring because I took too long.  As a result, I have fudge with lumps.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Leave the stuff to set overnight, if you can stand it, or at least until they’ve cooled completely.  Those light blotches you see are just crystallizing sugar, which is a good thing.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Look how nicely it just pops out of the pan!

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Use a long flat knife to cut or break your set fudge into pieces. When you are cutting it, press down on the whole length of the blade at once.  If you go in at an angle the fudge will crack along a different line.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Of course, then you get reject pieces, which is what I’ve been eating.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

I recommend cutting your fudge into smallish pieces.  Otherwise you might eat too much.  Oh who are we kidding?  You (or someone you know and love) are (is) going to eat too much anyway.

Store in an airtight container.  Or mail pieces to all your friends.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

I think I’d like to try this again with granulated sugar, as opposed to brown.  I think the molasses in the brown sugar, together with the extended simmering time I had to get the sugar up to the right temperature, made for a firmer fudge than the super crumbly stuff I really love.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

CLEANING TIP: If you fill your empty saucepan with hot water right away and leave it for a bit, then cleanup will be a breeze.

Brown Sugar Fudge Tablet

Rectangular Chocolate Cake

This is a great cake to whip up for a potluck or casual dinner.  Baking it in a 9″ x 13″ glass casserole dish makes it easy to carry and means you can even freeze the cake if you need it later.

The fudgy icing adds the element of delectability to what is otherwise a regular cake recipe.  Cake recipe from Canadian Living, fudge icing from Chocablog.

Spray the sides of a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish and line the bottom with parchment paper (you can use metal baking pans as well, but I prefer the even cooking of the glass) and set that aside.  Preheat your oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, beat together 1 1/2 cups softened butter with 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar.  I ran out of white so I added in some brown.

Add in, one at a time, 3 eggs, followed by 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.

In a separate container, mix together 3 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and the same again of baking soda.

Stir your flour mixture alternately with 2 1/4 cups buttermilk (or milk soured with lemon juice or vinegar), making three additions of the dry stuff and two of the buttermilk.

At this point I was slightly concerned because the mixture was the consistency and colour of wet cement.  I figured I might as well forge ahead in any case.

Scrape that cement into the prepared pan and smooth the top.

Bake until tester comes out clean, about 50 minutes.  Let cool on a wire rack for about ten minutes, then turn out onto the rack and peel off the paper and allow to cool completely.

While the cake is cooling you can start on your icing.

In a medium saucepan, melt 10 oz butter at low heat.

Holy crap that’s a lot of buttery goodness.

Stir in 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder and raise the heat a bit before adding 10 oz icing sugar.

Gradually add in 6 tablespoons milk and allow the mixture to come to a boil.

Remove from heat when you have a glossy, smooth paste, and allow to cool completely.

Slather that goodness all over your cake.  Just give ‘er.

Then you get to eat it.  I made this for Cait and iPM and Cait informed me that she had it for breakfast.  So it’s a multipurpose cake.