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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Steamed Chocolate Cake with Brown Butter Vanilla Sauce

Inspiration:  One of my grandmother's best and most loved recipes (Pouding au chocolat à la vapeur)

This should be served rustic style: - heated, crumbled and topped with ice cream and sauce.  You will not believe how good this is!

Cake at my grandmother's was not just cake!:  It was a large piece of homemade cake (with icing) , coupled with a big scoop of ice cream and the whole thing covered in strawberry jam -grandmothers do not count calories.   

Another popular option was this delicious steamed cake and I have to say, for me, it was a favourite.  The texture was wonderful, different and moist and, it too, was always accompanied with ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce.   It was a rustic, delicious desert! 

Here is my grandmother's actual recipe for the cake but instead of the usual chocolate sauce we always had it with, I decided to pair it with a brown butter vanilla sauce.  You can choose which one you prefer  - or both.  Remember to serve it hot or quite warm - that's when it's at its best.  ( Here is a wonderful recipe for homemade thick chocolate sauce - just in case).

If ever you are camping or don't have access to an oven, this is a great way to bake a cake.  Enjoy!

Steamed Chocolate Cake with Brown Butter Vanilla Sauce:  Serve 8 to 10 generously

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick - 125ml) of salted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (175g) of loosely packed brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1T (15ml) of vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (180g) of all purpose flour
  • 2T (17g) of cocoa powder (very generous tablespoons)
  • 3t of baking powder
  • 1/4t of salt
  • 3/4 cup (180ml) of milk or condensed milk (for a richer taste)
  • 1/3 cup (70g) of chocolate chips
  • 1/3 cup (35g)  of chopped walnuts

How to make it:

Start by placing the softened butter (1/2 cup - 1 stick - 125ml) in the bowl of your mixer and add the brown sugar (1 cup loosely packed - 175g).  Cream together on medium speed for about 2 minutes (scrape down the sides to ensure everything is evenly incorporated).

Add the vanilla paste or extract (1T - 15ml) and eggs (3) and mix, medium speed,  to combine (about 3 minutes).  

In a separate bowl or large measuring cup, combine the flour 
(1 1/2 cups - 180g), the cocoa powder (2 generous tablespoons - 17g),  the salt (1/4t) and the baking powder (3t).  Stir to mix together.

While the mixer is turning on medium speed, alternate adding the flour mixture and the milk (3/4 cup - 180ml) in thirds, ensuring that everything is smoothly combined with each new addition.  

Remove the mixing bowl and stir in  the chocolate chips (1/3 cup -70g) and the chopped walnuts (1/3 cup -35g) by hand.

Generously oil the baking pan you will be using.  You can use a plum pudding pan, a round bowl or a tube pan of your choice.  Just make sure that it fits easily, with a small round rack into the covered pot you will be using to steam (it should not touch the bottom of the pan directly).

Pour the batter evenly into the cake pan. Place a large cooking pot over medium low heat. 

Insert the round wire rack into the pot and add enough water to come up to the level of the rack (about 1 1/2 cups).  Keep more water close by as you will have to add more during the cooking process.  Allow the water to come to a simmer (medium low heat).

Cover the cake pan with aluminum foil ensuring that it is well sealed (some plum pudding pans come with a cover so you will not need to do this).  Place it in the pot and cover with the lid.  

Keep the heat on a medium low setting ensuring that you are creating steam.  Cook for 1h45minutes keeping in mind that every 30 minutes, you will need to add an additional cup of water.  If you are using a tube pan which creates a hole in the middle of your cake, you will only need to cook it for 1h30minutes.

Remove the cake from the pot, uncover and allow to cool for 15 minutes.  Turn over and remove from the cake pan.  

This cake is best served hot or quite warm with ice cream and your choice of brown butter vanilla sauce or thick chocolate sauce.  You can plate it to serve but we always ate it rustic style, hot and crumbled on a plate covered with the ice cream and sauce!

Brown Butter Vanilla Sauce:  makes about 1 cup

  • 1/2 cup (125ml) salted butter (1 stick)
  • 1/2 cup (85g) of lightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (120ml) of condensed milk or cream
  • 1T of vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract

How to make it:

Start by putting the butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat.  Melt the butter and watch it closely as it is cooking for it to begin colouring - you will need to stir the cooking butter around in order to see through the bubbles (it should take about 7 minutes to colour).

Once it has reached the desired colour (be careful as it will burn easily) quickly add the brown sugar (1/2 cup lightly packed -85g) and the condensed milk or cream (1/2 cup -120ml).  Bring to a gentle boil and cook for about 2 minutes.  Add the vanilla paste or extract (1T - 15ml), reduce heat to medium low and cook an additional minute.  Keep warm and serve.  This sauce can be made ahead of time, kept in the fridge for a few days and gently reheated when you are ready to serve it.  Alternate with this delicious thick chocolate sauce.   Enjoy!

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