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Friday, May 6, 2011

White Chocolate Amaretto Cake

When I was in 5th and 6th grade, I was pulled out of regular classes once a week to attend Enrichment. Essentially, this was a class where they stuck the overachievers...us few students who apparently liked the idea of extra homework, usually in the form of creative projects. My memories of the class include dressing up like Saint Lucia, crafting a lamb out of popcorn, and planning and executing 6th Grade Olympics. My parents, on the other hand, probably have very different memories of the class. Sure, they likely remember the Popcorn Lamb (pretty sure my mom played a large part in that one) and helping me brainstorm project ideas...but more likely, they'd share memories of my outbursts of frustration, my temper tantrums, and my tears.

I mentioned this was a class for overachievers, right? Take an overachiever who puts an insane amount of pressure to succeed on herself and put her in an Enrichment class and watch the tantrums emerge! Sadly, I haven't quite been able to shake the overachiever in me...or found a way to put less pressure on myself. Though my tears and tantrums are far, far less frequent than my elementary school days, I still occasionally find myself getting caught up in my own desires for success. I was immediately brought back to the days of Enrichment when I made this cake for our Easter brunch with friends.

This cake has been on my "to make" list for years, literally. I love amaretto in baked goods and knew I'd love this cake. After success with my Chocolate Peanut Butter Cake, I wasn't intimidated by another layer cake. Once again, the layer cake proved to be fairly simple. It was the frosting that proved to be (nearly) tear-inducing. This was my first attempt at a frosting that required cooking and so with nothing to compare it to, I doubted myself each step of the process. Eventually I ended up with something that resembled frosting, but I wasn't crazy about the flavor of it...it was very buttery and not particularly sweet, and the consistency was different than what I was used to. With Easter brunch a few short hours away, there was nothing I could do (besides moan and groan and annoy Ryan!) but assemble the cake and hope for the best.

As it turned out, the majority of our friends loved this cake. The cake was moist, dense, and packed a good balance of white chocolate and amaretto flavor. I purposely went light on the frosting application, which ended up being how they all preferred it. Though the frosting wasn't super sweet (my biggest complaint about it), this was a selling point for them. No piece was left unfinished, so I suppose my worries and stresses, much like in the days of Enrichment, were all for naught. Sigh. One day I'll learn....

One Year Ago: Homemade Pesto

White Chocolate Amaretto Cream Cake
from Telly's Tasty Tidbits

-1 1/2 cups milk (divided)
-3 oz. white chocolate, chopped
-2 3/4 cup cake flour
-2 tsp baking powder
-1/2 tsp salt
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
-1 1/2 cups sugar, divided
-4 eggs, separated
-2 tsp vanilla extract
-Amaretto Syrup (recipe below)
-Almond Buttercream Frosting (recipe below)

1. Lightly grease the bottom and sides of three 9-inch cake pans with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, combine 1/2 cup milk with the 3 oz. white chocolate. Microwave on high for 1 1/2 minutes and stir. (Microwave an additional 30 seconds if needed). Add remaining 1 cup of milk and set aside to cool slightly.
3. In a small bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter, 1 cup sugar, egg yolks, and vanilla until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Put mixer on low speed and alternately add dry ingredients and milk mixture.
5. In a separate bowl with clean beaters, beat egg whites to soft peaks. Gradually beat in remaining 1/2 cup sugar until shiny but not dry. Fold whites into cake batter in two additions.
6. Pour batter evenly into three prepared pans. Bake at 350F for 20-22 minutes, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean and sides are pulling away from edges. Cool cakes in pans for 5 minutes.
7. Invert cakes onto wire racks and cool completely. Place 1 layer on a serving platter and brush with amaretto syrup. Spread a thin layer of buttercream on top of cake layer, top with second layer, and repeat. Top with final layer and syrup. Use remaining frosting on sides and top of cake. Garnish as desired.
8. Store cake in fridge and bring to room temperature before serving.

for the amaretto syrup-
-1/4 cup sugar
-1/4 cup water
-1 tbsp Amaretto

1. Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer until mixture is reduced by half. Cool and stir in Amaretto.

for the almond buttercream frosting-
-8 egg whites
-1 cup sugar
-3 sticks butter, softened
-3 oz. white chocolate, melted and cooled slightly
-3 tbsp Amaretto

1. In a heavy saucepan, whisk egg whites and sugar until well blended. Place over medium -low heat, stirring constantly for 10-12 minutes (until mixture reaches 160F).
2. In a large bowl with a mixer on high speed, beat egg whites until stiff, shiny peaks form (5 minutes).
3. Reduce speed to medium, add butter, 2 tbsp at a time (may look curdled). Blend in Amaretto and white chocolate until mixture is smooth and creamy.