Tuesday, July 26, 2011

indian food, christmas lights, and cupcakes

My friend Katie Jane turned another year older last week and to celebrate we all went out to a fun restaurant in the East Village called Panna II. It is a family owned indian restaurant that has tons of lights hanging down from the ceiling - combination of Christmas and chili lights - and the walls are covered in holographic-like Christmas paper. It was a super cute place and BYOB! My only complaint would be that it was quite small and cozy and we sat next to the entrance. It got a little toasty. I recommend going during the cooler months, although their menus did make nice fans.

I offered to bring a cake since it's not a true bday celebration without baked goods. Who's with me?! KJ said her favorite was German chocolate so I set off to find the perfect recipe. Disclaimer: no real Germans involved in the creation of the recipe (I know came as a surprise to me too.) German chocolate cake actually originated in Dallas, TX - that's right we Texans know how to bake! A homemaker used Baker's german chocolate as a key ingredient in her cake and the recipe was published in a local newspaper. You could say the rest is baking history. Baker's german chocolate chocolate bar was named after it's American creator Sam German in 1852. 

More info here:

If you like coconut, chocolate and nuts this is the cake for you. I decided to make cupcakes instead of a big cake - easier to transport and I could leave some for my roomies. I made a few changes to the original recipe posted here. Recipe below includes the changes I made. There are three parts to the cake. The chocolate cake, which I am beyond embarrassed to note that I used a box mix, the coconut pecan filling, and the chocolate icing. The cupcakes turned out amazing, and they were also pretty easy. Lots of steps but easy assembly. Enjoy!

German Chocolate Cake 
Chocolate Cake:
Box mix - I used Arrowhead Mills Organic Chocolate cake mix with egg beaters, butter, and almond milk.
Any chocolate cake box mix will work. 
Coconut Pecan Filling
adapted from Cooks Illustrated via Eatthisfood.com
Ingredients for filling:
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 can (6oz) evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup (3.5oz) granulated sugar
  • 2 Tbs packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbs unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces
  • 1/8 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I didn't have any and turned out fine)
  • 1 1/4 cups sweetened shredded coconut, toasted
  • 3/4 cups finely chopped pecans, toasted (350 degrees for about 8 mins)
Directions for Filling:
  1. Whisk yolks in med. saucepan, gradually whisk in evaporated milk.
  2. Add sugars, butter & salt. Cook over medium-high heat whisking constantly until boiling, frothy and slightly thickened.
  3. Transfer to a bowl, whisk in vanilla.
  4. Stir in coconut.
  5. Cool until just warm then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, at least 2hrs but up to 3 days.
  6. Pecans are stirred in just before cake assembly so they do not get soggy.
Chocolate Ganache Frosting
adapted from Cooks Illustrated via Eatthisfood.com
Ingredients for Frosting:
  • 3 oz 60% cacao chocolate or higher
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbs whipping cream
  • 1 Tbs butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbs whole milk (I used whipping cream)
Directions for frosting:
  1. Heat milk in microwave for 30 seconds.
  2. Chop chocolates and transfer into a heat proof bowl.
  3. Heat cream until bubbles form around the edge of the pan, pour cream over the chocolate.
  4. Let sit for 1 minute then stir until combined.
  5. Add butter to the chocolate (make sure its soft and at room temp) and stir until combined.
  6. Whisk together sugar, salt, milk, and vanilla in another bowl until combined. Pour the sugar mixture onto the chocolate mixture, then stir until combined and smooth.
  7. Let sit at room temperature until thickened.
  8. Beat with an electric mixer until fluffy.
To assemble:
  1. Cut a cone out of the top of a completely cooled cupcake.
  2. Cut about a 1/2 inch off the bottom of the cone to make the top.
  3. Fill cupcake cavity with 1 Tbs (or so) of coconut pecan filling. 
  4. Replace cupcake top.
  5. Frost with a 1/4 inch layer of ganache.
  6. Top with final scoop of pecan filling.
  7. Eat. Yum, yum, yum.

Everyone loved the cupcakes, and KJ especially loved the filling... 

What's your go to birthday cake?

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