Perfect Chocolate Cake

Total Time:
1 hr 15 min
Prep:
30 min
Cook:
45 min

Yield:
12 servings
Level:
Easy

Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup alkalized (Dutch process) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/3 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • RASPBERRY BULL'S EYES
  • 2 sticks (1 cup) soft unsalted butter
  • 1 cup unsifted confectioners' sugar
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup finely ground blanched almonds
  • 2 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup seedless raspberry jam
  • Confectioners' sugar
  • Fresh raspberries, optional
  • APRICOT PINWHEELS
  • For sweet pastry dough:
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
Directions

Set a rack at the middle level of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 2 (9 by 1 1/2-inch) round cake pans.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking powder and baking soda in a mixing bowl and stir well to mix. Sift the dry ingredients onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper and set aside. Beat the butter and sugar together in an electric mixer set at medium speed. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating smooth after each addition. Lower mixer speed to low and beat in half the dry ingredients. Scrape bowl and beaters well. Add the sour cream and scrape again, then beat in the remainder of the dry ingredients. Scrape batter into prepared pans and bake cake 30 to 35 minutes, or until well risen and a toothpick or knife inserted into the center of the cake emerges clean. Cool in pans on a rack for 5 minutes, then turn out of pans. Turn cake over again so it stands right side up to finish cooling.

Line 2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment.

For the cookie dough, in a mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer set at medium

speed until soft and light. Beat in 1 cup sugar and continue beating until sugar is completely incorporated. Beat in yolks, one at a time, beating smooth between each addition, scraping bowl

and beaters occasionally. Beat in ground almonds. Sift flour over butter and egg mixture and fold in with a rubber spatula, making sure flour is completely absorbed. Stretch a piece of

plastic wrap on a plate or cookie sheet and scrape dough onto wrap. Cover with another piece

of plastic wrap and press dough into a 10-inch square, about 1/2-inch thick. Chill dough until firm, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Divide dough in quarters and remove one quarter at a time from refrigerator to roll. Place dough on a lightly floured work surface and lightly flour dough. Pound dough gently with rolling pin to soften it and roll dough to an 8-inch square about 3 1/6-inch thick. Cut dough into rounds with a plain 1 3/4- to 2-inch cutter. Arrange rounds on pans, about 1-inch apart, as they are cut. Repeat with remaining pieces of dough, refrigerating scraps between each rolling. After all the dough has been rolled and cut, press scraps together and re-roll them to make more cookie bases. Count bases and make a 1/2-inch hole in half the bases, using a small pastry tube. Place pans of cookies in oven and immediately lower temperature to 325 degrees. Bake the cookies about 20 minutes, until they are pale golden and firm. Cool on pans on racks.

To finish cookies, lightly dust the pierced cookie bases with confectioners' sugar. Arrange unpierced bases, upside down, on a clean pan. Bring jam to a simmer in a small saucepan over low heat and allow jam to reduce for a minute or two, until slightly thickened. Gently spoon about 1/4 teaspoon of jam on each unpierced base, spreading it to within 1/8 of an inch of the edge. Top with pierced cookies. Place remaining jam in a small plastic bag and force it into one corner. Snip a small hole in the corner and squeeze a drop of jam into each opening in tops of cookies. Allow jam to dry.

To store, arrange cookies in layers with waxed or parchment paper between in an airtight container. Garnish each with a raspberry before serving, if desired.

For sweet pastry dough:

Line 2 cookie sheets or jelly roll pans with parchment.

For the dough, combine all the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor and pulse to mix. Cut butter into 12 pieces and add; pulse to mix in finely. Add eggs and pulse to form a ball. Form the dough into a rectangle and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate until needed, up to 2 days.

For the filling, rinse, halve and pit the apricots. Sprinkle the cut edge of each with a little sugar.

When ready to form the pastries, preheat oven to 350 degrees and set racks in upper and lower thirds. Divide dough in half and roll each half to a 8 by14-inch rectangle. Cut each into 4-inch squares, reserving the left-over pieces of dough. Place the squares of dough on the baking pans and center an apricot, cut side down on each. Make a cut in the corner of each square of dough, through the corner and up to the apricot. Fold over every other slashed corner of dough to meet in the center over the apricot. Egg wash the top of each pastry and cut a 1 1/2-inch disk from the leftover dough to top each pastry. Egg wash the disks on the pastries. Bake the pastries about 20 to 25 minutes, turning them back to front and switching pan positions several times so that they bake evenly. Cool on the pans on racks.

To finish the pastries, bring jam and rum to a boil in a saucepan and strain into another pan. Bring to a boil and simmer about 5 minutes, until no longer watery. Paint the top of each cooled pastry with the glaze and sprinkle with the almonds.


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