Straus Family Creamery

June 3, 2012

Straus Family Creamery hails from Northern California and if you are fortunate enough to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, no doubt you are well familiar with these wonderful dairy products.  For my students in Seattle, I want you to become familiar with this butter package which can be found at Whole Foods Markets or PCC Markets.

For cake makers, Straus Family Creamery Organic Unsalted Butter is about as ideal for Italian meringue buttercream as butter can get.

Fat content of 85% which is as ideal and perfect for Italian meringue buttercream as butter can get. Let the buttercream whip in the bowl for at least 10 minutes after this softened butter is added to assure the creamiest and most delightful buttercream you are ever going to ice a cake with.

Three pounds of butter will make enough buttercream to pipe dams, crumb coat and ice three tiers of cake sizes, 10″, 7″ and 4″.  Depending on whether or not you are using fondant will determine the amount of buttercream you need under the fondant layer.

TheStraus Family Creamery Organic  heavy cream can be found at PCC Markets in Seattle.

Cream as it was meant to be.

This cream is so rich and thick I had to use a knife to poke through the thick cream that formed on the top under the cap of the bottle.  Amazing!!

Dark Chocolate Cake

May 28, 2012

One of the most sought after chocolate cake recipes is one that is moist and rich.  The following formula will give you such a chocolate cake and you will want to keep this recipe in your collection.  Trust me..!  It is exceptionally good.  Try this cake  filled with Bavarian Cream, Chocolate Mousse, Raspberry or Strawberry Mousse or Peanut Butter Mousse.

Double the recipe for 3-10″ cake pans, 3-7″ cake pans, and 3-4″ cake pans for a small tiered cake.  All of my cake recipes can be turned into tiered cake recipes by simply doubling the recipes without the need for any special manipulations of ingredients.  It is when the recipes get into large quantities that the baking powder can be reduced and there is a special formulation for that process.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Prepare 3- 10″ cake pans by spraying pan release on the pan bottoms and walls and lining the cake pans with rounds of parchment.

You will need to sift together and set aside:

2 2/3 cups cake flour

1 1/2 cups Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa

1 Tablespoon baking soda

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

Whisk together:

1 1/2 cup  strong coffee

6 ounces buttermilk

6 ounces sour cream

Cream together:

6 ounces unsalted butter softened to room temperature

3 cups granulated sugar

then add to the butter/sugar:

5 whole eggs

1 Tablespoon pure vanilla extract


Cream the butter and sugar together and then add the eggs one at a time.  Add the vanilla and make sure the bowl is well scraped down.

Alternate the dry ingredients with the coffee/sour cream/buttermilk mixture in thirds starting with the dry then ending with the dry ingredients.  Again, scrape down the bowl well.  Make sure there are no lumps of flour or butter in the batter.

Divide among the cake pans evenly.  Bake for 25-30 minutes and cool in the pans.   Remove from the pans and chill completely before filling.

A note about Hershey Special Dark Cocoa:

I have tried many different types of cocoa.   My supplier, Peterson Cheese supplied great imported cocoa but I found them to be rather grainy.  One day, I tried Hershey Special Dark Cocoa and I haven’t looked back.  This cocoa is a soft powder that absorbs into the cake batter.  This recipe used to yield a thin liquid batter, but with the Hershey Special Dark, the batter has more heft and is oh so dark!  There is nothing more lovely that a rich dark almost black cake and that is what you will get by using Hershey Special Dark Cocoa.

Dark Chocolate Fondant

May 28, 2012

Really delicious fondant for those of you who want to make your own dark chocolate fondant.

Cocoa is very drying.  It was difficult to figure out how to formulate dark chocolate fondant, but I believe this formula and process yields a rich dark chocolate fondant because I do not use cocoa.

The best way to make dark chocolate fondant is to make white chocolate fondant and add a freshly made chocolate clay or modeling chocolate.  Here is a formula for chocolate clay.

10 ounces dark chocolate

3 ounces corn syrup

The important thing when making chocolate clay is not to overheat the chocolate as it melts.   Make a big effort not to heat the chocolate above 100 degrees F..chocolate melts at 98.6 degrees F or body temperature so you can see how important it is to keep track of the chocolate as it melts.  Stirring it often over the double boiler that has warm water in it is a way to assure the temperature won’t rise above 100 degrees F.

When the chocolate is melted remove from the double boiler and add the corn syrup.  Mix but do not over mix.  Put onto a sheet of parchment to cool.  The chocolate clay will firm up in abut 2 hours but you are going to want to blend it with your fondant sooner than that.

Make white chocolate fondant according to the instructions on this blog.

When the chocolate clay is a firm mass but still pliable, blend into freshly made white chocolate fondant.

Chocolate Mousse

May 27, 2012

This very pretty cake is being made by a cake enthusiast who has done a great job decorating this delicious little cake.

For the best Chocolate Mousse you will ever make or taste or serve….here goes!  As for the dark chocolate, in the USA please don’t hesitate to use E. Guittard dark chocolate.  It is amazing what has happened with chocolate since I was a young chef…but Guittard was our high-end chocolate way back when and it is still good.  Not that the lovely imports aren’t wonderful, they are but please don’t forget about Guittard.  I use it in my fondants as well.


8 ounces dark chocolate

Whip in the bowl of a heavy duty 5 quart mixer until the volume has tripled and become very light and fluffy:

4 ounces egg yolks

4 ounces  whole eggs

Then add to stabilize the egg mixture with:

2 ounces granulated sugar

Boil to 240 degrees F:

6 ounces granulated sugar moistened with

1/4 cup cold water


1 lb heavy cream and set aside in the refrigerator

2 Tablespoons pure vanilla extract or Madagascar Vanilla Bean Paste


Melt the chocolate and set aside.  The chocolate needs to be 90 degrees F when it is added to the egg meringue.

Whip the cream and set aside in the refrigerator.

Whip the whole eggs and yolks in the bowl of a heavy duty 5 quart mixer and when the eggs become light and fluffy, stabilize with 2 ounces of granulated sugar, continue to whip until the sugar is dissolved into the egg mixture.

Bring to a boil the 6 ounces of granulated sugar moistened with cold water and cook until the temperature reaches 240 degrees F.   When the sugar has cooked, pour over the egg mixture slowly.  The hot syrup will not over cook your eggs because it will go for the granulated sugar that has stabilized it.  Whip until completely cooled.

The chocolate can be added to the whipped egg/sugar mixture and folded in very quickly with a very sure hand and a large rubber spatula.  Fold in the cold whipped cream and add the vanilla.

Your chocolate mousse is done.

You can flavor the chocolate mousse with all sorts of wonderful things like Grand Marnier or Hazelnut Paste.  Use your imagination and conjure up some delectable flavor combinations of your own.

When using as a filling for a wedding cake that is stacked and tiered, remember to use a buttercream dam around the rim of the cake before filling with the chocolate mousse.  The buttercream dam will assure that the filling will not ooze out.

If you are using chocolate mousse that has been refrigerated for a period of time, simple allow the mousse to sit at room temperature long enough to soften slightly before filling your piping bag otherwise your mousse will separate and soften or liquefy which is not pleasant.