I can’t believe it. Apple a Day is five years old. I’ve been blogging for five whole years. Some days it seems like much, much longer, but most of the time I think to myself “Where in the world has all that time gone?”
Five years. 626 posts. Countless cups of flour and sugar and butter.
A true novice when I started, I’ve grown through trials, errors, ups, and downs in my various kitchens and come out a more experienced and more confident cook and baker. I’ve made recipes so bad they didn’t even make it on to the blog and ones so delicious I’ve said to myself, “I’m goooood.” I’ve gone from someone who enjoyed cooking to someone who loves it, values it, and finds even the most finicky and monotonous recipes therapeutic. But at the risk of sounding trite, I’ve learned so much more than just how to frost cupcakes, properly sear a steak, and bake with yeast.
It may sound silly, but aren’t all those trials, errors, ups, and downs in my kitchen a kind of metaphor for life? I think so. Even the best, most carefully laid ideas and plans don’t always work out. Sometimes, they’ll work out in the end, but only after much, much more work than you thought. Sometimes, they don’t work out at all. And that’s okay. That just means there are bigger, better, more wonderful things waiting out there for you. Things you couldn’t even imagine for yourself because how could a person ever think such fantastic things?
But in the time I’ve had Apple a Day, readers, I’ve learned that it’s completely necessary to dream big–to set goals that seem unattainable and chip away at them little by little. Five years ago, I never imagined I’d have so many faithful readers who trust the recipes they see here, feed them to their families, and report back to me. Thank you so much for that. I never would’ve thought I’d make such a wonderful group of friends through this little blog. I never could’ve dreamed that our friendships would evolve from “What’s for dinner?” to “Congratulations on your engagement/new house/marriage. Let’s throw a virtual shower!” and “I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I wrote this post just for you.”
So, where will Apple a Day be five years from now? I’m not quite sure. I have some big ideas and big goals in mind. But I hope things will be even bigger and even better. And I hope you’ll all be here with me.
My Kind of Chocolate Cake
adapted from Elizabeth Faulkner
For the mousse filling:
1 1/2 c. chilled heavy whipping cream, divided
1/4 tsp. almond extract
5 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3 oz. high-quality milk chocolate (such as Callebaut), chopped
5 TBSP unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into small pieces
For the cake:
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 c. (packed) dark brown sugar
2 TBSP unsalted butter
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
2 large eggs
2 TBSP granulated sugar
1 TBSP all-purpose flour
1/2 c. toasted almonds, toasted and chopped
For the ganache:
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream
1 TBSP light corn syrup
4 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 TBSP unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
large chocolate shards or curls
1/4 c. toasted almonds
1. To begin mousse filling, bring 1 c. cream and almond extract to a simmer in a small sauce pan. Combine chocolates in a medium metal bowl. When cream is ready, pour over chocolates and let stand 1 minute. Stir until melted and smooth. Cover and chill until firm, about 2 hours.
2. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9×13 pan or baking sheet with parchment. Butter or spray parchment with baking spray.
3. To make cake, combine first four ingredients in a medium metal bowl and set over a pot of barely simmering water, making sure bowl does not touch water. Stir until melted together, then remove bowl from pot and stir in salt. (The mixture will be grainy at this point.)
4. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together eggs and sugar until pale, about 6 minutes. Carefully fold in chocolate mixture. Once mostly incorporated, fold in flour, then nuts. Spread batter in a very thin, even layer in the pan or baking sheet and bake about 13 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set pan on a wire rack to cool completely. (Cake can be made the night before the mouse and kept in the pan, tightly covered.)
5. To finish mousse filling, place bowl with chilled chocolate mixture over a pot of barely simmering water, keeping bowl above water. Let sit, without stirring, until mixture is partially melted, about 5 minutes. Remove bowl and add butter.
6. In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat chocolate mixture until thick and glossy, about 3 minutes.
7. In a separate small bowl, beat remaining 1/2 c. chilled whipping cream until peaks form. Fold whipped cream into chocolate mixture.
8. Invert cooled cake onto a large cutting board or other foil-covered board. Cut in half, lengthwise, or in thirds, horizontally. (The only difference is how tall you want the finished product to be.)
9. Place one cake layer on a foil-covered board or appropriately-sized flat serving platter. Spread 1/2 c. mousse over cake. Repeat with additional layer or layers. Pipe or spread remaining mousse on top layer. Smooth top. Chill, uncovered, until firm, about 1 hour.
10. To make the ganache, bring cream and corn syrup to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate and let stand 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Add butter pieces and stir until melted. Let stand until lukewarm, but still spreadable, about 20 minutes.
11. Spoon ganache over top of cake. With an offset spatula, spread ganache over top, using spatula to work ganache smoothly down sides of the cake.
12. Decorate cake with chocolate shards or curls and additional almonds. Refrigerate until glaze is set, at least 2 hours. Can be made a day ahead. Cover and keep chilled. Serves 12.