Monday, November 25, 2013

Chocolate Sponge Cake with Butterscotch Popcorn, Walnuts and Honey Flakes

Hands up! Who loves Garrett's Pop Corn?

10000 hands out of 10001 will probably be raised. Me.. I was never a popcorn fan, with my teenage movie dates subjected to soggy (aka Lao Hong) popcorn, limited to either sweet or salty in flavors. So, when Mr. G. popcorn appeared in the Singapore scene, I was not interested. Total L.A.G.G.A.R.D that I was, it was probably 1 year or so later when I had my first bite at a friend's place. Man.... I fell in love. Those caramel-coated macadamia nuts, the how-does-it-stay-so-crispy popcorn are simply finger licking additive, as most people and the long queues can attest to.

That was the inspiration for this post. I love having textures in my cakes, especially a crispy layer to accompany a soft and moist cake. What better way than to have a bite of cake with a mouthful of crispy popcorn, nuts and cereal. I wanted the crisps to be the highlight of the cake, therefore piling them high up on the cake which tantalises the eyes in addition to sweetening the tongue. Indeed, I thought the look was pretty appetizing, with layers of chocolate whipped cream and a glaze seemingly oozing from the nutty mix.

However, my thoughts didn't literally translate into reality. I popped the buttered popcorn, mixed them with a generous portion of walnuts and cornflakes, coated them with a light layer of butterscotch sauce and sent them into the oven to bake for 20 minutes. To the top of my chocolate sponge cake they went, piled high like a crown.

The nuts and flakes baked to a golden crisp beautifully.. crunchy and aromatic. The popcorn was another story; still as listless as the usual microwaved popcorn, in other words, kinda Lao Hong. My first foray into the world of corn didn't pop.. but oh well this experiment tells me that walnuts and cornflakes go beautifully together. I'm already envisaging another cake, maybe a salted caramel cake, with caramel-coated walnuts and corn flakes.

Chocolate Sponge Cake (Source)
3 Eggs
75g sugar
45g cake flour
10g cocoa powder
pinch of salt
30ml warm whipping cream (microwave high at 20s)

Oven 180C, 2x6inch cake pan, lined on bottom. 

1. Sift cake flour, cocoa powder and salt together
2. Whisk eggs in a mixer on high speed until it lightens in colour.
3. Add the sugar to the egg mixture and mix on high speed until it reaches the thick ribbon stage (Where the batter will flow from the beater in a thick lava layer)
4. Add the flour into the egg-sugar mix and fold in to just combine. 
5. Take 1/4 of this mixture and stir into the warm whipped cream. 
6. Pour the whipped cream mixture into the rest of the batter and fold to combine 
7. Pour into pan, tap on the counter to remove air bubbles and bake for 18 - 20 minutes, when the top is slightly browned and spring back to your touch. Cool completely. 

Chocolate Whipped Cream
300ml heavy cream
1/4 cup sifted icing sugar
100g melted and cooled dark chocolate

1. Place the mixing bowl and beater into the freezer 15minutes before whipping the cream. (This helps to accelerate the whipping process and prevent curdling)
2. Whip heavy cream on high speed until it reaches a creamy state
3. Add the icing sugar and mix on high speed until it is stiff and in a whipped state
4. Add the cool chocolate and gently beat in on low speed until it's incorporated (Alternatively, fold the chocolate in but be careful not to let the cream curdle)
5. Keep in fridge until ready to frost the cake

Chocolate Glaze 
50g dark chocolate, chopped into pieces (I used 70% cocoa)
100ml heavy cream

Simply melt the dark chocolate and cream together in a bowl set over simmering water. Do not let any water or vapor get into this mixture. Cool slightly to a temperature just warm to the touch and use immediately.  

Walnuts-Popcorn-Cornflake Mix
1 cup of popped popcorn
A fist of walnuts
1/2 cup of honey cornflakes (I used Nestle Honey Flakes)
1/4 cup of butterscotch sauce

1. Pop the popcorn and let it cool slightly
2. Mix the popcorn, walnuts and cornflakes together and coat them with butterscotch sauce
3. Bake at 175C for 20 minutes but stir occasionally to prevent burning
Note: My popcorn didn't turn crispy so I would suggest to omit the popcorn or trial and error other ways of making them crunch.

Assembly of Cake
1. Sandwich a layer of chocolate whipped cream between the 2 layers of sponge.
2. Frost the outside of cake with the chocolate whipped cream and leave in the fridge for an hour to set. 
3. Before pouring the chocolate glaze, freeze the cake for 15minutes to prevent the chocolate glaze from melting the cream. When ready to pour, remove the cake from the freezer and pour the slightly warm chocolate glaze over the top, nudging the sauce around the edge of the cake to let it flow over. 
4. Pile the nut-mix on top of the cake and chill the cake for another 30minutes to let the glaze set. 

Serve slightly chilled. 

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