‘appy New Year… Hic!

The problem with New Year Eve is… I can’t stay up past east coast midnight anymore. I made a cake for New Year’s 2022 that went over so well, I was asked to make one for this year. If you follow/know me, you know I said “Yes” before the question was complete.

As usual I searched the internet for ideas until I found a design I liked. It had a nice dark midnight blue frosting so with another search found the ratio of food coloring to approach that color. It’s always good to try new techniques and develop new skills with big bakes like this, (four layer 9” cake to augment cheese cakes for about 60 people.)

I made the four 9” Extreme Chocolate Cakes, wrapped them in plastic wrap and placed them on flat surfaces in the freezer. I will take them out to thaw the day before New Year’s Eve. (New Year’s Eve eve?)

Making the black chocolate cookies is straightforward. I use Modern Mountain Black Cocoa rather than Hershey’s Special Dark (my go to.)

Making black royal icing isn’t as easy as making the cookies. I made a regular royal icing and added two tablespoons of the black cocoa and about 20 drops of black food coloring. Even that much food coloring in about a cup of royal icing only turns it dark gray, and detracts (big time) from the taste. The black cocoa (be sure to sift it before adding) turns the royal icing black.

Chilling the cookie dough preserves the “star burst” shape after baking. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven insert skewers most of the way through them. Later you will paint them black. (On second thought, why not paint them with edible black paint before baking the cookies? Next time.) These cookies are VERY crispy and taste like chocolate cake.

Finally, Amazon delivered my number cookie cutters. (To be fair, we only ordered them last night.) I made the second batch of chocolate cookie dough yesterday so when they arrived I started the over, cut the numbers (and a bunch of smaller cookies for QC and I to enjoy) and baked them. Once done I immediately inserted a small skewer into each number and let them cool and turn crispy. Once cool, I made a concentrated sugar water, painted the cookies then coated them with star shaped sprinkles.

It required 6 cups of white buttercream to crumb coat the whole cake. 4 more cups of midnight blue buttercream frosting finished the cake. I wish I could make my surfaces as smooth and clean as seen online. Oh well.

Black Royal Icing

INGREDIENTS

• 4 cups (480g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
• 3 Tablespoons meringue powder (not plain egg white powder)
• 5 drops black food coloring
• 2 Tbl Black Cocoa (sifted)
• 9–10 Tablespoons room temperature water

METHOD

  1. Pour confectioners’ sugar, meringue powder, black food coloring, black cocoa and 9 Tablespoons of water into a large bowl.
  2. Using a hand mixer or a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, beat icing ingredients together on high speed for 1.5 – 2 minutes.
  3. When lifting the whisk up off the icing, the icing should drizzle down and smooth out within 5-10 seconds. If it’s too thick, beat in more water 1 Tablespoon at a time. I usually need 10 Tablespoons but on particularly dry days, I use up to 12-14 Tablespoons. Keep in mind that the longer you beat the royal icing, the thicker it becomes. If your royal icing is too thin, just keep beating it to introduce more air OR you can add more confectioners’ sugar.
  4. When applied to cookies or confections in a thin layer, icing completely dries in about 2 hours at room temperature. If icing consistency is too thin and runny, it will take longer to dry. If the icing is applied very thick on cookies, it will also take longer to dry. If you’re layering royal icing onto cookies for specific designs and need it to set quickly, place cookies in the refrigerator to help speed it up. You can also use a fan to help set the icing.

Black Chocolate Cookies

INGREDIENTS

• 1 1/2 cups (195g) AP flour
• 3/4 cup (70g) unsweetened black cocoa powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder
• 1 stick (110g) unsalted butter, room temperature
• 3/4 cup (150g) sugar
• 1 large egg
• 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
• 1 teaspoon molasses

METHOD

  1. In a large bowl, vigorously whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and espresso
    powder.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, (2-3 min on medium.)
  3. Beat in the egg, vanilla, and molasses.
  4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet in 3 additions. When well mixed, remove the dough from the
    mixer, and form it into a ball. It should have the consistency of soft clay. If it’s stiff and
    unmanageable, massage some water into it, a tablespoon at a time until easily pliable.
  5. Wrap it in plastic wrap, and chill it in the refrigerator for at least one hour.
  6. When you are ready to roll-out the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F (175° C). Break off a chunk
    of dough from the ball of dough (about a quarter of it) and place it between two pieces of
    parchment paper. Use a rolling pin to roll the dough out to an even 1/2-inch thickness.
  7. Use a cookie cutter or the rim of a small glass to cut out cookie shapes from the rolled out
    dough. Place on a parchment paper or silicone-lined baking sheet, allowing at least 1 inch
    between cookies on the cookie sheet.
  8. Bake at 350°F (175° C) in the middle rack for 12 to 14 minutes, less or more, depending on the
    size and thickness of the cookies.
  9. The cookies should bounce back when you press on their centers and be a little dark around the
    edges. When cool, they should be crispy.
  10. Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes before removing the cookies from the tray to cool
    on a rack.

Extreme Chocolate Cake

Makes two 9” round cakes (double for this cake)
INGREDIENTS

(Makes one 10’ ROUND CAKE [and two 5”] – quantities are in parenthesis. Or one 11”x15”x2” sheet cake.)
• 2 cups white sugar (3)
• 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (2 2/3)
• 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (1 ¼)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda (2 ¼)
• 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder (2 ¼)
• 1 teaspoon salt (1 ½)
• 2 eggs (3)
• 1 cup milk (1 ½)
• 1/2 cup vegetable oil (¾)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract (3)
• 1 cup boiling water (1 ½)

METHOD

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour two 9 inch cake pans.
  2. Use the first set of ingredients to make the cake. In a medium bowl, stir together the sugar, flour, cocoa,baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, mix for 3 minutes with an electric mixer. Stir in the boiling water by hand. Pour evenly into the two prepared pans. (For cupcakes,portion ¼ scant cups in each cupcake paper.
  3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean or 205F internal temp. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans to cool completely.

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