Thursday, January 30, 2014

My Favorite Time of Year: When the Office is Signed up for Staff Room Duty


As I pull into Newcastle Elementary, on early Friday mornings, I am eager for the day ahead.  I look forward to the smiling childrens' faces, the moment I get to examine the development of the salmon which we are now raising, and the "light bulb" that clicks on when a kiddo masters a hard problem.  But on Fridays when I am worn out from the week,  what I also really look forward to is seeing the buffet that is laid out in the staff loung; especially when I notice that "office" is signed up for the week.

Typically, the Friday buffets are a wonderful array of food.  A teacher could find all the Cheetos his or her heart desired, some veggie trays, meats and crackers, a baked item or two and perhaps some chips and salsa or donuts.  These are all wonderful things to eat after you have reached your breaking point for the week and cannot take another girl drama dispute about Rainbow Loom bracelets or yet another round of "who stole the pencil sharpener?"

The buffet is an extra special treat when the office staff and Laurie Holmes are in charge of the smorgasbord because they take treat day to a whole new level. Laurie is an expert baker.  Her cakes are beautiful.  They are so picture perfect, I wince a little when I cut into one because I don't want to mess it up.  They are truly decadent, lovely, and delicious at the same time. 

Laurie says baking is a stress reliever and therapeutic. I say eating her baked goods is a stress relief. 
 Read below to hear real live testimonials the deliciousness of the cake!

"Chocolate bliss!"-Jill

"So rich and creamy! Not your typical chocolate cake for sure."-Mariel

"Oh my! Oh my! Oh my!"-Rita
"Yumo chocolately goodness!"-Priscilla

"Simply delicious!"-Claudine


"Mmm mmm good! It's chocolicious!"-Valerie

"Absolute heaven." -Ann

Going, going, gone!!!

For the cake:

·         1 cup cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting pan

·         7 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

·         1 cup boiling water

·         2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

·         1 1/2 tsp. baking soda

·         1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

·         20 Tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) butter

·         2 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

·         5 eggs

·         4 tsp. vanilla extract

·         1 1/2 cups sour cream

·         1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

For the ganache:

·         6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

·         2 Tbsp. unsalted butter

·         1/2 cup heavy cream

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. Grease Bundt Cake Pan and dust with cocoa powder; tap out the excess.

To make the cake, in a bowl, combine the 1 cup cocoa powder and the chocolate. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and blended. Set aside.

Mix together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and beat until blended. Add the eggs. Beat in the vanilla.

Add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream. Slowly pour in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and beat until no white streaks are visible. Gently fold in the chocolate chips.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, 60 to 65 minutes. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely, at least 1 hour.

Ganache: In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream just to a boil. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until the melt and the mixture is smooth.

Pour the ganache over the top of the cake.

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