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OCTOBER 2000
RECIPES



Chocolate "Moose" Cake

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Chocolate "Moose" Cake

Yield: 12 to 16 servings

Tips: This isn't an incorrect spelling; it's a recipe for a cake that looks like a moose (well, a moose's head, anyway). The "antlers" are made from chocolate chip cookies (if you aren't serving big eaters or you have a smaller crowd, you can substitute antlers made from cardboard and covered with glued-on brown construction paper). The cake is a one-bowl affair, as is the frosting, and both can be made with a good hand-held electric mixer. The chocolate sprinkles are optional, but I think they add greatly to the appearance of the finished cake. This would be a lot of fun for a kids' party.

Both chocolate chip cookies and cake must be completely cooled before you work with them. I often bake the cookies the night before, cool them to room temperature, then cover and freeze them (still in their foil wrappings and in the pan) overnight. The next day, thaw, covered, at room temperature. You can make a cardboard pattern for the antlers or cut them out freehand, as I do. Either way, you must be careful; the baked cookies are fragile. If an antler piece breaks off, just stick it back on; chances are that no one will notice.

For this cake, you'll need a very large serving platter or thin wooden or other board, about 20 to 22 inches wide and 25 or so inches long (this will accommodate cake, ears and antlers). I'd recommend putting the antlers together with the cake just before serving. The cake will keep in the fridge, tightly covered, for a day or two, but the antlers, like most chocolate chip cookies, are best eaten when very fresh.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Antlers

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 eggs, graded "large"
  • 2 1/4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (if lumpy, sift before measuring)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 12 to 15 ounces (2 to 2 1/2 cups) semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup raisins or chopped walnuts (optional)

Cake

  • 2 1/4 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 1 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup sifted, unsweetened, non-alkalized (NOT Dutch process) cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pinch baking powder
  • 1 1/3 cups buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened (butter must be very soft, but not melted)
  • 3 eggs, graded "large", at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla

Frosting

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar (if lumpy, sift before measuring)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened, nonalkalized (NOT Dutch process) cocoa powder (if lumpy, sift before measuring)
  • 5 to 6 Tablespoons milk
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • Few grains salt

For Decoration

  • About 2 cups (one 10.5 ounce tub) chocolate sprinkles
  • Mints, gumdrops, and/or other candies for eyes and nose

For Chocolate Chip Cookie Antlers, adjust rack to center of oven. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line a 15-1/2 by 10-1/2 by 1-inch baking sheet with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Do not grease the foil.

In a large bowl, combine softened butter, sugar and vanilla. With large spoon or hand-held electric mixer, beat well to cream thoroughly. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat in. Add flour, baking soda, and salt and mix in well. By hand, stir in chocolate chips and optional raisins or nuts.

Place by spoonfuls all over bottom of lined baking sheet. With back of large spoon, spread as evenly as possible. Bake 18 to 25 minutes, or just until top is a light golden brown. Do not overbake.

Cool completely at room temperature before using or freezing.

For the cake, adjust one rack to center of oven and one rack to lowest oven position; preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13 by 9 by 2-inch baking pan with solid vegetable shortening (such as Crisco). Line the bottom with a rectangle of parchment or wax paper cut to fit. Grease the paper, then dust the entire pan lightly with flour, knocking out any excess. Set prepared pan aside. Take another pan, no smaller than 8 inches square by 1 1/2 inches deep, and fill it three-quarters full with very hot water. (If this second pan is aluminum, add about 1 teaspoon cream of tartar to it to prevent discoloration.) Place the water-filled pan on the lower oven rack. (This is done so that the steam created from the heated water will promote a cake that rises more evenly during baking. It is an optional step, but I find it helpful.)

Into a large bowl, sift together the sifted flour, sugar, sifted cocoa powder, baking soda, salt and baking powder. Add the room-temperature buttermilk, softened butter, eggs and vanilla. With sturdy hand-held electric mixer, beat at lowest speed for 30 seconds. Scrape bowl and beater(s) with rubber spatula. Beat batter at high speed for three full minutes, stopping once to scrape bowl and beater(s).

Turn batter into prepared pan. Holding pan in both hands, tilt it so that the batter runs slightly higher along the edges and into the corners. Bake on center rack of preheated oven for 22 to 27 minutes, turning back-to-front once about halfway during baking time. Cake will not rise very high during baking. Cake should be done when toothpick inserted in center emerges with only a few moist crumbs clinging to it. Do not over bake. (If you used the pan of water here, be very careful when taking it out of the oven and discarding the water - it's hot! Rinse the inside of the pan out thoroughly to rid it of any cream of tartar residue.)

Remove cake to cooling rack. Allow to cool in pan 10 to 15 minutes. Gently loosen cake from edges of pan; invert onto a second cooling rack. Gently peel off wax paper from cake bottom, then re-invert to cool right side up. Cool completely before using.

Up to several hours before you plan to assemble the cake, make the antlers. If the chocolate chip cookies were frozen, make sure they're defrosted. Remove any top wrappings. Divide the cookies, still in the pan, in half, so that each half measures about 7 3/4 inches long by 10 1/2 inches wide. Remove the cookies, still in foil lining, from the pan, and place on a cutting board. Gently peel back foil on cookie sides. Trace the antler shape in each half of the sheet of chocolate chip cookies. Remember that moose have broader antlers than do deer or elk, and the antlers should taper to a narrower end where they'll join up with the cake. Use a small, sharp knife to cut through your tracings; again, be careful; the cookies are fragile. Now, cut away as much of the "scrap" cookie as possible. With a long spatula, gently loosen the antlers from the foil lining in which they were baked. Leave them there for the present, or carefully lift them onto another flat surface (like a cutting or pastry board). Cover airtight.

When you're ready to use the cake, just before you make the frosting, line your serving board or platter with aluminum foil. Place the cooled cake on a cutting board, with one short side closest to and facing you. Starting at the bottom left corner, measure 5 inches up the left-hand long side of the cake; make a small mark there. Return to the corner at which you started, then measure 2 1/2 inches along the short side of the cake that faces you; make a mark there. Connect the two marks by cutting through the cake with a large, sharp, serrated knife, using a sawing motion. Starting at the bottom right corner of the short end facing you, measure 5 inches up the right-hand long side of the cake and make a mark there. Return to the bottom right corner, and measure 2 1/2 inches in along the short end facing you; again make a mark. Connect and cut through these two marks as you did the others. This will leave you with 1 large piece of cake (narrower at one end), and two triangles. Carefully place the large piece of cake on your foil-lined serving board, with the narrower end close to one narrower end of the board (assuming your serving board isn't square). If you care about neatness in presentation, cut a number of wax paper rectangles, each about 4 inches by 6 inches. Carefully lift up a section of the large piece of cake, and place the rectangles under the cake so that an inch or so of each is hidden by it; the rectangles can overlap slightly (after the cake is frosted and decorated, you'll pull them out). Do not place any rectangles of wax paper under the uncut corners of the cake (the cake triangles are attached there for ears, and it'll be difficult to get the wax paper out). Place the cake triangles close by the large piece of cake. Cover everything tightly.

For the frosting, in a large bowl, beat softened butter and salt with hand-held electric mixer at medium speed until creamy. Gradually add confectioners' sugar and cocoa powder alternately with milk. Beat at low speed after each addition until incorporated, then beat at high speed until fluffy. Scrape bowl bottom and sides (as well as beater(s)) frequently. Frosting should be of a good spreading consistency. Beat in vanilla.

To assemble, an offset spatula is helpful here, but not mandatory. You must work fairly quickly if you plan to apply chocolate sprinkles to your moose, as they'll have to be applied before the frosting begins to harden. The amount of frosting you'll have should cover the cake, including the sides, generously. Frost the sides first, going all the way around the large piece of cake (don't frost the sides of the triangles at this point). Now, attach the triangles. The narrower, cut, short end of the cake is facing you. The triangles should be attached right side up, so that their 2 1/2 inch long side fits against the top 2 1/2 inches of the upper left and upper right long sides of the large piece of cake. The cut sides of the triangles will face you; the 5-inch long sides will face away from you and be in a straight line with the top short end of the cake. The triangles will function as the moose's ears. Frost the sides of the attached triangles, then frost the entire top of the cake.

If you are not applying chocolate sprinkles, decorate your frosted moose, giving him eyes, a nose and a mouth. Carefully and gently pull the wax paper rectangles straight out from under the cake, if you used them. Just prior to serving, carefully place the tapered end of each antler right up against the top of the moose's head (your serving board should be large enough that the antlers and the moose head will both fit on it). If a piece of an antler breaks off, just stick it back on.

To use the chocolate sprinkles, apply after the moose head has been completely frosted. Take a small quantity of sprinkles into the fingers of your right hand (use your left hand, if you're left-handed), and very gently pat onto the sides of the cake. Some of the sprinkles will fall onto the wax paper rectangles - that's why they're there. Continue applying sprinkles to the sides, then the top of the cake, pressing them in gently. Give your moose a face as instructed above, then remove the wax paper rectangles as above. Place the antlers on your moose's head.

To cut, use a sharp, serrated knife. Give everyone a piece of cake and a piece of antler (you can cut the antlers with a separate knife, or just break off a piece).


© Stephanie Zonis provides the above information to anyone, but retains copyright on all text. This means that you may not: distribute the text to others without the express written permission of Stephanie Zonis; "mirror" or include this information on your own server or documents without my permission; modify or re-use the text on this system. You MAY: print copies of the information for your own personal use; store the files on your own computer for your personal use only; reference hypertext documents on this server from your own documents.

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