The Single Malt Scotch Birthday Cake


Single Malt Scotch Cake: Chocolate Chiffon Cake, Caramel Filling, Scotch Simple Syrup, Scotch Milk Chocolate-Caramel Frosting, Maldon Salt.

It’s hard to believe, but this is Chad’s 4th documented birthday on this blog.  One year ago, there was the Salted Chocolate Nut Cake.  Two years ago, there was the Blood Orange Creamsicle Cake.  Three years ago… I barely knew how to make cake… so we went to The French Laundry.

And now, it’s Chad’s 30th birthday, and here it is: the Single Malt Scotch Cake.

Chad had made a few reverential comments about the Salted Chocolate Nut Cake during the past few months, so I’d schemed to make it again, but with Scotch in the frosting for variation.  When asked directly about his choice of cake this year, he said he wanted a cake a modeled after the Scotch Bar.  My eyes lit up and I told him about my hybrid idea, but no, he wanted a straight translation of the Scotch Bar — nothing more and nothing less than Scotch, chocolate, caramel, and salt.

The structure of the cake is actually pretty similar to last year’s, and has the salient properties of the Scotch Bar to boot.  Chad even had the great idea of “enrobing” the cake with a dark chocolate shell, but I couldn’t get around to doing that, and I’m also not crazy about cutting chocolate-covered/wrapped cakes.

The cake is a Chocolate Chiffon baked in angel food cake form, and it included the Walnut Oil like last year, because I thought that it would add a subtle note of interest and is perhaps healthier than all Safflower. I was a little bummed because I overbaked the cake enough to make it a little dry (I baked it 15 mins longer than the prescribed 60 mins b/c it kept making a foamy sound whenever I pressed the top, and it didn’t really bounce back much).  Luckily, the moistness of the caramel and frosting made up for it, but still, I guess this is what happens when you’re a rare cake-maker.

I brushed a Scotch Simple Syrup to imbue the cake itself with flavor; ratio of sugar to water 1:1, with Scotch to taste (and taste!).  The kind people at Talisker sent me a selection of Single Malt Scotch when they found out that I use Talisker in my candy bar, so I decided to use the Caol Ila 18 year. It’s smoky, but oh so smooth.

For the Caramel Filling, I again used the caramel recipe that I make my Caramel Nut Bar with, but omitted the nuts. Just as I was about the make it, though, I realized that the nuts gave it structural support, and caramel fillings are usually in the form of a buttercream — not a straight caramel.  My CNB filling is basically a modified caramel sauce, and I decided to go for it to try it as a cake filling.  But I decreased the amount of cream in the recipe by 15% and increased the amount of butter by 15% (honestly, this wasn’t even planned, I just rounded up and rounded down, and just did the math now).  I reasoned that the standup quality and shortness-giving properties of the butter would make for a sliceable frosting-like caramel.   I also added 15% more glucose for a little bit of thickening.  It worked nicely, though it would have torn up the cake if I’d tried to spread it on; instead, with gloved hands, I flattened a bit of caramel at a time and put it on the cake. It was still quite soft when cut into with a knife or fork, though, so it was just the right consistency — not chewy or tough.

For the frosting, I made the same Caramel-Milk Chocolate Frosting.  I’d planned to decrease the amount of cream to compensate for the added alcohol, but completely forgot.  But I forged ahead, adding Scotch and tasting until it was potent enough… 1 Tbs… 2 Tbs… 3 Tbs… Then the idea of adding a 1/4 cup of Scotch somehow seemed like way too much extra liquid — let alone, Scotch — to add… So I added 1/2 Tbs more.  3-1/2 Tbs = Perfect.  The milk chocolate frosting alone tasted slightly peculiar with the Scotch, but the sweetness balanced out with the dark cake and caramel filling.

When I finished frosting the cake, I thought it looked fine in its homespun way, with its ebb and flow of spoon-backed frosting that I like.  But then I realized that it wasn’t done yet…. And so I finished the cake with Maldon Salt, which I now think of as “adult sprinkles.”

It’s best to sprinkle the salt on for each piece as it’s served, though, because  if left overnight, the smaller salt grains will absorb moisture and break down into salty little puddles.

I like these Candy Bar Cakes.  They remind me a little of Pierre Herme’s style (or maybe it’s not just him?) of having set flavor combinations that are translated into different forms under generally the same name.

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Here’s the recipe!

This is the Single Malt Scotch Candy Bar in cake form — with scotch ganache frosting, caramel filling, chocolate chiffon cake, and plenty of Maldon Salt.  For the tastiest cake, use an assertive Scotch, such as Talisker Caol Ila 18 yr.  The peatier and smokier, the better.

CHOCOLATE CHIFFON CAKE

1/2 cup + 1 Tbs (50g) Dutch-processed cocoa powder, such as Valrhona
3/4 cup (6oz) boiling water
1 3/4 cup (175g) unbleached AP flour, such as King Arthur
1 3/4 cup (350g) sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp fine sea salt
1/2 cup (3.75 oz) Safflower Oil, preferably organic
6 ea (120g) egg yolks, preferably organic
10 ea (300g) egg whites, preferably organic
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar

Preheat oven to 325F.

Whisk together cocoa powder and boiling water until smooth.  Let cool.

In a large bowl, combine flour, all but 2 Tbs of the sugar, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk for 1 minute.  Add oil, egg yolks, cocoa powder mixture, and vanilla.  Whisk until smooth.

Using a stand mixer, whisk egg whites until frothy.  Add cream of tartar.  Beat until soft peaks form.  Slowly add rmg 2 Tbs sugar.  Beat until firm peaks.

Mix 1/3 of egg whites into the chocolate mixture.  Gently fold an additional 1/3 of the egg whites into batter.  Gently fold in rmg egg whites until just blended.

Pour batter into ungreased 10″ aluminum tube pan, preferably with feet.  Run a thin knife through batter to break any large air pockets.

Bake for 60-65 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.

Invert pan on feet (or over a glass bottle) until cool, about 2 hrs.

SCOTCH CHOCOLATE FROSTING

18 oz milk chocolate
2 oz bittersweet chocolate
1 cup (200g) sugar
1 3/4 cup whipping cream, preferably organic
1/4 - 1/2 cup Single Malt Scotch, or to taste

In a large bowl, combine milk and bittersweet chocolates.

In a small saucepan, bring cream to a simmer.  Keep warm.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, stir enough water into the sugar so that it looks like wet sand. Place over medium heat.  Brush sides with wet pastry brush to thoroughly dissolve any sugar crystals.  Boil without stirring until syrup turns an amber color, about 7-8 minutes; it may be necessary to swirl the pan to ensure even cooking without scorching.  Turn off heat.

Slowly add whipping cream while stirring slowly– being very careful of vigorous bubbles. Stir over medium heat until any hard caramel bits dissolve.

Pour caramel over chocolate.  Let stand 1 minute. Whisk until smooth. Stir in Scotch, tasting until preferred strength is reached.  Chill until completely cool, about 2 hours. Let stand 1 hour at room temperature before continuing.

SALTED CARAMEL FILLING

1 cup (200g) sugar
2/3 cup (5.25oz) cream
2 Tbs butter, very soft
1 tsp Maldon salt

In a medium pan, stir enough water into the sugar so that it looks like wet sand. Place over medium heat.  Brush sides with wet pastry brush to thoroughly dissolve any sugar crystals.  Boil without stirring until syrup turns an amber color; it may be necessary to swirl the pan to ensure even cooking without scorching.  Turn off heat.

Slowly add whipping cream while stirring slowly– being very careful of vigorous bubbles. Stir over medium heat until any hard caramel bits dissolve. Pour caramel into a bowl.  Stir in Maldon salt. Let cool.  Stir in butter.

SCOTCH SIMPLE SYRUP

1/3 cup (66g) sugar
1/3 cup water
1-3 tsp Single Malt Scotch

Boil sugar and water in small saucepan until clear.  Let cool.

Add single malt scotch to taste.

ASSEMBLY

Dislodge cake using a long thin knife around the sides and core, being careful to neither cut into the cake nor the pan.  Dislodge the bottom using the knife.

Place cake on a cake board or plate.  Cut cake in half horizontally using a long bread knife.  Place top half aside.

With a pastry brush, dab the top of the bottom half thoroughly with Scotch Simple Syrup.

Using a stand mixer, beat the frosting until it’s spreadable and the color of milk chocolate, about 15-30 seconds. If too thick to spread easily, add some additional cream and beat until integrated.

With a pastry bag (or ziploc bag trimmed at one corner), pipe a thick ring of frosting on the outer and inner perimeters of the cake.  This will be a barrier to prevent the Caramel Filling from oozing out of the cake.

Pour Caramel Filling onto the cake between the rings of frosting.  If Caramel Filling is too firm, carefully stir in more cream, a Tbs at a time.  Smooth with a small offset spatula.

Place the top layer of the cake on top.

Dab the top of the cake with Scotch Simple Syrup.

Make a crumb coat on the cake by spreading a thin layer of frosting all over the cake.  Chill in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, until frosting is set.

Beat frosting briefly again if necessary, to lighten consistency. Spread remaining frosting all over the cake.

If the whole cake will be eaten immediately, sprinkle generously with Maldon Salt.  Alternatively, sprinkle Maldon Salt individually over each slice.  If left salted overnight, the salt will dissolve into puddles on the frosting.

3 Responses to “The Single Malt Scotch Birthday Cake”

  1. Sara Says:

    Sounds amazing, as always - happy birthday to Chad!

  2. ladygoat Says:

    Oooooh, that sounds delicious!

  3. Verena Says:

    Hee hee, I like the name “adult sprinkles”. Hope Chad likes the cake, and happy birthday to him! :)

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