Saturday, March 31, 2012

Celebration Cannoli Cake

I've had a strong desire to make cakes lately. Perhaps it's because I finally found a gluten-free flour that works beautiful to make moist and delicious cakes (The Pure Pantry. More to come on this . . . ). I've been singing my praises about this one. Cakes are kind of my specialty and I've shied away from them in the past year in fear that they won't be nearly as delicious as they'd been in the past (when I could rely on flour of the wheat-y type). But, if you've tried this Andes Mint Cake or decide to make this Cannoli Cake, you'll see that I'm back in the business of creating delicious cakes. And I couldn't be happier!

Cakes are difficult to make though, when you don't have an occasion for which to do so. They're not like cookies or brownies, which you can package up individually and distribute between those lovely friends of yours. If you make a cake and don't have anywhere to bring it, you're stuck with it at your house to eat for the next couple of weeks (which is both a blessing and a curse). 

So, when I decided I wanted to make this cake, I got a number of suggestions as to what I could make a cake for. The first suggestion came from a friend of mine, Joy, who thought her husband would find March Madness as a wonderful reason to make cake. I could care less about basketball, but I will take any chance I can get to make a cake I've been dreaming up and spend the afternoon baking with a friend!

The Aunt Sassy Cake from my favorite cookbook, Baked: Explorations is a pistachio cake I've been eying for some time. I had this in mind as I dreamt up to perfect cannoli cake (yes, I am on a cannoli kick this week!). You see, traditional cannolis contain a bit of cinnamon, a luscious ricotta filling, and often chocolate and pistachios. So here we have, the perfect cannoli cake.

I encourage you to dream up any sort of celebration to make this cake. And, even though it's not cookies or brownies, you can cut this cake into slices and divvy it up to some friends, like I did. Even if it's the lamest celebration you could ever think of, spending time making it with someone and sharing cake with friends is plenty a reason to bake some cake!

*Note: this cake takes a bit of advanced preparation, as you need to drain the ricotta for the filling about 24 hours.

Cake being frosted by Joy. Yes, I gave up my control-freak kitchen tendencies and let her take this one!
Cannoli Cake
makes one two-layer 9" round cake
adapted from Baked: Explorations

2 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour (containing xanthan gum-I used "The Pure Pantry")
1 cup finely ground pistachio nuts
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 eggs whites
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 whole egg
cannoli filling (recipe follows)
mascarpone whipped cream frosting (recipe follows)
chocolate curls or melted chocolate ganache, optional

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease two 9" round cake pans and dust with a bit of rice flour.

In a large bowl, stir together, flour, pistachios, baking soda, baking powders, salt, and cinnamon. 

In a clean bowl, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until soft peaks form. Set aside.

In the clean bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl. Add the honey and mix to combine. Add the egg and mix on low just until combined.

To the stand mixer, add the flour mixture and 1 cup of cold water, alternatively, in 3 batches. Carefully fold in the egg whites.

Divide batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make the cannoli filling
1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese, well-drained (about 24 hours)
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon vanilla bean powder or 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Stir together the first 3 ingredients until smooth. Stir in the chocolate chips. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make the mascarpone whipped cream
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup granulated sugar

In a small bowl (or in a stand mixer), beat the mascarpone on medium speed for 2 minutes, until smooth.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the heavy cream on high speed until soft peaks form. Add the mascarpone and the sugar and beat on low speed until everything is combined and smooth.

Assemble the cake:

Place the first layer on a board or plate. Spoon all of the cannoli filling on top and smooth. Replace with the second layer of cake. Frost the top and sides of cake with mascarpone whipped cream. Sprinkle with chocolate curls, or spread melted ganache. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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About Me

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Salt Lake City, Utah
As a pastry chef by trade and by hobby, being diagnosed with Celiac Disease has not been easy. But through some experimental baking and a whole lot of faith, I'm living a full(er) life.