Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cake in a Jar

I’ve always been deeply suspicious of the mason jar phenomena. A hang over from wedding blogs, which dictated en masse that any rustic, eclectic modern, barn-house, beach wedding worth its nuptials must have drinks served in jam jars. I don’t know about you but I love champagne served in a delicate flute, or a scotch when the time calls, served on ice in a rock tumbler that moulds perfectly to the hand that nurses it. But no, ‘jar drinks or be damned’ prevailed and then before the Internet knew what hit it, the cake in a jar/mug/ alternative vessel also erupted.  There are now cookbooks, Pinterest image collections and Facebook fan pages dedicated to the topic. Baked, baked using a water bath, microwaved, done in a mug; basically anything can be put in a jar – desserts in a jar, bread in a jar, appetizers in a jar, meals in a jar, anything you feel like in a jar.
I do, in a way, see the attraction. They look good. It is forced portion control. And it is one less piece of equipment (baking or utensil) required to get cake from batter to bake. They are easily transportable and the idea of screwing on a lid to keep your cake fresh certainly appeals. The concept harks back to when goods were sent to loved ones as part of the war effort to remind them of home. So with this in mind, I’ve incorporated the idea of heartwarming and soul fortifying bourbon with yes you guessed it a heartwarming and soul fortifying chocolate cake with a hint of espresso.  And of course, those of you who have been reading this blog know that I am not shy when it comes to chocolate. Chocolate is my spirit animal. So of course I made a quick chocolate ganache to drizzle over the top although this cake works with or without the additions of ice cream and chocolate sauce. Will I continue to bake cake in a jar, I'm not sure but at least I tried it and am happy to report back that it works. It really does who knows
2 cups plain flour, sifted
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
½ tsp. salt
90mls espresso
¼ cup bourbon
1 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup dark chocolate chips
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate ganache
150g dark chocolate
140ml pouring cream
Preheat oven to 170C.
Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a large bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, add coffee, bourbon, butter and chocolate chips.  Place over moderate heat and whisk until butter has melted.  Remove from heat and add the sugar. Whisk until incorporated.  Pour mixture into a large bowl and let cool slightly. 
Whisk together eggs and vanilla extract and gradually pour into chocolate mixture.  Add flour mixture and whisk until just combined.  Place the jars on a baking tray and pour the batter into each of the jars until half full.  Bake in the oven for 40 – 45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean and the cake springs back when touched.
Serve warm with ice cream and chocolate sauce or allow to cool completely before screwing on lids to keep cakes fresh.
To make the ganache add the chocolate and cream to a saucepan and place over very low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and glossy.

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