Pudi Pudding

Winter Classic Cake
New Year’s Day

I can count the number of hockey games I have seen on one hand.  There was one high school game when my friend had a crush on a hockey player.  We drove to the middle of God-knows-where to watch a boy so hidden by safety equipment, he could have been the ugliest of them all.  There were probably peripheral games at bars and restaurants, as I live in Pittsburgh, and there seem to be more mega tv screens per capita than necessary, but those peripheral games don’t make it to the one hand count.  Then there was one of the final games in the Penguins’ pursuit of the Stanley Cup in 2010?

My wonderful friend Dana is a Pittsburgh native, so she has no choice but to find her way to one of those said mega screen televisions to watch each and every fallen tooth and brawl.  Luckily for me, Dana and her boyfriend Chris have the ability to combine exquisite dinner parties with the obligatory Pittsburgh sports viewing.  So it was that I saw some Penguins final last year.  So it was that I also learned my boyfriend actually cared about hockey.  And so it was I saw the Winter Classic this year.

Dana said, “Kielbasa, cabbage, pierogies and Penguins!” and I heard, “Kielbasa, cabbage, pierogies and an excuse to make a cake!”

As my New Year’s Eve had been classy and mellow, I was able to rise relatively early on the first day of 2011 and spend the morning in my favorite place:  in the kitchen with loyal dogface tracing my steps, hoping for a fallen bit of butter or chocolate.

Of all the days when Pittsburgh chose to be unseasonably warm, it chose the day when it was supposed to host an ice hockey game of utmost importance.  The players gathered on the sludgy ice, and Dana’s friends gathered on her comfy couch to watch the defeat.  Nothing coats a defeat like chocolate layer cake!

Pudding*

*This makes more than enough pudding for the cake, but it came in handy for other weekend baking adventures.  It could also be enjoyed on its own.  It also makes me happy to say pudding ever since I saw a really special youtube video!

1 ¼ cup evaporated cane sugar
6 ounces Ghirardelli 100% chocolate
2 cups organic half-and-half
2 cups local cream
1 cup local whole milk
½ cup cornstarch
2 large, local, free-range eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Cake

1 stick organic, unsalted butter
1 ½ cups organic whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
¾ cup Ghirardelli’s cocoa powder
3 teaspoons instant coffee, dissolved in 1 cup water1 cup buttermilk
1 cup organic light brown sugar
1 ¼ cup brown rice syrup
2 large, local, free-range eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

For the Pudding

Whisk the sugar, chocolate, half-and-half, cream and milk in a sauce pan over medium heat until the chocolate melts.  Add the cornstarch and eggs.  Stir until the mixture bubbles and begins to thicken.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla.

Transfer the pudding to a large bowl.  Cover with saran wrap.

Set aside to cool.

For the Cake

Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Grease a 9-inch spring form pan and line with unbleached wax paper (or two 8-inch round pans if you have duplicates in your collection).

Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together in a medium bowl.

Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.  Stir in the cocoa and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

Off the heat, whisk in the coffee, buttermilk, sugar and brown rice syrup until dissolved.

Whisk in the eggs and vanilla, then slowly whisk in the flour mixture.

Pour half the batter into the greased, lined spring pan.

Bake for 40-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Remove to a cooling rack.  Allow the cake to cool slightly before removing it from the pan, using the wax paper.

Grease the pan and line with fresh wax paper.  Pour the remaining half of batter into the pan and bake for 40-50 minutes.

Allow the cake to cool completely.

Assembly

Flip one of the cake layers onto a plate.

Spread a thick layer of pudding onto the first layer.

Carefully add the second layer of cake.

Coat the entire cake in pudding!

Garnish with chopped walnuts and pecans and a sprinkling of powdered sugar and cocoa powder.

Serve to depressed friends after Penguins defeat in the Winter Classic.

Dogface was tuckered, but the Carpenter was still going strong in pudding cake land.

Note:  That’s the original cake plate!

He wasn’t messing around!  No one else was getting close to that pudding cake!

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