Thursday, August 25, 2011

Fantabulous Food! Motherlode Chocolate Cake

While visiting my good friend Heather in California a few years ago, and one of the things she had planned that I had to experience was dinner at Claim Jumper. If you have ever been to one, you will know why she wanted me to go there :) The food was great, and we finished off our meal with their signature Chocolate Motherlode Cake. My first reaction when I saw this was how ridiculous and intimidating it looked with it's 6 layers covered in thick ganache and walnuts. It was so big that we each were able to eat one layer, and we took the rest home to eat the next 2 days. It was crazy!

When I got home, I wanted my husband to experience the shear joy of this cake, so I looked up the recipe and it has been legendary in this house ever since. It was my mother-in-law's birthday and her only request was a chocolate cake... I'm not sure she knew what we would deliver on that request :)

Claim Jumper's Motherlode Cake:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
1. In your mixer, add first 7 ingredients one at a time, mixing well after each. So first, eggs and sugar,
then butter,
and oil,
cocoa powder,
and vanilla.
Make sure you scrape down the sides of your bowl so everything gets mixed in.
2. In a medium sized bowl, sift together your flour,
baking powder,
baking soda,
and salt.
Than mix together well. I like to use a wire whisk to keep everything light and sifted.
3. Add flour mixture to chocolate mixture.
I use a guard so the flour doesn't get all over my kitchen. I also only add it about 1/2 cup at a time so I don't make a mess. Periodically scrape down your bowl so it all mixes in.
You don't want any excess flour up the sides of the bowl. The batter will be very thick at this point.
4. Now take your boiling water (and I do mean boiling - I put mine in the microwave for 3 minutes just before i add it), and add it to the mix.
At first, it will just look like brown water floating on top of the batter,
but it will incorporate if you let it mix long enough.
5. Now you need to grease and flour your baking pans. You will need two 8" round pans. First spray them lightly with cooking spray,
then add a little bit of flour
and shake the flour around in the pan until it is all covered. I hold it over the sink so it doesn't matter if I spill the flour.
Shake the pan well over the sink or trash can to get any excess flour off. Everything the cake touches should be white from the flour.
Set each of your pans on a baking sheet.
6. Preheat oven to 350ยบ F. Evenly distribute the batter between both pans.
Take 1/2 cup of chocolate chips (I like to use milk chocolate, but you can use any type)
and sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly over one pan.
Do the same thing to the other cake pan.
6. Bake for 25 minutes and check with a toothpick.
 Let cakes cool in pans for 10 minutes,
then cool completely on a wire rack.

Chocolate Motherlode Frosting:

  • 1 lb semi sweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter
1. If you use bar chocolate, you will need to chop it up. I prefer to use the mini chocolate chips - the chopping is already done for you :) To measure it out exactly, you will need a kitchen scale. First take your measuring cup and place it on your scale. Then click the tare button to make the weight of your cup equal zero.
Now just pour in your chocolate until the scale says 1 lb.
This ended up being about 2 1/3 cups plus a few spoonfuls of the mini chips, but it will be different for each type of chocolate.
2. In a 2 quart saucepan over medium low heat, mix sugar,
corn syrup,
and cream.
Bring to a boil and whisk until sugar is dissolved.
3. Remove from heat and add chocolate.
Whisk constantly until melted and smooth.
4. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting,
whisking until fully melted and incorporated.
5. Transfer frosting to a bowl to cool, stirring occasionally.
It will take a while to cool, so you may want to chill it in the fridge. You want it to be thick, not runny before you frost the cake.

Now to assemble the cake.
1. Spread frosting over bottom layer of cake.
Put second layer on.
Generously frost top and sides of cake.
I like to add any excess to the top and just make it a thicker layer.
2. If you are not a nut-lover, you can stop here. The actual cake at Claim Jumper has chopped walnuts on it, but I decided to use pecans :) Take your pecans in and seal them in a ziploc bag. Then pound them with a meat tenderizer (flat side only) or a heavy pan until crunched up to your liking.
I like to put my nuts in a bowl so I can get mostly nut pieces instead of crumbs.
3. Sprinkle nuts over top of cake evenly.
Then take small amounts of nuts in your fingers (laid out flat)
and press them into the sides of the cake so they stick.
This tends to make the cake plate a bit of a mess,
so when you are finished nutting your cake, just run your fingers along the exposed edges of the cake plate
to sweep up all the crumbs in one spot, then wipe them off the plate.
4. Serve your cake at room temperature. It will keep for about 3 days if chilled.

Well, it was certainly a big hit as a birthday cake. The actual recipe I found is for a 6 layer cake, so to make it a bit more manageable, I divided the recipe by 3. So, if you want to make the really tall version, just multiply the ingredients by 3.
MMmmmm... Doesn't it just look like a diabetic coma waiting to happen :) I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

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