June 11, 2008

John's Hamsterball Cookie/Cake

Let me start off by saying I am not a cake decorator. Despite knowing this my husband John and my son Alex have been hatching GRAND plans for their birthday cakes this year. Add in the fact that both of their birthdays are in the same week and the panic really sets in.

John wanted to celebrate the upcoming boxed version of his game Hamsterball. Yesterday, I began a Hamsterball cake using my meager skills. While I'm getting together ingredients for my go to chocolate cake recipe, John throws in the idea that a giant cookie would be nice as well! Instead of making a separate cookie in addition to cake, I whip out my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe and decide to combine the two. For the decoration, I add a marshmallow treat ramp to my growing list of components. I use a 6 inch mini springform pan for the cake, cookie and cereal treat to keep everything small.

I pull it all together with chocolate dairy-free buttercream and cover it with my new discovery: marshmallow fondant. This fondant tastes a lot better than the premade stuff and Alex loves it. The fondant also worked well to form a cute little hamster in a taped together condiment cup ball. I do need to learn the secret to getting the fondant wrinkle, crease and bubble free; I guess it's probably time for a cake decorating class! I thought the finished cake was pretty cute despite it's amateur qualities.

I took a couple of quick pictures last night and it was a good thing! Alex had to have the hamster roll down the ramp as soon as he woke up this morning. Having the cookie bottom and the single layer of cake worked beautifully. The cookie was still crisp on the outside and chewy in the center. The cake turned out rich and chocolaty as usual. The cake recipe is super simple and it never fails to get me compliments. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to make Alex's bohrok cake for his birthday on Sunday...

Here are the recipes for the cake and cookie. My 6 inch cookie took 25 minutes to bake. The cookie and cake are both dairy and egg free and therefore vegan. The fondant recipe I linked to had gelatin and is not vegan.

Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
I love that you can leave the centers of these cookies underdone. They get perfectly crisp on the outside and are chewy/gooey inside.
Makes 3 dozen small cookies

1/2 cup margarine or butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cool water
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/8 cup bread flour *
1/8 cup flax seed meal**
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-2/3 cup chips
*If you don't have an 1/8 cup measure then remember 1/8 cup = 2 tablespoons
**Make sure your flaxseed meal is fresh. Rancid flaxseed meal will ruin these cookies. Store any extra meal double wrapped in the freezer.

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
-Beat the margarine and sugars in a stand mixer until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla and water and beat 1 minute more.
-Combine the flour, flax seed meal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Stir together with a whisk or fork to combine.
-Add the flour mixture to the margarine mixture and beat until combined. Add the chips and mix until they are distributed evenly.
-Spoon small balls of dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.
-Cool and eat.

My Favorite Chocolate Cake
Originally, I needed a cake free of dairy and egg but this cake is so perfect I have never found a better chocolate cake. The only downside is that it is really only good for 2 layer cakes. It doesn't have enough structure to work well as a layer cake with 3 layers. The taste is worth the sacrifice.
Makes one 8 to 9 inch round or square or 12 cupcakes or (2) 6 inch round cakes

1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 cup cold water
1 tablespoon vinegar, white or apple cider
5 tablespoons of neutral oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

-Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
-Line your pans with parchment paper or cupcake papers and spray lightly with spray oil.
-Sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda and cocoa. You can also just stir them well with a wire whisk.
-Add in the chips and stir until distributed.
-Add in the water, vinegar, oil and vanilla. Mix with a whisk or wooden spoon until just combined.
-Pour or spoon into pans and bake. Bake 25-30 minutes for large round, 20-25 for cupcakes or 6 inch rounds. Check for doneness with a wood skewer and remove when only a few crumbs cling to the skewer.
-Cool for 5-10 minutes and then invert onto a plate or remove and cool on a wire rack.