Moose Tracks Cake

Whoops, haven't posted in forever. Maybe you're wondering why? MOLLY GRADUATED COLLEGE, that's why! So we were traveling and unable to bake for a long weekend, and then when we got back we had to reconnect our baking schedules. After we spend time apart, we both develop baking queues of things we plan to bake next, so whenever we reconvene we have to discuss what was on each other's agendas and figure it all out.

This was not on either agenda, but Molly A)loves Moose Tracks Ice cream, so B) asked us to buy some and C) GRADUATED COLLEGE and needed a celebration cake.

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I didn't make it until a couple days after the fact because we weren't near a functioning kitchen on the actual day. My mom told me in the morning that we would be opening her one gift (a KitchenAid Mixer!) in the evening, so I decided we obviously needed a cake. Duh. You cannot have gifts and no cake.

Therefore this cake was very spontaneous, as I had to come up with it in very little time (one afternoon, after I got back from school), so it could use a little fleshing out, but for the most part it's delicious.

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The vanilla cake balances out the chocolate and peanut butter, much like the ice cream, but... There's way more peanut butter in this cake than in the ice cream. And I ain't complaining. If I made it again, I would chop up mini Reese's and put those int he cake batter instead of just chocolate chips, and then I would add more ganache. A lot more ganache. To really make it like the fudge swirl of Moose Tracks ice cream. Or maybe a fudge frosting and peanut butter ganache? You could go either way really.

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But really this peanut butter frosting is just amazing, and I'm not really a huge Moose Tracks fan, so I was definitely not complaining.

The actual vanilla cake itself was a little disappointing. Not fluffy enough and nowhere near as vanilla-y as I'd hoped for. Probably because I used normal milk instead of vanilla almond milk and normal greek yogurt instead of vanilla. The lack of fluff probably happened because I added the milk while it was still cold to the melted butter and it sort of chilled-up again and got all chunky. But I couldn't exaclty start over, so I just had to deal with it. It turned out fine, I just might perfect it or find a different recipe next time.

But it totally worked with the frosting. And the bites that got moisture from the ganache were phenom. So while I'd definitely make some adjustments to this cake, it was still very delicious. And it was celebrating Molly's awesome achievement, so it tasted better just by association.

-Audrey

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Moose Tracks Cake

Ingredients:

For the Cake:

3 and 1/3 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 sticks unsalted butter, melted

4 egg whites

1/2 cup vanilla greek yogurt (or plain; or regular yogurt; or even sour cream)

1 ½ cup milk (MAKE SURE THIS IS ROOM TEMPERATURE)

4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Seeds scraped from 1 split vanilla bean

1 cup mini chocolate chips

For the Ganache:

 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (you can make some of the chocolate Reese's cups if you really want to go crazy ;P) 

 1/2 cup (120ml) heavy cream (aka double cream, whipping cream)

 2 Tablespoons (30g) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

For the Peanut Butter Frosting:

1 cup creamy peanut butter

8 tablespoons butter

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2-3 tablespoons milk

For decorating: Mini peanut butter cups

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line 2 8 inch cake tins with parchment paper, or grease and flour. Set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In a large microwave-safe bowl, melt butter in the microwave. Stir in sugar - mixture will be gritty. Stir in egg whites, yogurt, milk (room temperature), and vanilla extract until combined. Split 1 vanilla bean down the middle lengthwise. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean into batter

3.  Slowly mix dry ingredients into the wet ingredients until no lumps remain. Batter will be thick.

4.  Divide batter among 2 cake pans and bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

5. Make the ganache: Heat all the ingredients together either in the microwave (in 30 second increments) or on the stove (in a double boiler). Stir together until melted and homogenous. Let cool a little before using on the cake.

6. Make the Frosting: beat together peanut butter and butter until creamy. Add vanilla extract and some of the milk and then half the powdered sugar. Beat togehter, gradually adding more powdered sugar until desired consistency is reached. If it ever gets too stiff, add more milk, if it gets to runny, add more powdered sugar.

7. To assemble cake: wait until cake and ganache are cool, then spread ganache on one layer of cake, and top the ganache with chopped peanut butter cups (if desired. which you should definitely desire) and then place the second cake on top. The ganache was a highlight of this cake, so feel free to go a little crazy with it. If the ganache is fairly runny, you can pop the cake in the fridge for it to firm up a little or just leave it runny. Spread generous amounts of peanut butter icing around the top and sides of the cake. The ganache might ooze out the sides if you press very firmly, so either be careful or just sort of spread it with the frosting around the sides, which is what I did and it turned out fine. Then decorate it by drizzling leftover ganache on top and sprinkling it with chopped up Reese's!