Thursday, August 6, 2009

A healthy take on red velvet cake

In partnership with the American Cancer Society, the Culinary Institute of America challenged its baking and pastry students to create a healthier birthday cake as part of the American Cancer Society's More Birthdays campaign. Student Alexandra Mudry was named the winner with her healthier version of red velvet cake (recipe follows) by CIA alumnus and chef Duff Goldman along with the CIA and the American Cancer Society. Mudry's cake is now the American Cancer Society's official birthday cake.

Students submitted recipes that included an original cake recipe and a description of how the recipe used more healthful baking ingredients and substitutions to improve on the traditional birthday cake. The CIA deans evaluated the recipes and chose five finalists. The other finalists included: Arthur Battistini, runner up, Hyde Park campus; Tamara King, Hyde Park campus; Lorraine Tran, Greystone campus; and Laura Sansone, Hyde Park campus.

CIA student Alexandra Mudry poses with her winning birthday cake, a lightened-up version of red velvet cake

New Red Velvet Cake
Alexandra Mudry, student-chef, Culinary Institute of America

Yield: 10-12 generous servings

3 large or 5 small beets, to make 2 c. purée (if using canned beets, make sure they are unseasoned and stored in their own juices)
1/2 c. canola oil
3/4 c. all purpose flour, plus some for dusting cake pans
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 c. granulated sugar
3 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 t. instant espresso powder or instant coffee
1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 c. unsweetened applesauce
1 c. dried cherries
3/4 c. whole wheat flour
1/4 c. quinoa flour (if you are unable to find quinoa flour, substitute 1/4 c. all purpose flour)
1 1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
Chocolate Raspberry Ganache (recipe follows)
Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)

Method (1) Preheat oven to 375°F. Trim ends of beets, and place on a parchment paper or foil-lined baking pan. Drizzle with 1 T. canola oil. Roast until fork tender, about 2 hours. Once cooled, peel then place in blender or food processor with 1-2 T. water. Purée beets until they reach a smooth and even consistency. Set aside. The beets can be made several days ahead and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. (2) Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray one 9" X 14" baking pan or two 8" pans with canola oil spray, and dust with flour; discard excess flour. (3) Combine oil, eggs, egg whites and sugar in a mixing bowl. Beat on medium speed with a paddle attachment until smooth and light colored. (4) Add the espresso powder to the melted chocolate, and stir until combined. Turning the speed down to low, slowly drizzle the melted chocolate into the mixture. Once the chocolate has been added, turn off the machine, and scrape the sides of the bowl. (5) In a separate bowl, combine the cocoa powder, applesauce and beet purée. Add this mixture to the egg mixture. Place the machine on medium speed to incorporate, scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add the cherries; mix again. Remove the bowl from the mixer. (6) Sift the remaining dry ingredients together, and then gently fold into the mixture. Do not over-mix or the cake will become tough and dense. (7) Pour batter into pan(s), and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (8) Cool, and remove from pan(s). If not using immediately, wrap in saran wrap, and refrigerate. Cake can be made a day in advance. (9) If using 9" X 14" pan, pour Raspberry Chocolate Ganache over top of cake and spread evenly. Cut the cake lengthwise down the middle, and then invert so both layers of ganache are sandwiched together. (If using an 8" pan, pour ganache on one layer and top with other cake.) Once cake is stacked, smooth sides, and fill in any gaps between the layers with ganache. Place cake in refrigerator, and chill until ganache is firm. (10) Once the cake and ganache are firm, remove from refrigerator. Frost with Cream Cheese Frosting or any other desired frosting.

Chocolate Raspberry Ganache
2 oz. heavy cream
1.5 oz. raspberry pur
ée (or other dark berry mixture such as blackberries and blueberries, which are high in antioxidants
4 oz. good quality bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces

Method (1) Boil cream in a small pot. At the same time, warm raspberry pur
ée in microwave until just warm. Once cream has boiled, add raspberry purée, and stir to combine. (2) Pour over chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is homogenous. If the chocolate does not melt all the way, place over a double boiler and finish melting. Set ganache aside, and allow to cool so it becomes slightly thick. This will allow for easier spreading.

Cream Cheese Frosting
24 oz. (3 packages) reduced fat cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 c. confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 t. vanilla extract

Method (1) Lightly beat cream cheese and vanilla extract until smooth, about 1-2 minutes. Stop machine, scrape down sides of bowl, then add confectioners' sugar. Cream together until smooth. Do not overmix or the frosting will become too soft and difficult to spread.