Hello, friends! This blog post is extra, extra special. Not only do I have a delicious mulled wine chocolate cake recipe for you (all fancied up Bûche de Noël style with black cherry buttercream filling -swoon) , I also have a really fun, unique giveaway.

I have two friends who are absolutely inspiring and brave and are willing to follow their dreams wherever they may lead. [post_ads] My friend Matt Tackett is a talented woodworker, and he and his wife Amy are in the process of opening an art gallery in London, Kentucky. First of all, wow. What an undertaking! I am so stinkin' proud of these two. Second, if you've been reading this blog for very long, then you know I've spent a good portion of my life working in art galleries and supporting local artists. That's what I hope to do today, too.

Please look at the cutting board above. Yes, cut-ting board. I'd probably use it as a serving board because it's so beautiful, but Matt has assured me that his cutting boards are extremely durable (so, chop-chop!). They're made from end grain construction which is best for your knife edge and they've been described as "self-healing" in that the small cuts on the surface of the board may close back up to some degree. These beauties are created from locally sourced hardwoods such as maple, walnut and cherry and each is one of a kind. And hey! You can win the one in the picture above!

To enter: Leave a comment below telling me what you'd prepare or serve on this beautiful wood board. For a second chance to win, visit Matt's etsy shop or online shop and leave a second comment to let me know what piece you'd love to have (besides this one, obvi).
One winner will receive the beautiful end grain cutting board (approximately 9"x10") valued at $70. The contest is open to US residents. Giveaway ends 12/12. Winner will be contacted via email.

Matt also made the gorgeous spalted maple two-tier cake stand on which my Stump de Noël is displayed, so you can see that his talents are varied. He is currently taking commissions and special orders, too! When the bricks-and-mortar gallery opens (you can follow thier progress on Facebook) you can browse his work in person if you happen to live in  - or be passing through - Kentucky.

Now, let's talk cake!

Stump de Noël is just as festive as the Bûche de Noël, but a little easier to make; the former is a frosted layer cake and the latter is a sponge roll. Sponge rolls can be daunting if you've never attempted one (I have a step-by-step guide from years ago here), so I can see the appeal of the ol' stump cake. The organic nature of Stump de Noël excuses a multitude of sins. If your cake leans to one side, that's okay. Trees do not grow perfectly straight. Frosting uneven? Well, tree bark isn't even, either.

I hope the step photos above will help those attempting their own version; the process if fairly simple. First, fill and stack the cakes. Then, cover the cake in frosting and make striations in the frosting with an offset spatula. When the cake looks good around the edges, create a spiral on top of the cake using the tip of an offset spatula. I think the cake looks pretty good at this stage!

The only specialty decorating element I used for this cake was gum paste. You can find it at most any craft store that stocks baking supplies. Just roll out a bit of the paste to 1/4 inch and cut a few sizes of circles (mine were 2.5-ish inches and smaller). Pinch the edges of the circles thinner with your fingers so they look slightly frilled and jagged, and then dust them with cocoa powder. Smudge the powder with your fingers and then allow them to dry until they are rigid.

I sprinkled ground pistachios around the cake and pressed some onto the sides of the cake to mimic moss. I think looks fairly authentic. When the gum paste 'mushrooms' are dry, you can press them into the sides of the cake. I used a small knife to make slits in the sides of the cake so the mushrooms would meet little resistance when I pushed them in - gum paste can be delicate!

I made some glittering cranberries for garnish. You can find the instructions to make those here, along with a fantastic orange chiffon cake recipe.

The two mushrooms on top were made of more gum paste. I just shaped some of the paste around a lollipop stick, and then affixed the 'mushroom cap' with a dot of corn syrup. After that, I lightly brushed them with cocoa powder and painted the tops with food color diluted in clear vanilla extract.

You can see more of Matt's gorgeous woodworking here (along with some cups of mulled wine -yum!).

I dusted the entire cake with some snow (powdered sugar) and that provided a bit of wintry atmosphere.

The black cherry buttercream provides a tart contrast to the lightly spiced chocolate cake layers. I really enjoyed making this cake - and eating it! I hope you do too.

Good luck to all those entering the giveaway!

Mulled Wine Chocolate Cake 
with Black Cherry Buttercream Filling

Yields one 8-inch triple layer cake, about 12 servings

Chocolate cake
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
5 ounces unsweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups cake flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup red wine, heated until steaming (not boiling)

Black cherry buttercream
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup black cherry preserves (I like Hero brand)
3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1 drop red food color, optional

Chocolate frosting
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup unsweet natural cocoa powder
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled slightly

Make the cake layers: [post_ads_2]Coat three 8-inch round cake pans with flour-based baking spray (such as Baker’s Joy brand), or grease and flour the pans. 

Melt both chocolates in a small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth; set aside.

Beat butter at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Gradually add sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating just until yellow disappears after each addition. Stir in melted chocolate and vanilla.

Sift together flour and next 6 ingredients; add to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating at low speed just until blended, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Stir in steaming red wine. The batter will thin with this addition. Pour batter evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake at 350° for 25 to 30 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks 10 minutes; remove from pans, and cool completely on wire racks.

Make the black cherry buttercream: Beat the butter in an electric mixer until creamy. Beat in the preserves and whip until well combined. Beat in the powdered sugar. The frosting should be a pinkish-mauve, to intensify the color add a small amount of red food color. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy.

Place 1 cake layer on a serving plate; spread top with half of the black cherry buttercream (which is no shy amount, by the way). Top with second cake layer; spread top with second half of black cherry buttercream. Top with remaining cake layer.

Make the chocolate frosting: Beat the butter in an electric mixer until creamy. Sift in the cocoa powder and powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add in the melted chocolate and beat until well combined. 

Cover the entire cake with the chocolate frosting. The frosting will darken as it stands. Store the cake covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

To make the Stump de Noel, add 1/2 cup ground pistachios, 1/2 cup whole cranberries and cake decorator's gum paste to your grocery list. Follow the directions and step photos as outlined in the blog post.

Courtesy: Sprinkle Bakes


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