January 2, 2012

Champagne Wishes and Sorbet Dreams

Ah, the new year... A chance to purge the old and bring in the new. Typical vows to get in shape, quit eating sweets, and cook healthier meals. But if you have to break those resolutions at all, and you can at least make it to Valentine's Day before doing that, these treats will be worth veering off that path and onto a pink-treat one: pink champagne cake and raspberry prosecco (rosé) sorbet.

I love rosés, especially champagne or sparkling rosés--good, dry cavas, proseccos, and bruts. Rosé is usually considered a summer drink, but it rears its beautiful blush head this time of year in sparkling format everywhere. For these two recipes, made this past weekend to celebrate ringing in 2012, I used Gruet Brut Rosé ($15.99 at Whole Foods). We had this a few years ago for NYE dinner out on the town, and it really fits the bill. Don't cheapen out when baking with champagne. It's well worth getting the good stuff, since alcohol notoriously bakes off in the process. And although the sorbet recipe calls for prosecco, I went ahead and used more brut rosé, since it's what I had on hand for the cake, and it definitely made both dishes. Plus, by using some for the cake and some for the sorbet, it leaves you with just enough to enjoy a glass while baking! ;-)

Rosé Champagne Layer Cake (adapted from The Boozy Baker by Lucy Baker)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups cake flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated cane sugar
6 large egg whites
2 large whole eggs
1 1/3 cups brut rosé

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter or spray with baking spray three 9-inch round layer cake pans. Line with parchment circles and butter/spray again. Dust with flour and tap out excess.

In a medium bowl, sift together flours, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add egg whites and eggs and beat until smooth, about another 2 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture with the rosé, beginning and ending with the flour mixture, beating well after each addition.

Divide batter evenly among prepared cake pans. (I used about 2 1/2 cups of batter per pan and then had extra batter for some cupcakes.) Bake 28-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Cool cakes for 15 minutes in their pans, and then remove them and allow to cool completely on wire rack before filling and frosting. Fill with cream cheese frosting, mixed with 2 tablespoons pink sanding sugar and 2 tablespoons strawberry vanilla sugar, and frost with Swiss meringue buttercream (plus a few drops of pink food coloring). I also used India Tree Oyster Pearls along with plain vanilla buttercream for piping the decor on top and down the sides, for a "bubbly" effect.

Makes one three-layer 9-inch cake (12-15 servings) plus about a half dozen cupcakes, or one three-layer 10-inch cake (20-24 servings) with no extra batter. Serve at room temperature with raspberry rosé sorbet.

Raspberry Rosé Sorbet (adapted from The Craft of Baking by Karen DeMasco and Mindy Fox)

1/2 cups fresh raspberries
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
3/4 cup water plus 1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups prosecco or rosé

Gently mash together raspberries and 3 tablespoons of sugar in a bowl to macerate. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 hour or refrigerate overnight.

In a small saucepan, combine the remaining 1 cup sugar with 3/4 cup water. Bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve the sugar. (You are making a simple syrup.) Transfer syrup to a bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 1 hour.

Scrape the raspberries and their juice into a blender, add 1 1/2 cups cold water, and purée until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a bowl, pressing the purée with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible. You should have about 3 cups of raspberry purée. Discard seeds. Add sugar syrup and prosecco or rosé to purée and stir to combine.

Freeze in an ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Due to the alcohol, it may still be slushy after churning. Transfer sorbet to an airtight container and freeze until ready to serve. Makes 1 quart.

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