Friday, August 21, 2015

Ultra Chocolate Sherbet

If you’ve ever loved Fudgsicles, you’re going to really love this sherbet.  Although it’s served in a bowl rather than on a stick, you will no doubt quickly devour the creamy, chocolatey awesomeness of this scoop.

With no eggs and not a whole lot of cream, this doesn’t quite have the richness of chocolate ice cream but it does have more than a ton of flavor.  It has a good dose of both chocolate and cocoa, so it’s fudgey without being too heavy and it's smooth without coating your palate.  I think it's perfect.

For those who really cherished Fudgsicles as a kid, this is a super delicious trip down memory lane, only much, much better.  I promise, a bowl of this sherbet will fire up all your best chocolate neurons.  And as today marks the 8th anniversary of my blog, I can't think of a better way to celebrate!

Bench notes:
- I used natural undutched cocoa powder.
- 6 oz of chocolate is 1 cup chopped.  For the best flavor and texture, please do use a block of chocolate, not chocolate chips.
- The cornstarch helps to inhibit ice crystal formation.
- A pinch of cinnamon is added to give just a bit of depth. 
- For another adventure in extreme chocolate bliss, try super deluxe Mexican Chocolate Ice Cream.


Ultra Chocolate Sherbet
Makes about 1 quart

6 oz semisweet (62%) chocolate
3/4 cup (2 1/4 oz) cocoa
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (112 grams) granulated sugar
3 tablespoons (39 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon (9 grams) cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt, to taste
3 cups (24 oz) milk
3/4 cup (6 oz) heavy cream                                               
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

Finely chop the chocolate and place in a heatproof bowl set over a pan with about 1" barely simmering water.  Melt the chocolate, stirring until smooth.  Take off the heat and set aside.

Place the cocoa, both sugars, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Add about 3/4 cup milk and whisk until smooth.  Whisk in the remaining milk.  Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly.  Cook for about 2 more minutes. 

Take off the heat and whisk in melted chocolate, heavy cream, vanilla and cinnamon.  Taste and adjust for salt, adding a few grains at a time.  Cool.  Pour into an airtight container and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled, preferably overnight.  

Freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.  Pour into an airtight container, press a piece of plastic wrap into the surface, cover and place in your freezer to firm up. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

Strawberry Galette

As we inch toward September and the winds of fall, I’m here to remind you to be sure not to let the chance to make a fresh fruit galette pass you by.  In my opinion, fruit galettes are a must have every spring and summer.  A free form version of pie, they are much easier to make and one of the most delicious things you can eat during our fabulous fresh fruit season.  Nothing really beats the contrast of buttery, crisp and flaky pastry and the sensation of pampered fruit.

At the renowned Chez Panisse in Berkeley, fruit galettes have always been central to their daily dessert menu at the upstairs café.  When I interned there, I saw some of the very best fruit produced in the country float through the door.  Just amazing color, texture, taste.  So I clearly understood how much this dessert is beloved by their patrons and so very rightly so.

One of the basic components for assembling the galettes at Chez Panisse is what they call “moon dust,” a simple mixture of equal parts almonds, flour, sugar and pulverized amaretti.  These ingredients are ground in a food processor and sprinkled on the pastry dough before the fruit is arranged on top.  This layer of moon dust prevents the crust from getting soggy and adds a subtle almond note to the finished product. 

Although I really love the fall season, I’m not quite ready for the shift.  There will be plenty of time for chocolate and nuts, apples and pears.  But for now, if you can locate some delicious fresh peaches, nectarines, apricots, figs or plums, don’t let them pass you by.  I happened to have some strawberries.  Whichever fruit you choose, it’s a delicious pastry to close out the summer.

Bench notes:
- It’s very important that the butter and water for the pastry dough are very, very cold.  If the butter is warm or soft, it blends too much with the flour and there won’t be the pockets of butter necessary to produce flakiness. 
- The finished dough will look like a pile of small bits similar to cottage cheese.  Resist the temptation to knead it, which will toughen it.  Just place the pile on a sheet of plastic wrap and pull it together as you wrap it tightly.  As it rests in the refrigerator, it will all come together.
- So why chill the dough after mixing?  Because it allows the gluten in the flour to relax (which means the dough won’t spring back when you go to roll it out), the water to be fully absorbed and the butter to firm up.
- I like to roll out my dough on a silpat or piece of parchment so I can lift the whole thing onto the baking sheet without stretching or tearing the dough.
- Mix the fruit and sugar just before you're ready to assemble the galette.  If it sits too long it will begin to macerate and you'll have too much of the juices flowing.
- Amaretti are traditional almond flavored crunchy cookies from Italy.  They’re made from noyau, the kernel found inside the apricot pit (almonds and apricots are botanically related).  If you don’t have access to amaretti, use another almond cookie you love.  
- You can make a larger quantity of moon dust and store it in an airtight container.

Strawberry Galette
Serves 6

Galette Dough
1 cup (5 oz) flour
1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 oz (6 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter
1/4 cup (2 oz) very cold water

Moon Dust
1 tablespoon ground almonds                            
1 tablespoon (9 grams) flour       
1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar                                      
1 tablespoon ground amaretti                   

1 lb fresh strawberries
3 tablespoons (39 grams) sugar, to taste

1/4 oz (1/2 tablespoon) unsalted butter, melted
sugar for sprinkling

To prepare the galette dough, place the flour, sugar and salt in the bowl of a food processor and blend.  Cut the cold butter into 1/2” pieces and add to the flour mixture.  Pulse until the butter is the size of small peas.  Add the cold water and pulse just until the dough starts to clump.  The dough will not look smooth but rather clumpy and a bit like small curd cottage cheese.  Gather the mixture and place on a sheet of plastic wrap and wrap tightly.  Shape into a flattened disc and chill thoroughly.

For the moon dust, place all the ingredients into a food processor and process until finely ground.  Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

When you’re ready to roll out the dough, unwrap and let it rest on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper or silpat for just a few minutes.  It needs to warm up just enough to handle without a lot of resistance and cracking.  

Roll the dough out to about a 12” circle and 1/8” thickness, gently lifting and moving the dough after each roll and keeping it lightly floured as needed. When you have the desired shape, brush off any excess flour and lift the dough along with the parchment or silpat onto a baking sheet. Chill while you prepare the fruit.

Hull and slice the strawberries in half and place in a bowl.  Toss with 3 tablespoons of sugar, to taste.

Remove the prepared dough from the refrigerator and sprinkle 1/4 cup of the moon dust evenly across the pastry, leaving a 1 1/2” border around the edges.  Arrange the fruit on top of the moon dust.  Lift and gather the edges up and over on top of the fruit, being careful not to create any cracks that will cause the galette to leak.  Work your way around the circle with both hands, pleating and pressing gently to keep the dough in place.  Chill if the oven isn’t ready.

Brush the border of dough with melted butter and dust with a light sprinkle of sugar.  Bake until the dough is crisp and browned and the fruit is bubbling, about 40 minutes.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes

Although chocolate all on its own is a powerfully soothing bite, I also like the combination of chocolate and fruit.  When the acidity of both is in balance, I think it works beautifully.  I think this is true for raspberries, strawberries, bananas, apricots, figs, cranberries and cherries.

Cherries have been really good this season - sweet, juicy and plentiful.  So I decided to use part of my stash to turn out some simple chocolate cupcakes with a buried treasure of cherries.  The cherries are simmered for just a few minutes to soften them up and to flavor them with some spice for extra intrigue.  The cupcake is tender and enriched with the depth of cocoa.  So simple and so irresistible.  If you're a fan of chocolate cupcakes - and really, who isn't - I think you'll find this combination a worthy one.

Bench notes:
- I sometimes like to use star anise with cherries.  Just a couple of points from a star are plenty in this compote to give them a nice twist.  The cherries can be made a day or two ahead. Place in an airtight container and chill until ready to use.
- I first tested this recipe using cake flour and I absolutely loved the results.  But the cupcakes were super tender and didn't hold together very well.  So all-purpose flour will add a bit more strength to the texture.  But try cake flour if you don't mind the extra tenderness.
- Since these cakes are very tender, I recommend using paper liners to avoid trying to wrestle them out of the pan.  Lightly greasing the rim circumference of each well will also help ensure the tops will loosen easily.
- The high ratio of sugar to butter in the cake recipe requires you to cream the mixture for about 5 - 6 minutes on medium speed until it is light in color and fluffy in texture.  It starts out grainy, then turns into small clumps, then lumps into a ball and then eventually smoothes out to a cohesive fluffy mixture.  At first you’ll wonder how it’s ever going to come together but it will. Honest!
- When using a cherry pitter tool, be extra careful to account for all the cherry pits. Even though it does a great job of piercing the fruit, sometimes the pits stay lodged in the center, so check and be sure you can account for all of them!
- Drain off the juices before placing the cherries in the cupcake batter (I placed 2 at a time).  The cherries should still be moist but you don’t want the batter to get soupy.  Use the drained syrup and any extra cherries to flavor oatmeal or yogurt.

Chocolate Cherry Cupcakes
Makes 12 cupcakes

12 oz fresh cherries
2 tablespoons (39 grams) sugar, to taste
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
2 points of 1 star anise

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (31 grams) cocoa powder
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 oz) hot water
3 oz (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter @ room temperature
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (112 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon (112 grams) dark brown sugar, packed
2 eggs @ room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 oz) milk

For the cherries, stem and pit them and place in a saucepan.  Add the sugar, cinnamon and star anise and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the fruit begins to soften, about 3 – 4 minutes. Take off the heat and cool.  When ready to use, discard the star anise.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a standard cupcake tin with paper liners.

For the cupcakes, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.  In a separate bowl, whisk cocoa and hot water together until thoroughly blended.

Cream butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 - 6 minutes on medium speech in a stand mixer (see the fourth bench note above).  Stop and scrape down the bowl at regular intervals. Add eggs one at a time and blend well before adding the next.  Scrape down the bowl. Add cocoa mixture and vanilla and combine thoroughly.

Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with half the milk and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Stop mixing just before it is fully blended and finish by scraping the bottom of the bowl and folding with a rubber spatula until there are no streaks.  Distribute equally into the prepared cupcake liners.  Submerge 2 drained cherries into the batter of each cupcake.

Bake until a toothpick tests with a few moist crumbs adhering, about 20 to 22 minutes.  Cool 10 minutes.  Run a thin bladed knife around the edges to loosen and turn out the cupcakes.  Cool completely.  

Friday, July 31, 2015

Upside Down Fig Cake

For reasons that are likely attributable to the California drought, the first figs appeared so early this year that I missed them entirely.  This is the third season in a row that they have been ready in late April rather than late May and June.  We’re now into the second round of production and I'm finding a good supply.

Figs originated in ancient Arabia and Mesopatamia and were a much sought after symbol of abundance.  The Spanish introduced them to the New World and I'm so very glad they did.  I love homemade Fig Newtons, Fig & Oatmeal Chocolate Bars, galettesfigs in chocolate spice cake and Fig Swirl Ice Cream.  I've even made fig jam and sandwiched it between blue cheese cookies.  And one of my favorite seasonal desserts is a Provençal Sundae, coffee ice cream served with an unusual fig compote.

If you love figs like I do, this is a very simple and delicious way to savor their beauty: baked upside down in a brown sugar caramelized topping over a wonderfully moist and flavorful cake.  The simplicity of the cake allows the figs to shine but the cake itself is worthy of your attention.  Buttermilk really lends a beautiful flavor and tenderness.  That's because it's the acidity in buttermilk that works to tenderize cakes by breaking down the long strands of gluten developed in the mixing process.  And since it works so well with baking soda, it's a great leavener that produces a light crumb.  I know that a lot of bakers are now often substituting yogurt for the dairy in cakes but I really love the difference buttermilk makes here, so I encourage you to go with the real thing.

This cake makes a great dessert or a nice weekend indulgence for your brunch table.  Figs will be with us through the beginning of fall.  Scoop them up!

Bench notes:
- "Room temperature" butter means the chill has been take off and it's pliable but not soft to the touch.  It should not be oily or squishy but should give just a bit when you press a finger into the surface.
- Cream butter and sugar on medium speed to avoid breaking the fragile air bubbles you’re trying to create.  This is the stage where the texture and crumb are being developed.
- A quick way to bring eggs to room temperature is to place them in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.  Cold eggs will impact the volume of the cake.
- For cake mixing, always add eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly before adding the next.  The batter is ready for the second egg when it no longer has a shiny slick on the surface.  
- Scraping down the bowl of your mixer is crucial to thoroughly emulsifying the butter and egg mixture and then fully integrating all of the remaining ingredients.  It may seem like a bother but it’s what helps to build the structure of your cake.
- I added a splash of port to the warm honey I used to glaze the figs as the cake is cooling.

Upside Down Fig Cake
Serves 8

1 1/2 oz (3 tablespoons) butter, melted                         
1/4 C + 1 T (2 1/4 oz) brown sugar, packed
12 (12 oz) fresh figs

1 1/2 cups (7 1/2 oz) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter @ room temperature
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (4 1/2 oz) sugar
2 eggs @ room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup (4 oz) buttermilk @ room temperature

1 1/2 tablespoons honey for glazing

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9” x 2” cake pan and line the bottom with a circle of parchment.

For the cake topping, melt the 1 1/2 oz butter and pour into the prepared pan, tilting to distribute evenly across the parchment surface. Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the melted butter and press to absorb. Cut the stems from the figs and slice in half.  Arrange them cut side down on top of the butter and brown sugar mixture in any pattern you wish.  Set aside.

For the cake batter, sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl.  Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl as you go.  Mix in the vanilla.  Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with half the buttermilk and beginning and ending with the flour.  Mix just until the batter is smooth, scraping down the bowl throughout to be sure the mixture is fully emulsified and blended.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and gently spread it to the edges of the pan, being careful not to dislodge the figs.

Bake until a tester inserted in the center of comes out clean, about 40 minutes.  Let the cake cool for 15 minutes.  Run a thin bladed knife around the edges and invert the cake.   Gently peel off the parchment and cool completely.  Warm the honey and glaze the figs. 

Friday, July 24, 2015

Almond Cake with Peaches & Cream

If you’re in the mood for a pastry project involving cake, whipped cream, almonds and fresh peaches, consider this one.  The ingredients aren’t particularly fancy, it’s just assembled as a stacked cake and garnished for a more interesting presentation.

It starts with a simple almond cake made with all the basic ingredients and a bit of ground toasted almonds.  It’s a thin layer baked in a 9” square pan and then sliced in half to form two oblong pieces.  The pieces get stacked with whipped cream and sliced peaches glazed in honey lemon syrup.  Then the sides of the cake are slathered with whipped cream and garnished with toasted almonds.  It’s not very complicated but it does take some time to complete. 

Peaches are so delicious right now, I hope you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy them in a multitude of ways.  This cake is just one more way to make this lovely summer last.

Bench notes:
- I like to use sliced rather than whole almonds for cakes because they'll grind finer in a food processor. You'll need a total of 1 cup (3 oz) for this recipe.
- I used blanched sliced almonds for the cake and unblanched for the garnish.  But you can use unblanched for both if you don’t mind the brown speckles in your cake.
- To toast sliced almonds, spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F oven for about 5 – 7 minutes.  Watch them closely as they will burn quickly.
- Let peaches ripen at room temperature. You should be able to smell their fragrance.  I used one large peach or use 2 medium ones.
- What's the difference between heavy cream and whipping cream?  Heavy cream contains 36% milk fat; whipping cream has 30%.  For finishing a cake like this, use heavy cream because it whips up with a stronger loft and will hold its shape longer than whipping cream without weeping.  Cream whips best when it's very cold.  If you have space, set your mixing bowl and whisk tool in the refrigerator to chill. 
- Give whipped cream just a few strokes with a whisk after it's been sitting in the refrigerator to refresh its texture.
- I cut a piece of cardboard just about 1/4" under the size of the cake and built the cake on that.  That way I could lift it easily and hold it in my hand to apply the whipped cream.  But that's just how I work.  You may find it easier to work with the cake placed on a platter.  And no need to worry getting the whipped cream to look perfect.  It will be covered with the almond slices.
- Cakes begin to dry out once you cut into them so don't trim the cake until you're ready to assemble.
- Chilling the cake allows the whipped cream to firm up before you apply the almond garnish and final touches.
- Use any remaining peach slices and honey lemon syrup to either garnish your plated servings or to spoon over yogurt or ice cream.
- For more information about using ground almonds in baking, see Almond Flour FAQs from David Lebovitz.
- If you have some almond paste, try this delicious Brown Butter Almond Cake for even more almond flavor.  There's also the simpler Brown Sugar Cake with Peaches and Cream.  And if you love chocolate and almonds together, there's this celebratory Chocolate Almond Raspberry Cake.  

Almond Cake with Peaches & Cream
Serves 6

1 cup (5 oz) flour                                                                 
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) toasted sliced almonds                    
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder                                     
1/4 teaspoon salt                                                               
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 oz) canola oil
2 tablespoons (1 oz) olive oil
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar                                                    
2 large eggs @ room temperature                                 
1 teaspoon vanilla                                                              
1/4 teaspoon almond extract                                           
1/2 cup (4 oz) milk @ room temperature                       

1/4 cup (2 oz) mild honey
3 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) water
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, to taste
1 large (11 oz) fresh ripe peach

1 1/4 cups (10 oz) cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons (26 grams) sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) toasted sliced almonds

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a 9” square pan and line with parchment, leaving an overhang of an inch or so along two sides of the pan.  

For the cake batter, place the flour, 1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor.  Process until the almonds are finely ground.  Set aside.

Whisk together the oils, sugar and eggs, mixing until thoroughly combined.  Add vanilla and almond extracts and blend.  Add a third of the flour mixture alternately with half the milk, beginning and ending with the flour.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth it out evenly into the corners.

Bake until a toothpick tests clean, about 23 – 25 minutes.  Place on a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes.  Run a thin knife around the edge of the pan to loosen the cake.  Remove the cake, using the parchment to assist.  Invert the cake and carefully remove the parchment.  Cool completely.

For the peaches, combine the honey and water in a saucepan and simmer to dissolve.  Remove from heat and add the lemon juice.  Cut the peaches into 1/2" slices and place them in the honey syrup as you go to prevent browning.  Set aside, spooning the syrup over the fruit every now and then to coat. 

Whip the cold heavy cream, sugar and vanilla and almond extracts to a medium soft peak.  Chill until ready to use.

To assemble, use a serrated knife to slice the cake in two equal oblong pieces.  Place one of them on a cake board or platter.   Brush with some of the peach syrup.  Spread about a 1/4” thick layer of whipped cream across the surface, leaving a small border on all sides.  Line the center with peach slices.  Place the other half of the cake on top and press down gently to secure.  Brush the top of the cake with some of the peach syrup. 

Spread the whipped cream around the sides of the cake, leaving enough to pipe a border on top of the cake after it's been chilled.  Line the center top of the cake with peach slices.  Chill the cake along with the remaining whipped cream for about 1 hour.

When the cake has chilled, gently press the remaining 1/2 cup toasted almond slices into the sides of the cake.  Pipe the remaining cream around the exposed areas along the top of the cake.  Chill until ready to serve.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Chocolate Loaf Cake

When the mood strikes and you want a slice of plain cake, chocolate usually comes to mind.  Loaf cakes often settle this desire quite well.  The larger round shape for cakes is likely modeled from ancient bread and persisted through their highest point of popularity in the Victorian era.  But in modern times, cakes began to take on many different forms as they morphed into muffins, cupcakes and loaves - different versions that we can enjoy and not feel like we’re subject to any sort of penance.  

This cake has a good buzz of chocolate with some spice to round out the cocoa.  It has a soft texture and isn't too rich or too heavy.  I dressed it up with some chocolate glaze for a more formal presentation but it’s really a simple and straightforward cake that can be enjoyed plain or with a light dusting of powdered sugar.  Easy peasy.

If it’s the simple pleasure of a nice slice of plain cake you desire, fire up that oven and get going.  You’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from Chocolate Loaf Cake.

Bench notes:
- I used natural (not dutched) cocoa powder.
- Mixing cocoa powder with hot water helps to “bloom” the flavor.
- For the frosting, stir slowly to avoid cooling it down too fast before it's well blended and creating air bubbles.
- Add 1/2 cup chopped toasted walnuts to the batter for a contrast of texture and nutty flavor.

Chocolate Loaf Cake
Makes 1 loaf

1 1/4 cup (6 1/4 oz) flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (1 3/4 oz) cocoa powder
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (5 oz) hot water
6 oz (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter @ room temperature
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) dark brown sugar, packed
3 eggs @ room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream

3 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 cup (2 oz) heavy cream

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8 1/2” x 4 1/2” loaf pan and line with a piece of parchment paper large enough to form an overhang along both sides of the length of the pan.

Sift the flour, baking soda, salt and spices together.  In a separate bowl, whisk the cocoa and hot water together until thoroughly blended and smooth.

Cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes.  Scrape down the bowl and add eggs one at a time, making sure that each one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping down the bowl as necessary.
Add the cocoa mixture and vanilla and combine thoroughly.  Add the dry ingredients in 3 additions, alternating with half the sour cream and beginning and ending with the dry ingredients.  Mix just until well blended.  Pour the batter into the prepared pan and gently tap the bottom of the pan on the work surface to remove any air bubbles.

Bake for 50 - 55 minutes or until a toothpick tests with a few small moist crumbs adhering.  Place on a wire rack and cool 10 minutes.  Run a thin bladed knife around the edges and lift out the cake using the parchment to assist.  Gently peel off the parchment and invert again.  Cool completely.

For the glaze, place the finely chopped chocolate in a heatproof bowl.  Bring the cream to a simmer.  Pour immediately over the chocolate and let it sit for a minute so the heat penetrates.  Stir gently in concentric circles until smooth.  Frost the cake when it's thick enough to spread.