I've been thinking a lot about family lately. About who makes up my family.
I have a related family - people who belong to me by blood, who make me crazy while holding me down to earth. Who have taught me things since the beginning of my life that helped to shape my view of the world.
I have a work family - people who come together to take care of others, make me laugh when I need a smile and kick it in gear when I need a hand. Who I can count on to never leave me high and dry, and who have afforded me a sense of belonging to something bigger than myself.
I have an extended family - people I have collected over the years who have a mutual understanding about how things are, and how they should be. Who drink with me, go on vacation with me, eat meals with me and answer me when I text them random thoughts in the middle of a hectic afternoon.
I have my little nuclear family - me, hubs, baby and pupster. We somehow manage to fill up this house and make it a home, but it takes all four of us to do it, like four colorful pieces of a puzzle, none of whom are the same shape, but without one, we all know instantaneously that something is not quite right.
And, because I love all of the people who make up all of my families, I make them cake.
Chocolate Cannoli Cake
(a girl, dog & oven semi-original)
I borrowed Martha Stewart's ricotta cannoli filling and spread it between a flourless chocolate roll from The Essential Dessert Cookbook to make a version of chocolate cake and cannoli you can eat with a fork.
2-3/4 cups ricotta cheese
3/4 cup confectioners' sugar
3/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon orange zest
1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
4 tablespoons mini chocolate chips
5 eggs, separated
2/3 cup sugar
7 oz baking chocolate (I used half bittersweet and half semisweet)
Time and temperate: 400 for 12-15 minutes
First, you'll need to drain the ricotta overnight to remove as much whey as possible. Drape a piece of cheesecloth over a sieve and spoon the cheese onto this, then place the sieve over a large bowl. Refrigerate for 8 hours or overnight.
For the cake, preheat the oven to 400 and line a 8x12" backing sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment. Beat together the egg yolks and sugar until thick, fluffy and pale yellow. Melt the chocolate in the microwave (about 1-1/2 minutes in 30 second intervals) or over a double boiler until just melted. Once the chocolate has cooled to just about room temperature, add it to the eggs and beat until combined. In a large glass bowl, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks form. Stir a tablespoon of the whites into the chocolate mixture, which will be very thick, and then fold the whites into the chocolate. Bake for 12-15 minutes until spongy but firm to the touch. Remove from the sheet using the paper and cool on a white rack, covered with a tea towel.
For the filling, mix the drained ricotta and sugar until fluffy. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, orange zest and chocolate chips, mixing until combined. Spread this mixture onto the cooled cake, and roll up, using the paper, along the short end. Sprinkle with powdered sugar (this will help hide any cracks if your roll breaks, which mine did). Refrigerate until ready to serve.