So I was doing a little “product testing” this weekend and tried out this little guy:
It’s a new cordless (battery-operated) Hand Blender from KitchenAid. You can pick it up at your local Williams-Sonoma for measly $350 (!!!!). Needless to say, I did not purchase this item, I snagged it from someone in our office for the weekend to try it out and promptly returned it. Not only is it GIGANTIC and heavy, it’s pretty awkward to use and loaded up with unnecessary features and attachments. Most importantly, the battery lasted maybe 10 minutes….maybe. My roommate and I tested it out first by making some Bailey’s milkshakes (I mean if you have to make milkshakes, why not make them alcoholic, no?). It crushed the ice and made it through milkshake #1 just fine, but when we got to milkshake #2 it stopped right in the middle of making it! DONE! It hadn’t even crushed the ice yet, so I had to transfer the whole messy mixture over to my trusty Ninja to finish the job. So basically what I’m telling you is, don’t waste your money. Cordless doesn’t seem like a valuable feature in my opinion when it comes to kitchen appliances (kitchens are designed to have lots of outlets, after all). Considering you’ll have to pay more for the cordless feature and you’ll have limited power and you only get one battery and have to wait a couple of hours for it to recharge? I’d say the price on this bad boy just isn’t worth the results.
Stick to a corded immersion blender – you’ll save room, you’ll definitely save money, plus you won’t have to deal with a pesky little battery charger that takes up an outlet and your coveted counter space. Immersion blenders are great tools to have around the kitchen, though, and you can get them in a range of prices. I have the Cuisinart SmartStick pictured above (in orange!) and despite its low price, it does the job every time. Granted, I use my NINJA blender/processor for my heavy duty jobs like smoothies, so my SmartStick is usually only tackling soups and sauces. But for $29.99 + $69.99 I got a traditional blender that comes with three sizes of containers and also works as a processor AND an immersion blender all for way less than that KitchenAid monstrosity, so I’d say I came out on top here.
This post wasn’t really supposed to be a review, I just felt the need to warn you all in case you came across that in Williams-Sonoma and felt tempted to purchase it. So now that that’s done, let’s move on to THE BEST CHOCOLATE CAKE EVER.
My plan was to make the milkshakes and then move on to a cake so I could try the mixer for the batter, whipped cream and icing, BUT SINCE IT DIED ON ME that obviously didn’t happen. But since I’d already bought everything I needed and had 20-something coworkers expecting cake on Monday morning, I decided to make it anyway and my trusty KitchenAid Stand Mixer came through as always. Dear KitchenAid – just stick to the original. It’s your best product.
My plan here was to adapt a classic recipe for Coca-Cola Cake and use Root Beer, then top it/fill it with vanilla whipped cream for a Root Beer Float effect. Sadly, the sarsaparilla flavor didn’t really come through as much as I wanted it to, but I was left with the moistest, lightest, most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever made (ask anyone in my office) so all-in-all I was happy with it! Every once in awhile you’d get a bite that had a hint of Root Beer in it, so that brought a smile to my face. Regardless, I will most definitely be saving this recipe for future birthday cakes!!
ROOT BEER FLOAT CAKE – adapted from Coke’s Coca-Cola Cake recipe
Yields 2 9″ round sheet cakes OR 1 awesome double-layer cake
2 c sugar
2-1/4 c all-purpose flour
4 oz butter, melted
1/2 c vegetable oil
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1-1/4 c Root Beer – I prefer Barq’s bc it has the sharpest flavor but sadly all they had was IBC. This may have been why you couldn’t taste it as much!
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 c buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
Chocolate Root Beer Buttercream Icing:
1 stick butter
3 c powdered sugar
3 tbsp root beer
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
Vanilla Whipped Cream Filling/Icing:
1-1/2 c heavy whipping cream
1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 325.
Grease 2 9-inch ROUND cake pans
1) Combine melted butter, oil and Root Beer into a pot; bring to a boil.
2) In a large mixing bowl – combine flour and sugar. Slowly add Root Beer/butter/oil mixture into the flour/sugar blend. Add buttermilk & baking soda and mix well.
Add cocoa powder and vanilla. Add eggs, one at a time. Continue mixing.
3) Continue mixing until your batter is well blended and smooth. [Warning! It will be LOOSE. I thought for sure there was no way it would cook because it was like liquid, but it did! So don’t be alarmed if yours seems really thin.]
Divide batter evenly between the two pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes.
4) While cake bakes make your buttercream icing. Beat butter in a stand mixer until it begins to cream. Add sugar, root beer and cocoa powder – continue to mix on high for a few minutes until creamy and fluffy. Sometimes this can take up to 5 minutes.
5) Make your whipped cream last. To get the best texture, make sure your mixing bowl is very clean and your whisk & bowl are both very COLD (put it in the fridge first if you need to). If you’re not using a stand mixer, a metal bowl works best. Whip your heavy cream on high until it begins to get fluffy. Add vanilla, and slowly add in sugar – 1 cup at a time. Mix on high until you get stiff peaks. This can take anywhere from 5-8 minutes. The colder your bowl, the easier it will whip!
6) ASSEMBLE your cake! Cut the round tops off the cakes to make them more level. Put a thick layer of the vanilla whipped cream on top of the bottom layer – now stack your layers.
Spread an even layer of the Chocolate Root Beer Buttercream on top of the top layer.
Top that with another layer of Vanilla Whipped Cream (I kept mine about an inch shy of the buttercream layer so you could see both). If you’re feelin’ fancy, top it with a cherry or two! VOILA!
Best if served immediately. NOTE: You can put both icings in the filling layer if you want. Or if you really like icing, you could use the whipped cream as the filling, like I did, and then ice the entire cake with the buttercream (I had plenty leftover). I just didn’t want mine to be too too sweet and I kind of liked the look of the un-iced cake. But that’s just me! Just like a Root Beer Float, the ratios are totally up to you!