Seems so many of the other Heavenly Cake Bakers are disappointed when we bake something chocolatey. This is something I really cannot comprehend. I LOVE chocolate! In fact, one of the reasons I decided to join the Heavenly Cake Bakers was to widen my horizons and force myself to bake more things that aren’t chocolate. But I am always very happy when the assignment involves chocolate.
This week’s assignment was the Chocolate Layer Cake with Caramel Ganache. I made sure to read through the instructions a few times before starting so I wouldn’t have any surprises. Since the ganache needed to sit for several hours I decided to start with that.
The first step to the ganache is making the caramel. I have three little words that I suggest everyone write in the margin of their book: Mis en place! I started heating the water and sugar and thought I would get everything else together while it came up to temp. Only problem was that there wasn’t a whole lot of time and the caramel was starting to darken by the time I finished getting the food processor out, chopping the chocolate and measuring the cream. Next time I will have everything ready before I start the caramel.
Rose instructs you to check the temperature of the caramel which turned into a bit of a challenge. I considered skipping that step but was afraid there might be something magic about 370 degrees so I figured I had better do it to avoid any problems. I had to tip the hot pan to get enough liquid for the thermometer and every time I checked it was only a little over 300 degrees. As the caramel kept getting darker and darker I suddenly realized that maybe my thermometer didn’t go any higher and sure enough, that was the problem. So I let the caramel get a bit darker and then pulled it off the heat and added the cream. I ended up with some chunks of caramel but was able to melt them back down over the burner. Then I added the caramel to the chocolate in the food processor. The end result was a very lovely and tasty ganache.
The cake was very good and the ganche, which thickened up into a fudge-like consistency, was fabulous. I would have preferred a stronger caramel flavor as it seemed rather subtle to me, but perhaps the caramel needed to be darker. I will make this cake again and I will probably use this ganache with some of my other recipes as well.
I had mixed feelings about this recipe from beginning to end but after all was said and done, I thought this cake was excellent!
Normally I only make half of the assigned recipe but since we were having a gathering at our house on Monday night I decided that this week I was going to make the full recipe. Figures that I would decide to do this on the one recipe that actually requires more work to make the full recipe and I notice most bakers only made half this time (lol). But that’s okay. . . it was actually worth the effort.
For some reason I thought that the ganache was supposed to be made two hours before the cake. So, I dove right in and made the ganache. I skipped the food processor directions and just heated the milk and then poured it over the chopped chocolate. It was a bit unusual to have twice as much cream as chocolate in the ganache. I kept wondering if this could be right clear up to the point that the soft peaks appeared while beating it and I felt very relieved. Then it needed to go into the refrigerator and stirred every 30 minutes until it reached 65-68 degrees.
With the ganache made, I proceeded to make the cake. To make the full recipe, you must make two separate batches of batter and bake two separate pans of cake. Each cake is cut in half so that you have four layers to stack with the ganache layered between. The egg yolks and egg whites are each beat separately so I felt like I would never quit beating eggs and the recipe would never end. It probably didn’t help that I ran out of cream of tartar after the first batch so I had to run to the store to get more.
Finally, both cakes were baked! But then I realized that I was supposed to chill the cake before I assembled it. That was a small problem since my ganache had just reached 66 degrees. Hmm. . . . well, I decided that I was just going to plow ahead. I proceeded to beat the ganache and it came out perfect (although it took longer than the 30 seconds it says it will take in the book). I popped the warmest layer of cake into the freezer for about 5 minutes (the other one was at room temp) and I proceeded to assemble.
The layers were pretty fragile but with the help of a cake lifter it was all good. I put a full cup of ganache on top of the first cake layer (because that’s what the recipe says), but by the second layer I could see that there was not going to be enough ganache to put a cup on each layer. So then I just spread it thinly on top of each layer and it came out perfect at the end. I wrapped the whole cake in saran wrap and put it in the fridge.
Monday night I pulled the cake out of the fridge about an hour before our gathering was to begin. I put some chocolate curls on top and voila!
The cake definitely seemed to be a hit. I say this not because people were raving about it, but because I think nearly every person went back for seconds.
I wasn’t sure about the texture of the cake layers right after I made them. But when the cake sits in the fridge overnight, the layers meld right together and it is completely transformed into an AMAZING cake. It is intensely chocolate but actually has a very light texture. I guess that’s why they call it a chocolate feather bed!
I’ve been really looking forward to making this recipe. Unfortunately, my rendition didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I am attributing this to my own execution of the recipe and I will probably have to try this recipe again when I have a little more time.
The cake batter is the same batter that we used for the ice cream sandwhich a couple of weeks ago. We really enjoyed that cake so I knew that I wouldn’t be disappointed as far as that went. The batter mixed up easily. I did, however, have the same problem as last time when the cocoa and water turns into a paste rather than a smooth mixture. I am taking comfort with the fact that other people seem to be having the same problem as me and since it doesn’t seem to affect the outcome, I am just not worrying about it. I made what I see as my biggest mistake when I filled my cupcake liners too full. It seemed like I had about 3/4 of an inch left from the top but I only ended up with 9 cupcakes and clearly after they were baked they were not flat like in the picture.
The second step was to take the hot cupcakes and poke about a dozen holes in each one with a skewer. Then we were to pour milk chocolate ganache over the top of the cupcakes and into the holes. I had two sizes of skewers and I opted for the smaller one to poke the holes. I seemed to have problems getting the ganache down inside though, and I would probably use the larger one next time. I did feel like I had filled them pretty well, but after they sat a while I could see that there was still space in a lot of the holes. Because of time, I did not go back and make more ganache and fill them in.
The third and final step is to make the Lacquer Glaze. This is the part that I expected would make these little cakes over-the-top delicious. In the picture it looks so thick and smooth and so I expected a fudge like texture. My glaze, however, turned out pretty thin and runny, even after it cooled a bit. So the million dollar question is — is the glaze in the picture actually thicker than mine, or is it just that the cupcakes are very flat which makes a thicker layer of glaze possible? I think I made the glaze correctly, but I was having problems with my thermometer so maybe I didn’t do it exactly right. I’m not sure.
Anyway, the cupcakes were good, but not exceptionally better than any other chocolate cupcake. Even my son, who is not really a chocoholic like myself, thought the glaze needed to be thicker. So I will have to leave it for now but when I get some extra time, I will be cooking these up again.
I have been looking forward to making this cake for the last couple of weeks. The first time I read through the recipe I knew that I wanted to use starlight mint ice cream for this. I know – the flavor suggestions were much more sophisticated — like coffee, vanilla bean or dulce de leche. But for me, I could just taste this cake made with my favorite ice cream. I have to tell you that I was not disappointed.
This recipe uses a chocolate cake that has oil in it rather than butter. Because of this, the cake stays soft when frozen. It is the same cake used for Rose’s German Chocolate Cake. I wanted to try the sandwich rather than the cake so I made a half recipe in a ten inch cake pan.
The cake went together quite easily, although the first step had me worried that I had ruined the whole thing. I was to whisk cocoa and boiling water together until smooth. What I ended up with was a very thick paste. I added a little extra water and didn’t know what to do so I forged ahead. I was so sure that it had to be wrong that I kept recalculated my half recipe to see if I had added too much cocoa or not enough water. I was worried right up until the end when it said the batter should be like a thick soup, which seemed about right to me. I baked it for only about 20 minutes when it seemed done so I took it out. It didn’t take long to cool and then I sliced it in half and assembled it. I was quite impressed that the cake held together very well even when thinly sliced and had no problem moving it to be assembled.
Next came the Snowball Hot Fudge Sauce. I melted the butter and chocolate in the microwave. The cream and sugar are brought to a boil on the stove and then added to the chocolate mixture. I had no problems at all. The sauce thickens up quite a bit as it cools.
The sandwich held together just fine for eating with your fingers and I liked the idea of using a dipping sauce as Rose suggested. But it also looks great served on a plate with the sauce drizzled over the top.
We loved the overall flavor and textures. I felt like this particular sauce was extremely sweet and in my opinion you could cut the sugar in half or even just go with a plain ganache. But this recipe is definitely a keeper and one we will make again.
Here in the midwest we are having a cold spell. For the last two days the schools have been closed because of severe temperatures and weather warnings. Last night it reached –22 degrees. So, when I was trying to decide what I should experiment with, a recipe for a dipped confection called “hot chocolates” caught my eye. This confection has a cinnamon marshmallow atop a dark chocolate ganache. It required curing overnight so I made it the other day and today I dipped them.
I am still having some difficulty in getting dipped chocolates to look neat and beautiful. However, I tried dipping some round chocolates and some square chocolates. I ran out of tempered semisweet chocolate and when I began to temper some more semisweet, I got thinking that I might prefer these dipped in milk chocolate instead. In the end, I think the milk chocolate ones taste the best. The milk chocolate also seemed to dip better too and I’m not sure if I need to adjust the temperature on my machine or what. I will have to do some more experimenting and reading on that.
Last week I decided to try making a butter ganache filling because they are supposed to last longer than a regular ganache. I looked through my book and decided to try making the lemon butter ganache. The only problem was that one of the ingredients was fondant. I have never made confectioner’s fondant before, in fact I had never even heard of it before. But I really wanted to try this recipe so I figured I would need to figure it all out.
So one day early last week I made the fondant. I was really nervous about it because it required agitating it at the end and I didn’t exactly know what to expect and didn’t know how to know if I was doing it correctly. But I decided I would just jump right in and see what happened. It actually went very smoothly. After I had poured it on the marble slab and agitated it for about 10 minutes, it began to get opaque and very thick. Then all of a sudden, it seemed like it turned into a rock. I was afraid I had ruined it. I knew it had to cure overnight so I was just hoping that it would soften up overnight. I decided it felt lumpy and so I massaged the lumps out of it and it seemed a better texture after that. I put it into a container and left it overnight. The next day Marshall sampled it and it was very smooth. So I was hopeful that it turned out the way it was supposed to.
Today Marshall decided to try making sugared orange peel. Here is what he did:
Cut the orange peel into strips and remove the excess pith. Put it in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and then drain it. Do this two more times. In another pan, make a simple syrup using equal parts of water and sugar and bring to a boil. (Marshall used 3 cups each of water and sugar.) Add the orange peel and then simmer for about an hour, when the orange peel starts to get transluscent. Cool the orange peel in the syrup and then drain on a rack until tacky and mostly dry. At this point you can roll it in sugar.