Monday, June 1, 2009

Baking: Chocolate Cake

Sometimes you come across a recipe so good that you have to try. And this is exactly what happened when I came across Jacques Torres' Blackout Cake (provided by Foodnetwork.com). I was initially looking for a new chocolate cake recipe. I had one for cupcakes. But the recipe didn't transfer well for a full cake. It wasn't chocolaty enough. I was specifically looking for something rich and dark. And this recipe looked perfect. The ingredients were easy to find and the instructions were easy to follow. However, the baking time was very inaccurate for me. I had to double the time. But this varies according to altitude, humidity, and oven. So I always start with the recommended time and add more minutes, if needed. The toothpick in the cake test never fails. The cake comes out soft, dark, and smelling so rich. A small crumb off the top makes my mouth water. So far, perfectly decadent. Now, the recipe calls for a ganache on top. But I thought that would be overkill of richness. So instead, I whipped my melted chocolate with heavy cream and confectioner's sugar until light and fluffy. I call it my lazy man's chocolate mousse. I split the cake to make a double layer. However, it was actually really difficult to frost. Maybe that's why the recipe called for ganache? It was too soft. The airy, light frosting was ripping it apart. With a delicate hand and patience, I finally covered the entire cake without mishap. However, I couldn't avoid the crumbs! You can see them dotting the frosting in the picture below. But no matter. People didn't see nor mind at all. It was devoured and some people even though it was bought! That's the real complement. The cake was so chocolaty and rich. It was what you expect from hearing blackout cake. And the soft sweet chocolate mousse frosting balanced it quite well. Next time, I'll bake two separate layers and pile it onto each other. But otherwise, a new recipe to add to the book. I'm very happy with the results. It will definitely be a repeat. Thanks to Jacques Torres and Foodnetwork. Chocolate Black-out Cake with Ganache Drizzle Recipe courtesy Jacques Torres and the Foodnetwork.com Prep Time: 35 min Inactive Prep Time: 1 hr 0 min Cook Time: 20 min Level: Intermediate Serves: 4 stacked measuring cup cakes Ingredients For the cake: 6 tablespoons butter 1 cup coffee 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons buttermilk 2 eggs 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar 1 cup plus 4 tablespoons cake flour 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup cocoa powder 1 teaspoon baking powder 1 3/4 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons vanilla extract For the ganache: 2/3 cup heavy cream 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped For the chocolate curls: 1 pound block white chocolate Directions I made this cake in a set of metal dry measure cups. You can use a traditional 9-inch baking pan, if you prefer. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. To make the cake: Melt the butter into the coffee. When the butter has melted, whisk in the buttermilk. Placed the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and place on low speed. Add the flour, salt, cocoa powder, baking powder, and baking soda 1 at a time and mix just until combined. Add the vanilla and the coffee buttermilk mixture. Mix just until combined. If you are using dry measure cups, place the batter in a container with a spout to make it easier to pour the batter into the dry measure cups. Place the measuring cup molds onto a cookie sheet. Spray each cup with vegetable cooking spray. Fill each cup half full. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. To make the ganache drizzle: Heat the heavy cream in a 2-quart heavy-bottomed saucepan until bubbles begin to form around the edge of the pan. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium-size mixing bowl. Make a ganache by pouring about half of the hot cream over the chocolate and letting it sit for 30 seconds to melt the chocolate. Then, slowly whisk until smooth and homogeneous. Do not add all of the hot cream to the cold chocolate at once. The shock of the temperature extremes will cause the fat in the chocolate to separate. If the ganache separates, it loses its elasticity, collapses, and becomes very liquid. I use a hand-held immersion blender to ensure a smooth ganache and to keep the emulsion of the chocolate. Add the remaining cream gradually and mix until all of the hot cream is incorporated and the ganache is smooth and homogeneous. Unmold the cakes and let cool on a wire rack placed over a parchment paper lined baking sheet. When cool, stack the cakes on top of each other with the largest cake on the bottom layer. Placing the cakes on a wire rack placed over a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Use an offset spatula to spread the ganache over the cakes letting the excess drizzle over the sides. Use an offset spatula to move the cakes to the presentation plate. Make the chocolate curls: Use a block of white chocolate. Pull a vegetable peeler over the edge to create chocolate curls. Use the curls to decorate the cakes.

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