Feb 15, 2010

Double Chocolate Valentine

When I got up this morning, I saw that Jim had bought me a Valentine's Day card. I felt guilty because I hadn't gotten one for him (we're going out for dinner, after all--how many V-Day things do you need to do when you've been married for practically 50 years?) Then I remembered: "No card," I said, "but I'm going to bake you a Valentine's Day cake." It was a nice card, but he definitely got the better part of that deal.

I bought another new pan, but this one was just a cheap-ish Wilton 9-inch heart pan, not another cast aluminum mold. (It was top-of-the-line Wilton, however). I told Jim not to take a picture of the pan with my first-graderish freehand parchment heart showing, but he ignored me. Really, sometimes I wonder how we've managed to stay married for all these years.

I loved making this cake--it was so easy! I do try to intersperse the easy ones with the ones that require multiple heart-stopping steps. This is an official Quick-and-Easy cake, of which we still have 17 left to do. Easy steps: Dissolve cocoa in boiling water. Stir dry ingredients together. Beat in butter and cocoa mixture.
The batter gets nice and thick and chocolatey. A mixture of egg yolks, vanilla, and a little water gets added in two installments.
And that's it! Into the pan goes the batter, and into the oven goes the pan.
Don't worry, I smoothed the top before I put it into the oven. I've just been encouraging Jim not to take so many boring pictures, so he didn't take the obligatory cake-smoothing photo.
While the cake is baking, a dark chocolate ganache is made using Rose's super-easy method of chopping up chocolate in the food processor and pouring scalded cream into the processor until the two ingredients are mixed.
Instead of immediately removing the cake from the pan, you poke holes in the top and brush about half the ganache over the top, letting it soak in.
I forgot to put the cake strip around the pan, and I thought I smelled a slight odor of burned chocolate, but it was all right. Nevertheless, don't forget the cake strip of you have one! Also, although I usually use my oven's convection setting, I suddenly began to wonder whether the convection setting might be more drying for a chocolate cake than the ordinary "bake" setting, so I decided to try that. Of course, unless you bake two cakes, which vary only in the oven setting and in no other way, you won't know. This cake was not at all dry (except a bit at the edges), but it probably took ten minutes longer to bake than it would have using the convection setting. So I'm still undecided. For those of you who have a convection option, what's your experience? Do you think it has a drying effect?
But back to the cake.... After about ten minutes, you flip the cake over and repeat the hole-poking and ganache-brushing routine on Side B.
Whoa! All was going so well, until suddenly the heart started to split. This led to many lame jokes about broken hearts.
The chasm in the cake made me very happy that I'd decided to spring for the out-of-season raspberries, because the fastidiously placed raspberries covered a multitude of sins, particularly a split-in-two chocolate cake.
I thought it was pretty after the raspberries had been placed on top, but the shine from the currant jelly glaze added another dimension of glamour.
And an easy cake to serve, too. You can ask people how many raspberries they want, and then you can just slice them a 12-raspberry piece, or whatever they've specified. Be warned that someone who chooses a dainty 8-raspberry slice may want seconds. Mentioning no names.

This was a thoroughly satisfying cake to put together, decorate, and serve. Except for the broken heart, which mended itself, there were no hoo-hahs, and it was both delicious and beautiful. The heart-shaped pan made it just right for Valentine's Day, but I think this cake is one you'll want to keep in mind for any time of the year.

TASTING PANEL:
Karen: "It's really good and really beautiful, too. I can't remember all the cakes I've eaten, but this is one of my top choices. It's got a delicious flavor. It's fun to eat, too, because you can stick your fork down between the berries and get a column of cake."
Jim: "It's airy, delicious, and very pretty."
Laurel: "This is probably the best ever. It takes the honor away from the pretender cake which claims to be "better than sex."
The cake texture is delicate and the chocolate not bitter but more
than ample and the raspberries add a perfect but subtle tartness,
which would be unattainable by anything else that I can think of."
Jan: "Just delicious."

28 comments:

evil cake lady said...

marie, by the end of this bake along you will have your own cake pan emporium. your cake is so dark and shiny--i love it! this week i learned from you that raspberries can fix a broken heart. good to know.

gartblue said...

completely agree with evilcakelady .. a cake emporium. I like!

and I love your cake though it split in 2. And the raspberries did great wonders for the uppy classy look aye?

sad to report that I had a major disaster with this cake with a kick-in-the=backside effect. SOmething similar to yours just a thousand times worse. and I didn't have raspberries to cover them. will tell more in my blog.

*kicks self*

faithy, the baker said...

Marie, your cake looks great and so delicious! I have yet to bake mine, probably for the free choice week! :) I can't decide if this or the red velvet cake! :)

Monica said...

Marie... I agree the raspberries do cover a broken heart! (In my case, a broken circle!). After seeing your cake I felt a bit of relief, because mine cake, like yours was deeply dark, and upon seeing the back cover of the book were the same cake is being eaten, it did not look as dark and I got worry that I over did it on the cocoa, even thought I' religious on my measurements. I used dark cocoa (dutch) so maybe that’s the reason?

Who cares, the cake was yummy, easy and a show stopper and like you, my present to my beloved as well for Valentine Day (they did get the best deal).

Anonymous said...

Nice to know us 'old-marrieds' still have a bit of romance going!!! I made a Chocolate Streusel cake for my OH in a heart decorated bundt tin, and we have also been married almost 50 years too!
Your cake looks gorgeous, Marie, love it! Jeannettex

Vicki said...

It looks lovely. And really, has Hallmark ever come out with a raspberry edible card? But Jim does get high marks for braving the Valentine isle for your card. I'm certain it was his charming devotion and not insurance for future cakes, was it not?! I just learned in Japan only men get chocolates on Valentine's Day, and it is obligatory at that!

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

it's totally stunning!

re the broken heart--i'll bet it's bc you forgot the strips so it domed a bit in the center. but not a problem as it can absorb the ganache more easily with the crevice!

i use convection but turn the temperature down 25˚F so it bakes within the same time frame. some ppl but a heatproof container with hot water to counteract any possible drying effect but i don't really notice the difference.

doughadear said...

Marie
What a stunning cake! It looks incredibly moist and so appropriate for Valentines with chocolate and raspberries. Just like the icing sugar hid my whipping cream cake flaws so did the raspberries your little crack.
I was in Buffalo on the weekend and bought two cans of Baker's Joy - it works like a dream.

Hanaâ said...

Marie, your post made me laugh :o)
I love the look of the glazed raspberries on top. I made a raspberry mousse which I piped onto the cake in a basket weave pattern.

Melinda said...

You should not have even mentioned the crack and edited any hint of one.
The raspberries are the perfect cover up for a tiny imperfection. After all you've just made a hundred holes in the cake!
It looks beautiful.

Sugar Chef said...

Oh, your cake turned out wonderful despite the crack. Those raspberries are beautiful too. I am now craving chocolate and raspberries, must make this cake.

Rozanne said...

Marie, your cake is stunning!

Jenn said...

Marie - your cake looks fabulous! Perfect from a book (even with the crack and all). And I love how shiny the raspberries are in your picture! I want to reach through the computer and grab them. PS: I have the same Wilton pan.

Marie said...

ECL,
I love the idea of having my own cake pan emporium! I love the idea of having any emporium at all!

Gartblue,
Uh-oh. No raspberries to cover a crevice? Oh well, sometimes you just have to go with the naked truth.

Faithy,
My own vote would be for this cake over the red velvet, but I'm not a huge fan of food that's a weird color.

Monica,
I used Dutch cocoa too, but I liked the deep color. I think the edges were a little darker than if I'd used the convection setting.

Jeanette,
The "almost 50 years" is a slight exaggeration for me, but it has been 42 years.

Vicki,
I don't like that Japanese custom at all! And yes, I'm sure it was only his devotion that led him to the Hallmark section. He knows he's still got over 50 cakes coming to him!

Rose,
I'm going back to the convection setting. I think I like it better. The container of hot water idea sounds interesting, too. I personally have never thought the cakes were dry, but some people have mentioned it. My theory is that people have become accustomed to super-moist, pudding-y cake mixes, and think that normal cakes are dry.

Oriana,
Yes, I love Baker's Joy. I don't know why they don't pay me to advertise their product. (They don't, by the way).

Hanaa,
Good grief, woman. You are telling me that my cake looks good? Yours is amazing!

Melinda,
I am absolutely shocked that you'd suggest that I be anything less than totally honest. I am a lawyer, you know.

Sugar Chef,
Yes, you must. I'm sure you'd turn it into another work of art.

Rozanne,
Thank you!

Jenn,
Don't the raspberries look beautiful? They tasted pretty good, too--I think the currant glaze made them tastier than they would otherwise have been.

Mendy said...

ב''ה

Your cake looks great!

Well done. I'm glad you did not find it dry.

Nancy B said...

Lovely cake! You almost make me wish I'd splurged on the raspberries...

Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries said...

Your cake is beautiful--the raspberries are the perfect color! I love your idea of serving however many raspberries a person would want. :)

Thanks for featuring my cake last week--I'm honored! And I'm loving being in this group! So many kind and welcoming people and I look forward to getting to know you all. :)

Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries said...

A quick question--I would love to add the Heavenly Cake Bakers widget to my blog, but they don't seem to be working--any suggestions as to how to fix them?

evil cake lady said...

Jill, I know maybe 1% about bloggy stuff but it seems that the image source for the widgets is broken. If whoever is supposed to fix that would fix it I bet the widgets would work again.

Nicola said...

Forty-two years. Very impressive!

And obviously the last part of Jim's comment he meant for you and not the cake?

Very clever having a raspberry sizing system. Will keep in mind that eight raspberries is far too small a portion!

Great post and could you please ask Jim not to take such fab photos of your beater blade? I have pangs of envy each time I see it.

Lynnette said...

Absolutely beautiful!

Jill @ Jillicious Discoveries said...

EvilCakeLady--I'm the same when it comes to widgets and stuff, I figured it wasn't going to be me to figure it out. :) But I am glad to see that whoever the expert is, they are all fixed now. Thanks! :)

Bungalow Barbara said...

Lovely!

Rachelino said...

Marie. Your cake is gorgeous. And the beauty part with a cake topping like that, you could have reconstructed many pieces Frankenstein-style and no one would have noticed. This is a great cake for those who are intimidated by decorating- mother nature does a lot of the work for you. I wanted to make this for my husband too, he was very excited about this one, but our stove was disconnected until today AND I got sick as a dog on Valentine's day. So I gave him a rain check.

Marie said...

Mendy,
I hope that someday I'll solve the riddle of chocolate cake dryness--why is the same recipe sometimes moist and sometimes dry? why is the occasional dryness more pronounced in chocolate? If I figure out the answer, I'll let you know.

Nancy B.,
I love raspberries so much I splurge on them all the time, although there really is nothing like the just-picked raspberry.

Jill,
This is a wonderful group of people! I think that good people must be attracted to baking--or maybe the oven sends out some kind of waves that turns people nice.

ECL,
You sound like you know more about widgets than the average person.

Nicola,
The beater blade would have been the perfect Valentine's Day present--even if it was from you to you. You deserve it.

Lynnette,
Thank you!

BB,
And thank you too.

Rachelino,
I like the idea of a reconstructed monster cake with vast flaws hidden by raspberries. I think you could make a movie out of that concept. I am in that group that's intimidated by decorating, but I don't mind painstakingly setting raspberries on top of cake.
Hope you're feeling better.

jini said...

chocolate and raspberries are the best combination evahhhhhhhh. lucky jim that you didn't get him a card. i got a card, but i cooked our dinner. huh. we are probably closer to 50 years than you and jim. :)
anyway, it is beautiful and probably absolutely delicious!

Marie said...

Jini,
I love chocolate and raspberries together too, but I love almost any fruit with chocolate. I'm going through a mental list of fruit--I'm not sure about chocolate and watermelon, but can't think of anything else offhand that doesn't sound great.

Bbq Dude said...

I let my 4-year old pick the cake he wanted for his birthday, using Rose's Heavenly Cakes as his source book. He picked this cake. An apt choice, given that his birthday is on Feb 14.

It's a nice cake.