First, you may have noticed that we have two new members, both of whom are introducing themselves with the chocolate cake with caramel ganache. Jen, who is from Malaysia, baked hers in a heart-shaped pan for an attractive result, and declares that this ganache is her "current favorite chocolate ganache." Yes, I know we already have a Jenn and a Jennifer, and that this will be confusing.
Fortunately, our second new baker is Shandy, which doesn't sound anything like anyone else's name. Shandy's ganache is very skillfully done, and her cake looks great, even though her first try at the caramel ended up as burnt sugar. Jenn (that's Jenn with two Ns) burned a batch, separated a batch, and burned her hand in the process. But that didn't stop her from an all-out burst of decorating, complete with chocolate pearls and hardened caramel shards.
Shandy and Jenn weren't the only ones who required more than one attempt for the ganache. In fact, the posts this week were almost all about the ganache, with the cake being almost an afterthought. For example, Nicola (welcome back to the fold!) described the ganache as "the business.... [I]ncredible. If they made face cream like that, plastic surgeons would be out of business." Mendy put it most succinctly: "The ganache really stole the show with this cake."
The burning question of the week (other than "is the sugar burning?") was ganache-related: "Does this ganache taste enough like caramel to be called a caramel ganache or is it just a heckuva good chocolate ganache?"
Raymond: "While most definitely chocolate, [the ganache] has a very pleasing caramel aftertaste."
Katya: "This one is like the best chocolate in the box, the one you spy and wait for, and know is the best because it is square and has chewy caramel inside."
Nancy B.: "The caramel and unsweetened chocolate combination was just right, dark and sweet and caramel-ly."
Vicki: "The chocolate is exquisite with the faint caramel undertone. Everyone liked it. Next time, however, I'm pouring the caramel cream over the cake without adding chocolate."
Kristina (Jay): "With caramel in the name, I expect to actually be able to taste the caramel. It’s good, but it’s not caramel."
Lola: "When first tasting, it seemed somewhat bitter. After allowing it to rest overnight in the refrigerator, the frosting had mellowed into a decadent taste sensation." By the way, Lola is leaving tomorrow for her annual trip north to the U.S. We'll hear from her again in about a month.
Jennifer: "A surprise caramel flavor in the ganache."
Your opinion of the ganache really affected your final verdict of the cake. For example, Monica, who was quite fond of the cake, nevertheless concluded that, "While [the ganache] did harden up a bit, it was not to the frosting consistency. I threw the towel and ended pouring it over the cake and gave myself a big hard “FAIL”."
And even thought Gartblue got some rave reviews on the cake, she was just so-so about the ganache: "The ganache was alright. Mine tasted a little too bittersweet, makes me wonder if my sugar was burnt."
There were some gorgeous, gorgeous cakes this week, making my own Melting Morass look even sadder than it did when I first posted it. (Yes, I know it's not all about me!) But Julie, this week's FEATURED BAKER really took the cake this week! (I've been trying so hard not to say "take the cake," but I couldn't help myself any longer.) You just have to go take a look at her chocolate cake. Julie loves chocolate--she said she couldn't figure out what all the complaining about too much chocolate was all about. "This is something I really cannot comprehend."
As with other bakers, Julie had some misadventures with the caramel. She checked her thermometer dutifully, waiting for the temperature to go up to 370. Suddenly she realized that her thermometer only went to 300 degrees, which pretty much explained why the caramel wasn't getting hotter. But it turned out all right, although she was on the "would have preferred more caramel flavor" side of the chocolate ganache debate. Then, after she finished frosting the cake beautifully, she piped on more decoration--elaborate designs in a caramel hue to complete the theme of the cake in color. You know that I've confessed many times to suffering from piping envy, but don't you think I'm justified in this case?
Next week, we do another Quick and Easy cake (although I question whether a cake that requires toasted nuts and beurre noisette should be on the list); and that's what you need to do to make the Gold Ingots. After that, another Free Choice, so you can do whatever makes you happy before we tackle the Apple Caramel Charlotte, which nobody is ever going to call quick and easy.