Mar 13, 2011

Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache

This is the cake that I made last weekend (the Weekend of the Two Chocolate Cakes) and was the second of two that I attacked. At first, I thought I'd finish them both by 5:00 (the time the potluck party started--the one where I said I'd bring cake whether the hostess liked iti or not), but this little baby wasn't frosted at 5:00, and I was already committed to the raspberry cake anyway. This one was going to have to wait for Monday, when it would go into the office to feed some lawyers.

The dried sour cherries have been soaking in Cognac and Lyle's Syrup overnight. After I tasted them, I thought maybe I'd let them soak a little too long because the flavors you could taste were, in order, cognac, cognac, and cognac. Maybe a cherry-flavored cognac? They would be lovely on ice cream, or some flaming dessert, but I thought they might be a little much for an afternoon cake. I rinsed them and dried them.

More of that chocolate chopping! And lots of it. I was glad I'd cut the recipe in half; otherwise, I'd have to chop twice as much. No doubt you're impressed by my brilliant analytical mind.

I was determined to get the caramel right this time! I decided that my main problem lies in trying to make sure the caramel is sufficiently caramelized, which led me to leave it on the burner just a few seconds longer. By then, the thermometer would register above the correct number. This time, I decided, I'd be sure to remove the pan from the heat at 360--a full ten degrees lower than the proper temperature of 370. (No, I didn't take it off the heat at 192.4

I was overjoyed with the way it turned out. I kept looking around for little caramel droplets that I could lick up. I wanted to just stop right there, forget about the rest of the ganache, and eat up all the caramel sauce. But because I'm a mature person, I didn't.

Instead, I mixed more chopped chocolate into the hot caramel.

And then I added the dissolved cocoa mixture into the chocolate-caramel mixture, for an even more chocolate intensity. Truthfully, I was missing the caramel. If you were given your choice between a beautifully homemade truffle and a beautifully homemade caramel, which would you take? I'd be sad to miss the truffle, but I'd take the caramel.

And now it's time for the chocolate cake. Over the weekend, I used up all the 62% chocolate I had on hand, most of the white chocolate, well over half of my stash of cocoa, not to mention ridiculously large amounts of flour and sugar. And I was only baking small cakes! This cake starts out with a mixture of cocoa and unsweetened chocolate (or, for a "more mellow" flavor, cocoa and semisweet chocolate).

Half a cake called for one egg and one egg yolk. To make up for my egg yolk shortage, I called on my last quail egg.

The batter looked so light and delicious that I was a little sorry to add chocolate to it.

But after adding chocolate and beating for a few minutes, the batter looked even lighter and fluffier.

And it baked into a nicely textured chocolate cake. It was more difficult to judge doneness on these little cakes,, but they both turned out okay.

The ganache, after sitting around for about ten hours, was rich, dark, and spreadable. So good that I didn't want to use it all for frosting the cake--after baking all day, I deserved to lick the bowl, right? The caramel flavor was subtle. I wouldn't have minded a little less subtlety, but it was very good.

With the large amount of frosting between layers, the addition of plump cherries, and the fact that I didn't do a great job of centering the top layer, there was a huge gap between layers. This gap led to sides that weren't perfectly straight. I must say that I've found that people are not at all interested in hearing your monologue about all the things that are wrong with the cake--they just want you to shut up, slice into the cake, and serve them some.

So that's what I did. But first, I cut a slice for Jim because I didn't think I'd be bringing any cake home, and he feels very mistreated if he hangs around the kitchen photographing the cake and then doesn't even get to taste it.


Dianne: "Is this a Black Forest Cake? I really like the cherries and the chocolate together."
Erika: "That's because she soaked the cherries in cognac. That's why I'm so tired now. It's from eating cognac in the middle of the afternoon."
Rachel: "There's no more alcohol in cognac than in vanilla. I made vanilla once. I just put a vanilla bean in vodka."
Wolanda: "You can test positive on a urine test from drinking vanilla or Nyquil."
Julie: "Anyway, the cake is great. Are you serious that you want to give the rest of it away? I'll take it."
[This is how conversation degenerates among criminal defense lawyers].
Jim: The cake is delicious. I really like the alcohol-laden cherries, and the rich, rich chocolate.


Monica said...

wow, you really did load up on the cherries eh? I omitted them (not the cognac, just the fruit). We liked it (even Tom, who is not a chocolate love like I am)... the rest is going with him to his job tomorrow, he works with a bunch of Europeans, so I'm sure it will be well receive...

Hope you had a great time in PR!

HanaĆ¢ said...

Wow, that cake does look as dark as midnight. Beautiful! From reading your post, I wasn't sure if the top cake was shifting on you. If that's the case, you can poke a wooden skewer through both layers, frost the cake, and then remove the skewer and touch up the frosting on the top. Hope you had fun in PR. Welcome back!

Marie said...

Hanaa and Monica,
Thanks, but I'm still in PR. One more day, then back to reality on Tuesday. The only thing in the way of pure bliss is all the news from japan. Very sad.

doughadear said...

The cake looks absolutely luscious with all that chocolate and drunken cherries.

Hope you had a lovely time in PR!

Vicki said...

Looks great Marie. I vote for the caramel over the truffle. Unless it's a coconut dark chocolate from Godiva. So hard to comprehend the reality of Japan.

Jenn said...

Marie, it looks great. I think you did a good job frosting the cake. That first photo looks awesome.

I did the alternate method and the cake is really fudgy. Next time I'll stick with the original one from the book.

Have fun in PR!

hector said...

looks yummy! may i step in although i've been pretty silent here. it is going to sound like i work for the thermometer company, but getting a good digital thermometer is so handy and i require it to all my students.

in fact, i am rewriting the recipe for mousseline buttercream and if you follow the exact temperature for the sugar syrup, for the meringue, and for the butter, it is so simple.

evil cake lady said...

I think your cake looks delicous! I agree, people don't care what you think is wrong with the cake, they just want to eat it. In fact, I just want to make this cake so I can eat it myself!

faithy, the baker said...

I've been missing much! So sorry for not being able to join in the fun! I MUST and i HAVE to find time to bake this! Looks like my kind of cake surely! Been really busy and receiving all these hoax text messages and emails about Japan's nuclear leak exposing neighboring asian countries hasn't been fun either..

jini said...

i like that jim got right to the heart of things and admitted to liking the alcohol laden cherries. alcohol is so lovely especially with rich chocolate. :)

inthekitchen said...

Wow - the ganache is so dark and divine looking! Yumalicious. Your finished cake looks so delicious as well!

Sarah the Bear said...

Oooo, I love that this could be an alternative to Black Forest cake. I'm a slacker once again, but I'm getting up to make this one right now--Looks Delish!!