Nov 21, 2010

Chocolate Genoise with Whipped Peanut Butter Ganache

To tell you the truth, I wasn't really looking forward to making this cake. I'm one of the few people I know who isn't crazy about Reese's Peanut Butter Cups--too sweet, too sticky, and not at all subtle. And the black raspberry liqueur? That just sounded weird. But this cake was different: one of the best chocolate cakes I've tasted, and definitely the best chocolate genoise. Not too sweet, not too sticky, and subtle as the dickens. Move over, peanut butter cups. You've been bested.
Of course, I had to add another expensive liqueur to my steadily growing supply. You can see why Faithy fell so in love with the bottle that she refused to open hers. But the pretty crown stays intact when it's opened, so there's no reason not to. I'll confess I had a few nips while I was baking. It tastes kind of like a very grown-up version of black raspberry Kool-Aid but improved my mood much more than Kool-Aid would have.
Here are some of the other bottles I've bought/used for various cake projects:

This was another very easy cake to make. No, it's not on the Q&E list. Are the cakes getting easier or am I actually getting better? Whatever--it's nice not to face every new cake with dread of failure. (Although, as you'll see, there was a total failure involved here). Note that I left my whisk in the cocoa mixture, just as instructed.

I can never resist including a picture of the lovely, billowy egg mixture after it's been beaten for "at least five minutes." Don't be fooled and stop beating after three!

The cocoa mixture is gently folded into the batter, making--what else?--a chocolate batter.
I baked the cake for 25 minutes, and immediately took it out of the pan "to prevent the collapse of its delicate foam structure." This takes two wire racks that have been coated with cooking spray. By the time I turned the cake back over, the lines of the first rack were etched into the cake. Not a problem, though, because the top is going to be taken off anyway so the syrup can soak in.
Here is the cake after it's been syruped on both sides. Note the tart pan bottom in the background. After seeing a genoise fall apart before my eyes when I transferred it to a serving dish, I never tried that again without the assistance of this sturdy pan bottom.

On to the ganache! I melted the chocolate, added the peanut butter, and tried the whip in the cream. It didn't whip at all. "Rose! WTF?!" I said to myself. "This is never going to work!" Suddenly I had a thought. Surely it wasn't possible that I had poured in the half-and-half instead of the heavy cream? I checked the refrigerator. Oh, it was possible all right. Note: making whipped ganache with half-and-half is not a good idea. Jim said, "Do we have to start over?" "Yes." "Do I have to go out and get more chocolate?" "Yes." "What percent?" Don't you love that? My non-cooking, non-baking husband is asking me what percentage of cacao is supposed to be in the chocolate he's going to pick up.

Armed with more Scharffenburger 60% semisweet chocolate, I start over. This time it works. First it looks speckled and unpromising.

Then, in just seconds, it whips into the perfect consistency. It's so good! I was afraid the peanut butter would overwhelm, but it's just the right amount of peanut butter to make itself known but stay in the background.

It was amazingly easy to frost this cake. Really, it should be on the Q&E list. If you don't make the mistake of grabbing the half and half carton, everything about this cake and ganache goes together so smoothly. I had a little trouble again slipping the waxed paper strips out from under the cake, but I left it refrigerated for longer than I did last week, and I got them out without doing much damage to the frosting. I wonder if parchment would work better than waxed paper.

We went out for dinner with some friends. When the waitress asked if we wanted dessert, I told them they couldn't eat dessert at the restaurant; they had to come back to our house. They are used to my bossy ways and didn't put up much of a fight, especially when I told them they could also taste the Chambord.
Perhaps the only thing I'd do differently next time is use all the Chambord syrup. I didn't think the cake would need much syrup because I could see it wasn't going to be dry. And it wasn't dry, and probably didn't need all the syrup, but the black raspberry flavor was so delicious that I wished I could taste it even more. On the other hand, you could make a case for it being perfect just the way it was.

Karen: "This is no ordinary chocolate cake--it just bursts with flavor."
Jim: "I like the black raspberry taste. Now I know why there's a crown on the bottle--it's royally good."
June: "It looks like it's going to be a dense, heavy cake, like a flourless torte, but then it turns out to be so light. It's a really good cake."
David: "I agree that it's really good. It doesn't have much relation to peanut butter candy."


evil cake lady said...

oh man, what did you do with the chocolate/peanut butter/half and half? i hate throwing food away--especially when it was made with great ingredients! see how far you and jim have come? genoise is easy and jim knows to ask what percentage chocolate. i'm so proud of you kids ;)

faithy said...

I agree, this cake is so delicious and the best chocolate genoise ever! LOL! Yup..i still can't bear it take it out from the box..i know it's ridiculous..and there's this sticker on the crown and i couldn't break it open too..:p Likewise, my liqueur collection has grown after i start baking with HCB..and now i collect them! :p

Marie said...

Sadly, I dumped it. It wasn't salvageable for anything. Also, I was really annoyed with myself.

I couldn't open the bottle either! Jim had to do it, and I hate to hand something over to him for opening.

Mr. P said...

I find the idea of PB, chocolate and Chambord scary. You'd never have raspberry, chocolate and peanut butter together. Is this Rose alchemy, or just gross?

Marie said...

Mr. P.,
Not gross at all. It's miraculous.

Vicki said...

Did you make hot chocolate out of the Scharffenburger 60% and half & half?
I spent a bundle to taste hot chocolate made with Valrohna chocolate bar instead of cocoa powder. Your cake looks perfect and now I'm going to be haunted by Chambord until I try it.

Julie said...

Enjoyed this post so much- "...improved my mood much more than Kool-Aid would have". LOL!

I hadn't been eager to try this cake, either, but I should have known Rose would find a way to make it miraculous. Thanks for changing my mind :).

Jenn said...

The crown lid of Chambord is made from some heavy duty stuff! I had a hard time re-opening my bottle of Chambord. It's been a while since I used it and the sugar must have hardened around it. We had to use some tools yesterday. And the crown is still intact.

So Faithy, be brave.. go forth! It's sad to have Chambord unopened.

Jenn said...

Oops.. forgot to comment on the cake :). Marie, glad to hear this is a hit. I had some ganache trouble as well and had to throw away some - it was very sad :(.

Great picture of your liquor collection, btw.

Marie said...

No hot chocolate transformation. Don't you think the peanut butter would have made it taste odd? (Also, I didn't think of it, to be honest).

If you've read all the posts, you'll see that we've all become believers, even those of us who were doubtful about this combination.

Yes, I was expecting the crown to be flimsy plastic that would break off in my hand, but no. Sadness is throwing away ganache.

Lois B said...

HaHa - "WTF?" - must be the Chambord talking.

I'm glad you enjoyed this cake. My sister and I thought it was great too.

Hanaâ said...

Your post cracked me up, Marie. Funny how baking makes us swear like sailors some times. How nice of Jim to offer to run to the store for you! Very clever of him to ask you for the cocoa percentage in the chocolate. I’ll have to ask my husband what he would do in this case, but if I had to render a guess, I’d say his response would be “can’t you just make a different frosting?”. He’s still sweet though because he always takes care of the big mess I leave behind in the kitchen when I’m done baking :o) I almost forgot… your cake looks great. The genoise looks very moist. I hope I get to it tonight because I've never made a chocolate version of the genoise before! If I get to it, I’ll be implementing Hector’s suggestion from a while back and use corn starch instead of flour and make the cake gluten-free (I’m planning on taking it to work), since the cake relies on eggs and sugar for structure, not the flour. Should be a fun experiment.

Marie said...

Well, as you know, Jim is always in the kitchen with me when I'm baking, so he's picked up a few things. Are you just going to leave the peanut butter out of the ganache?

Hanaâ said...

Yes, I was going to leave out the PB. Unfortunately, it's almost 9pm right now and I just got done with stuff so no choc genoise for me (makes me sad!).

Andrea said...

Marie, great post! How nice of Jim to go to the store for you and actually know to ask which percentage of chocolate. My husband would go if I asked but wouldn't have a clue about which kind of chocolate, but he normally stays out of the kitchen when I'm baking. He helps some with cooking though. I've never tried using the wax paper strips. I always just use a cake board and then try to hide any mess I leave on the board with a shell or some other boarder.

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

now i know why the term LOL has been invented bc i find myself doing it more and more with each of your posts and all of your comments!

chambord also happens to be fantastic on grapefruit, and in peanut butter icecream. think peanut butter and jelly!

one word of caution learned the hard way when reopening the chambord: don't run it under hot water as the glue on the crown will soften and the crown separate. best to wipe the mouth of the bottle clean after every pour and then it won't stick.

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

PS--tears came to my eyes when i read the part about jim asking for the % of cacao in the chocolate.

Marie said...

I've heard of "whiskey talk," but never before of "Chambord talk."

It's easier for me to mess with the waxed paper than to try to make shells!

A friend told me that Chambord is great mixed with champagne or some other sparkling wine for a holiday cocktail--now I'm planning to make that for New Year's Eve.
Thanks for the hint about a possible glue-melting problem with the crown. Of course, now Faithy is never going to open her bottle.

Jenn said...

Rose, thanks for the tip about the melting problem with chambord. I thought about running it under hot water the other day, but was afraid something bad will happen. Glad I didn't do that.

Melinda said...

Your cake sounds and looks delicious.
Look how beautiful your genoise turned out! Very impressive, Lady!
I definitely think Jim has turned into a cake baking man...a RLB cake baking man! (the best kind!)
Can he line a cake tin, proper-like now, too?

I sure wish we could have a piece of this cake together. I am sure it was better than any dessert at the restaurant! x

faithy said...

LOL! that it is possible for the glue to melt..i'm having second thoughts about opening Thanks Rose for the 'warning'!

jini said...

this sounds and looks absolutely delish. i am a long time fan of chambord.....sigh

Sarah the Bear said...

Marie, I agree that the pb and chocolate candy combo can be overwhelming, but this one had the perfect balance. Loved this cake!