Jan 9, 2011

White Velvet Cake with Milk Chocolate Ganache

I really wasn't looking forward to making this cake. It seemed so, well, plain. No syrup, no special filling, no ladyfingers. Just a plain vanilla cake. Literally. And milk chocolate? We chocolate snobs look down our noses at milk chocolate. Why not just eat a Hershey bar? But, as usual, I'm forced to admit that my scorn is misplaced. It's a cake so light and tender that you think it will disappear on your tongue, and the ganache--not too sweet at all--bursts with rich chocolate flavor. And it's kid-friendly. Since there's no alcohol in it, I was able to give a big slab to our neighbors with their two little boys who love chocolate, thus saving me from my unfortunate greed.

The cake itself was so easy to make there were barely any pictures to take. It's practically a dump everything in the bowl and mix cake. I say "practically" because you really dump everything except the egg whites, some of the milk, and the vanilla in the bowl and mix it up. Then you add the egg white mixture. Easy as falling off a log, and considerably less painful.

For the ganache, I finally got to use the bar of Valrhona milk chocolate that's been waiting patiently in my chocolate bin (needless to say, I did not have a chocolate bin before starting this project). This huge chocolate bar wasn't enough chocolate, so I had to supplement with some other milk chocolate that Woody and I purchased in bulk long ago.

The chocolate melted nicely in the microwave. If this were Thanksgiving and I were giving a list of things I was thankful for, one of them would be that I can now melt chocolate in the microwave instead of having to drag out the double boiler. I wonder if my daughters even know what a double boiler is.

Cream poured into chocolate? Also a thing to be thankful for.

Ummm. Butter mixed into chocolate into which cream has been poured? I don't know whether this is a good idea or insane arterial-clogging overkill.

While I am mixing various fat-filled ingredients into fat-filled chocolate, the cake has baked. In contrast, the cake is a model of healthful eating, ready to earn the seal of approval from even those who gasp at the idea of eating Fettuccine Alfredo ("You might as well eat a whole stick of butter!"). The cake has only egg whites and milk. Oh, and yes, there is that whole stick of butter, but still--divided by 10? It's nothing.

The instruction, "divide the cake in half" no longer sends me into a tailspin. Now all I have to do is adjust the feet of my cake slicer so that the wire cuts more or less through the middle of the cake. Much easier than blindly running a cake knife through the cake or trying to figure out the dental floss trick.

The ganache, bless its heart, turns out to be just the right consistency for spreading, and the frosting actually proceeds fairly uneventfully. But which I mean 1) the cake didn't split into a million crumbs and 2) the kitchen remained a curse-free zone.

I actually thought the cake looked quite nice plain. But then I remembered who I was baking with. All my super-baker colleagues would no doubt bring out their pastry tips and their designer tricks and I'd be the only one with a plain cake. I remembered I had some little snowflake decorations left over from the last time I made decorated sugar cookies, and I thought they'd look cute. Hoping that sugar snowflakes never go stale, I sprinkled them on the top.

Now that I've made this cake, I really want someone to ask me to make them a plain white cake. And I'll say, "Oh, I know just the thing."


Karen: "This ganache is heavenly. Milk chocolate is my favorite. The cake is light as a cloud."

Jim: "The cake is good, but not delicious. I like the ganache, but I like dark chocolate better. It's good for what it is."

Mary:  "Delicious cake.  You didn't make the little white sprinkles, did you?  That would be beyond the call of duty."


Vicki said...

Great looking cake. Very cute snowflakes. I've never seen Valhrohna milk chocolate anywhere.
I bet it's fantastic.

Mendy said...


Looks fantastic. Love how white it is. Where can I get on of those cake cutter thingys?

Jenn said...

Beautiful Marie! I like both version, plain and with the sugar snowflake.
I don't think sugar snowflake goes out of style, especially in the wintertime (matter of fact, it's been snowing here the whole day!).

Monica said...

Oh wow, it looks great to me... not plain at all. And it was a solid hit around here and like you said "children" friendly too. Not that is a problem around this part, Tom's kid eats ANYTHING that I put in front of him, he is a great dessert tester, just like his father.

Since we are chocolate snobs, I did cheat and replaced about 100gr of the milk chocolate with dark chocolate and oh wow... maybe the next time you would like that tip so Jim can have his "dark Chocolate".

I dedicated this cake to my best friend who's birthday was on Saturday and unfortunately this year we could not celebrate together.

faithy said...

I love this cake too! Yummy isn't it? I love your gadget..i have one lousy one and it doesn't seem to do it's job properly! I think i should upgrade to yours.

Marie said...

It was very good--not like a Hershey bar at all!

I'm pretty sure I got my cake slicer/leveler from amazon, but I can't find it now. Here's one: http://www.amazon.com/Cake-Slicer-Adjustable-Wire-12-5/dp/B001AGO60I/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1294623625&sr=8-1
but that one only has one wire and mine has two. Mine also has adjustable feet that help you get the right level.

I like the sugar snowflakes much better than the real ones.

I don't mind giving my own kids boozed-up cakes, but I'm worried about getting a reputation about being the neighborhood supplier.

I wish I could figure out which one I had--then I'd recommend it.

evil cake lady said...

i like the snowflakes! i've baked the cake but will split and frost tomorrow, and i am excited.

Hanaâ said...

If memory serves me, you got your cake slicer at Cooks of Crocus Hill (Fat Daddio brand). And your cake looks great, with snowflakes or sans snowflakes. I haven’t had much luck with White Cake from TCB (always came out dry) so I skipped this one. Seeing everyone’s cakes, I’m not so sure that was the right decision…

Marie said...

I can't wait to see what you do with it!

Yes, you are a genius. I was thinking it was a Fat Daddio's, but I couldn't find it on line. I'd forgotten all about going into Cook's of Crocus Hill and finding it there--ande I was so excited too. It's all coming back to me now.

Jenn said...

I've made this cake back in November. Not regretting it making it early but regretting posting it early. I feel left out now (I know it's my own fault).

That being said, I took the opportunity to do another catch up. I made fruitcake (as cupcakes).

kendall said...

Sometimes simplicity is the most delicious option; this cake looks fabulous and not overwhelming. Thanks for sharing!

Andrea said...

The cake looks delicious. I must be in the minority here because I love milk chocolate though my palate is starting to get a bit more sophisticated the more I bake these cakes. I have the cake complete, but I still need to make the ganache so hopefully I'll get a quick post up today. The job search is keeping me incredibly busy which is a good sign. I think I should be employed again pretty soon.

Melinda said...

Jim, I think you are becoming a bit spoilt now, and maybe even a discerning cake snob. Marie needs to whip up a proper dry as cardboard cake (as if she is even capable of doing that, now she is an expert cake maker!) for you to fully appreciate this moist and delicious white cake!
Just pulling your leg a bit.

Marie...you didn't even flinch at the thought of splitting the cake! You are one cool cucumber now. You've made a lovely cake. I would love for you to make this for me.

Marie said...

I love the idea of the fruitcake as cupcakes! Even if you weren't 100% sold on them, I think they look wonderful.

I agree with you about simplicity. Thanks for visiting.

One of my tasters has been waiting forever for me to make something with milk chocolate, and she was so happy that I did. The Valrhona milk chocolate is (not surprisingly) fantastic.

Exactly what I told him (that he was getting spoiled). "Some people would be happy to get a homemade cake every week," were my exact words, I think.
I will be so happy to make this cake for you when you come to MN!

Sarah the Bear said...

Marie: I, too, thought this cake would be boring, but while I'm patiently waiting to try it (I'll be good and have dinner first), I can already tell it's way better than I could have imagind. And truly so easy!

Rose Levy Beranbaum said...

marie, the snowflakes are enchanting and, of course, couldn't be more appropriate this time of year. we're expecting another big load starting tomorrow afternoon! but i have to say i was really impressed with how perfectly lovely the 'plain' cake was. you've become quite a cake baker and i'm wondering how the bread baking is doing! i know both of us are, at heart, bread bakers first. i'm so pleased that woody has gotten the bread bug!

Shirley said...

I love this recipe! I once made it as cupcakes, and a colleague told me it was "the best cupcake I've ever had."

Marie said...

It's so nice to be pleasantly surprised by something that's easy!

I just saw that NYC declared a snow emergency--at least the city learns from its mistakes!
I'm still baking bread, but not as often. My bread cookbook collection has gone from 1 (yours) to to 14, but TBB is the only one that's made me want to do it through and through.
As Melinda says, amazing how many variations on the essential theme of flour, salt, yeast, and water.
I love it that Woody has been bitten by the bread bug too!

Those are exactly the words that someone said to me after I brought the chocolate cupcakes into the office! Must be why the chocolate and white cupcakes are a good substitute for an actual wedding cake.

doughadear said...

This is a good all round cake. If you needed a birthday cake in a pinch this would be it.

Alpha Baker Joan said...

The cake looks just lovely, and love the little snowflakes too!