Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Nom Report - Episode 11, Chocolate Cake (of Doom)

This project doesn't really have a proper name, since it was an amalgam of several different recipes in one cookbook.  You see, Marcel Desaulniers' Death by Chocolate cookbook has a beautiful wedding cake in it called "Chocolate Wedlock."  We wanted to make that, but a three tier cake just seemed a bit excessive for an evening experiment.  So Regina cobbled together a smaller cake using similar elements from other recipes. 

The cake would be the speckled chocolate cake from the recipe "Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake." The filling would be the mousse from the "Death by Chocolate" cake itself, as would the ganache topping.  A crumbcoat of white chocolate buttercream would act as a crumb coat between the cake and the ganache.  And then we would attempt to make it pretty. 

Step one:  Cake

2 sticks butter, plus 2 tablespoons melted
8 egg yolks
6 egg whites
1 1/2 c. sifted cake flour (we did not sift, which may have made our cake less fluffy than it should have been)
1 1/4 c. sugar
8 oz semisweet chocolate, finely grated (we stuck ours in a blender, which works fine, but it helps to chill the chocolate before grating)

Coat two 9in round cake pans with the melted butter.  Line each pan with parchment paper (not wax paper!) and coat the paper with more melted butter.  Set aside, and preheat your oven to 325.
Melt the butter in a double boiler over medium heat, stirring continuously so the butter melts, but doesn't separate.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
Whisk egg yolks and 3/4 c sugar on high until slightly thickened and lemon colored.  Adjust speed to low, and continue to mix while whisking egg whites.
Whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add the remaining 1/3 c sugar and continue to whisk until stiff but not dry. 
Gradually add the flour to the egg yolks while mixing on low.  Add the melted butter and mix until combined, about 10 seconds.  Whisk on medium another 5 seconds.  Add a third of the egg whites and stir to incorporate, then fold in the remaining egg whites.  Fold in the grated chocolate.  Divide the batter between the prepared pans, and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Note:  It will not come out clean, because of the chocolate bits, so just look for it to be clean of cake batter.  Remove cakes from oven and cool in pans for 20 minutes.  Invert the cakes onto cake circles and cool to room temperature.  Remove parchment paper and refridgerate until needed.

Well, so far, so good.

Step two: The filling

6 oz semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
3 egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler over medium heat and stir until smooth.  Beat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream on high until stiff peaks form.  Whisk 3 egg whites until soft peaks form.  Add 2 tablespoons sugar and whisk until stiff peaks form.  Add a quarter of the whipped cream to the chocolate and whisk until combined.  Add the egg whites and the remaining whipped cream.  Fold together until combined, then refridgerate until needed. 

Still looking good...

Step three:  The buttercream

So here's where we ran into some trouble.  This is a very different buttercream than I'd ever made, involving cooking egg whites in a double boiler.  But we are not afraid; we grab those egg whites and go to work! 

Oh dear.  That doesn't look right.  Or smell right.  The eggs have obviously cooked, so down the sink it goes, and we reach for the eggs again.  We have three eggs left.  Kami notes: We canNOT screw this one up.
Well, so much for that.  These egg whites wouldn't thicken, no matter how long we beat them.  What the hell are we doing wrong?  But there are no more eggs.  So Regina declares that we will make a normal buttercream.  Kami notes that we have exactly the right amount of white chocolate, so we canNOT screw this up.
She's not allowed to say tha anymore.  The frosting congealed in a weird way, and tastes funny.  Regina throws up her hands and reverts to the tried and true method of "Chocolate Buttercream Frosting without a Recipe."
Oh, thank god.  So we fetch the cakes from the fridge so we can proceed with assembly.

Step Four: Assembly

Place toothpicks around the middle of each layer.

Using a serrated knife, cut through the cake, using the toothpicks as a guide.  We cut halfway through, and then cut from the other side.
And there was much rejoicing.  No seriously, we were shrieking and high-fiving like big chocolate covered dorks.
Place a third of the mousse on the bottom layer, top with the next layer,  Repeat until you have four layers of cake and three layers of mousse.

Use the buttercream to make a crumbcoat on the cake.  Refridgerate to firm up the buttercream on the cake.  If you have the cake on a plate instead of a cake circle, you might want to cover the edges with parchment to avoid drips when you pour the ganache.

Step five: Ganache

Heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 3 tablespoons unsalted butter in a saucepan until just boiling.  Add 22 ounces semisweet chocolate.  Cover and let sit five minutes, then stir until smooth.

Yum.  Let cool until almost room temperature (it needs to be cool enough that it doesn't melt the buttercream).  Pour the ganache over the cake.

And finally, make it look pretty.

Hmm...maybe Regina should let Kami do this part next time.

Well the cake survived being cut...even if the slice didn't.  Note: It held up much better after being refridgerated overnight. 

Verdict:  Kami thought it was delicious, Regina thought it was pretty good, but maybe a touch too much.  But Regina's the picky one anyway.  The recipients at the Renaissance Faire rehearsal thought it was quite nummy.  So overall, it must be rated a success.  Assuming we never discuss the whole egg white thing ever again.


  1. Why did you not sift? Do you not own a sifter?

  2. Karen Western, TampaJanuary 11, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    Who sifts these days?

  3. No, we don't own a sifter, and we really didn't want to sift it through a four-inch diameter strainer ;)