Monday, August 30, 2010
HCB: Chocolate Layer Cake with Caramel Ganache
I made this cake last weekend along with the Marionberry Shortcakes. Both cakes were 1/2 recipes.
The cake itself was pretty easy. It's very similar to the cake base for the other butter/oil chocolate cakes in RHC.
One thing that surprised me when I took the cake - or my 1/2 cake :) - out of the oven, is how short it is. I think it only measured a little over an inch. Plus I would have to split it in half, yikes. That freaked me out a bit and I was afraid that the layers will be too fragile and I will mess it up when I applied the ganache.
Anyway, while the cake was easy, the ganache put up a bit of a resistance - to say the least.
The caramel making part went along smoothly. I had the heavy cream hot and ready and poured it onto the caramel. Sure enough, it bubbled like crazy. So far so good. Then I heated up the whole thing until the caramel dissolved. I took it off the heat and incorporate the butter, then pour it onto the already-chopped chocolate.
Oh, and by the way, I chopped the chocolate using my newly purchased chisel (great tip from Monica.)
Back to the ganache, mixed until the caramel and chocolate are all blended and started looking super shiny. Too shiny in fact, as they started separating. The ganache was looking too greasy and it looked like the oil/cocoa butter separated from the rest.
I panicked and didn't know what to do. Unlike regular non-caramel ganache, I can't re-melt this one and hoped it will emulsify again. How do I know this? Because that's exactly what I did, and I think I ended up melting the caramel because the ganache started becoming watery.
Onto the trash can it went.
By this point I was frustrated and pissed. Not at Rose, not sure at myself either. I was just pissed.
Caramel... while it was approaching the dangerous 350 degrees, my phone rang. I jumped, and released the caramel pot I was holding. A couple of drops of the caramel jumped out of the pan, landed on the palm of my hand (one drop on each hand). I screamed, yelped, jumped! It hurts like hell (never had caramel burn before).
And by this point, the caramel already burned and was beyond saving.
Starting over... with a band aid on my left palm...
Caramel... Exactly 370 degrees. Then heavy cream. I skipped the butter part (or more precisely, I forgot the butter part). Then chocolate and mixing by hand. And the ganache threatened to separate. I threatened it back and guess who won? Don't mess with a girl with a caramel burn!!!
I put the ganache - along with my hand - in an ice bath.
Next, frosted the cake. The ganache feels a bit slimy so I didn't bother to make any decorations.
And I said to myself, this cake looks ugly. It was just way way too plain. So I looked into the pantry and saw leftover chocolate pearls from the Designer Chocolate Baby Grand. I decorated the cake with it.
Okay still looks ugly.
Aha! *lightbulb above my head* Let's make caramel decorations!!!
Caramel... this time I used the full amount of sugar & water for the caramel ganache. The plan was to make some swirly designs but when I poured the caramel out of the pyrex cup it came out in one big glop. So I ended up just pouring the rest out onto the silpat, wait until they cool, and then bashed them in to make the shards.
Results? Not sure I like the combo of chocolate pearls and caramel shards. But I didn't feel like taking the pearls away, and figured that we'd ended up eating the pearls more than the caramel shards so both stayed.
I am disappointed. I was expecting more caramel taste, but the chocolate taste was more overpowering. I like the fudgy texture of the cake but otherwise it's a bit on the plain side. Though I do have to say that the taste improved after a couple of days - or it's just because my caramel burn started healing. I can't say I will make this cake again, but I will say that I have one caramel burn story (hopefully it's the only one) and a caramel shard-making experience :).