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Sunday, January 16, 2011

HCB Free Choice: Chocolate Pinecone Cake

For the Free Choice this week, I decided on Chocolate Pinecone Cake. I was looking forward to this cake, mostly to the idea to making fondant for the 1st time. It felt so exciting. 

It's been something that's on my "bucket list" to do. Plus this recipe sound yummy and that makes it even better.

So excited I was that I even made all the ingredients pose for a photo shoot, :). 

 Here's the diluted gelatin heated up over simmering water.

Dry ingredients - powdered sugar and cocoa powder - sifted and combined.

You can't really see it but the gelatin mixture, corn syrup, and vanilla are in with the dry ingredients.

I don't have a picture of how it got from the mess above to this nice long fondant log, as my hands were completely sticky and brown from the cocoa. 

Let me just tell you that this fondant is sticky and confusing to work with. Rose said to knead the fondant until it's smooth and satiny. I got to the smooth part but it doesn't feel satiny and it breaks when I try to pull it (trying to imitate rolling it out). Nowhere in the recipe does it say that it's supposed to break and I thought how am I gonna drape it over the cake when it breaks like that.

I was so troubled that I posted a cry for help over at Rose's forum. The awesome Hector and Liza confirmed that this particular fondant does breaks and rips. Having learned that, I breath a sigh of relief and glad that I hadn't thrown it away.

The cake, as it turns out, pose a problem also. This confirms again that sponge cake that are made in a sheet pan is my demise. Some of you guys have said that piping or decorating make you shudder. For me, it's sheet pan sponge cake!!!

It all started so well. Cocoa powder water mixture - check. Whisked eggs and egg yolks with sugar until quadruled, ribbony, and beautiful - check. Fold in cocoa mixture - check. Fold in dry ingredients - check. Finally, fold in the meringue - check. Mixture is still billowy, high inside the mixer bowl, and looking fine. Last step is to pour it onto the baking pan. It looks nice in there. Into the oven it goes for 8 minutes. Set timer. At 8 minutes mark, took a peek through the oven window, looks great. Opened the door to check the middle, yes, it indeed bounce back. Took the pan out, set it on the counter, and witnessed the sponge cake DEFLATING before my eyes!!! It became 1/4 inch in height.

Devastated, sad, frustrated, and annoyed. I considered chucking the whole thing and making something else.

I thought of the fondant, sitting in the fridge, waiting to be tested...

The idea of starting over and doing this whole thing again, sometime in the future, in unfathomable. So I proceeded. Might as well get it over with.

Making the ganache. Much smoother and there's nothing to report except instead of adding cognac to the ganache, I added Grand Marnier instead :).

Since the sponge cake is so short and sad-looking, I ended up quartering the sheet and making 2 mini pinecone instead. I thought since it's such a narrow log it will look very weird and not pinecone-looking if I use the whole thing. 

The chocolate fondant turned out to be nice! Easy to roll and looks good. Happy happy. At least something turns out - I thought to myself.

And there, next to the fondant, is the Wilton fondant rolling pin that I just bought last week.

Draping the fondant over the cake is tricky. It breaks in several places and when it didn't, it threatened to break. And while making the numerous V cuts' on the fondant, it breaks in several places as well. I was becoming very sad and on the verge of depression, until I realized that a heavy dusting of powdered sugar will hide all the imperfection that I am seeing.

Tasting impression:
This cake ain't bad. Okay, maybe that's just my somber mood talking. It is a pretty good cake. The ganache is yummy and the chocolate fondant taste really good as well - I love the smell of it, very chocolate-y. I'm not sure I will make this cake again, though I would probably attempt the sponge cake at some point.


  1. Love the fact that you went mini with these... and your draping looks awesome.. you can cross that off your bucket list girl!

  2. I can't belief this was your first time. It looks so realistic. Mmm chocolate fondant. Is that like modelling chocolate?

  3. Looks awesome! Doesn't look like it's your first time making fondant! If you didn't mention the trouble you had, i won't have known! :D

  4. Congratulations on checking off another item on your bucket list. The fondant looks great. I don't see any imperfections. Too bad you had issues with the sponge cake. I made a Chiffon Layer cake over the weekend for hubby's bday which scared me a lot (because there's a reason why everybody bakes it in a tube pan). I used a recipe from The Cake Book. The author, Tish Boyle, promised me it would not sink. I'm glad I trusted her. It really didn't. Go Tish! I'll post it soon, maybe today.

  5. Wow! I'm impressed that you took on making chocolate fondant and the pinecone cake! They look amazing!

  6. You should be really proud! I'd never attempt this one. Ever!

    Love the blog.

  7. I have eyed the pinecone picture of Rose's and always just shook my head and turned away. Thanks so much for taking on this challenge. I love the mini idea. So pretty. I would like several of them on a tray. You did such a great job. Congrats.!

  8. This looks delicious. You did a good job here.


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