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Monday, March 14, 2011

HCB: Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache

WARNING: This post contains many pictures - most of them are mouth-watering. Please have something sweet nearby, a piece of cake would be nice, or if not available, a piece of chocolate/candy.

Got your candy?


This is one of the cakes that I've been looking forward to. I've never had a Devil's Food Cake (not a cake fan before HCB) and usuallt ganache is too rich/sweet for my taste but the picture in the book looks so luscious that everytime I see it I felt myself almost drooling. So when Marie scheduled it this month I was yelping with joy.

Rose advised to soak the cherries 8 hours ahead so I soaked it Friday night. Looking into the liquor collection in the pantry, I do not own a bottle of Cognac. Hard to believe, but true. I do have a bottle of brandy so that's what I used.

In going with the theme "let's divide the recipe as little as possible and using odd fractions if possible" I made 1/4 recipe, baked in 6 inch hearts pan. I had thought of taking Marie's dare comments and do 3/7th but I didn't want to mess it up.

First, I made the ganache. Rose said to make it at least 6 hours ahead. I didn't have time the night before, so I started first thing in the morning, 8.30, bright and early. For those of you who don't think 8.30 AM is bright and early please remember that this Sunday was daylight saving's time, we moved up 1 hour. So essentially I was up in the kitchen at 7.30 *grin*.

The ganache calls for mixing cocoa powder and boiling water, then cooling it down to room temperature. Whenever I make this, I always took Rose's suggestion and put it in the fridge - so much faster that way. While the ganache was cooling, I prepped the chocolate. The chocolate is a block of Schaffen Berger from the freezer. It's hard as a rock but whacking a piece of it is no problem, thanks for a tip from Monica to use a chisel.

Once the cocoa mixture cooled down, I made the caramel. For once, I thought to opt out of measuring the temperature of the caramel and just judge it by sight. Rose said until deep amber. I took the pan off the heat when it's medium amber and then watch the caramel turned to almost deep amber. Then poured the cream over it. Since I've taken the pan off the heat a minute earlier, the cream didn't sizzle when I poured it, so I was a little worried then. Maybe I undercook the caramel? But then I stir the cream with a spatula, and it sizzled indeed. I did wear my oven mitts when I poured the cream because I did not want to have caramel burn again.

Next, place the pot back on the heat until the caramel has dissolved. Then poured it over the chopped chocolate. The chocolate was in a bowl. I opted out of using the food processor. I don't feel this is necessary for ganache, plus it's such a small amount.

Next, I made the cake. And this is where my poor mis-en-place skills showed. I have not read the instruction for the cake so I didn't realize that the cake also calls for mixing cocoa (and chocolate) with hot water and cooling it down. To speed things up even further, I placed the cocoa mixture in the freezer. I don't know whether this is a good idea but I did it anyway, and set the timer for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes, it's still a bit warm, so I put it back for another 5. By then it's completely cooled. Yay!

Rose recommends an alternate mixing method for a less tender cake, so I tried this method. It's quite different than the original recipe. It calls for mixing half the cocoa mixture with the wet ingredients (sour cream, eggs, vanilla) and the other half goes with the butter into the dry ingredients. This method also cuts down on the frequency of mixing time since there's only 1 wet ingredients mixture to incorporate (vs two in the original recipe - egg mixture and cocoa mixture). That means less scraping the sides of the bowl, which I'm happy about (yes I need to get the beater blade - it's on my wish list!).

The good thing about making smaller portion of a recipe - aside from the obvious of not having too much dessert around or the headache of finding people to help you eat dessert - is that things cooled down much faster. The ganache is supposed to take 6 hours until it gets to a spreadable consistency. But with 1/4 recipe, after 2 hours it's ready.

I thought the cake needs dressing up a bit, so I made a little whipped cream and piped rosettes around, topped with leftover drunken sour cherries. 

Tasting impressions:
Be still my heart! This is the ultimate chocolate cake! The chocolate cake is fudgy and moist - like a really good brownie. And the ganache. Let me tell you! This ganache is a killer. I was licking the spatula, my fingers, the bowl (psst.. don't tell anyone). Even hubby, who's usually not a chocolate cake fan, said this is really really good.


  1. It looks beautiful, Jenn. Love the whipped cream rosettes on top, and of course, the heart shaped cake. So with a 1/4 of the recipe, did you end up with 2 cake layers? Or you split one cake layer in half? The cake looks fudgy indeed. The last picture almost looks like a brownie. Is that a correct assessment or am I seeing things? :o)

  2. Hanaa, yes it's like a brownie. That's how fudgy it is! Next time I want to try the original method in the book, since this cake is a bit dense.

    With 1/4 recipe I ended up with 1 layer (yes I split 1 layer in half). Perfect for 2 people.

  3. Mine did not come out like brownie... but rich, dark cake... mmm, did I do something wrong there? Oh wait, I just saw it you used the alternate mixing method.

    Regarles, it was good (Tom took it to work today) and I keep a small piece for us tonight.. then no more cake for the rest of the week.

    Love the decoration on top... and of course love the heart!

  4. gorgeous cake jenn! your photos are wonderful. i need to get back on the baking wagon asap! hopefully i can catch up to you all soon.

  5. Looks so beautiful! I need to bake this to find out..this is one that i always wanted to bake! I've been so busy lately...

  6. I can hardly believe that is the same recipe as the cake I made. Yours is exactly what I wanted - fudgy goodness. Will have to rebake it using the alternate method. I did read Marie's comment, but then because it wasn't in blazing neon on Rose's site, I just stuck to the recipe.

    Gorgeous photos.

  7. What a fun post. Your cake looks perfect - I love the heart shape. My chocolate loving friends were in heaven when I served this decandant treat at a special luncheon.


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