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Saturday, January 3, 2015

Alpha Bakers: Chocolate Cuddle Cake

I am a little ashamed of posting this cake after seeing how tall other's cakes are and comparing it to how tall the cake in the book is. My cake only measured 1 1/2 inches tall. Sniff. The loss of height is because of my own fault. If you keep reading you'll find out why...

I was really looking forward to this cake. Plus it coincides with my birthday. I planned to bake the day before my birthday, though I didn't sleep well and didn't feel like baking. I started anyway. I should know better. Since I was not in the right mood, of course I messed up. It was bad. I had to make the caramel three times to get it right. My fault because I forgot to order a new instant thermometer so had to make do with the dying thermometer - don't really trust a dying thermometer, it seems to be working okay around 200 degrees but can't go past 250 degrees. So I am doing this by eye-balling, which is a bad sign. My first caramel, I was afraid of the caramel (still remember the caramel burn I got from a couple of years ago) so I didn't wait until the caramel was dark enough. And then I forgot to separate the cream to add to the cocoa powder. So I mix the cocoa powder into the caramel directly while it was still warm.

First caramel attempt.

The second caramel I went the other extreme and it turned out too dark, I think. It was bubbling quite furiously when the hot cream was added so that part looks good. But by the time I weighed it, it had the consistency of a gooey candy, which seemed to be too thick. It tasted delicious though :).

Second caramel attempt:

By this time I do not have enough cream to do a third caramel and the whipped cream, so I put everything away, washed dishes, and proceeded to watch The Good Wife marathon and knit for the rest of the afternoon.

Next day, Birthday! Ran to the store to get another whipped cream in the AM and started over.

Mixture of sugar, golden syrup and water.

Added the hot cream. Bubbling furiously.

Mix for a minute until the caramel dissolves.

Third caramel!!! Success!!! I even remembered the vanilla. YAY! And yes it looked just liked the first caramel (duh, Jenn...)

I had a brief moment of panic because my husband has taken our new cocoa powder to the office (the universe is against me baking). I found an older jar of Ghirardelli cocoa powder in the back of the pantry that still has about 2 tsp of cocoa powder in it.

Caramel with cocoa powder added. I mix it pretty well but there were a lot of small cocoa blobs that was quite visible. So I strained it to get a smoother mixture. I don't have a shot of what was strained but in addition to the cocoa blobs there were a couple of small sugar chunks (crystals?), so I was glad I thought about straining it.

I waited and paced for the caramel to cool. When it gets to about 80 degrees I made the gelatin.

Blurry photo of cooled gelatin with vanilla.

Whipped cream with caramel added.

Stiff peak.

Next, cake.

By this time, hubby came home to deliver the cocoa powder.

Cocoa mixture.

With safflower oil.

Batter with dry ingredients added and egg yolks.

Foamy egg whites.

Mixer in action.

After sugar added and more mixer action, stiff peaks.

Added 1/3 egg whites.

After folding the first 1/3.

Completed batter.

Batter ready for oven with rose nail in the middle. Pop quiz: what's missing in this picture?

Yup right. I forgot the cake strips. They are soaking in water in a pot. I realized it 2 minutes after the cake is in the oven and made the decision to take the cake out and put the cake strips around. That was a bad decision and why my cake is only 1 1/2 inches tall. Maybe I should have let it go but then would it be worse to let the cake bake without cake strips? The outer layer would have overbaked, no?

The next 38 minutes felt like forever as I wait for whether this turn out disastrous. And yup, it's short. It never rose really high and it looks like this.

It gets worse. This is what it looks like after the upside-down cooling period and un-molding.

Nothing that a generous layer of ganache and whipped cream can't fix....

The chocolate curls was pretty challenging. I followed the instructions and melt enough chocolate to fill 1 hole in the financier pan. I had to do about 10 - 12 5 seconds burst in the microwave to get it soft enough to want to curl but the chocolate curl keeps breaking. My new vegetable peeler is sharp (I've almost peeled my fingernails once). I think maybe my issue is the instruction said to peel toward you but this is an awkward move for me because I always peel away from me. And by the way, I still have almost a full block of chocolate left, would I be able to store and use this in the future for say, ganache?

This cake taste like a cross between chocolate butter cake and chocolate genoise. It has the fudgy-ness taste of a chocolate butter cake and the texture is airy like a chocolate genoise. I don't know if the fudgy-ness is because it's shorter/dense, but I like it. I will make it again and won't mess up (hopefully) next time.

Alpha Bakers is a group of bakers who are baking through The Baking Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum's latest cookbook. Come check out the rest of the group at Rose's Alpha Bakers.

Click here for a full listing of all the recipes we are baking.


  1. Happy Birthday Jenn!! Hope you had a great day!
    Your cake still looked wonderful! But Im sure it still tasted great too! I didn't make the chocolate curls.. i didn't realise there was instructions for that! LOL! Again..somehow I missed reading it. I think I have short attention span, I cannot read instructions more than a page long..LOL!

    1. There are a lot of things to pay attention to in this cake! It would help if I read the recipes several times before starting but I also have short attention span (and not patient enough).

  2. Hi Jenn, and happy birthday! I also baked the Cuddle Cake as a birthday cake, for a friend! Yours looks great, even if it is a bit short. I didn't make the curls this time. My whipped cream was much softer than yours. Read all about it and the rest of my results at It was quite the kitchen adventure, but I LOVE this cake! At least I didn't blister my fingers on the sugar syrup. My birthday is in a few days. I would love this one as my birthday cake!

  3. Happy birthday Jenn ,the chocolate cuddle cake looks wonderful what a great idea make it for your birthday and the best to you ,your pictures are wonderful also.

  4. ב''ה

    I used cake-strips and got an overflow! Where the egg-whites too cold?

    I gave up on the curls when my whipped-cream messed up.

    Happy Birthday!

  5. Jenn, hands down, your cake is BEAUTIFUL! inspite of all the mishaps. None of those mishaps matter, only that you had a wonderful day with your friends and family--eating cake!

  6. Happy Birthday, Jenn! I used to hate to bake my own cake because I would always mess it up. Now I don't want to trust anybody else with the task! I didn't see the instructions for chocolate curls either, but I would have been too lazy to make them. You decorated your cake so perfectly. You are a champ for continuing on even after a couple of messed up caramels.

    1. Jen, I used to never bake any cake. Always just buy from the store. Now I only trust Rose's cakes haha.. The store bought is too sweet and/or not good enough.

      I looked for the chocolate curls in the book because the cake looks so pretty with it. I was determined to make it. Otherwise I wouldn't have noticed it either.

  7. Happy Birthday. Your cake looks fantastic. Not to worry, that is just the nature of chiffon cakes and this one is good no matter what.

    1. Thanks Raymond. Seems like chiffon can be challenging. But so worth it!

  8. Happy Birthday :) I love the way the shortie cake came out - it looks so dense and chocolatey! It sounds like it tasted good too.

    I'm so impressed with all of your caramel attempts too (especially after a burn). I skipped it for my cake, but will definitely make this again and do it right. Everyone's ravings about the caramel whipped cream has motivated me!

  9. Happy Birthday! Regardless of height, it's quite pretty and tasty so that's what counts! I absolutely agree baking sleep deprived is not a good idea, as evidenced by my dropping my cake on the floor.

  10. Happy Belated Birthday Jenn.. and like everyone said, your cake looks great.. you get burn by caramel, I get burned by my oven - oh well, the bakers life :)

  11. Firstly, Happy Birthday!! I think your cake looks amazing. Who cares how tall it is, it's the flavor that counts!! Your photos are making me swoon! I didn't manage to get any process picks making the caramel ganache. Do you mind if I refer my blog viewers to visit your post? Have a great week.

    Patricia @ ButterYum

    1. Thanks Patricia. Yes you can refer your viewers to my blog. I'd be honored! :)

  12. Happy birthday Jenn! Wishing you many more with great health!! Love your perseverance. The end result was worth it. Your decorations covered up any imperfections. Your description of the cake is spot on. We loved it!!

  13. Happy Birthday to you! Your cake looks really good.


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