There are exceptions. Whipped cream frosting is ALWAYS acceptable. And I like cream cheese frosting.
Then there's ganache. As far as I'm concerned ganache is simply an excuse to eat candy with your cake. And I've got no problem with that. None at all.
For my birthday last month, I decided that I wanted to bake a chocolate cake, so I turned to one of my favorite baking-centric cookbooks, Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan.
Cake recipes are difficult for me, since I live at high altitude. I always approach them with a little bit of skepticism. When they turn out - at all - I'm overjoyed.
This one was good, and it reaffirmed what I know about my baking skills - I'm really not great with frosting. But it didn't matter once I sliced the cake for serving. Even with my high altitude handicap, it was a good cake.
Mocha Brownie Cake
3/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 1/2 ounces sweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter
5 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sour cream
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and spray a 9-inch round cake pan with baking spray.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.
Put a bowl over a pot of simmering water to create a double boiler. Put the semisweet and unsweetened chocolate and the butter in the bowl and heat, stirring as needed, until the chocolate and butter are melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat.
Add the melted chocolate to the egg mixture and mix for 15 seconds. It's fine if it's not fully incorporated - there's more mixing to come.
Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the flour mixture in with a rubber spatula. Stir the sour cream to loosen it, then fold it into the batter as well.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
Put the pan on a cooling rack and let it cool for 20 minutes. Turn it out onto a cake round or similar flat surface and refrigerate it uncovered for 1 hour.
Meanwhile, make the ganche.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons sugar
12 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup hot strong brewed coffee
Heat the heavy cream. butter, and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil.
Put the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the cream and coffee over the top. Set aside for 5 minutes, then stir until smooth. Set the mixture aside to cool thoroughly. The mixture will thicken as it cools - you want to use it when it is still pourable, rather than spreadable.
To assemble the cake:
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and with a sharp knife, cut it onto 3 even layers.
Place the top layer of the cake, cut-side down in a 9-inch springform pan (with the sides closed.) Pour one cup of the ganache over the top, spreading it evenly to the edges. Refrigerate uncovered, until it is set - about 15 minutes.
Place the middle layer on top of the first, pressing down gently. Pour another cup of ganache over the top, spreading to the edges as with the first layer, and refrigerate until set.
Note: if the ganache thickens too much to pour at any point, heat it gently.
Place the last layer on top, cut-side down, and press down as before. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before applying the final icing.
Run a knife around the edges of the cake, then release the sides and remove the cake from the pan. Pour the remaining ganache over the top and use a long icing spatula to smooth the top and the sides. Allow the icing to set at room temperature or in the refrigerator before slicing the cake.
So you want to know what the giveaway is?
You'll never guess, right? How about some CHOCOLATE!?
Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder
Sweetened Natural Cocoa Powder
99% Unsweetened Chocolate Baking Bar
70% Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Bar
62% Semisweet Chocolate Baking Chunks
Scharffen Berger has this to say about themselves:
"Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker is the first bean to bar artisan chocolate maker established in the United States within the past 50 years. With a full line of eating and home baking products,Scharffen Berger chocolate is made from the world’s best cacao beans that are perfectly fermented and roasted,elevating your classic recipes with new depths of flavor."
CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED. The winner is JULIEN.
In addition to offering this prize to my readers, Scharffen Berger also offered to send me some chocolate samples for my own use (yum). However, the cake was baked and the post was written and my photos were taken before I knew they were going sponsor the contest. Sweet deal, huh?
If you like contests and chocolate, check out this contest that Scharffen Berger is running.