Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Congratulations Cake

Jonathan, a guy I work with, is getting married this Sunday.  Typically, we do fun celebrations for the women at work when they get married, but I came to the realization yesterday that nobody had planned anything for him.  So, I decided to bake a cake. 

Having been reprimanded by Jonathan on numerous occasions for making cookies that didn't contain chocolate, I took chocolate as my guide for the theme of this cake.  And yes, it was awfully nice of me to make a cake for a guy who gives me crap about the cookies I make and bring into work, wasn't it?

I made a three layer chocolate cake, filled with spiced chocolate mousse, iced with chocolate ganache and decorated with powdered sugar and cocoa powder.  I think I got the chocolate in there this time.

The whole thing came out wonderfully, though I am a little wary about the cake (we haven't eaten it yet).  I followed the Mayonnaise Cake recipe again, but the layers didn't get very high and seemed kind of doughy when I sliced off the top.  It could be that there might have been a reason that in the recipe where it says not to use low-fat mayonnaise.  I used olive oil mayo.

I've never made chocolate mousse before.  I found it to be pretty easy and now that I really know what's in there, something I'll never be able to order in a restaurant ever again.  That is depressing.  It's SO good.  This recipe added cinnamon and nutmeg to the mousse to give it a little flavor, it's got a "Mexican chocolate" feel to it.

Cake out of the oven.

I thought it would be clever to do the decorating with cocoa powder.  While the cakes cooked and cooled, I cut the letters in CONGRATULATIONS out of cardstock-like paper (thank goodness that wedding invitation from July was still on the fridge).  

I arranged the letters in a circle around the outside of the cake.  Then I dusted the top of the cake with a mixture of cocoa powder and powdered sugar using a mesh strainer.  This worked fine.  Of course, then I couldn't find the letters because they were stuck under a layer of powder.  It took some odd maneuvering, but I got them out.  If I had thought of the circle idea in the beginning, I would have made the letters bigger.  I like it though, it has a kind of minimalist-retro feel to it.


Spiced chocolate mousse
adapted from here
thanks for Technicolor Kitchen for the recipe

180g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped (about 6oz)
3 eggs, at room temperature, separated
3 tablespoons caster sugar (US=superfine sugar)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
225ml heavy cream, whipped until soft peaks form (about 1 cup)

Melt chocolate in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of gently simmering water, turn off heat and cool, add yolks and stir to combine – mixture will thicken; add spices. 
Add cream and fold through to combine.

In a separate large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Add sugar and mix to combine. Add whites to chocolate mixture and fold to combine. The mousse should be smooth and even in color.
Spoon into six ½ cup (120ml) capacity moulds and refrigerate for 3 hours or until set.

Serves 6 

Chocolate Ganache 
I made it up as I went along, but this is a pretty standard recipe.  

9 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract or rum (or vanilla vodka)

  • Place chopped chocolate in a medium metal bowl.
  • Heat cream in a small sauce pan over medium heat until bubbles form around the edges.  Watch it carefully because you don't want it to get to a full boil.
  • Pour cream over chocolate and leave it for three minutes.
  • After three minutes, whisk until blended and smooth.
  • Add extract and blend completely.
  • Let cool until thick enough to spread without running off.  The longer it cools, the thicker it will become.
This made enough to cover a 9" 3-layer cake with about half a cup left over.

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