This past week was my mother-in-law’s birthday. She asked for a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting and I began searching through my cookbooks for recipes. Honestly, chocolate cake has never been my forte. I have one chocolate cake recipe that I rely on from this cookbook, but I wanted to try something different. I should have thought it over first. It seems that every time I try a chocolate cake, I fail miserably. Something about it being a cake. Chocolate cupcakes always work out for me – just not chocolate cakes.
Cakes: 1001 Classic Recipes is a pretty amazing cookbook. I just haven’t had the time (or the guts) to try out the various recipes in it. Nevertheless, I dove in and began searching for a recipe chock-full of chocolate. The best part about this cookbook is that it separates the recipes based on types of cakes (butter cake, chocolate cakes, etc.) so finding a chocolate recipe was pretty easy. Problem was, most of the chocolate cake recipes had other ingredients in it and I wanted to adhere to the birthday girl’s wishes and avoid straying too far from her chocolate craving.
Minutes later, I settled on a chocolate Viennois cake. The cookbook described it as a “sinfully rich chocolate cake” that took its name from the Austrian city of Vienna “where it is served in cafés with steaming cups of strong, black coffee”. Sounds perfect right? Even with my past experiences with chocolate cakes, I was not afraid. The spongy cake didn’t scare me; the recipe called for egg white peaks to be gently folded into a batter, which was very similar to the Bûche de Noël recipe. I knew I couldn’t fail. I mixed the batter and separated it into two round cake pans. The batter cooked and after 20 minutes, I tested the cakes with a toothpick and took the cake pans out to cool. Life was good. Can you guess what’s coming? Ten minutes later, I went to check on the cakes. What had previously been two beautifully fluffy chocolate cakes now resembled two sad and lonely cakes that had sunken into themselves. Queue the “wa wa wa” cartoon noise. I could kick myself for not snapping a photo, it was that bad. It was now 11 am, we had to leave for dinner at 4 pm, and I was totally defeated. Back to the drawing board.
Feeling completely defeated and minutes away from going to Kroger to buy a cake (I know, I know; sinful. I don’t handle stress well), I turned to old faithful: the Martha Stewart site. Good ‘ole Martha: she never wrongs me. I chose her Dark-Chocolate Cake with Ganache Frosting and ventured out once more to shop for ingredients I lacked. I even warned my husband: “If this one fails too, I’m going to buy a cake and go cry in the corner”. Luckily, the cake was a success.
Since I was working with ganache and not a buttercream frosting, I wasn’t sure how much decorating I could accomplish on the cake (I was also quite pressed for time), but once the ganache had cooled down enough, it was very easy to use in a piping bag. To add some additional decorations, I melted some chocolate chips and let the mixture cool on a cookie sheet with wax paper. Then I used cookie cutters to cut out the shapes and some melted white chocolate chips for additional decorations. It was a quick job, but a good outcome given the day’s previous events. Although I don’t prefer chocolate cake, I must say this recipe was quite delicious. The minute you opened the cake container the ganache’s chocolate smell would smack you right in the face. Given a redo, I would have taken the cake out of the oven 5 minutes earlier so it would have been a bit more moist. But the cake and ganache combo was delicious; I would probably eat the ganache by the spoonful (don’t judge, I’m prego :))
Here’s another shot for your chocolate viewing pleasure:
As for you, Viennois, I will come back to you. I will make this sinfully rich chocolate cake to be served with strong, black coffee. Mark…my…words.