CHOCOLATE PAVAROTTI CAKE WITH WICKED GOOD GANACHE
For some odd reason, I never understood the chocolate craze. What made everyone go on and on about chocolate? I just didn’t get it. When I started baking cakes for a few restaurants in my neighborhood, I stumbled upon a restaurant supply store, and it was there that I came to know chocolate. They had so many different brands from all over the world. Say good-bye to Bakers Chocolate; say hello to French chocolate. French chocolate, compared to the others, has the acid I like. It tastes brighter and more chocolaty and doesn't leave me with the sweet, waxy aftertaste that I was so familiar with. Yes! I found my chocolate groove. I’ve made countless chocolate cakes since, some of them were blow-me-down good, and some of them missing something--literally. There was a period of time where I continually forget to add the sugar to everything. I would make the same mistake over and over, and not until I poured it into the pan(s) would I realize my mistake. That period is over (sigh), and in spite of how I adore cake, it’s been a while that I’ve baked a chocolate cake like this. I was on tempo with this recipe, as it came together with little anguish. The timing in the oven was perfect and when I unmolded it, the cake had a bounce that told me it was tender and moist. I used only ½ teaspoon of cayenne in the ganache because the cake was going to a family with children. The cayenne was present, but didn’t overwhelm the chocolate, and left a gentle heat in the finish. I thought these kids were game, and luckily they gave me three thumbs-up. For me though, I could have handled more spice, but just as well. In the end, I loved this cake, like almost everyone else who made it. Here’s my experience:
WICKED GOOD GANACHE
- I once tried to make ganache with my food processor and I didn’t enjoy the experience much. The chocolate didn’t melt well, and it was hard to scrape all the ganache off the sides of the bowl and blade. And then I had to strain it. Since I still have the same FP (damn), I wasn’t going to go that route again. I’m fortunate to have a stove that has a very low setting on which I can melt chocolate without burning it or separating.
- I also have no success with scalding cream or heating corn syrup in the microwave because everything gets too hot and I have to wait for it to cool anyway, otherwise the heat separates the chocolate. It just isn’t worth the trouble of pressing all those buttons, turning the microwave on and off a few seconds at a time, etc. So the stovetop method is better for me.
- I heated the corn syrup in a small saucepan and added the unsweetened chocolate. Then I added the bittersweet chocolate to the corn syrup mixture and it melted very gently with the heat remaining. Then I scalded the cream on the stovetop and added it to the chocolate mixture. I stirred it together and the ganache came out perfectly smooth.
- It just needed to cool.
- Because of the arctic cold outside, and because I prefer keeping my house cool, and because my countertops are granite, the ganache cooled very quickly. Just when it was a perfect temperature and consistency, it was just as suddenly too stiff. It seized quicker than normal. At that point I could have put it back on the fire to loosen it up, but it was almost all on the cake, and I really had no choice but to keep going.
- It’s also important to note that piping buttercream and ganache is something that I know how to do, and have done successfully, but it’s not something I gravitate towards. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s that it doesn't spark my imagination, and I never practice. When it’s time to get out my tips and bags, I am thinking of other ways to decorate the cake. So there you have it.