This is a wonderful chocolate cake, with a rich ganache on the sides, but it's the caramel whipped cream that steals the show. It's unique and fantastically delicious. You do have to go through a LOT of steps before you're allowed to sit down and enjoy a piece, but it's all worth it.
First, you need a rose nail. I'm pretty sure I bought one for one of the Heavenly Cakes (one of my rare forays into the mysterious aisles of Michael's), but I couldn't find it. Luckily for me, Woody was baking with me and he was undaunted by the lack of a little nail. He was sure Jim had nails in his workshop. (It's a little optimistic to refer to Jim's tiny space in the basement as a workshop, but he did indeed have a manly nail, not a girly rose nail).
See the ruler and pencil in the background? A sure sign that Woody is nearby. I won't say I never measure anything, but when he asked for my ruler, I said blankly, "ruler?" as if I'd never heard of such a thing. (In fairness to me, I do have a measuring tape. In fairness to Woody, he's the one who gave it to me.)
Those same parchment strips attached to the sides of the springform pan.
And the makeshift rose nail centered in the pan.
And there is the same nail when I put the cake in the oven.
And when it's ready to come out. You can see why you have to add the parchment support system. Otherwise, there would be burning cake batter all over the bottom of my oven.
A view from the top. Obviously, the parchment's not as sturdy as the metal pan. I wonder if you could avoid the parchment pan altogether if you had a taller springform pan. But do they make them taller than that? A quick search for "deep springform pan" didn't yield much, but I did find this -- it's 3 3/4" high. I will ponder whether it's worth getting this.
More makeshift gadgetry here, but all you need is four cans, all the same height, and a cooling rack.
Remember the nail? There it is, still sticking out of the top of the pan. It's a good thing Woody was here, or I would have probably just tried to pull the nail out of the pan, forgetting about its foil base. I'm so glad I didn't do that.
It worked much better to turn the cake over and slowly pull it out so it just has a hole the size of a slim nail, not a giant gouge.
Pull the parchment off and it starts to look like a cake, not a hardware store.
"Get the ruler, Marie." "Why?" "So we can measure the finished cake. Don't you always do that?" "No, why would I? It's too late to do anything about it." I think that this was more or less the correct height, and it made Woody happy to have this shot, so there you are. How many of you measure the height of your finished cakes?
I actually do use my thermometer, even when Woody is not supervising me, and especially when I'm making caramel. I don't know why we took a picture at 333, though, because it had to get up to 370.
The hardest part of this cake was the ganache. It started to go on smoothly, but the ganache started getting a little too hard, and I was having a very hard time covering the sides smoothly. Woody was very encouraging: "Just massage it, Marie." That made no sense to me, and I told him. He tried again: "It's just like doing cement work." Not particularly helpful either, but it did make me wonder if the Wicked Witch used ganache to make her gingerbread house.
It impressed me that Woody was able to urge the ganache up over the top of the cake.
I've hardly shown any pictures of actually baking the cake--they've almost all been of its construction, because that was the hard part for me. The cake itself, even though it has multiple steps, was not difficult. Time-consuming yes, but not difficult.
I took this cake to book club, where it was received with more enthusiasm than met the book. One woman said when she looked at the cake, she didn't even notice the ganache--she thought it was just the cake. Then she took a bite, and not only got a wonderful chocolate cake but also something that "tasted like the best piece of chocolate in the world." Like me, everyone was most impressed with the caramel whipped cream, which was described as "decadent," "fabulous," and "out of this world."
When I got home, there was just one piece of cake left, and just enough light for Jim to shoot a final picture in the daylight.
No chocolate curls on this cake, and the texture isn't as perfect as the one in the book, but Rose's beautiful cake couldn't have met with more enthusiastic eaters than this cake did. And thanks, Woody, for your help with the cement, I mean the ganache.