Photo by Catherine Pledge
This week's offering was the Double Damage Oblivion, which can roughly be described as chocolate and chocolate with chocolate, prompting the Alpha Bakers to ask themselves whether there can be such a thing as too much chocolate. The answers varied with the baker.
Orin's answer to that question was a definite "No!" No such thing. Orin, a self-confessed chocolate lover, has been looking forward to making this triple-whammy chocolate cake since she first got the cookbook. Here's a description of Orin's beautifully plated cake in the words of one of her tasters, a brand-new chocoholic: "This cake is a true chocolate lover's dream. It is very moist and melts in your mouth. The chocolate ganache is very sweet and creamy .... The chocolate flavor only gets better with each delicious bite without being overpowering or too sweet."
On the other hand, our favorite contrarian, Raymond, answered the question with a "resounding yes." Too much. Although he "loved the varying textures," he found it "too intense and too chocolate" for his taste. In fairness, though, he had to admit that his "tasting panel just loved this cake. Not a crumb was left.... They oohed and aahed all over the place while I was the only one not bowled over by it."
Faithy has rarely met a chocolate cake she didn't like, and she liked this one, but she prefers some of Rose's other chocolate cakes, and thought this one was missing something, namely bourbon. When everyone had tasted the cake, she still had many pieces left, and she decided to bourbonize them. That is, she cut the leftover cake into pieces, poured bourbon (a fair amount) over the pieces, and formed them into balls. She loved them, and so did her tasters! So, for Faithy, it was not a question of too much chocolate, but a question of not enough booze.
Like Faithy, Jeniffer would have preferred that the Chocolate Passion layer be syruped, perhaps with Chambord or a chocolate liqueur. On the other hand, her favorite chocolate cake eaters told her that she "had a good cake here," so she wasn't sure which objective review to credit. Unlike some people (ahem), Jeniffer carefully read the recipe, evened out the cake layers, and ran a hot knife around the layers, resulting in a beautiful shiny professional-looking cake.
Definitely not too much chocolate for Kristina, but she did use strawberry jam, so she had only 2 out of 3 possible chocolate components. Honestly, though, the Double Damage was almost an afterthought for Kristina, who had a mad weekend of catch-up baking, and she was perhaps more focused on the sponge cake for the shortcake she was catching up on and which had a midair disaster during the "flip the delicate sponge cake" event. Then she made the cinnamon rolls, which looked very good. But after those two projects, you can see why the Double Damage looked as easy as cake mix.
Katya admitted upfront that she is not a "very serious chocolate lover." Not a chocolate hater by any means, but not one of those "guys out there for whom a dessert without chocolate might as well be a flip flop." Katya offered up this cake for those who like "some cake with their cake, please." She opted to use raspberry preserves mixed with a little pear jelly as her cement, which sounds like very flavorful cement.
Jen filed this cake (she called it a "super chocolate bomb") away to serve to "all the chocolate lovers out there." She has made both the Chocolate Oblivion and the Deep Chocolate Passion Cake many times (and she has links on her blogs to some of her previous creations), but she's never before made them together. Jen also "glued" the cakes together with raspberry jam. Much as I love Rose's chocolate ganache, I'm beginning to think raspberry jam is the way to go with this cake to get another flavor dimension.
In a classic example of the use-what's-in-your-refrigerator approach to baking, Nancy found the leftover raspberry sauce from the Rose Red Velvet Cake. Since that sauce could serve as syrup as well as cement, it sounds like an inspired choice, and kept the cake from being too "one-note" for Nancy. Her "chocoholic sister-in-law" has told Nancy that she "must keep this recipe."
Catherine's review of the cake: it had a "delicious deep chocolate flavour but was not overly sweet." (I love writing -our instead of -or; I wish Americans would switch over). Catherine says she'll be adding it to her "repertoire of go-to cakes." In addition to the taste (flavour, I mean), she liked that the cake "lends itself ... to some relatively high impact but low skill decoration." I know what she means--that's just the kind of decoration I like. (See above photo for example of sophisticated, "high impact" decoration. I'm not vouching for the "low skill" part).
Definitely not too much chocolate for Vicki, who declared that "rich and decadent is an understatement." And to those of you who thought the cake would have been improved with a bit of syruping, take note of Vicki's experiment. She mixed Trader Joe's Moreno cherries with almond extract over the cake layers, which, she said, made the layers "incredibly moist and light."
Mendy thought the cake was "fantastic"--so fantastic that its deliciousness somehow caused him to lose the pictures he had taken of it. Or maybe it wasn't cause and effect. All I know is that he liked the cake and he lost the pictures. When Mendy saw Woody's name on this recipe, he knew it would be good since he's still having sweet dreams of Woody's Lemon Luxury Cake.
Next Up: Pecan Praline Meringue Ice Cream Sandwiches. I thought late June would be a perfect time for ice cream sandwiches, but I hope that it's not too humid where you are for the meringues to be successful. I'm not a meringue fan, but I loved these, and they're simple to make too. Rose recommends coffee ice cream, but I have it on good authority that her new favorite filling is dulce de leche ice cream. I used plain old vanilla, and they were great.