Sunday, April 10, 2016
I told several people that I was not going to buy another jar of instant tea, only to end up throwing all but a few tablespoons away. It's really vile stuff. But in the end, I bought the jar, and hope that it will do good in my compost pile. I honestly couldn't taste the tea or the lemon in the ganache, but I have faith that Rose, with her more refined palate, is right when she says that the tea intensifies the chocolate flavor. This is one heavy-hitting chocolate cake.
The first step is "cooking the chocolate." Have we ever "cooked" chocolate before? It's entirely possible that we have and I never noticed it before. I've made a recent resolution to read the recipe completely through three times before starting. Even that has not, unfortunately, eliminated mistakes, but that's as far as I'm willing to go. Anyway, cooking it consists of pouring boiling water over chopped chocolate.
Beating and slightly warming 8 eggs. In one fell swoop, I went from having a full carton of eggs to being almost out of them.
This is the most awe-inducing baking process that I know of. I wonder if there's a name for the metamorphosis of a bowl of eggs into this billowy pile of fluff? If there's not a name for this transformation, there should be. Browning meat is called the Maillard reaction, and this is at least as cool as searing a steak.
Slipping the sifted flour into the cooled chocolate mixture. I usually yell at Jim because he doesn't sweep unwanted photo detritus out of the way, but I like that this picture includes a box of Stretch-Tite plastic wrap, which has reached essential status to me, a box of Scharffen Berger chocolate, of which I have used more pounds than I care to contemplate, and a Minnesota Public Radio mug, the station that is always on the radio when I'm baking. I especially like to bake Saturday afternoon, when I can listen to the opera. (I also get a warm fuzzy feeling knowing that there's a good chance Rose is listening to the same opera at the same time).
The batter--a pale brown (8 ounces of chocolate doesn't win out over 8 beaten eggs)--is ready for the oven, so on to the ganache.
I was intrigued by the creme fraiche. 2 cups! This really is a most extravagant cake. It should make the texture beautifully spreadable, I thought, but would it be too tangy for frosting? We'll see.
A pound of chopped chocolate melting in scalding cream and creme fraiche. And also the instant lemon tea I swore I wasn't going to buy again. This was even worse than the last jar because this was "diet" lemon tea, meaning it was fake tea sweetened by fake sugar and flavored with fake lemon.
At least the syrup is real tea from a real tea bag. The combination of brandy (I couldn't find my precious bottle of French cognac) and tea was very aromatic.
The only hard part about making this cake was getting the delicate layers out of the cake pans unscathed. As I learned, it's better not to use an offset spatula for this job because, well, because it's offset and not straight. Very little harm done, however.
There were gallons of ganache! And it was so easy to frost. Unlike the ganache for the Chocolate Cuddle Cake, which had to be "massaged" on the cake (Woody's phrase), this one could do nothing wrong. I could even move the top layer a little bit to even them out with no harm done. When Jim tasted it, though, he said, "Well, that's a surprise." I asked him if he was using MinnSpeak, in which "that's a surprise" would be almost as bad as "that's different," which means "what possessed you to give me something that tastes like it was found dead on the road?" He assured me that he was using the King's English and was just surprised at the tartness. "I'm not sure JJ will like it, though," he said. So I bought some ice cream to serve with it.
As it turned out, though, JJ ate the cake and the ganache and the ice cream. And so did everyone else.