Monday, November 23, 2009
TWD-Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake
Oh, I thought that this month's TWD baking would be no problem, what with getting to choose any two of the TWD November recipes and then posting them on any two Tuesdays during the month. However, here I am, blogging about a cake that took me an entire weekend to prepare on a day when I have to prepare for the first Thanksgiving that I have ever made on my own! Those Molasses Spice Cookies were so good and simple, but I let DrRuckus choose the second recipe. He saw "chocolate" and "caramel" and decided that I would make him that cake. It seemed fine at the time. I thought that I had all month.
I even thought that I was so ahead of the game because I found the chestnut spread and the roasted chestnuts weeks ago. I had stocked up on chocolate from the King himself. Because of this, it didn't even dawn on me until I put it all together, that this might have been the most expensive cake I have ever baked. So much good quality chocolate and those chestnuts really added up. Good thing that it was completely worth it! It was really delicious and decadent.
As the deadline approached and I realized that I would be busy with Turkey Day prep, I decided to start the cake last Friday. Well, i started the salted caramel milk chocolate ganache that day anyways. Dorie says in the recipe that this cake might just be an excuse to eat that ganache because it wouldn't be polite to lick it right out of the bowl. Well, she is right! I am not really a milk chocolate person, but if I was not already married, I could have easily gotten a proposal out of my husband with this concoction. It was ridiculously rich and creamy, chocolaty, salty, insane!
Revisiting the recipe that night, I realized that this cake was going to be so over the top in every way that I was going to have to throw a party in its honor. Luckily we were already planning on watching DrRuckus's childhood friend on Food Network as the sous chef to Jose Garces on The Next Iron Chef that night, so we had an excuse for a cake party!
On the second night, I made the dark chocolate glaze for the cake. Dorie says that it might take up to 4 hours to thicken up, but a few other bloggers said that it took longer and in my hot, moist kitchen, I knew it would have a hard time setting up. So, I decided to give it an overnight. It is a good thing I did because it took almost 20 hours for it to reach an almost spreadable consistency. Even then, it was on the brink and was quite melty and messy.
The cake itself was pretty simple, and was much easier since I finally invested in a second bowl for my KitchenAid stand mixer. Without having to clean out the bowl in between the batter and thew whipped whites, it took very little time. My only problem was that I forgot that my square cake pans are all 8 inchers, When I poured my batter in, my cake pan was very full! However, though it baked about 10 minutes longer, everything turned out just fine.
The advantage of that 8 incher was that it was very easy to cut into three nice, thick layers and so I was not intimidated by this step. I used Grand Marnier instead of brandy in the syrup between the layers and the orange flavor went well with the chocolate and nuts. The ganache spread easily, though it was hard to resist licking the spatula and the bowl when I was done. One thing that Dorie doesn't mention but not everyone would realize is that you must let the ganache come to room temperature to be able to spread it. Some of the other TWD bakers used leftover ganache to make truffles, but I put as much as I could on the cake and saved the rest for my beloved. The chopped chestnuts between the layers added texture, but I don't find them to be very flavorful. Which is too bad because I have so many now that I am currently putting together a chestnut stuffing for T Day. Well, chestnuts and corn bread and sausage and fennel.
The most difficult part of this cake was the dark chocolate glaze. It was very runny and messy, and even with Dorie's innovative drip catcher (i.e. parchment under a cooling rack), I had chocolate glaze all over my counter. As soon as I put as much as I could on, I put it in the fridge to firm up. It did, but then I had to take it back out to get to room temperature before serving it. At which point, the glaze started running again and the cake had to be rushed back to the fridge! Still, nothing wrong with the taste of that runny chocolate glaze. Yum!