The December issue of Bon Appetit arrived at my house and on itscover was a picture of the prettiest cake I'd ever seen! My first thought was, who in the hell would be crazy enough to make that! My second thought was, I would! What did I have to lose, besides 3 pounds of butter, 2 pounds of chocolate and more of my brunette hairs?
It's been quite the week so to throw this cake in on top of everything else, was that push I needed off a cliff. I abandoned the ribbon bow after a good cry! I decided to have a heart and go with a simpler design on top.
I'm headed to a ladies holiday party tonight and we are supposed to wear ugly Christmas sweaters. I gave all mine away out of shame years ago, and could you believe I couldn't find one around here to save my life. I'm hoping by bringing this pretty cake tonight I won't hear any smack for not wearing an ugly sweater. I'll have to give you the taste test results after we dig in, but I'm almost afraid to eat it since I know what went in it!
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 cups granulated sugar
8 large eggs, separated, room temperature
10 ozs. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), melted, lukewarm
1 1/2 cups finely chopped pecans
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted (measured, then sifted)
Pinch of salt
Pinch of cream of tartar
Using electric mixer, cream butter in large bowl. Gradually beat in sugar until smooth. Beat in egg yolks 1 at a time. Blend in melted chocolate. Slowly mix in pecans, vanilla, and spices. Gently fold in flour in 4 batches (batter will be very thick and dense).
Using an electric mixer fitted with clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar until medium peaks form. Gently fold 1/4 of the whites into batter to lighten, then fold in remaining whites. Divide batter among prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. (Mine only took about 25 minutes.)
Run knife around sides of each cake. Let stand 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks. Cool to room temperature.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
4 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, room temperature
6 ozs. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (do not exceed 61% cacao), melted and cooled
1/4 cup dark rum
Meanwhile, using electric mixer, beat egg yolks in medium bowl until pale and thick. Gradually beat in hot sugar syrup; continue beating until mixture is completely cool, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter 1 piece at a time, incorporating each piece completely before adding next. Blend in melted chocolate, then rum.
Reserve 1/2 cup buttercream. Set cake layer, flat side up, on rack; spread with half of the remaining buttercream. Top with second cake layer; spread with remaining buttercream. Top with third layer; use reserved 1/2 cup buttercream to fill seam where cake layers meet. Freeze cake until buttercream is firm, about 2 hours.
12 ozs. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
2 tbsp. Honey
3/4 tsp. instant espresso powder
Pour 3/4 of glaze over top of cake. Carefully tilt cake back and forth so glaze coats sides; smooth sides with spatula, adding some of remaining glaze where necessary. Chill until glaze is set.
7 ozs. high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina), chopped
1/2 cup light corn syrup, divided
7 ozs. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken into pieces
Transfer white chocolate to work surface and knead several minutes. Shape white chocolate dough into ball. Wrap in plastic. Let white chocolate dough stand at room temperature 1 hour.
Repeat with bittersweet chocolate and 1/4 cup corn syrup.
Cut white chocolate dough into 4 pieces. Flatten 1 piece into rectangle. Turn pasta machine to widest setting. Run chocolate through 3 times, folding into thirds before each run. Adjust machine to next narrower setting. Run chocolate through machine without folding. If chocolate is more than 1/16" thick, run through next narrower setting. Lay chocolate piece on rimless baking sheet. Repeat flattening, folding, and rolling with remaining chocolate pieces. Repeat process with bittersweet chocolate dough.
There are more directions, but I will spare you. If you really want to attempt the ribbons, buy the magazine.
My tips to help things go smoother:
1) The cake itself is not too difficult, use good pans like the aluminum magic line ones I have. Spray them with no stick spray and put parchment rounds inside.
2) Make sure you don't over beat your whites or they will break, you want them to look like this.
4) Before you frost, you need to put the first layer of the cake on a cake round, such as the one below, or it will be impossible to move the cake for the rest of the steps. I'm showing you 10" ones, but use 9" inch ones if you are using a 9" pan. Or you can cut them down.
5) Make sure and chill the cake thoroughly before attempting ganache. Put the cake on a wire rack over a pan to catch all the chocolate that will run off. Sorry for the bad picture, it was getting late, and I was getting irritated.
6) If you don't have a pasta roller like I do; don't even attempt the ribbons. The chocolate per directions, wasn't near pliable enough. Not wanting to waste all the chocolate, I salvaged enough to cut out these cute little hearts. I brushed them with a little gold pearl dust for a little shine.
It better taste darn good, to make up for all the work it was!