Friday, December 10, 2010

Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons - Where the heck are the ribbons?

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

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.  Use three 9" cake pans.  Spray the bottom of each pan with no-stick spray and line bottom of each cake pan with parchment paper, then spray again with non-stick spray.

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

Stir sugar and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil for 1 minute.

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

Stir all ingredients in top of double boiler over gently simmering water until mixture is smooth. Remove from over water.  Stir until glaze is thickened, about 5 minutes.
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.

Chocolate ribbons:
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

Melt white chocolate in top of double boiler over gently simmering water; stir until smooth.  Stir in 1/4 cup corn syrup.  Pour onto baking sheet.  Chill until firm, 30 to 40 minutes.

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.

3)  The buttercream is not for newbies, it's a serious sticky mess and you will have to boil your pans afterwards.  Don't cook the sugar too long or you will have caramel.

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!

Serves 8.




  1. Oh my word. That looks so frickin' gorgeous!!!!! I have to giggle at your hardships because I would be irritated, too. But, dang, it's always worth it in the end. Your friends will forget what the them of the party was after looking at this beautiful cake. Amazing. Ribbon is not needed, the hearts is way cuter!!!

    Awesome job, Gina!!!!

  2. This cake is absolutely fantastic! Who needs the ribbons? This is perfect as it is! I'm sure you could be forgiven anything for bringing this cake to a party. Have fun! And let us know how many minutes it took for the cake to disappear :)

  3. I also saw that edition of Bon Apetit on the magazine stand but was totally intimidated by the gorgeous ribbon bow on the cake. Gina, it's great that it didn't deter you from giving it a go.Your effort was well worth it. The cake looks delicious. Your personal touch with the hearts makes for a beautiful cake.

  4. Oh no! I am sorry the chocolate ribbons made you cry. Mean old ribbons, and the cake looks perfect without them. I am certain no one will give you a hard time at the party, with that cake as your offering!

  5. wow....what a beautiful cake!!! I would not know where to begin with that cake....don't worry about the bow, those little hearts are perfect!
    I'm sure everybody will love your cake, have a great time tonite!

  6. Are you trying to scare the crap out of me??? I'm planning on making this and yet this is what you post?? Plus, I don't have a pasta maker. Oh, I want to cry.

    On top of that, how am I supposed to make mine come even close to something as gorgeous as yours?

    Seriously, it's gorgeous. I really want to know how it tastes and if it's worth it for me to make it before I spend the money on all that chocolate that I'm not even going to eat.

  7. You're so funny! I would never attempt anything like this :) I'm sure its absolutely divine and want to hear how long it takes to be devoured and whether the time vs. appreciation ratio was worth it ;)

  8. What a gorgeous cake, but a lot of work. I'm sure that it's very rich and delicious. Maybe a little piece wouldn't be too bad:) Hope that your friends appreciated all the work that you put into it.

  9. Be still my chocolate cravings! This looks beautiful and so very sinful.

  10. Gina-What a gorgeous cake, and the ganache with the chocolate hearts look amazing.
    You seem to tackle the most difficult projects, and come out shining, like a STAR!

  11. The cake on the cover was indeed gorgeous - and so is yours!

  12. You had me at three pounds of butter. Looks delicious!

  13. Oh my gosh, I want cake for breakfast. This is have totally outdone yourself. Thank you for sharing this.

  14. WOW! Beautiful; you are an artist. I never would have had the nerve to make this. It came out perfect; must taste wonderful.

  15. Beautiful Gina and like everybody else I'm in suspense waiting to find out how your cake tastes???? Also would love to see a photo of all the tacky Christmas sweaters! I remember the days when they were in style also the beautiful Christmas pins, I think they are coming back in:)

  16. I'm so excited to report, this cake was too die for good! I was expecting chocolate overload, but the buttercream was like silk and I think the spices cut through the chocolate.

  17. Gina, you never cease to amaze me! This is one of the pretties cakes I've ever seen. So glad to hear that it tasted as beautiful as it looked. I don't know where you get all the patience (and energy) to create the beautiful dishes and desserts that you do. I'm just happy that we get to see all of your creations. Your cake looks like it's one of those really fancy shop cakes, just beautiful!

  18. Gina, you have outdone yourself! This cake looks fabulous!

  19. That cake looks amazing! I hope it tasted just as good! Although with three sticks of butter, I doubt it could taste anything but fabulous!

  20. screw the ribbons! i would have ditched them as well. you still ended up with a gorgeous and impressive cake.

  21. YAY!!! You made this cake Gina! I was waiting for someone to attempt it! I love the hearts instead of the ribbon!! BEAUTIFUL! I left you an award just now-come on over and pick it up:)xx

  22. Wow!! Absolutely gorgeous! Almost (almost!) too pretty to cut. I'd have to learn to get over it though...
    Can't wait to hear the result.
    Your lighting is beautiful!

  23. I love the hearts on this cake! I would definitely have forgiven you if I was at the party...but maybe partly because I don't have an ugly Christmas sweater either! My husband and I skipped out on a party of the same sort this weekend because we didn't have the attire...and a movie and hot chocolate sounded so much more relaxing :)

  24. could have worn whatever you wanted if you brought that cake to my house! Wow! What a stunning chocolate masterpiece. I would have drifted up to sugar heaven. I think that your decoration looks great too (better than chocolate ribbons in my opinion!) Thank you for sharing with me. I hope you have a great Monday!

  25. WOW Gina!! That looks so amazing!! I cannot even imagine how delicious that is!

  26. Love this cake Mama! And I received the same issue and thought, wow what a pretty cake. I hope the ladies enjoyed your fantastic cake and didn't give you too much about not wearing a cheesy Christmas sweater! (=

  27. My heart skipped a beat when I received my Bon Appetite December issue but seeing you've already made it, btw it's more than perfect, killed me.

    Hope you'll have a wonderful week

  28. Ok gorgeous. I took your challenge:

    Never again (especially the ribbons), but I'm so proud of me. Thanks for forcing me to do this one.

  29. I love the hearts! I thought it looked so cute, I had to include it in my post. I went ahead and made the ribbons, it was pretty fun (only after it was done!) but I love that you thought of another way. Here's the link to my post: