Let Her Eat Cake

What I didn’t tell you at the end of the last post is that I had a secret weapon in my arsenal to impress Lauren. She who worships at the altar of chocolate, she who mocks me for my chocolate aversion: she would be the recipient of a two-tiered ganache covered chocolate creation from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook. Here’s how it was done.

The secret word today in our Pee-Wee’s Playhouse of a post is “ganache.” When Miss Yvonne comes through the door and asks for ganache, you scream ok?

What is ganache?


Ganache (ahhhhh!) is, according to Wikipedia, “an icing or filling for pastries, made from chocolate and heavy cream.”

For this particular cake, we needed two pounds of semi-sweet chocolate:


And four cups of cream.

Making ganache (ok, stop screaming) is really quite simple. You heat the cream to boiling, dump the chocolate in, whisk it around and then–in Martha’s recipe–add 1/4 cup of corn syrup and a pinch of salt. I think the corn syrup is there to stabilize it because, as you’ll see in a moment, half of the ganache gets whipped.

Meanwhile, I baked the cakes. The cakes were pretty basic–butter, sugar, cocoa powder, sour cream:


While they cooled, I divided the ganache in half and beat one half of it in the mixer. That was nerve-racking because soft peaks were supposed to form and it took a long while before they did. At first I was wary of peaks forming but then I remembered what I was whipping: cream and chocolate. Cream whips, doesn’t it? So why shouldn’t it with chocolate?

Behold the results in this picture. The whipped ganache on the left, the unwhipped ganache on the right:


After this, it was pure assembly. The bottom half of the cake went on a wire rack where I leveled the top with a serrated knife.


I then applied the whipped ganache to the middle, the top and along the sides (I hadn’t done the sides yet in this picture):


Oh but you can see the sides done here: (why didn’t you just use this picture, Adam? “I don’t know.”)


That went into the fridge to set for 30 minutes and then, when it came out, I shifted it over a drop on the wire rack so there’d be space for the unwhipped ganache to pour through when I poured it on, which is what I was about to do.


Here it comes… here it comes…


It looks like a bloodbath of chocolate, doesn’t it?

But the end result, which Lauren is attacking here, was shiny and beautiful like a cake you might find at a high-end bakery:


Although, looking at that picture, you can see the top layer of ganache didn’t quite cover everything. I think I should’ve made a thinner layer of the whipped ganache: I’ll do that next time.

Craig felt like this was a picture right out of a magazine:


And look how scrumptious an individual slice looks:


This cake was, indeed, quite popular. In addition to Lauren, Craig and myself (and myself actually really enjoyed this, even though I’m not a chocolate nut) rumor spread quickly in my circle of friends and after only three days, the whole thing was gone.

That’s what happens when you make a really nice, fancy cake. You should try it sometime. All you need is a dream and some ganache…


22 thoughts on “Let Her Eat Cake”

  1. I don’t love chocolate either, but that cake looks amazing! I wonder if peanut butter could be incorporated into the ganache too? Would that mess up its whipping potential?

  2. And I thought I was the only one whose greatest pleasure isn’t chocolate. Huh. (But the cake looks delicious!)

    It really took you three days to get rid of the cake? Adam, seriously, you’re slow.

  3. I made a similar cake (I think it was a Cook’s Illustrated) but it didn’t have unwhipped ganache – just the whipped as a frosting. I wasn’t happy with the way the frosting looked, so I covered it with shaved chocolate – it turned out looking like it came from a bakery!

  4. I love whipped heavy cream, which equal whipped cream. Of course it will taste even better with chocolate mixed in!

    I’m going to make this soon. Thanks for sharing!! =D

  5. You can also make truffles out of ganache. Let it set up a little bit and use a melon baller (Martha’s favorite tool) to scoop out little balls. Roll them in cocoa powder, or my favorite — cinnamon sugar and voila! Truffles! (I need to go whip up a batch for my 95 year old grandmother this weekend — she’s proven over the last 30 years that it is indeed possible to live on chocolate.)

  6. Hey Adam,

    The ganache we use in the bakery incorporates corn syrup, like Martha’s recipe (though from the look of it, hers has more cream than ours). You’re right it does help to stabilize the ganache at room temperature.

    I want to know how you managed to ice (frost?) that cake without a turn table. You’re amazing.

  7. I would gladly eat that entire cake. The shiny-ness is definitely a factor. Impressive!

    Makes me think of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, with the kid who’s punished by having to eat a huge chocolate cake, except it’s not a punishment because he just eats the whole thing and then burps and the evil headmistress gets all angry? Admirable!

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