February 10, 2008

Extraordinary Desserts

Chet deserved the best birthday cake in the world, so of course I offered to make it for him. He was browsing my cake photos and saw a good-looking cake.

Gianduia Gianduia

But it wasn't one that I made. The Extraordinary Desserts Gianduia Cake was so not in my repertoire. Mom, Wendy, and I tried it during our San Diego trip last summer. Here's how Karen Krasne's website describes it:



No sweat, right? This certainly turned out to be the most ambitious cake-making I've done to date. First, I made another(!) Devil's Food Cake. I made a basic chocolate mousse but added a couple of teaspoons of Frangelico. Then I made a hazelnut buttercream, also flavored by Frangelico. I bought some boysenberry jam. The only variety of boysenberry anything available at United was Knott's Berry Farm Boysenberry Jam. Tasty stuff, but I watered it down to make it more spreadable on the cake. I made a hazelnut brittle that was unfortunately too heavy on the hazelnuts. I also made a basic ganache, except I added some butter and whipped it after it cooled.

GianduiaAssembly: I sliced the cake layers. That was no easy task. I don't know what it is with me and that recipe, but the cake is always super soft and sticky. I didn't really halve the layers as I usually do. Instead I cut the top third off of each cake and reserved the thin upper crust, so to speak. I sprinkled a tablespoon(+) of Myers's Rum over the cake layers. I placed the bottom cake layer on the cake stand. Then I spread boysenberry jam over the cake. Next I spread the hazelnut buttercream over the cake, rather thickly. Then I placed the next cake layer on top of that. I spread a layer of jam over the second cake layer. I spread a thin layer of buttercream over that. Next I spread a thick layer of chocolate mousse over the cake. Then I placed the reserved upper crust layers on top of the mousse. As I said, the cake was very crumbly, so it was more like merging a lot of crumbs into a thin but cohesive cake layer. I spread a layer of buttercream on top and spread a very thin coating of chocolate mousse around the sides of the cake. I crushed the hazelnut brittle as best I could, and pressed it into the top and sides of the cake. Then I used a star tip to pipe the ganache around the cake. (I am truly awful at piping frosting. I need to practice correctly wielding a pastry bag.)

If and when I ever have a free weekend to make this cake again, here's what I would do differently: Use a cake recipe with more eggs that rises higher and isn't quite so sticky and unstable. I'd cut back on the amount of rum sprinkled on the cake layers. Maybe experiment with hazelnut frostings. This is obviously a rich cake, and the buttercream just seems extra heavy. Try some different hazelnut brittle recipes. Krasne describes the cake as being covered with pralines, but those sweet bits seemed awfully crunchy and brittle-like to me. I don't even know that the nut she uses is hazelnut. I think the flavor worked. I just plan to cut back on nuts in the brittle itself. I think that Krasne puts the boysenberry on top of the buttercream, not the cake as I did. Not sure. It probably doesn't matter. For the ganache, I'm cutting out the butter and would whip it much less if at all.

GianduiaAll of those ideas are subject to a second tasting tomorrow. I would say that I'd up the boysenberry ratio, but I would have preferred to serve the cake in a pool of boysenberry coulis and white chocolate swirls. And had Chet not been busy programming, I'd have taken the time to get the extra presentation points by doing so tonight.




Recipes:
Devil's Food Cake
Chocolate Mousse, doubled, plus white sugar and Frangelico
Hazelnut Buttercream and Ganache, pretty close to what I did
Hazelnut Brittle

Enchilada DinnerAlso this weekend: New York Cheesecake and my first attempt at Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas. Wendy laughed at me because I can't ever get my rice right. All manner of desserts and layer cakes don't present the problem that I seem to have with rice. Pathetic. I didn't have time to prettify the picture. I'm going into retirement until Valentine's Day.

What's on your Valentine's Day dinner menu?

1 comment:

Auntie said...

My, my! What a cake project.

Happy Birthday dear Chet! I'll bet that instead of making a wish on that cake, you silently said, "Thankyouthankyouthankyou..."

And Wendy dear, you need to quit laughing and cook the rice yourself. Or buy her a rice cooker.

The magic with rice, dear Kimberly, is steam. Create it and capture it. A tightly covered ceramic dish baked at 350 F. for 45 minutes is practically foolproof.

I have to dash now & deliver 24 COCONUT cupcakes to the Teacher Appreciation Luncheon...