So, my mom just celebrated her birthday and I made her a cake. She got to choose, and she selected the Cocoa-Buttermilk Birthday Cake from page 256 of Baking from My Home to Yours. I made this cake for my brother-in-law last September, for his birthday. That time, I used the recommended chocolate malt buttercream icing. I had some problems with the texture of it, so this time, I decided to go with something else. The baking book suggests using the ganache from the Chocolate Caramel Chestnut Cake on page 270. I never made the chestnut cake before, so I was just going with Dorie’s suggestion. Well, one word. Unbelievable!
This was the absolute best thing I have ever made. Well, maybe there was one other thing that I remember thinking it was the absolute best thing I ever made, but I cannot remember what it was. So now, the absolute best thing I ever made is this chocolate caramel ganache. OMG!
The flavors are so complex. I would never have thought to put them together myself. That is why I need someone brilliant like Dorie Greenspan to lead the way towards this brilliance.
The ganache starts with making caramel out of sugar, water, and a cinnamon stick on the stove and then adding cream and salt to it.
The smell of this mixture was so lovely that I had to try it. First my tongue tasted the chocolate. Then, the caramel flavor hit. Wow! Like an intense Milky Way chocolate bar.
After cooling, I creamed the room temperature butter and added the chocolate mixture, then beat it until it was light and airy. This then went into a covered container and then in the refrigerator to sit until I needed it.
Oh yeah, there was a equally awesome 2 layer chocolate cake that needed to go under the chocolate caramel ganache. Again I used the Guittard chocolate. The recipe says to place the baking pans on a baking sheet to bake. But since my baking sheet has an edge that does not accommodate two 9″ round pans, I had to use both of my ovens, one for each cake. The cakes came out very well. After cooling, I wrapped both in plastic wrap and then freezer foil and put them into the freezer for 2 days.
Friday night I took the cakes out of the freezer to defrost. Saturday morning I took the ganache out of the refrigerator. It was so hard. It was nowhere near being ready to work with, so I ran a few errands and 4 hours later returned to a pretty soft ganache. I whipped it up with my whisk before applying it to the layers and then the top and sides of the cake.
The end result was a delicious cake. It looked good. It tasted great. The cake was firm and the ganache was complex. A winner all the way around.
Oh yeah, Happy Birthday Mom!
Here is the ganache recipe from Baking from My Home to Yours, by Dorie Greenspan.
9 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate (such as Valrhona or Guittard), finely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
6 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons water
1 cinnamon stick
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 sticks (10 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
Put the milk and chocolates in a heatproof bowl.
Put the sugar, water and cinnamon stick in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, stir, place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat, bring to a boil and boil, without stirring, until the caramel turns a deep amber color, brushing down the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to remove any sugar crystals and swirling the pan from time to time. (Depending on the size of your pan, it will take between 5 and 7 minutes for the caramel to color properly.) Stand back and add the cream and salt – the mixture will bubble furiously and it might seize, but it will smooth out as you heat it. With the caramel at a boil, whisk it for another minute, or until it is smooth, then pull the pan from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick.
Pour the hot caramel over the chocolate and gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until it it completely cook, about 1 hour.
Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth and fluffy. Add the chocolate ganache to the butter in 4 additions, beating on low just until smooth. Scrape the ganache into a container, cover and refrigerate overnight. (The ganache can be made ahead and refrigerated for up to 3 days.) (My note: Out of the refrigerator, let it sit for a while until you can whisk it back into a spreadable consistency.)