Yes, yes — this isn’t an appetizer; that’s confession #1. But this is Part 3 of my “series” about a not-so-recent bourbon tasting / cocktail party. This was my dessert offering and it’s gluten-free! Confession #2 — this really isn’t a Black Forest Cake. Actually this is a version of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Chocolate Feather Bed, which is the background image of my blog. One variation is that I have a middle layer of cherry preserves — so not a real Black Forest cake. I do make a mean Black Forest Cake though! And Black Forest Cake Day is on March 28th (which is my blogiversary in case I didn’t mention it before And I think I’ve figured out my blogiversary give-away, but more on that later). Confession #3 — it’s not exactly quick. The cake itself bakes in 16 minutes, so that part is quick, but there is a lot of chilling involved, which takes time.
In my opinion, this cake is definitely better presented pre-sliced, as opposed to whole. If it was whole, it would look like a giant chocolate slab covered with chocolate curls. Which might not be too bad, if that’s what you’re going for. But again — just my opinion. It might be nice to have a giant chocolate block on your table; it could be reminiscent of the monolith in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. What a great theme party!!! Everyone could wear space suits or ape suits, you could use one of those pod things as an entry portal, or maybe make one of those warp-light-tube thingies, and just play the Blue Danube on a loop. But I digress, here’s what you need:
For the cake: (you will need 2 batches)
- 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
- 6 eggs, separated
- 1/4 c. sugar, plus 2 T.
- 3/4 t. cream of tartar
- chocolate curls (for garnish — I used dark, milk, and white chocolate just to add some visual interest)
- Cherry preserves
1. Coat a half sheet pan (17 1/4″ x 12 1/4″ x 1″) with shortening and line with parchment with a 2″ overhang. Spray parchment with baking spray with flour (like Baker’s Joy or something like that).
2. Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and allow to heat for about 20 minutes, which should be more than enough time to put together the batter.
3. Melt the chocolate in a bowl (either in the microwave or over a double boiler). Allow to cool until still fluid but no longer warm to the touch.
4. Beat the yolks and 1/4 c. sugar in the bowl of a mixer on high for 5 minutes, until ribbon stage. Scrape the chocolate into the bowl and mix on medium until fully incorporated, scraping the sides of the mixing bowl as needed. Transfer to another bowl.
5. In a very clean bowl of a stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. With the beater off, add the cream of tartar; beat on medium until soft peak stage. Raise the speed to medium high and gradually add the 2 T. sugar, beating until stiff peaks form.
6. Mix in about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Gently fold in the rest of the meringue and when incorporated, scrape into prepared pan. Level off with an off-set spatula.
7. Bake for 16 minutes; until . In the meantime, prepare the batter for the next cake so it is ready to go when the other cake comes out of the oven. Cover with a dry towel and allow to cool completely in the pan on a wire rack.
8. Gently remove cakes from the pans using the overhang to lift. Stack the parchment-lined cakes one on top of the other and cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. This makes the cakes easier to work with.
For the chocolate whipped ganache:
- 8 oz. dark chocolate, chopped fine
- 2 c. heavy cream
- 1 t. vanilla
1. In the bowl of a food processor, chop chocolate until very fine.
2. Scald the cream and with the motor running, gradually add the cream to the chocolate. Process until smooth, just a couple of seconds. Chill until cold, either in the fridge or in an ice bath. Stir while chilling, about every 30 minutes; if using an ice bath you need to stir frequently. Ideal temp is around 65 degrees F / 20 degrees C. If it is too cold, it will not aerate well; if it is too warm it will not stiffen.
3. In the chilled bowl of a stand mixer, add the vanilla to the cream and beat on low for about 30 seconds, being careful not to overbeat.
Assemble the cake:
There are a couple of ways that you can do this depending on what you want to do. You could assemble this on a serving plate and treat it as a regular cake (hold it in place with some frosting and then assemble). I just kept the bottom section on the parchment, trimmed it after I assembled it, cut it into slices, and then served it. Rose trims the cakes before assembly; I do it after because I wanted that very very clean edge. Again, all depends on what you want.
1. Using a sharp knife, cut the cakes into equal rectangles so that you have four equal layers. Dislodge the cakes using a long metal spatula.
2. Spread a layer of the ganache about the same thickness of the cake on top of the first layer. Top with a second layer of cake. Spread with a layer of the cherry preserves. Top with another layer of cake, followed by the ganache, and the final cake layer.
3. Spread a layer of the ganache on the top of the cake. I sliced it into servings / cakelets at this point and then covered the tops with the curls. You could just keep it whole and cover everything with the curls. Serve!
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