A couple of months ago, Cabbage turned the big 40. He didn't want a big party, or even a little party, but I did agree to bake him a cake. He is a chocolate-peanut butter fan so I had a few options in my arsenal. His birthday fell during a time when I was out of town, but I planned to bake his cake before I left. Then...I got busy...and promised to bake him a cake when I returned. Especially since I got him to feed my cats while I was gone.
So I left for my trip, and returned home, and Cabbage was a year older. And...I never got around to baking his cake. Until now! When I saw this cake on the list, I realised my chance at birthday cake redemption had come.
November 14, 2010
Name of Cake: Cabbage's Belated Birthday
Occasion:HCB, and Cabbage's Belated Birthday
Constituents: a 9 in layer chocolate genoise frosted with peanut butter whipped ganache
Whenever we bake a genoise, I think about how previously genoise and I didn't see eye to eye. They would be sad fallen discs and I would be miffed, because I had no idea what I was doing wrong. Things seemed to have taken a turn for the best lately, and I hope I don't jinx myself for saying that!
The secret to a nice genoise is in beating the eggs on high for a good five minutes or so. I like to go for an extra minute, just in case. After beating the eggs, the melted butter, the flour, and the chocolate paste need to be folded in. I was nervous about all this extra folding in of stuff; what if I deflated my gorgeous eggs and baked a sad fallen disc?
I did my best to fold quickly but thoroughly. I have discovered my favorite tool for all the folding is the whisk attachment from the KA. Better than the balloon whisk, way better than a spatula, and it was already dirty anyway. Less to wash!
Phew! No sad fallen disc here. Next up, making the syrup to moisten the cake. Rose calls for Chambord but I just used a sugar syrup to which I added a couple of tablespoons of raspberry-cherry jam. I thought that might give the cake the berry flavor the Chambord would have. I strained out the jam solids before applying to the cake, but the berry flavor was pretty mild so I don't think it really made a difference in flavor. Even though it looks like too much syrup, the genoise slurps it up without falling apart or getting mushy. Once syruped, however, the cake is very delicate so careful moving it around.
It was time for the ganache. This ganache is unusual as it doesn't take hours to cool down to spreading consistency, in fact the cream isn't even heated. The chocolate is melted, the peanut butter is whisked in, then the cold cream and vanilla. This is all whisked (by hand) for a bit until the ganache is smooth and forms soft peaks. (Rose warns not to overmix as the ganache will become grainy. I must have overmixed as my ganache wasn't smooth as silk, but I wasn't too concerned.) At that point it is ready to be used. My kitchen was too cold as the ganache was quickly becoming too stiff, so I moved everything into the warm front room where I could finish frosting.
It took several passes before I got a swirl I could live with.
Then the hardest part of all: letting the cake come together overnight before eating it. So not fair! The ganache smelled so deliciously peanut buttery I really wanted to try it.
The next morning, the sun was out and the time was right to get my photos. I had thought about cutting a slice for the shot and then putting it back so that Cookie, Cabbage and I could try it together that night. But as I was shooting the cake slice the tea kettle boiled and what's better than tea and cake for breakfast? So I ate the slice. It was meant to be.
The genoise was light and spongy in texture, moist and not-too-sweet, and lightly chocolaty. The ganache is the star of the show here, and it was a perfect balance of chocolate and peanut butter and deliciously creamy to boot. It reminded me of my favorite chocolate peanut butter ice cream (minus the peanut butter chunks). I think a sprinkling of salted peanuts on top of the cake would be a nice decoration and a good sweet/salty punch.
That night I brought the cake to Cabbage and Cookie. It received a thumbs up from both of them, however Cabbage the peanut butter fan wished the cake could have been MORE peanut buttery. Maybe I should have stuck to one of my cakes in my arsenal? At any rate, happy birthday my friend!
Curious about the peanut butter cakes in my arsenal?
*Joelf's 2009 Birthday Cake: Chocolate Butter Cake with Heavenly Cakes' Peanut Buttercream
*Raeben's 2009 Birthday Cake: Dorie Greenspan's Peanut Butter Torte (there's an entertaining discussion about disgusting foods from the UK and Ukraine in the comments)
Oh, and by the way? Green & Black's has made the best chocolate-peanut bar ever. Holy yum.