Thursday, February 24, 2011

Wedding Cake Tasting, part two: Chocolate!

So on to part two of the cake tasting. Part one is covered in my Free Cake post for the Heavenly Cake Bakers, the Golden Lemon Almond Cake. The lovely couple are self proclaimed chocolate lovers, and wanted the top tier of their cake to be a chocolate-chocolate love bomb. I decided to do the Chocolate Passion cake for the top tier, which is Rose's German Chocolate Cake base with a milk chocolate syrup. In order to keep it from being too rich, I chose the light whipped ganache as the filling, and the Swiss Meringue Buttercream for the frosting.

I did a version of this cake for my friend Brains for his birthday last year. I never got to try it (sob) but he extolled the virtues of the contrast between the milk chocolate and dark chocolate cake, and loved the hell out of the lacquer glaze. The Heavenly Cake Bakers did a version of this cake as the Designer Chocolate Baby Grands last summer. So, this cake is no stranger.

deep chocolate passion cake with light whipped ganache and swiss meringue buttercream

I hemmed and hawed about what chocolate to use for the cocoa powder, syrup and ganache. I decided to go Valrhona for the chocolate bars, but decided to go Felchin for the cocoa powder. It has a nice high cocoa butter content (22-24%) but alas, I didn't notice it isn't alkalized. I don't know if it negatviely affected the final cakes which were dark and chocolaty and moist, but I will probably switch over to Valrhona cocoa powder for the actual wedding cake. Its cocoa butter content is a tad less (20-22%) but it is alkalized.

Also! I discovered a great website for buying chocolate--Chocosphere! Not only does it have the best prices I could find on the internet for pretty much any kind of chocolate I might be looking for, but it turns out that the warehouse is located about 30 minutes south of Portland. Which meant I could forgo the shipping charges and take a trip to Tualatin to pick up my chocolates. Awesome. Seriously--go take a turn around their website if you haven't before--they really do have pretty much EVERYTHING.

vahlrona milk chocolate

Anyway, back to the cake tasting. For the middle tier, the wedding couple has a special request. They have some dear family members that are VERY allergic to dairy (including butter). So no ganache filling, no SMBC frosting. We could still use the same cake base as it is dairy free, but we thought about doing a raspberry jam filling with fresh raspberries, and I said we could try the regular powdered sugar-shortening buttercream. I also said we could syrup this layer of the cake with a boozy syrup, and we brainstormed liquors that would possibly be a good match. I told Sam to come up with four different liquors and I'd split the cake in quarters for us to try. He came up with Tuaca, spiced rum, Kahlua, and Maker's Mark. I calculated I wouldn't need more than a couple of teaspoons of each, so I bought airplane sized bottles at the liquor store. (To syrup two layers of a quarter of a 6 inch cake is about 42 grams of sugar syrup, to which I added a teaspoon of booze.)

deep chocolate passion cake with light whipped ganache and swiss meringue buttercream

So when baking these cakes, I chose to make a full recipe of the German Chocolate Cake, which makes two 9 inch cake layers, or four 6 inch cakes. I only have two 6 inch cake pans, and was worried about what the rest of the batter would do while it waited for its chance to bake. So I baked two 6 inch layers and one 9 inch layer. Curiously, the 6 inch layers didn't rise the full 2 inches, and the 9 inch layer didn't rise evenly.

deep chocolate passion cake with light whipped ganache and swiss meringue buttercream

I decided to use the 9 inch layer to make the dairy free middle tier, so I cut the layer in half, and cut each half into four slices. These I syruped and wrapped up to soak overnight, labeling each paper plate with what booze they were flavored with.

At about 1 am I decided I had better make the light whipped ganahce for the 6 inch top tier. Half the recipe of the ganache for the Chocolate Featherbed yields 2 cups of frosting, of which I think I really only needed 1/3 cup to fill the 6 inch cakes. The rest is in the freezer, hopefully until the wedding!

Since I had so much luck making the mocha light whipped ganache I followed my hybrid Hanaa technique again. It worked, and came together really quickly too. Hooray! I filled the 6 inch cake, wrapped it up and put it to bed in the refrigerator. Then I went to bed.

Sunday morning I was greeted by this mess on my kitchen table:

syruped cakes, plus other crap

I made my third batch of Swiss Meringue Buttercream, and frosted the 6 in deep choc passion cake. I assembled the dairy free, boozy layers with homemade raspberry jam and raspberries in the filling. I made a batch of typical shortening and powdered sugar frosting--how is it that people like that crap?

experimental dairy free cake

At the tasting, Sam and Andrea gave a thumbs up to the deep choc passion cake and the SMBC. We decided I need to go back to the drawing board on the dairy free frosting. (I have an idea!) Sam and Andrea liked the spiced rum with the chocolate and raspberry filling the best. They also asked for a different take on the raspberry filling. (I have an idea!)

We had split up the tasting spoils and so Monday I went back to the cakes to see how they held up. The boozy cakes were exceptionally moist--bordering on wet--and the booze was more pronounced. The deep choc passion cake was dry! What!

deep chocolate passion cake with light whipped ganache and swiss meringue buttercream

Anyhoots. That is the story of the cake tasting that was. The actual wedding is in in July. Stay tuned friends.


  1. Good heavens my head is spinning! You are amazing to figure all this out. Looks like some great cake tasting.

  2. Thanks Vicki! It was a lot of fun, and challenging too.

  3. Oh my gosh, I can't believe you made the whipped ganache at 1am (granted it is "fast" but still). The chocolate cake looks really yummy. I have yet to make Rose's German Choc Cake. I'm super excited that it's coming up soon in our HCB list. I was scratching my head on a dairy free frosting. How about Coolwhip? It holds pretty well and you could flavor it any way you'd like. You could also do a meringue-like frosting. It's called Divinity Frosting. I believe it's dairy free. Let me know if you'd like me to send you the recipe. It's a recipe by Flo Braker (us ABC-ers bake from her book, Baking for all Occasions).

  4. Hanaa, thanks for the dairy free frosting suggestions. I thought about something like 7 minute frosting or divinty, but the trick is that we want it to look similar to the Swiss Meringue Buttercream that will be on the top and bottom tier. I'm going to try a SMBC with some earth balance margarine and see what happens. I could do the whole cake in 7 minute frosting, but that seems a little too old school for this couple.

  5. I have no doubt you'll come up with something that everyone will love :o)

  6. Chocosphere rules!I'm sure you're not surprised that they know me there (Hi Joanne and Jerry!). Although, come to think, haven't been there too much the last year (has it really been 1.5 yrs since I made a batch of truffles? *sniff*). Anyhoo, I'm sure you're going to create something very innovative for your frosting. You always come up with something great!

  7. just looking at this because i made a cake prototype for a friend's wedding yesterday--version of the choco passion using up various leftover icings from the freezer (filling of chocolate egg white buttercream from sister's boyfriend's birthday cake, undercoat of lemon curd white chocolate frosting (from Woody's LLC), and the glaze. The glaze seems like it would be hard to transport, I'm re-thinking.

    good to listen through someone else's thought process