Well, first cake (or cakes*) of this year 2009! =)
This isn't a battle between cakes, it's a battle between the creams! After watching a video on how to make a chocolate genoise, I knew I have to bake this cake. I've not yet made a successful sponge cake before - either it didn't rise enough, or it turned out rubbery, or rose too much and then sank all the way to the bottom... Yeah, it's chaos when it comes to sponge cake - I'm seriously terrible at making one. But hey, I can't just sit by and stop trying. So I research, research and research, until I chanced upon this video through Tartelette (which is an amazing site by the way). Watching the video really boosted my confidence to give it a try.
Result? The cake did rose to a very pretty good height then sank a little (which is supposed to, according to the video) - but unfortunately for me, while it sinks, the sides of the cake sure didn't want to sink as well. The sides of the cake stubbornly remained intact to the sides of the cake pan and I regretted my choice not greasing the cake pan. I know I know I know, how can I not grease the cake pan? Well, I chose to heed the instruction of the video which said, "no butter no flour". Thankfully, the chocolate collar made up for it and shielded the ragged sides away from everyone. Oh but I'm surely going to make the genoise again - the next time I'm so going to grease my cake pan - the cake turned out really light. A little eggy but the lightness that I wanted is there, right in the genoise.
The cake is a little disastrous, but the cream is the other way round - fabulous. I've always wanted to try sandwiching genoise cake with chocolate cream or coffee cream. Hence why waste this chance? Instead of making one 8-inch cake, I made two smaller cakes (5.5 inch in diameter each) and sandwich each with chocolate cream and coffee cream respectively. I followed the instructions in the video to mix melted chocolate with whipped cream - the filling is smooth and light. Instead of using dark chocolate, I chose to use a semi-dark chocolate which gives off a less sweet but still chocolatey flavour. I'm sure it's also possible to use a mixture of semi-sweet chocolate and dark chocolate. Personal choice, I guess. As for the coffee cream, I have no idea how to make it, so I just pour in some cooled coffee into the whipped cream. Taking note of the fact that coffee, unlike chocolate, won't harden when it's cool, I whipped the cream so that it holds slightly stiffer peaks before mixing the coffee and icing sugar in. The resulting cream is really smooth and can be spread very easily. But I will want it to set a little bit more, probably I'll try adding gelatin or whip the cream further the next time.
The chocolate collar is another problem (it seems to me that the journey to the completion of this cake is pretty tedious o.O). Following all the instructions from the video, I melted the chocolate and spread it on top of the parchment - and then I went to wash up the equipment. That's when I left the melted chocolate to cool for a tad too long. They wre already beginning to harden, especially the collar for the chocolate cake. It was pretty brittle when I handled the parchment paper and the collar just wouldn't stick to the cake. So for the next collar, I piped thin streams of melted chocolate on the collar before sticking it onto the cake, which works pretty well, though there were still some areas that cracked pretty badly. Lastly, I tried to salvage the chocolate collar by piping the leftover melted chocolate onto the cracks... kind of work a little I guess. =P
See the breaking chocolate collar? And I didn't really manage to smooth the chocolate cream properly. =S
From the batter, besides making 2 5.5-inch cakes, I also made 2 mini cakes, which I used the leftover batter to fill 2 small ramekins. Using the smaller cake, I try sandwiching chopped strawberries into the chocolate cake, but the taste didn't turn out very well. I wonder if it's the strawberries that release juices which caused the dilution of the chocolate cream... Well I don't really have a clue... >.< Without the strawberries, the chocolate cake is really good, and so is the coffee cake (though ultimately I prefer the coffee cake more =P). These cakes are really keepers and I'm definitely going to make them again in the future!
Some quantities will differ slightly from the original recipe
*the words in orange are my adaptation/addition/changes*
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon flour
⅓ cup + 1 tablespoon cocoa
4 eggs (200 grams)
⅔ cup sugar
3 tablespoon melted, hot, clarified butter
⅓ cup sugar
⅓ cup water
1 teaspoon rum extract
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
70 grams semi-sweet chocolate (2.5 ounces)
1 teaspoon instant coffee powder
200 ml whipping cream
1 tablespoon icing sugar
115 grams semi-sweet chocolate (4 ounces)
1. Make the chocolate genoise:
Preheat the oven to 175 degrees Celsius. Line the bottom of an 8-inch round with parchment paper. (Grease lightly 2 5.5-inch round tin and 2 ½-cup ramekins and lined the bottoms with parchment paper.)
Sift the flour and cocoa together 3 times. Set aside.
Crack the eggs into a heatproof bowl (preferably metal bowl with a handle) and whisk in the sugar. Whisk constantly either over a water bath or directly over low heat until the mixture is warm, like babies' milk. (I do not have a metal bowl, so I whisk the mixture in a saucepan before transfering to a beating bowl.)
Whisk the egg mixture till it becomes 3 times of its original volume and until a ribbon can be formed when the mixture is dropped from the beaters. (Watch the video for step-by-step guide!)
Sift in half the flour mixture and fold gently in to the batter, then fold in the rest of the flour mixture.
Next, fold a little batter into the melted, hot butter until mixed then fold it back to the batter.
Pour into the cake mould immediately and bake for 25 - 35 minutes. (For mine, the cake pans go for 20 to 25 minutes in the oven while the ramekins go for around 15 minutes or so in the oven.)
Let the cakes cool completely before unmoulding them and splitting them.
2. Make the flavoured syrup:
While the cakes are baking, make the syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes until slightly reduced. Remove from heat and let cool completely. Divide into 2 bowls. Stir the rum into one bowl and the vanilla extract into another.
*From here on I'll just be talking about how I assemble the cakes I made, for the actual recipe quantities, visit the site!*
3. Make the chocolate cream and coffee cream and assembly:
Melt the chocolate over a double boiler, set aside to let it cool slightly. Dissolve the coffee with a little bit of hot water and let it cool to room temperature. Whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Fold half of the cream into the melted chocolate. Whip remaining cream with the icing sugar until slightly stiffer then fold in the coffee.
Split the cakes into half horizontally. Take one half, brush the top generously with rum syrup then spread the chocolate cream on top. Brush one side of the other half with rum syrup and sandwich the cake, syrup-side down. Brush the top generously with rum syrup. Refrigerate the cake. Repeat for another cake, using vanilla syrup and coffee cream.
4. Make the chocolate collar and assembly:
Make the chocolate collar by first cutting 2 strips of parchment paper of sufficient length and height to surround the cake. It is okay if the parchement paper is taller than the cake itself. Wipe the table with a wet cloth, then lined clingfilm (aka plastic wrap) on top of it, so as to make the clingfilm stay. Place the parchement paper on top.
Melt the chocolate and pour the chocolate over the collar. Spread the chocolate evenly on the parchment paper, making sure that it covers the parchement completely. Pour the remaining melted chocolate into a plastic bag. Let rest for 5 to 8 minutes.
Now it's time to get your hands dirty! Take the cakes out from the refridgerator. Take the plastic bag, snip off one of the corners and pipe a thin stream of melted chocolate onto the chocolate collar, as if you are applying glue onto paper. Lift the parchment paper and "glue" it to the cake, pressing the sides as close to the cake as possible. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes.
Slowly peel off the parchment and if cracks formed (like mine), use the melted chocolate to "glue" the cracks together.
Keep the cake refrigeated until ready to serve. Cut the cake using a knife dipped into hot water, cleaning the knife after each cut. Serve with berries or dusted with icing sugar.
Oh... chocolate... or coffee? Maybe mocha next time!