The chocolate cake is not just any chocolate cake. It's a wickedly dark chocolate cake with character! I made four layers of Rose Levy Beranbaum's German chocolate cake with a mixture of chocolate custard and whipped dark chocolate ganache filling between the cake layers, topped off with dark chocolate drip and a little salted caramel white chocolate whipped ganache on the sides of the cake just to give a little colour contrast and variation in flavour. Mdm Rose's chocolate cake recipe although chocolatey, is oil based and dairy free so I decided to make a richer custardy filling to compliment this dense in texture but light-on-the-palate sponge. Be prepared for a long post because of the many components involved in this bake.
And I haven't started on the macarons 😅. I will briefly mention what I did for the macarons since details can be found in other posts. I used the reduced sugar Swiss method recipe for this batch as I also made a small batch of hemispherical macarons for another request concurrently. I wouldn't use my swiss method recipe with significantly lower sugar for this as I need the stability for the many colours involved. Just to share some photos of the process...
Piping the characters. I piped Olaf’s arms separately and also added some cornflour to the batter to make it less prone to breaking.
Freshly baked shells!
I filled them with matcha white chocolate ganache or dark chocolate ganache, both whipped versions for a lighter texture.
I forgot to mention that the details were added on using black edible marker or royal icing.
Here's a peek at the feet on macaron shells! Olaf's arms are stuck into the filling.
The German chocolate cake recipe is adapted from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Heavenly Cakes recipe book. I used smaller sized pans (7.5" diameter) but baked four layers of sponge (instead of two 9 x 2" pans in her original recipe) so I scaled the ingredients accordingly. I took the liberty of adding a coffee liqueur and reduced the sugar by about 7%.
German chocolate cake
Ingredients (makes four 7.5 x 1.5" round cakes):
80g alkalized cocoa powder
144g boiling water
130g canola oil
88g egg yolks (about 5)
216g egg whites (about 7)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp Kahlua coffee liqueur
90g cake flour
90g plain flour
330g caster sugar
2.5 tsp baking powder
1 and 1/3 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1. Preheat oven to 175℃. Line base of baking tins with parchment paper. Mdm Rose suggested using cake strips for the baking tins. I just place a tray of water at the base of oven to create steam and a similar effect of slowing down the temperature rise of the cake tins.
2. In mixing bowl, whisk cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap to prevent loss of moisture through evaporation. Leave to cool to room temperature. About 30 minutes.
3. Add yolks and oil into mixing bowl. Use electric mixer to beat on low speed. Gradually increase to medium speed and beat for 1 min or until smooth and shiny like buttercream. Scrape down and beat in vanilla and coffee liqueur for a few seconds.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift the mixture. Add half of flour mixture to chocolate mixture. Beat on low speed until dry ingredients moistened. Scrape down the bowl. Repeat with remaining flour mixture. Increase mixer speed to medium high and beat for 1 minute. Batter will be thick.
5. Add egg whites and beat on low speed until incorporated. Increase to medium high speed and beat for another 2 min. Batter will be like thick soup.
6. Transfer batter into prepared baking tins. They will be filled till about 1/4 full. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean and cake center springs back when pressed in the middle. Immediately unmould the cakes and cool completely upright on wire rack.
You may trim to tops of the cakes with a long serrated knife if there's a dome after cakes have cooled. Store between parchment paper in airtight condition until ready to assemble. I bake the cakes a day before assembling with filling.
250g fresh milk
2 egg yolks
40g sugar (use more if you prefer sweeter)
15g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp Kahlua coffee liqueur (substitute with vanilla if you don't have)
15g unsalted butter, cool but softened
1/8 tsp salt
1. In a heavy mixing bowl, whisk egg yolks with 1.5 tbs of milk from the portion above. In another bowl, sift together cocoa, cornflour, sugar and salt. Add the sifted mixture to the egg yolks. Whisk until a smooth paste forms.
2. Place milk, vanilla and coffee liqueur in a saucepan. Heat until it just starts to bubble at the edges.
3. Carefully pour the hot milk in a thin stream into the egg mixture while whisking continuously. This is to temper the egg yolks. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan.
4. Cook the mixture over medium low heat while whisking continuously. Once the mixture thickens, remove from heat and whisk vigorously until smooth. Return back to heat and continue whisking until custard is thickened to your preferred consistency. I usually cook for about a couple of minutes more. For this cake filling that is going to be mixed with whipped chocolate ganache, I cook until it is able to form soft peaks. For Choux pastry fillings, I cook until it is able to hold firm to stiff peaks.
5. Remove saucepan from heat and add butter. Whisk until butter is incorporated.
Adding butter to custard
6. Reserve about 100-120g custard for coating each layer of sponge. Reserve 180-200g of custard to mix with 200g of whipped ganache. Press a piece of cling wrap on surface of custard to prevent a skin from forming. Chill in fridge and whisk to loosen before using.
Whipped dark chocolate ganache
75g bitter dark chocolate couverture* (73.5%)
75g dark chocolate couverture (56%)*
150g heavy cream
*You may choose to use one type of couverture
1. Place everything in a heatproof or microwaveable bowl, depending on how you want to melt the chocolate. You may use double-boiling or microwave to melt the chocolate slowly. Stir until all chocolate is melted and the ganache is smooth.
2. Chill in fridge for 15-20min or leave out in air-con room until scoopable consistency. Whip with an electric mixer or spatula until lightened in texture. Be careful not to over whip or it will become grainy.
3. Fold in 200g of whipped ganache into 180-200g of chocolate custard. Reserve the rest of the ganache for frosting the sides and top of the cake. Transfer the portion of ganache for frosting the cake into piping bag with a small hole cut.
Dark chocolate drip
50g dark chocolate couverture (56%)*
30g bitter dark chocolate couverture (73.5%)*
65g heavy cream
* You may choose to use one type of couverture
Follow step 1 of whipped chocolate ganache above. Make this only after the layers of cake have been assembled and you are about to apply the drip on the cake. Transfer ganache into piping bag with a small hole cut when you are ready.
Salted caramel white chocolate whipped ganache
80g salted caramel chips (I used Hershey's)
20g white chocolate chips
35g heavy cream
Follow steps 1 and 2 of whipped dark chocolate ganache. Be even more careful not to overheat this as it's white chocolate based. Chilling in fridge should require a shorter time than the dark chocolate ganache as the chocolate to cream ratio is much higher here. Transfer to piping bag with a small hole cut.
1. Place an 8" cakeboard on a turntable and apply a small smear of whipped ganache in the middle. Place a sponge on top.
2. Apply a thin coat of pure chocolate custard with a spatula. This will help to moisten the sponge.
3. Pipe the mixture of chocolate custard and whipped chocolate ganache on top.
4. Place another layer of sponge on. Repeat until all four layers of sponge are assembled. Gently but firmly press the top of the sponge downwards to squeeze out any air spaces between filling and cake layers.
5. Apply some whipped dark chocolate ganache to fill up any gaps at the sides of the cake where the filling layers are. Use a bench scraper to scrape off any excess ganache. You may choose to frost the top of the sponge with a thin layer of whipped dark chocolate ganache if you wish.
6. Pipe some whipped salted caramel white chocolate ganache as you wish. You may pipe the lines in a discontinuous fashion if you wish.
7. Use a bench scraper to scrape off excess salted caramel ganache and to smoothen out the frosting on the sides of the cake. I go for a rustic semi naked look so I don't have to care too much about being neat.
8. Apply the dark chocolate drip along the circumference of the cake. Try to turn the turntable and pipe at the same rate so that the spacing between drips is more or less even. Some drips can go longer than the others. I made sure there is sufficient space for the name near the base of the cake. Quickly cover the top of the cake with more ganache and smoothen it out with a spatula.
A close up view of the cake...
I don't work with fondant so I used vanilla chiffon sponge which I baked concurrently with an earlier request and used alphabet cutters to cut the name out. I used a little salted caramel ganache to glue the name on.
Do store macaron cake toppers and naked or semi naked cakes separately in the fridge as the moisture released from the cake will turn the macarons soggy quickly. Only if the whole cake is frosted with buttercream that doesn't contain too much liquid content should be placed in contact or same confined storage space as macarons.
Just to share what I do in the kitchen when I work on bakes sometimes...I smeared some leftover chocolate custard on chocolate sponge trimmings to have a try...😋😋😋. Wickedly chocolatey! Do wait for a couple of days before eating the assembled cake to let the sponge and filling come together. It becomes more fudge-like and rich with storage! Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes before enjoying all that chocolate goodness!
Thank God the cake and macarons were very well received!