The end is near. 2015 is 11 hours away from being over. I’m not gonna do it.
The year’s retrospect. I’m not.
Instead, I’m gonna celebrate with … cake!
Decadent rich dark chocolate torte, to be precise. Not a spoonful of flour found! Not a dessert for the faint of heart.
After diligent research of recipes and reviews, I selected this chocolate torte recipe. And easy chocolate ganache instead of the called-for glaze. No regrets! Very easy with minor adjustments & tips below.
1 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 teaspoons espresso powder, optional — didn’t use
1 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional — DO USE!
3 large eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Ganache (from another site)
12 ounces chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons flavored liqueur, optional
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly grease an 8″ round cake pan; cut a piece of parchment or waxed paper to fit, grease it, and lay it in the bottom of the pan.
To make the cake: Put the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl, and heat until the butter is melted and the chips are soft. Stir until the chips melt, reheating briefly if necessary. You can also do this over a burner set at very low heat. Transfer the melted chocolate/butter to a mixing bowl.
Stir in the sugar, salt, espresso powder, and vanilla. Espresso enhances chocolate’s flavor much as vanilla does; using 1 teaspoon will simply enhance the flavor, while 2 teaspoons will lend a hint of mocha to the cake.
Add the eggs, beating briefly until smooth. Add the cocoa powder, and mix just to combine.
Spoon the batter into the prepared pan.
Bake the cake for 25 minutes; the top will have formed a thin crust, and it should register at least 200°F on an instant-read thermometer inserted into its center.
Remove it from the oven, and cool it in the pan for 5 minutes.
Loosen the edges of the pan with a table knife or nylon spreader, and turn it out onto a serving plate. The top will now be on the bottom; that’s fine. Also, the edges will crumble a bit, which is also fine. Allow the cake to cool completely before glazing.
Yield: 8″ cake, 8 to 12 servings.
Let us begin!
1. The batter. Dreamy decadent batter! That –hard to believe! — I don’t taste. Not even a pinch off the beaters! What’s wrong with me?! Answer: I make this first thing in my (late) morning. I do NOTNOTNOT like sweets in the morning!
Hence I rely on a strictly visual taste-test. It passes with flying (dark) colors! Chosen chocolate: Bittersweet chips by Ghiradelli. Semi-sweet chips are just too sweet. Of course you could mix ‘n’ match to your taste.
2. Into the oven. Recipe states 375. Too hot. I set mine at 350. Good move.
Also, after reading reviews, I make sure to generously grease with PAM and parchment-paper the pan AND use an 8-inch cake pan. Not 9-inch! — after posted complaints that the cake was too thin. Mmmmm-mmm, have a look at that black beauty! Have we died and gone to heaven?
3. Baked around 22 minutes. The edges are crusted and the center jiggly-soft just a skoosh. Some cracking and sinking are normal as it cools so don’t be alarmed. Perfect.
4. Flipped onto its serving dish fully intact. Bottom’s up!
5. Now the really fun part. Decorating! I loooove to decorate!
But first, the ganache. Ganache is a tricky animal. Because it hardens as it cools. Which makes it ideal for pouring or whipping or piping into shapes. So you must tend to its temperature and consistency for your desired purpose.
I don’t like cakes drenched in sugar. Your mileage may vary. (And probably does; I don’t equate sugar and salt with flavor like most Americans do.)
I roll with about a cup of chocolate chips — about 2/3 dark chocolate, the remaining semi-sweet — and whipping cream in a carton. Stir in a saucepan over low heat.
Stir with mindful eye until it achieves a consistency that’s thick but still pourable. If you pass that point and the ganache hardens, simply reheat on low while stirring so it doesn’t burn! Burnt ganache no good.
Plenty ganache to coat the cake with leftovers!
6. Since it’s the recipient’s birthday AND Christmas (sucks for her), I combine candles ‘n’ kisses.
* After pouring the ganache, I cool the torte in the fridge so it’ll harden and make slicing easier.
* I use a sharp long unserrated knife and press firmly; do not saw. Dip knife into hot water and wipe dry after EVERY cut.
* This baby’s rich rich rich so cut pieces small! There’s 16 here. Verdict: These are keeper recipes.
Feast … with your eyes!