Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chocolate Decadence Cake

Chocolate Decadence Cake: The creamy taste of fudge,
hints of orange zest 
and Grand Marnier, a Mirror Glaze

and Glacé Orange Slices produce this exceptional dessert.
Appearances can be deceiving. What looks like a modest little cake - only one layer, after all - will no doubt be one of the most sinfully delicious desserts you’ve ever made! Save this cake for very special occasions - the approach of the weekend, for example, or getting a truly great haircut, or finding a dollar in the street. Time-consuming but surprisingly simple to make, this cake deserves its name. I wouldn’t say this of most single-layer cakes, but because this one is so rich, a thin slice will do. It easily serves 10-to-12.
Chocolate Decadence Cake with 
Mirror Glaze and Glacé Orange Slices:

4 oz. (112 g) semi-sweet chocolate
½ c. butter 
 c. granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of one large orange, with flesh reserved
1 tbsp. Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
3 large eggs
2 c. (6 oz. or 170 g) walnut pieces, finely ground
Have all ingredients measured and ready at room temperature. You will need a grinder or food processor for the walnuts. Grinding nuts in a food processor requires the proper technique. See:
Preheat oven to 375 deg. F. Dust a greased, 8-in. layer cake pan with sifted cocoa. Trim and fit a circle of parchment paper inside the pan. Chop chocolate and butter into small chunks. Melt on low power on stove-top (see How to Melt Chocolate in Index) or in microwave safe bowl, heating 2 min. on lowest microwave setting. Stir to complete melting. Stir sugar and orange zest into fully melted, still-warm chocolate and butter. Transfer to medium bowl. Cool 5 min. before stirring in orange-flavored liqueur. Add eggs one at a time, hand-beating after each addition. Stir in ground walnuts. 
Pour into prepared pan, baking 25-to-30 min. on center oven rack. Cake may be slightly soft, but will firm as it cools. When cake is almost cool, run a knife around edge to loosen. Place a wire cooling rack on top of pan, turning pan upside-down so that cake gently drops onto rack. Carefully peel away parchment, allowing cake to cool completely. When cake is fully cool, brush away any crumbs clinging to sides. Do not refrigerate cake at any time - before or after glazing. 
Mirror Glaze:
4 oz. (112 g) semi-sweet chocolate, cut into small pieces 
¼ c. white corn syrup
¼ c. butter, cut into small pieces
Chop chocolate into small chunks. Melt on low power, as above, stirring after a minute and keeping a close watch that chocolate doesn’t burn. When chocolate has nearly melted, add corn syrup and butter, stirring until chocolate and butter are fully melted and well combined. Using the back of a soup spoon, patch the small craters and rivulets on the upended bottom of the cake with a thin coating of glaze to smooth the surface of the cake. Allow to set. 
Place cake on rack on top of a second pan to catch the drips as you prepare to pour Mirror Glaze over cake. Briefly reheat glaze on low power, pouring over cake. While glaze is still warm, use spoon back to smooth cake top and encourage drips to ooze over the edges, down sides, and into pan below. Use spoon back briefly and quickly: Glaze dries fast. Do not try to make fine adjustments once glaze cools. Allow glaze to fully set at room temperature at least 1 hr. before decorating with Glacé Orange Slices.
Glacé Orange Slices:
1-½ c. water
½ c. granulated sugar
1 navel orange, pith removed, membrane intact, in sectioned slices without seeds (see Note)
In a medium skillet on medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil. Add orange slices, occasionally spooning syrup over them until orange slices start to become translucent, about 20 min. Reduce heat to low,  simmering until syrup thickens and continuing to spoon syrup over slices for a further 10 minutes. Do not turn slices over lest they break. 

Remove slices to drying rack with slotted spoon (Strain, reserve, and chill syrup for future use in brushing freshly baked layer cakes to lock in moisture and flavor). Once the oranges are dry - about 30 min. - measure top of glazed cake to find center. Mark with toothpick or piping nozzle, placing and fanning the best orange slices around it. 

Note: You may want to use two oranges, allowing you to choose the best and most uniformly sized of the orange slices. 

Remove piping nozzle and finish decorating cake in one of several ways:
  • Pipe any firmed, leftover Mirror Glaze (caught by drips in second pan) at cake’s center with oranges radiating from it (this is what I did)
  • Position a professionally made marzipan orange at cake’s center, also with oranges 
  • Position a candied kumquat in its leafy shawl at cake’s center, with oranges. To candy kumquat for appearance and sheen, brush kumquat berry with some of the thickened syrup. Transfer to wire rack to dry beside orange slices.
Trim paper to fit cocoa-dusted pan.

Prepare chocolate and butter.

Prepare orange zest; set orange aside.
Stir granulated sugar into melted chocolate.

Add finely grated orange zest.

Grind walnuts.
Add eggs one at a time, hand-beating between each addition.

Stir in ground walnuts.

Pour into prepared pan. Bake 25-to-30 min.
Gently peel away parchment paper.

Prepare glaze on stove-top or in microwave.

Fill air-bubble craters and rivulets on cake; allow glaze to set.

Gently reheat glaze and begin pouring over cake.
Smooth warm glaze, allowing to drip over sides.

Section reserved orange.

Simmer in sugar syrup, taking care not to break orange sections.

Remove to drying rack with slotted spoon.

Mark cake center, fanning dried, glazed oranges around it.

Pipe chocolate onto previously marked center of cake.
View of completed cake from above.

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