Chocolate to swoon for

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 19, 2000

There are few foods in life that evoke the emotions that chocolate does. Homemade chocolate chip cookies warm from the oven equal instant comfort. What about a large scoop of chocolate ice cream? Pure summer fun.

But grownups also love chocolate. And while they love cookies and ice cream, sometimes there is a craving for something more, something so completely chocolate that it overwhelms the senses.

This cake is what you are looking for.

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One bite of this cake will delight the chocolate lover. The cake layers are easily made and have a deep chocolate flavor.

The remainder of the dessert requires the use of chocolate ganache (gah-NOSH). Ganache is a basic in most bakeries. As you will see with this recipe it is incredibly versatile and is something you might want to learn to make from memory.

Use ganache cold to make melt-in-your-mouth chocolate truffles, mixed with a little cream to make a fluffy chocolate filling, spread at room temperature to frost the cake and finally, melted to produce a shiny chocolate glaze.

This recipe looks long and complicated, but looks can be deceiving. The key is to be organized and have all your ingredients measured and ready to use.

Chocolate Truffle Cake

Cake ingredients

10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces

4 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

1 1/2 cups sugar

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 baking soda

1 teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup cold water

Truffles, filling, frosting and glaze:

3 cups chocolate ganache, see following recipe

1/4 cup cocoa powder

1 cup heavy cream

Chocolate Ganache

1 1/4 cups heavy cream

3 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 pound of semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

into 1/2-inch pieces, or a combination of the two

Place the cream and butter in a large saucepan. Heat on medium-low heat until the butter melts and the cream is very hot, but do not boil. Remove from heat. Whisk about one-fourth of the chocolate into the pan until it melts. Add the remaining chocolate and whisk until all of the chocolate has melted and the ganache is smooth and glossy. Transfer to a clean bowl and set aside to cool. You can keep ganache, covered and refrigerated, for up three weeks.

Moistening syrup:

2 Tablespoons coffee-flavored liqueur, optional

1/3 cup coffee simple syrup, see following recipe

To make the cake. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray two nine-inch round cake pans with nonstick vegetable spray. Line the bottoms of each with circles of parchment or waxed paper.

Melt the 1 1/4 stick of butter and the 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate in the top of a double boiler, over gently boiling water. The upper pan should not touch the water. When melted, stir in sugar, set aside. Sift the dry ingredients together and set aside.

With an electric mixer or with a wire whisk, beat the eggs and vanilla until smooth. Add the chocolate mixture and beat until homogenous. Add half of the dry ingredients to this batter. Mix well, scraping the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the remaining dry ingredients, mix well and scrape again. Slowly add the water, mix well and scrape the bowl again.

Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake 25 to 30 minutes or until the center of the cake springs back when touched with a finger. Cool completely.

While cake is cooling prepare ganache and remainder of recipe components.

To make the truffles. Refrigerate 1/2 cup of the chocolate ganache until it is cold. Put the cocoa powder on a plate. Scoop the cold ganache with a teaspoon and shape into twelve small balls. Drop the truffle balls into the cocoa powder and roll them around until the are lightly coated. Place in refrigerator.

To make the filling. Put 3/4 cup of the chocolate ganache in a medium bowl and whisk to lighten, about 10 strokes. Add one quarter of the cream, gently whisking until smooth. Add the remaining cream and whisk by hand until the chocolate cream holds a soft shape.

Be careful, if the ganache is too warm or if you over whip the ganache and cream the chocolate cream will curdle. If your kitchen is warm or the mixture is not thickening you can refrigerate for a short spell and whip with a whisk further. Refrigerate until you are ready to assemble the cake.

Make the coffee simple syrup. Mix 1/2 cup of hot coffee with 1/2 cup sugar. Stir until the heat of the coffee melts the sugar. Cool completely. Measure out 1/3 cup of the coffee syrup, if using the coffee liqueur add now.

To assemble the cake. With a serrated knife, trim the domes from both cakes so they are flat, not rounded. Trim the sides of the sides of the cake if they seem dry. Put one of the cake layers on a cardboard circle or a flat serving plate.

Moisten it with half of the 1/3 cup reserved coffee-syrup.

Spread on the chocolate cream filling. Gently flatten the second cake layer on top and brush it with the remaining syrup.

Frost the sides and top of the cake with one cup of room temperature chocolate ganache. Refrigerate the cake for 10 minutes.

Now place 1/2 cup of chocolate ganache in the top of double boiler. Place over gently boiling water; the upper pan should not touch the water.

Stir frequently while heating. Heat until the ganache becomes a runny glaze.

You can glaze by pouring the glaze evenly over the top of the cake, using a spatula to smooth our any glaze that runs down the side, or you can drizzle the glaze over the top and sides of cake.

Shake the excess cocoa powder off the truffles.

Arrange them around the top edge of the cake, evenly spaced, pressing each one gently into the fresh glaze.

Recipe adapted from the Deer Valley Resort in the Wasatch Mountains of Utah.


4 It is very important that you do not let any water or steam get in the chocolate as you work with it. This will cause to harden immediately and you will have to start over.

4 Work as quickly as you can to make the truffles. The heat from your hands will cause it to soften and become unmanageable.

4 The restaurant at the Deer Valley Resort garnishes its cake with the truffles and cake crumbs. When you trim the tops of the layers and sides, simply grind the pieces to fine crumbs and press them onto the sides of the cake after you glaze it.

4 You can cover this cake with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to store.

But, you must bring it to room temperature before serving.

This allows the flavor and different textures of the ganache to shine through.