Chocolate Feather Bed
Over New Year's weekend when Jeff's mother held a family brunch, she asked if I would bring a cake for Jeff's father, whose birthday was yesterday. It doesn't take much to convince me to bake, and I immediately said I'd be happy to bring a cake. Jeff's father loves chocolate. I've made chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and brownies for him a few times in the past. With this in mind, I set out to find a cake.
I finally decided on the Chocolate Feather Bed from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, which is described as having "slim layers of flourless mousselike chocolate cake filled with whipped ganache." I knew it would be perfect.
While I like the recipes in Rose's Heavenly Cakes, I absolutely hate the layout and don't find the charts and the way the recipes are written very user-friendly. Also in order to make this cake you need two batches of the recipe, and if you don't read carefully, you wouldn't know that. I wish the book had been designed to be a little more straightforward. Below I've rewritten the recipe, simplifying it, combining batches, and taking out some unnecessary steps, like putting the chocolate in a food processor.
Chocolate Feather Bed (adapted from Roses's Heavenly Cakes)
(Print this recipe)
8 ounces Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (or other 62% chocolate, chopped)
1/2 cup plus 4 tablespoons superfine sugar, divided
12 large eggs, separated
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
4 ounces Ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips (or other 62% chocolate, chopped)
2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Small, thick block of dark chocolate (I used Callebaut bittersweet)
Coat two 17-by-12-inch sheet pans with shortening, and line them with parchment paper. Then spray the parchment with baking spray and coat the pans lightly with flour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a microwave-safe bowl, gently microwave the chocolate until melted.
(I start with 1 min at 50% power, stir, and then do 15- to 20-second increments after that, stirring between each.) Stir until completely melted, and then set the chocolate aside to cool.
In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat 1/2 cup of the sugar with the egg yolks on high speed for 5 minutes, or until thick and fluffy. When you lift the whisk, the mixture will fall in ribbons.
Add the chocolate, and beat on medium speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until incorporated.
Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, and set it aside.
Thoroughly wash and dry the stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment, and reattach them to the stand mixer.
In the stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites on medium speed until foamy. Turn the mixer off, and add the cream of tartar. Beat at medium speed until soft peaks form. Raise speed to medium-high, and gradually beat in the remaining 4 tablespoons of sugar. Continue beating until stiff peaks form when whisk is raised.
Whisk some of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture to loosen it.
The using a rubber spatula, fold the rest of the egg white mixture into the chocolate mixture.
If you have a scale, measure about 16 ounces of batter into each pan. If you don't have a scale, try to divide the batter evenly between the two pans.
Using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly into the pans and smooth the tops. I tapped the pans against the counter a few times too to release any bubbles and make sure they were flat.
Bake the cakes for 18 to 20 minutes, rotating pans from top to bottom, back to front, after 10 minutes. The cakes are done when they spring back when lightly touched in the center.
Transfer the pans to cooling racks, and cover the cakes with clean towels. Allow them to cool completely.
Remove the towels, and run a small offset around the edges of the cakes if they're stuck to the pans. Lift one cake layer by the overhanging parchment on the short sides, and place it on top of the other cake layer, so both cake layers are sitting in one pan.
Cover the layers with a towel or plastic wrap, and place the cakes in the fridge to chill for 30 to 45 minutes. This makes the layers easier to handle.
Make the whipped ganache.
Place the chocolate chips in a heat-safe bowl, and heat 1 cup of cream in a small saucepan until bubbles form around the edges of the pan.
Pour the cream over the chocolate, and whisk until chocolate is completely melted. Pour in the remaining cup of cream, and whisk until cream is completely incorporated. Chill the mixture for about 20 to 30 minutes. Also chill stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment.
While the mixture is chilling, pull out the cake layers, and using the parchment overhangs, set each cake layer on a work surface. Trim about 1/4 inch from all sides of each layer, using a large knife.
Then cut each layer in half (cutting through the parchment). You'll end up with four rectangles of the same size.
Slide an offset spatula between the parchment and cake to dislodge the cake from the parchment. Leave the layers on the parchment, stack them, and return them to the refrigerator.
Finish making the whipped ganache. Scrape the chocolate mixture into the chilled stand mixer bowl, and whisk the chocolate on low speed for about 30 seconds, or until floppy peaks form. It is very easy to overbeat the chocolate (believe me, I did it with the first batch), so if you're nervous, start whisking the chocolate with a stand mixture, and then switch to whisking it by hand. If the mixture becomes grainy, it is overbeaten. To save it, supposedly you can remelt the ganache, re-chill it, and re-beat it, but this did not work for me, and I ended up making another batch.
Choose a serving plate or cut a cardboard rectangle to assemble the cake on. Spread a tiny bit of ganache on the plate or cardboard and set one cake layer on it, by sliding your hands under the cake layer to support as much of it as possible. The ganache underneath should keep the cake from sliding.
Spread a thin layer of ganache (about 1 cup) on top of the first layer. I found it easiest to plop the ganache on with a spatula or large offset, start spreading it with the large offset, and then finish spreading it and scrape off the excess with a small offset.
Do the same thing with the next two layers.
Place the last cake layer on top, and spread all of the remaining ganache over it. (Leave the cake sides bare.)
Decorate the cake with chocolate curls. I was taught to make chocolate curls by pulling the backside of a paring knife down the edge of a block of chocolate.
I made a bunch of curls and collected them on a plate, and then used a baby offset to pick them up and shake them over the cake.
(When Jeff's father blew out his birthday candles, I learned that chocolate curls might not be the best idea for topping a cake that will have candles in it. Chocolate shavings flew everywhere!)
The cake keeps for 1 day at room temp. and 3 days in the fridge. It should be cut into small squares when you serve it.
Next time I make this, I might double the whipped ganache and make the frosting layers thicker. I would also frost the sides. I think it's nice to see the layers, but the cake would look prettier if it were completely frosted.
If there's a chocolate lover in your life, impress him or her with this stunning, light, rich chocolate cake!
Happy Friday! Any big plans for the weekend? We're off to check out another wedding venue on Saturday.
Labels: Desserts - pies cakes tarts