What to Make for a Jaw-Dropping Birthday Cake (Involving Chocolate)?
Posted: 23 February 2010 07:22 PM   [ Ignore ]
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[Scene] Stylish, sassy 30-something woman hosts a private cocktail birthday party for herself at a little art gallery and restaurant in San Francisco, and yours truly will be bringing the birthday cake.

By way of background, I recently made her wedding cake and posted about it here - it was topped with Rose’s ganache and the lacquer glaze from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes. She likes a modern elegant look, with simple lines, but she is also big on homey desserts like brownies, cookies, sundaes, cupcakes and smores.

Her only request was chocolate, and as far as I know there will not be any other food served (it’s at 10pm, so folks will have eaten dinner).  I need to make the cake serve at least 25, and it should be able to survive several hours without refridgeration, so no mousse cakes or whipped cream or custard fillings or frostings.

I am thinking of making a dacquoise layer for crunch. Another thing I have always wanted to do is a cake covered with italian/swiss meringue and brown it with a torch! And I LOVE the look of this cake, created by Alice Medrich (in her book Bittersweet) called Carmen Meringay (recipe at link) - while that is a mousse cake, it seems like the meringue shell could be filled with other things. But it is probably fragile.

What would you make???

smile
Rachel

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Posted: 23 February 2010 09:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Hi Rachel,

You did a great job on her wedding cake. I also like the aesthetics of the two meringue links you posted. The problem with meringue is that it is very sweet. Also, depending on how humid SF will be that night, I would wonder how well it will hold up for an extended period. It is also not chocolate. Will the birthday girl care? You can make a chocolate version of meringue. For example, the Swiss “S” Cookies from The Cake Bible are basically a chocolate Italian meringue. You could do a bunch of those (maybe in the shape of twigs) and apply them on the outside of the cake, maybe even encircle the whole cake with a ribbon.

The first thing that came to mind when you mentioned a stylish, jaw-dropping cake is the Triple Chocolate Cake from TCB. It is a flourless chocolate cake encased in sheets of chocolate that are higher than the cake. The sheets are then softened with a hair-dryer so that they fold over on top of the cake in a free-form sculpture sort of a way. I made this cake years ago. Even though I distempered the chocolate in spots because I was over-zealous with the hair dryer, the cake still came out fine. The flavor was out of this world because it also includes hazelnuts and hazelnut-flavored syrup to moisten the cake. One seventy-something European lady told me it was the best cake she had ever eaten.  The original recipe calls for putting praline powder in the chocolate sheets (praline powder is hazelnut brittle ground very fine in a food processor). I opted to instead sprinkle the praline powder inside the sandwiched cake layers so that the chocolate sheets on the outside would be as smooth as possible.

You could also go with brownies topped with Midnight Chocolate Ganache from RHC. I just made a batch this weekend (I’m hoping to post pics soon). They were absolutely delicious, and striking to look at when plated on white china. I cut them into neat, uniform squares using a square biscuit cutter as a guide and hot, dry knife. They kept in the fridge for 3 days, and then I froze the rest. The good thing about them is they are in individual portions, so you wouldn’t have to mess around with cutting at the party—everybody could just help themselves.

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Posted: 23 February 2010 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Christine- those are wonderful suggestions. I remember the Triple Chocolate Cake now from TCB - I have looked at that photo so many times.  It all sounds so good!

and you are right about the meringue being sweet (and not chocolate)!

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Posted: 24 February 2010 02:22 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Rachel - Beautiful cake!

I have two favorite chocolate cakes, the Chocolate Oblivion and the Featherbed. I made the Chocolate Oblivion for a wedding in Monterey last summer, and it held up wonderfully, several hours outside the fridge, despite the fact that it was a really warm day (for Monterey). The Chocolate Featherbed is in the Heavenly Cakes. I made it the day before and just kept it at room temperature. My Featherbed ended up having a dacquoise layer as the bottom layer because I had some egg whites left over and didn’t want them to go to waste - it went extremely well and gave it the extra crunch.

Both cakes are very dense, I think their weight is what’s holding them together grin

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Posted: 24 February 2010 04:43 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Rachel, i really love how you showcased the deep passion cake, the shiny glaze is something you should continue to showcase!  i can see making a 9” round version, but 3 tiers, like my cylinder cakes (with separator plates and support), ganache and all.  i am certain the bride will be thrilled to retaste her wedding cake on her birthday.  that is what i call been a snob!

go for it.

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Posted: 25 February 2010 12:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Hi Silke,

Did the Chocolate Featherbed hold okay at room temperature? How did it taste? That cake is on my To-Do list. Visually, it is very appealing because of the layers and chocolate curls.

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Posted: 25 February 2010 09:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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I’m going to put in my two cents and “toot my own horn”.  If the request is chocolate, and your guest of honor likes homey desserts, I would recommend the Chocolate fudge cake from the cake bible and frost it with “Bill’s Buttercream”...there I go…tootin’ that horn of mine.  (One recipe of mousseline with 30 g of dutch processed cocoa powder and 8 oz of melted bittersweet chocolate).  The combination tastes like the most amazing classic american chocolate layer cake.  I have made it for many occasions and everyone seems to love it.  “Butteryum” made it for a Grooms cake and everyone at the wedding said it was the best chocolate cake they ever had.  Simple, not a million components and everyone enjoys. I have also, to make it even More chocolatey, put ganache between the layers rather than the buttercream.

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Posted: 25 February 2010 10:32 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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Well, I’m going to toot Hector’s horn, here’s a page from his site that shows many beautiful chocolate cakes, including several beautiful renditions of the oblivion:  http://www.myyellowkitchen.com/index-myyellowkitchen-CATALOG.html  There’s also a modern, beautiful chocolate lattice band that I admire. 

The nicest looking chocolate cake that I’ve done is my triple choc valentine, here:  http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/index_ee.php/forums/viewthread/1975/P15/  It could be done in a circular shape.

Good luck, and let us know what you choose in the end!

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Posted: 25 February 2010 01:44 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Hi Christine,

It tasted like - a chocolate featherbed? - heaven? - really really good? Any of these. My friends are used to good cakes by now, and they were in awe. I decorated it differently than it is in the book, and here is the post I did http://www.realbakingwithrose.com/index_ee.php/forums/viewthread/1739/

It held up very well in room temperature, I didn’t have any place in the fridge. We keep our house fairly cool, and even the bit of whipped cream on the outside survived well… Though from the consistency, I wouldn’t be worried leaving it out at room temperature in our California summers, either, unless it’s one of these rare scorcher days.

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Posted: 25 February 2010 05:30 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I didn’t read through the previous replies, so forgive me if someone else suggested these, both from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes:

My new favorite chocolate cake is Rose’s deep chocolate passion (wedding cake section) - I made it for my sister’s wedding and I got more compliments that ever.  I frosted the cake with Amaretto Buttercream.  It was truly divine! 

Another favorite chocolate dessert from Rose - the baby chocolate oblivions (baby cakes section).  At room temp they would probably be too fragile to serve without a tiny plate or single serving cake board (I’d plate them in advance while they’re still cold and very firm - they’ll hold their shape perfectly well at room temp).

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Posted: 25 February 2010 07:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Patrincia - 25 February 2010 09:30 PM

Another favorite chocolate dessert from Rose - the baby chocolate oblivions (baby cakes section).  At room temp they would probably be too fragile to serve without a tiny plate or single serving cake board (I’d plate them in advance while they’re still cold and very firm - they’ll hold their shape perfectly well at room temp).

If I recall correctly (book is at home I’m at work) the baby oblivions in the Heavenly Cakes use chocolate with a lower percentage of cacao. I usually end up having 60-70% in mine, and they are perfectly stable at room temp, even when it gets a bit warm. Though it’s probably a good idea to plate before just to be safe.

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Posted: 25 February 2010 07:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Silke - 25 February 2010 11:04 PM
Patrincia - 25 February 2010 09:30 PM

Another favorite chocolate dessert from Rose - the baby chocolate oblivions (baby cakes section).  At room temp they would probably be too fragile to serve without a tiny plate or single serving cake board (I’d plate them in advance while they’re still cold and very firm - they’ll hold their shape perfectly well at room temp).

If I recall correctly (book is at home I’m at work) the baby oblivions in the Heavenly Cakes use chocolate with a lower percentage of cacao. I usually end up having 60-70% in mine, and they are perfectly stable at room temp, even when it gets a bit warm. Though it’s probably a good idea to plate before just to be safe.

Oh yes, they are perfectly stable at room temp, but a bit too fragile to be handled directly.  That’s why I suggested plating them a head of time.

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Posted: 25 February 2010 07:31 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Patricia - nice to see you’re back! cheese

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