Friday, November 6, 2009

Chocolate Ganache Cake with Creme Anglaise

THIS is the chocolate dessert I was after a few weeks back when I tried the infamous "flourless chocolate cake"...which turned out to be such a complete and utter FLOP (literally!). Not to disparage flourless cakes, I've tried a couple and they were quite good, but THIS is what I was after. (I only wish my pics did it justice. I was too busy and took pics the next morning after I put plastic wrap over the already-cut cake and kind of dulled its shiny ganache.) 

So why is this THE cake I was after? Well, it has the deep chocolaty flavor I was seeking; a dense, moist structure that gives it a decadent, rich, kind of melt-in-your-mouth consistency (NOT melt on your uh-hum, the you-know-what-cake); and, it has just the right balance of sweetness topped off by a luscious, shiny chocolate ganache that you just pour over the whole thing once it's cooled. No spatulas or fancy icing techniques required. And yes, it does have some flour in it...but just a bit.

Oh...and if all that isn't enough, you plate each slice atop a delicious creme anglaise. (I'd love to just continue on here, sounding oh-so sophisticated with my creme anglaise but I'd feel terribly guilty not to fess up right now...this creamy goodness is nothing more than a pint of good vanilla ice cream that you pop into the fridge a few hours before you plan to serve your dessert to let it melt to a creamy consistency. Having made that confession I'm sure I'll be granted a great pass on something else. Karma, right?!!) In addition to being a rather tasty cake, it's also super easy to make. It all comes together in one bowl!

I made this cake for a dinner I hosted for a couple of girlfriends...figuring they could be my guinea pigs. What are friends for? (If I had another flop, there'd only be two's all in the numbers). Luckily, it turned out to be a winner. The recipe is adapted from a cake by Ina Garten (The Barefoot Contessa). I pulled it out of a House Beautiful magazine and tried to locate it online (had a few measurement questions) but couldn't find it. I kept to the recipe until it came to the vanilla addition. Instead of adding one tablespoon vanilla extract to the batter I only added one teaspoon, and then added one teaspoon Kahlua liqueur and one teaspoon instant espresso. You don't taste the alcohol or coffee, you just get a really rich chocolate flavor.

While we have a bit of a birthday tradition in our family when it comes to chocolate cakes, this is a great dessert that I'll definitely serve up on one of the other 361 days of the year. Yum!

Chocolate Ganache Cake with Creme Anglaise
adapted from a recipe by Ina Garten
serves 6 to 8

1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 16-ounce can Hershey's chocolate syrup
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Kahlua liqueur
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules
1 cup all-purpose flour

For Ganache:
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
8 ounces good semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon instant espresso granules ( too)

For Creme Anglaise:
1 pint good vanilla ice cream, popped into fridge to melt down

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour a 9-inch round cake pan, then line the bottom with parchment paper.

2. Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl. Lower the speed and add eggs, one at a time, scraping bowl down after each egg. Mix in chocolate syrup, vanilla, Kahlua, and espresso. Add flour and mix until just combined. Don't overbeat or the cake will be tough.

3. Pour batter into your prepped pan and bake for 45-60 minutes (mine took 55 minutes)...until set in the middle. Don't overbake. Let cool completely in pan. (Note: popping the cake into the fridge after cooled is even better. It's easier to glaze a cold cake.)

4. For the ganache: heat heavy cream, chocolate chips, and instant espresso in the top of a double boiler over simmering water just until the chocolate melts and the ganache is smooth and warm, stirring occasionally.

5. Place the cooled cake upside down on a wire rack (remove the parchment paper) and pour the warm glaze evenly over the top, making sure to cover the entire cake and sides. (I used a rather large cooling rack and think a smaller one might be better. Also...put some parchment or wax paper underneath your rack to catch drips and make clean-up easier. (Using a smaller rack for your cake will make it a little easier to get under the rack to kind of scoop and scrap the drippings to mend the gaps in icing...if necessary.) You can also tilt the rack back and forth to get the ganache to move around and drip nicely over the edges. Transfer cake to a serving platter. Serve atop creme anglaise.

NOTE: Do not refrigerate cake after it is glazed. Just cover with plastic wrap (yes it dulls the shine) and leave out.

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