My siblings-in-law Rusty and Mags are arriving today for a couple of weeks. It’s Rusty’s first time on a plane, so something tells me he’ll need some chocolate when he gets here. And possibly booze.
I borrowed the actual cake recipe from here, but everything else I made up on my own. Make sure you’ve got some time when you make this cake, or at least a list of other things to do. There’s a lot of waiting around for things to cool.
First, you need a springform pan. Mine here is 10 inches. Anywhere around that size should be fine. You see how it has a little lip on the bottom?
Well, flip that so the lip is facing down and lock it in place.
Now butter it like there’s no tomorrow, making sure to fill in all those wee squares, and then dust it with flour. Knock out the excess and set that sucker aside.
Preheat your oven to 325°F.
In a large bowl, sift in and whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa, 1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
In a small bowl, whisk together 1 cup water and 3 large eggs.
Chop up about 8oz bittersweet or dark chocolate (or milk, if you prefer, it’s your cake — who am I to tell you what to do?). Melt that in a double boiler with 3/4 cup butter.
Remove that from the heat and whisk in the egg mixture until it’s smooth and feels like pudding.
Then whisk all that chocolate goodness into the flour mixture and get out all the lumps.
Add in 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar and keep on whisking. Make sure to rest your whisking hand often, as this is a very whisk-heavy recipe. How many more times can I say “whisk”?
Pour that glop into your prepared springform pan.
Make sure to rap the pan on the counter to get out all those pesky air bubbles.
Bake for 75 to 90 minutes, until the cake is starting to pull away from the side of the pan and a wooden stick inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan for 20 minutes, then remove the ring and let the cake cool completely, about an hour. Once the cake is cool you can carefully remove it from the bottom of the pan.
At this point, I brushed the cake with the contents of a wee bottle (50mL) of Grand Marnier, an orange-flavoured liqueur, to keep the cake moist while it awaits the arrival of its consumers.
While your cake is cooking and cooling, you can work on your fondant covering.
We’re going to do a cocoa-mocha fondant today. So, in the bowl of your mixer, plop in 3/4 cup butter, softened, 3/4 cup corn syrup, and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract. Mix that until creamy, then add in 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa, 3 tablespoons instant espresso powder, and, slowly, so you don’t start an icing sugar mushroom cloud, about 5 cups icing sugar.
You may need to adjust the level of icing sugar until you get the appropriate doughy texture. You can always knead in more icing sugar with your hands. Set that aside. Possibly in the fridge to firm up a little.
Now we’re going to make the decorating fondant. In a clean bowl, mix together 1/4 cup softened butter, 1/4 cup lily white corn syrup (because otherwise it won’t turn out as light as you want it to), and 1 teaspoon almond extract.
Mix that until it’s creamy, then add in about 2 cups icing sugar and mix until doughy. Set that aside. Again, you can put it in the fridge. Or next to an open window to catch the cold Newfoundland breeze. Of course if you live anywhere else at this time of year you probably have your air conditioning on so you could always use that.
Normally, you would create a buttercream icing to go under your fondant, a nice solid glue to hold everything together. But since when do I obey the rules? We’re going to go with a ganâche, and that’s all there is to it.
Chop up another 8oz chocolate (your choice, of course), and melt that in a double boiler.
When it’s completely melted, whisk in 2 cups whipping cream until smooth. Chuck that in the fridge to let it cool completely and thicken. Stir it around every once in a while.
As this cake is a welcome-to-Newfoundland dessert for my siblings-in-law, I thought I would put a moose on the cake. The moose, in case you didn’t know, was introduced as a hunting species to Newfoundland at the end of the 19th century and, having no natural predators other than man (because introducing species to island ecosystems is a bad idea), has proliferated and is now one of the province’s biggest pests, wreaking havoc on people’s gardens within the city and accounting for high numbers of traffic fatalities for those unfortunate (or stupid) enough to drive across the island at night. The moose is an extremely dangerous animal, for all its vegetarian-ness, but Newfoundlanders have adopted the moose as a cute symbol of what makes Newfoundlanders a bit different than everyone else.
What I’m saying is that it’s entirely appropriate to put a moose on your cake when you live in Newfoundland.
I printed out a stencil of a moose from the internet and cut it out. I rolled out the white fondant onto a piece of waxed paper and laid my stencil on top.
I traced the outline of the stencil with a thin, sharp knife.
Then I peeled away the excess fondant.
And thar be me moose. I set that aside to dry a little.
When your ganâche is cooled and thickened, you can slather it on your cake.
Like that. Holy crap does that ever look good. Chill that in the fridge to let the ganâche set a bit more while you roll out your coffee fondant.
The Pie and I used a rolling pin to ease the fondant onto the cake. Because the ganâche is soft and squidgy it didn’t provide a very good base for the fondant and so you can see we have some cracks. But we’re okay with that. Plus the moose will cover up the worst of it. For more information on dealing with fondant, check out my Raspberry Trifle Cake experiment.
Trim the excess fondant from the bottom and smooth the sides.
Lay that moose on down on top of the cake and smooth it down as well.
We used Cadbury’s chocolate covered raisins (like Glossette’s) as “moose poop” around the edges of the cake at the bottom. And of course one big one, just behind the moose in question.
Keep this cake in the fridge to firm up the fondant and to keep the ganâche from spoiling. Once you have cut into it make sure to keep it covered with plastic wrap, and eat it within a few days.