Thanks to my Uncle Dan for this great photo!
Cakes are not usually my thing.
I make a good cookie, a tasty muffin, and a damn good brownie, but I usually don’t put the time and energy into making awesome cakes. Sometimes I’ll make cupcakes, but whole cakes with fancy frosting, definitely not. They’re just not easy to cut up and pass out, and in a small household, we’re not going to eat a whole cake.
But a few weeks ago, I sent my mom a simple, one-line email asking her if Christmas Eve dinner was going to be at her house as usual. It’s a tradition that the immediate family gets together the night before the holiday so that everyone can spend some time together and open presents before everyone has to travel on Christmas.
My mom sent me back about five paragraphs about how hectic the week was. This brother had to be picked up from college out of state, that brother was coming home on this day, the next day we were doing that, and, since my mom is a social worker, she had to actually work on Christmas Eve. So, she said, she wasn’t sure when she was going to have the time to cook.
Since just reading her email was stressing me out, and I didn’t even have to DO any of the stuff that she had to do, I suggested that Charlie and I be in charge of cooking. My sister ended up getting involved, and my brother who just graduated college was around and helped, and even my littlest brother, who is 11, felt pretty important with some of the things he was tasked with (like helping me make lasagna) that day.
But almost more important than the actual dinner was the dessert. My family loves chocolate. They think I’m the weirdest kid around for preferring more delicate flavors like fruits, teas, or vanilla. I made sure to prepare something I’d enjoy, but I also knew I had to really bring it in terms of dessert.
I recently bought some black cocoa from King Arthur Flour, and I wanted that to make an appearance in the dessert I made, and it ended up in the cake itself.
This dessert looks complicated, and my family thought it was downright professional, but when you break it down into steps, it isn’t that difficult.
• Chocolate cake (based very loosely off of a Texas Sheet Cake) made with black cocoa
• Raspberry jam filling
• Whipped semi-sweet chocolate ganache
• Poured darker chocolate ganache
This was my first time making ganache, and it went very well. I also made sure that this cake wasn’t too sweet so that I was really featuring the richness of the cream, the depth of the chocolate, and the layers of the chocolate.
P.S. The Art & Baking Giveaway is open until Friday, so hop over there for a chance to win!
1 cup of butter
2 cup of all purpose flour
3/4 cup of white sugar
1/2 tsp of salt
3 tbsp of tablespoons cocoa
3 tbsp of black cocoa
1 cup of boiling water
1/2 cup of buttermilk
1 tsp of baking soda
1 tsp of vanilla
3/4 cup of raspberry jam
For the whipped ganache:
1 cup of heavy cream
8 ounce of semi-sweet chocolate
For the poured ganache:
1 cup of heavy cream
10 ounce of 65% dark chocolate
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Prepare a 12″ x 17″ sheet pan by greasing the edges of it and putting a piece of parchment paper, trimmed to size, in the bottom.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, sugar, and salt.
In a small pot, melt the butter.
Add the cocoa, and mix into the butter. Add the boiling water. Let boil for a few seconds, then turn off the heat. Pour the cocoa mixture over the flour mixture and stir slightly. In a separate small bowl, mix the buttermilk, eggs, baking soda, and vanilla. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the cocoa mixture.
Pour into the prepared sheet cake pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.
Immediately when the cake has come out of the oven, flip the cake out onto another piece of parchment paper and peel back the parchment paper from the bottom. Let cool.
When the cake is completely cool, cut into four even pieces. Use a pastry brush to paint the layers on all sides with raspberry jam.
Next, make the whipped semi-sweet ganache. In a double boiler over medium heat, bring 1 cup of cream almost to a boil. Turn off the heat and stir the semi-sweet chocolate into the cream. Mix until smooth.
Set this mixture aside to cool at room temperature for about two hours. When cool, use a stand mixture to whip into a frosting. Stack the layers of the cake, then spread the whipped ganache around the outside of the cake.
Repeat the process of heating the second cup of cream, this time, using the dark chocolate.
When the mixture is smooth, let it cool and thicken for about three to five minutes, so that it is almost the consistency of honey. Then, pour the mixture over the frosted cake. (It will run over the sides, so you’ll want a pan underneath to catch it!)
Let the ganache set. Keep refrigerated until serving. Decorate as desired. (I used a thin glaze of confectioner’s sugar and edible glitter.)