Monday, November 30, 2009



 Thanksgiving holiday was really a joy in my family. The special feast required a special dessert. After looking through hundreds of recipes, I couldn't find something new that I had never done before. Then, I remembered about the Pierre Herme book, and found this recipe. 
The cake is very delicious. Rich ganache is to die for, together with dried apricots the cake tastes heavenly. 

It took me 4 hours to complete the cake. The recipe is not very difficult and you can definitely fasten the process if you will think throughly the timing, since some of the components can be done in advance.

The recipe is long and may scare you away, but if you will think over of all the components before starting the process, you will see that the it is not complicated as it seems.

This recipe makes two cakes-one for now and one that can be stored in the freezer. You will need two 
7 1/2 by 3 1/2  pound cake pans (loaf pans).  My loaf  pans are 8 1/2 by 4 1/2 inches, that's why I had a good size one cake and second pan was baked with a thin cake layer. 

You can bake in advance COCOA CAKES (Sometimes I bake cake in the evening before the day of the party and store them wrapped airtight at room temperature.)
 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp (40 grams) Dutch-processes cocoa powder
 1/4 cup (35 grams) cake flour
 3 1/2 tbsp potato starch
 5 1/2 tbsp (75 grams) unsalted butter
 9 large egg yolks, at room temperature
 1 1/4 cups sugar
 5 large eg whites, at room temperature

1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter two loaf pans, then line  the pans with parchment paper.

2. Sift together the cocoa powder , cake flour, and potato starch. Melt the butter and set it aside to cool until it is barely warm to the touch.

3. Working in a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks and 1/2 cup plus 2 table spoons  of the sugar on a medium-high speed. About 5 minutes, scraping the sides of the bowl. You will need another mixer to beat the egg whites, if you don't have one, scrape the thickened egg yolks into a large bowl and wash and dry you mixer bowl and whisk attachment.

4. Whip the egg white at medium-hih speed until they form soft peaks. Gradually add the 
remaining 1/2 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar and beat until the peaks are firm and shiny.

5. Working with a large rubber spatula and a light hand, fold the sifted dry ingredients  and 1/4 of the beaten whites into the yolk mixture.  Stir few tablespoons of this mixture into the cooled melted butter, stirring to incorporate the butter as much as possible. Add the butter and the remaining white to the yolk mixture. Gently fold everything together.

6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans - it should come three-quarters of the way up the sides. Bake the loaves for 25-30 minutes. Check with the wooden skewer or the toothpick for doneness. 

7. Cool the loaves, allow them to rest 3 minutes in their pans, then gently unmold them onto cooling rack. Cool to room temperature.


 ( can be made up to 3 days ahead and kept covered in the refrigerator)

1/4 cup sugar
2 tsp salted butter (or use unsalted with a pinch of salt)
6 tbsp warm water

Put the sugar in a medium saucepan or a small skillet and place the pan over medium heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt , stir it with a wooden spoon. Keep heating and stirring the sugar until it turns a rich brown color. Standing away from the pan , drop the butter into the pan , then  as it melts , stir it into the caramelized sugar. Stand back again and add the water. When the mixture comes to the boil, pull the pan from the heat. Allow syrup to cool to room temperature.


 6 ounces (170 grams) moist, plump dried apricots.
 1 cup water
 Juice of 1/2 lemon
 pinch of freshly ground black pepper

Put the apricots  and water in a medium saucepan  and bring to a gentle boil.Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and simmer for 3- 4 minutes. Drain the apricots and let cool

 When they are cool, cup the apricots into small dice.  (If you'd like, you can reserve couple apricots and use them to decorate the tops of the cakes). Toss the apricots with lemon juice and black pepper and set them aside until needed.


 6 1/2 ounces bittersweet chocolate (the best quality you can find), finely chopped
 4 1/2 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
 2/3 cup sugar
 1 1/2 tbsp salted butter (if unsalted , then add a pinch of salt)
 1 cup plus 2 tbsp heavy cream
 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature.

1. Mix together bittersweet and milk chocolate together in a large heatproof bowl.

2. Set a heavy-botomed medium saucepan over medium -high heat and sprinkle about one-third of the sugar over the bottom of the pan. As soon as the sugar starts to melt and color, stir it with wooden spoon until it melts and caramelize. Sprinkle over half of the remaining sugar and, as soon as it starts to melt , stir it into caramelized sugar in the pan. Repeat with the last of the sugar and cook until the sugar is deep brown color. Stand away from the pan , still stirring, add the butter and then, when the butter is incorporated, the cream. Stir  and bring the cream to the boil, then remove the pan from the heat.

3. Pour half of the hot caramel over the chopped chocolate, using rubber spatula , stir gently. When the chocolate is smooth, add the remaining caramel, stirring. Set the ganache aside to cool for about 10 minutes. It should still be warm to a touch.

4. While the ganache is cooling, beat the unsalted butter , using either the paddle attachment or spatula. You want to soften the butter until it is consistency of mayonnaise, but you don not want to beat air into it. Gently stir the butter into the ganache. You can use it now or store it in refrigerator for up to 2 days. When you are ready to use it, allow it to come to room temperature and stir it. 

5. To work with ganache, it must be the consistency of a very creamy frosting and must have enough body to mound. Place bowl of ganache in refrigerator, checking every 5 minutes  to stir it , so it doesn't become too firm around the edges. 


Working with a serrate knife, slice each cake horizontally into 3 even layers. Place a first layer on the cardboard or cake platter. Using a pastry brush, dab the bottom layers with the syrup. Use a metal spatula to spread ganache over the moistened layer. (1/2 inch thick) Top the layer of the ganache with half of apricots and very gently press the apricots into ganache. Set the next layer into place on each cake, and moisten it syrup. Smooth each layer with another layer of ganache and dot with remaining apricots. Moisten the top layer with syrup and settle it on the place. Spread a very thin layer of ganache over the side and tops of the cakes. Chill the cake for 30 minutes in the refrigerator. Keep the ganache at room temperature. Remove the cake and spread a new layer of ganache on top and sides with metal spatula. Use a fork to comb the sides of the cake for decorative purpose. You can serve the cake now or refrigerate it for up to 12 hours. If the cake is too cold the extraordinary texture of he ganache is diminished. Just before serving, dust the tops lightly with cocoa powder. Place the reserved whole apricots.

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