- Date: Wednesday, December 31, 2008 -- 8pm
- Location: Westerville, OH
- Kitchen: Karen and Dave's House
- Dining Companions: Matty, Brad, Deniz, Karen H, Dave, Wes, and a bunch of other partygoers...
- Recipe Rating: A-
I offered to make a dessert for Karen and Dave's New Year's Eve party. Since I was on vacation I figured it was a good time to tackle one of the more time-consuming recipes in The Book. This thing had a lot of layers: a layer of chocolate cake, topped by a layer of apricot glaze, topped by a layer of chocolate mousse, topped by a layer of sweetened, stabilized whipped cream, topped by another layer of chocolate cake, topped by a layer of chocolate glaze. I won't drag you through the exact details of how I made each layer. I will note that although it was a bit time-consuming to do all those layers, nothing about this recipe was particularly difficult. The general overview is as follows: I baked the two layers of chocolate cake on 10 by 15 inch baking sheets. I topped one of them with a glaze of apricot jam, and the other with a chocolate glaze. Then I made the chocolate mousse and spread it over the apricot jam on one of the cake layers. I put that in the fridge while I made the whipped cream, then I spread the whipped cream over the chocolate mousse. Then, I cut the layer of cake topped with chocolate glaze into rectangular pieces, then reassembled the pieces into a sheet on top of the whipped cream (This step initially seemed really silly to me -- why cut it up and then reassemble it? Why not just put that cake layer on top of the cream and then cut the whole thing into pieces? Well, The Book knows what it is doing. Once it was all assembled it would have been impossible to cut through the top cake layer without forcing the whipped cream and mousse layers to squish out, so cutting that layer before putting it on was essential.) I chilled the whole sheet of cake for a few hours, then following the cuts in the top layer, I cut through all the layers to form the rectangles of cake.
Was all that work worth it? Indeed. This cake was good. For one thing, the pieces of cake looked very elegant, and having it pre-cut into pieces made it very easy to serve in a party setting. The layers were individually very tasty, and the flavors and textures went beautifully together. The cake layers had a nice texture, and they were substantial enough to provide structural integrity for the cake, but thin enough that the recipe showcased the mousse and cream layers. The apricot jam layer was very thin, but added quite a lot to the recipe. The other layers were not very sweet at all, so the jam layer provided a welcome burst of sweetness, as well as a flavor to contrast all the chocolate. The mousse was lovely -- it had a nice texture and a strong chocolate flavor. The whipped cream was exactly as it should have beed: creamy, sweet, scented with vanilla. And the chocolate glaze on top made the pieces look nice and added yet another burst of chocolate. Overall though, the cake was more than just the sum of its parts. It was very tasty, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. Two small comments: one, I cut it as directed in The Book. Although the pieces were pretty small, the cake was so intense, that I wished I had cut it even smaller. I think cutting it into 36 pieces rather than 30 would have been perfect. And two, the recipe indicated to refrigerate right up until it is served, but the cake was at its tastiest after it had been out of the fridge for a few minutes. Certainly with that much cream you don't want it sitting out too long. But 10 or 15 minutes at room temperature did good things for this cake.
The recipe in The Book is the same as this one, except the one in The Book calls for 2/3 cup apricot jam rather than 1/2 cup.