Saturday, December 25, 2010

Spiced Chocolate Torte Wrapped in Chocolate Ribbons

Merry Christmas!

Here is a Christmas cake I made this year for our Christmas Eve celebration. The cake was on the cover of "Bon Appetite" magazine (December 2010) and was a huge hit at our holiday party. The cake had a great consistency and wonderful spiced taste.

A couple tips I found while baking before you begin:

-I recommend making the cakes at least one day ahead. The cakes can be made up to two weeks ahead and frozen if you choose to do that instead. Making the entire cake in one day will be very difficult.
-This is a time consuming cake! You need to enter a state of zen before beginning this process. It is advisable to bake without the presence of screaming children to avoid culinary frustration.
- Chill the buttercream for 30 minutes to firm it up before spreading it on the cake layers. This makes the spreading much easier and ensures that the buttercream will hold up when the cake layers are assembled.
- Dusting the chocolate ribbon dough with powdered sugar before rolling it through the pasta machine helps to prevent it from sticking. When it starts to get too soft from the heat of your hands, place it back in the refrigerator as you work the dough. I used the electric kitchen aid pasta attachment for the ribbons and fed the strips through layers 1, 2 and 3.
-If the bittersweet chocolate strips don't stick when you place them atop the white chocolate strips or the ribbon assembly, lightly brush one side of the chocolate strips with light corn syrup, then place atop the white chocolate strips, syrup side down, and press lightly to adhere.
-Make sure to sift the flour and whip the egg whites into white peaks - this will ensure the consistency of the cake is perfectly delicious.
-Entire cake can be prepared up to 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.
-Don't share the amount of corn syrup or butter in this cake with your guests to ensure they enjoy eating your cake!! :-)


Cake Ingredients

1 1/2 (3 sticks) Butter , Room Temperature
2 Cups Sugar
8 eggs, Room Temperature
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate or semisweet cacao, do not exceed 61% cacao, melted, luke warm (I used Ghiradelli chips)
1 ½ cups finely chopped pecans
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 ⅓ cups unbleached all purpose flour, measured and then sifted
pinch of salt
pinch of cream of tartar

Buttercream Ingredients

¾ cup sugar
½ cup corn syrup
4 jumbo eggs
1 ½ cups (3 sticks) butter , cut into small pieces, roomo temperature
6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate , do not exceed 61% cacao, melted and cooled, but still pourable
¼ cup dark rum

Glaze Ingredients

12 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate , not to exceed 61% cacao, chopped
¾ cup (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter , cut into 12 pieces
2 tablespoons honey
¾ teaspoons instant espresso powder or instant coffee powder , I used espresso powder from my espresso machine

Chocolate Ribbons

7 ounces high quality white chocolate (such as lindt or perugina) , chopped
½ cup corn syrup , divided
7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate , do not exceed 61% cacao, broken into pieces
Directions for Making the Cake:

Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Butter and flour three 9-inch-diameter cake pans with 1 1/2 inch high sides. Line bottom of each cake pan with waxed paper; butter and flour waxed paper.

Using electric mixer, cream butter in large bowl. Gradually beat in sugar until smooth. Beat in egg yolks 1 at a time. Blend in melted chocolate. Slowly mix in pecans, vanilla, and spices. Gently fold in flour in 4 batches (batter will be very thick and dense).

Using electric mixer fitted with clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with salt and cream of tartar in another large bowl until medium peaks form. Gently fold 1/4 of whites into batter to lighten, then fold in remaining whites. Divide batter among prepared pans, spreading evenly. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes.

Run knife around sides of each cake. Let stand 10 minutes. Invert cakes onto racks. Cool to room temperature. DO AHEAD.

Cakes can be made up to 2 weeks ahead. Wrap tightly and freeze.
Directions for Buttercream:

Stir sugar and corn syrup in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil 1 minute. Meanwhile, using electric mixer, beat egg yolks in medium bowl until pale and thick. Gradually beat in hot sugar syrup. Continue beating until mixture is completely cool, about 5 minutes. Beat in butter 1 piece at a time, incorporating each piece completely before adding next. Blend in melted chocolate, then rum. If buttercream looks broken or curdled, place bowl with buttercream over medium heat on stove burner and whisk 5 to 10 seconds to warm mixture slightly, then remove from heat and beat mixture again on medium speed. Repeat warming and beating as many times as needed until buttercream is smooth).

Reserve 1/2 cup of buttercream. Set 1 cake layer, flat side up, on rack; spread with half of remaining buttercream. Top with second cake layer; spread with remaining buttercream. Top with third cake layer; use reserved 1/2 cup buttercream to fill in seam where cake layers meet. Freeze cake until buttercream is firm, about 2 hours.

Tip for cleaning your sauce pan and mixer bowl: Fill the empty saucepan with water and bring it to a boil. This should get rid of all the corn syrup stuck to the bottom of your saucepan. Pour boiling water into your mixer bowl while standing in the sink to remove remaining corn syrup.

Directions for Glaze:

Stir all ingredients in top of double boiler over gently simmering water until mixture is smooth. Remove from over water. Stir until glaze is thickened, about 5 minutes. Do not allow glaze to set.

Pour 3/4 of glaze over top of cake. Carefully and quickly tilt cake back and forth so glaze coats sides; smooth with a spatula, adding some of the remaining glaze where necessary. Chill cake until glaze sets.

Tips for pouring the glaze: When I poured the glaze on the cake it did not run down the sides the way I wanted it to. I took a spatula and covered the sides. I then placed the cake in the refrigerator and waited for the glaze to harden. Once it hardened, I removed the cake from the refrigerator and reheated the glaze. Using a spatula, I touched up the sides of the cake. I suggest doing this if you can't get the glaze to cover the first time.

Chocolate Ribbon Directions:

Melt white chocolate in top of double boiler over gently simmering water; stir until smooth. Stir in 1/4 cup corn syrup. Pour onto baking sheet. Chill until firm, 30 to 40 minutes. Transfer white chocolate to work surface and knead several minutes. (Note: I found this difficult to do using my hands. I used the kneading tool for my kitchen aid mixer to knead the dough instead). Shape white chocolate dough into ball. Wrap in plastic. Let white chocolate dough stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Repeating with bittersweet chocolate and remaining 1/4 cup of corn syrup.

Cut white chocolate dough into 4 pieces. Flatten 1 piece into rectangle. Turn pasta machine to widest setting (setting 1 on kitchen aid mixer attachment). Run chocolate through 3 times, folding into thirds before each run. Adjust machine to next narrower setting. Run chocolate through machine without folding. If chocolate is more than 1/16 inch thick, run through next narrower setting. (I found that the best setting for this measurement was setting 3 on the kitchenaid mixer).

Lay chocolate piece on rimless baking sheet. Repeating flattening, folding, and rolling with remaining chocolate pieces. Repeat process with bittersweet chocolate dough.

Cut four 8X1 inch strips from rolled white chocolate dough and four 8 X 1/2 inch strips from rolled bittersweet chocolate dough. Center bittersweet chocolate strips atop white chocolate strips to form 4 ribbons. Run 1 ribbon from base of cake to center. Arrange remaining 3 chocolate ribbons equidistant from each other in same fashion so ribbons meet in the center of the cake.

Cut ten 6 X 1 inch strips from rolled white chocolate dough and ten 6 1/2 X 1/2 inch strips from rolled bittersweet chocolate dough. Center bittersweet chocolate strips atop white chocolate strips to form 10 ribbons. Cut ends off 2 ribbons on diagonal. Starting at center, drape ribbons over top and sides of cake to form trailers. To form loops for bows, hold remaining 8 ribbons in half, layered side out. Cut ends into V shapes. Arrange ribbon halves with V shapes at center of cake to form bow.

Cut on 3X1 inch strip of white chocolate and one 3 X 1/2 inch strip of bittersweet chocolate. Center bittersweet chocolate strip atop white chocolate strip. Fold in ends of chocolate strips and pinch to resemble knot; place in center of bow

Carefully transfer the cake to serving platter or cake stand.

1 comment:

  1. How beautiful and CREATIVE! "Espionage Queen" sounds like someone I want to meet!