Friday, April 30, 2010

I Get By With a Little Help from Chocolate: Ganache Glazed Chocolate Bundt Cake

Charles Schulz once said, "All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt." After finishing my first law school exam of the semester and my second to last law school exam of my life, I decided I needed something to de-stress, and chocolate, for me, is the ultimate de-stressor - the ultimate comfort food, in fact. I figured my friends would also appreciate an excuse to take a study break, so I searched for the perfect, crowd pleasing chocolate recipe.  I wanted to make something truly rich and delectable, and when I stumbled upon Grand Central Bakery's Ganache-Glaze Chocolate Bundt Cake I knew I had found perfection. The recipe is a little complicated, but the result is worth it. This cake is heavenly. It is made with chocolate bars, chocolate chips, and cocoa powder, so it is every chocolate lover's dream.  It also has sour cream in it, which makes it incredibly moist.  The chocolate ganache on top is rich and silky.  I suggest serving it with vanilla ice cream.  Be careful: you may want to save it all for yourself!

Ganache-Glazed Chocolate Bundt Cake, from The Grand Central Baking Book by Piper Davis and Ellen Jackson
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
3 cups (15 ounces) all purpose flour
1 cup (3 ounces) cocoa powder
1 tablespoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces, or 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 1/4 (1 pound) light brown sugar
6 eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 cup (8.5 ounces) sour cream
1 cup (8 fluid ounces) lukewarm freshly brewed coffee
2 cups (12 ounces) milk chocolate chips

9.5 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces heavy cream)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit. Grease and lightly flour a 12-cup Bundt pan.  Put the unsweetened and semisweet chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl suspended over a pot of barely simmering water for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the chocolate has melted and is completely smooth. Set aside to cool slightly.

Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Using a stand mixer* with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture is very light in color-almost beige-y white**- and the texture is fluffy, about 2 to 4 minutes. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl a few times during the process to ensure that the butter is evenly incorporated.

Crack the eggs into a liquid measuring cup and add the vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly pour in the eggs, letting them fall in one at a time and incorporating each egg completely before adding the next. Scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl once or twice during the process. Add the melted chocolate to the butter mixture all at once and mix on low speed until slightly combined; you don't need to fully incorporate the chocolate at this point.

Whisk the sour cream and coffee together to achieve a smooth, room temperature liquid. (Adding too much of a cold ingredient can cause the chocolate to seize.) With the mixer on low speed, add one-third of the dry ingredients until just incorporated. Add half of the sour cream mixture, mixing to combine. Repeat, using half of the remaining dry ingredients, mixing after each addition. Add the remaining dry ingredients and stop the mixer before they're fully incorporated. Add the milk chocolate chips and finish mixing by hand, using a sturdy spatula and being sure to scrape up from the bottom of the bowl.

Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 60 to 75 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through the baking time. The cake is ready when it begins to pull away from the edges of the pan slightly and springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The top will probably split; use a cake tester  to check doneness.  Unlike with most cakes, the tester probably won't come out clean because of the melted chocolate chips. Let the cake cool for at least 15 minutes before making the ganache.

Making the Ganache
Put the chocolate in a shallow bowl. Put the cream in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until a skin forms, then immediately pour it over the chocolate. Let the chocolate sit for a few minutes, then stir gently. The ganache should be glossy and have a smooth texture. If any chunks of chocolate remain, place the bowl over simmering water briefly and stir until melted.

Turn the cake out and glaze it on a rack. Place the rack on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper. Pour the ganache over the crown of the cake in one deliberate motion, distributing it as evenly as possible all the way around. Let the glaze set up for 20 minutes before transferring the cake to a plate or cake stand.

*If you don't have a stand mixer, don't despair! I have been using a cheap hand mixer that I bought at a grocery store for about $11. It's falling apart and it takes some serious arm power, but it does the trick.

**My sugar/butter mixture never turned beigy-white, but the cake came out fine nonetheless. ((post by emily))

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