Friday, February 19, 2010

The (Now Famous) T Day Cake; Or, Adventures with Whipped Cream

C said Black Forest? This was not so much an emphatic demand as a tentative request. Not necessarily what you would expect from someone on the verge of unapologetic dudehood. I had made one such venture in the past, for B's birthday the year before last. His only request at the time, if memory serves, was that it be chocolate &. Raspberry is the traditional path, but I had been down it too many times to make it the source of much ongoing excitement. I remembered, though, as a child loving black forest cake. My mom used to get these sorta (for us!) gourmet cake mixes, and my fave was the dark chocolate cake with cherry pie filling. I don't remember much else about it. I made a stab at recreating this cake for B, though I didn't use a bundt pan. It was a dark, dense chocolate cake with cherry pie filling (homemade, of course. That canned stuff is crap). I had one piece and it disappeared up the stairs in the hands of a smiling and cherubic ginger.

When C asked for one, just a few weeks ago, I had a bit more time to ruminate, research, and obsess, as I do. I learned that the traditional German Chocolate Cake has a chocolate base that is usually soaked in cherry liquor or kirshwasser and topped with whipped cream. Pretty sure. The internets is full of false leads, kiddies, so do your own research. I've been trying for different kinds of whipped cream ever since the strawberry cake incident surrounding Lizz's birthday. For that, I experimented with basically every possible variation on the tofu whipped cream phenomenon, all to extremely unimpressive results. Seriously, I don't know how people can get excited about that stuff. It makes a mockery of the word "fluff." It's like sweet, beany pudding. I'm sure there's a place for it somewhere, but it isn't on my _____________ (insert whatever you would normally cover with whipped cream). As full of failure as that experience was, however, I'm glad I made those mistakes so that I could never again be lead sweetly down the primrose path to promises of a "tofu whipped topping."

Hannah came to my rescue. If you scroll all the way down to the end of the page from that link, you'll see a recipe for a white chocolate mousse made from melted white chocolate, whipped Soyatoo, and agar agar. My suspicion, more or less confirmed after more hours than I care to admit to spent combing the internet for similar experiments, was that the agar might stabilize the whipped cream enough to use it as a suitable (or not completely embarrassing) cake topping/filling. Also extremely helpful and inspirational in this regard was this blog posting from prettytastycakes. She also combined agar with soyatoo, but she combined the result with a cherry cream (see above "tofu whipped cream" plus cherries/juice). She also didn't include any information on ratios. I wondered how much the success of her resulting mousse had to do with the introduction of the tofu, in which case even if the whipped topping totally deflated, it would simply add a fatty (and therefore delicious!) boost to the heavier tofu. Similarly, I wondered how much Hannah's lovely mousse had to do with the melted white chocolate, which, once cooled, could not help but be a firming influence.

Clearly, my adventures with whipped cream are long and tedious, and probably more interesting to me than to anyone else. Suffice it to say, I made two batches of said whipped cream, each with a slight variation, and ended up combining them into one because they weren't substantially different. The introduction of powdered agar into the whipped cream did seem to give it more oomph than it would have had otherwise, and it fared pretty well even over the few days that the cake hung (uncovered, because we don't do plastic wrap) in the fridge. A feat, to be sure. A little thickened cherry juice made this cream (note the lack of ironic quotations marks) even tastier. While I always have my gripes, it was pretty damned good.

The resulting cake was put together like this: I baked a double layer dark chocolate cake and split it into 4 (after slightly over-baking because I've not yet cultivated a healthy sense of trust with my new oven). Inside the layers I put sour cherry jam and a melty chocolate ganache. Between the two big layers and on top I put cherry filling (basically, the saucy cherries recipe from VCTotW) and mounds of whipped cream. Sorry the pic is small.

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