28 January 2010

Rose's Chocolate Feather Bed

Chocolate Feather Bed (with title)
Just a reminder: you can still join our Momofuku book giveaway. Before February 7 (12NN GMT), just insert a short paragraph in your next post about the most important food book of your life and link to our post on the Gastronomer's Bookshelf here, Then leave a comment on that post. Non-bloggers can also join by using the contact form on the site (visit the link above for details). Open to all!

While Garrett has been busy decorating his new apartment, he brought up an old post from his archives about dining alone. I am a strong dining-alone proponent, so I had to leave a comment on that post.

Okay, maybe proponent is too strong a category. It's more of like, I don't see anything wrong or humiliating about it at all. When I was in med school, I told Arunee it's what I usually do, and she was so shocked and said, "Noooo! Don't do that!!! You should just give me a caaaall!!!" I'm pretty sure we eventually did, cos Arunee's a blast, but it didn't change my feelings about dining alone.

I recall this exchange from one of my favorite shows of all time, Coupling, from "The Girl With One Heart" (click to watch the whole episode):

Sally: You've been there, we've all been there. She's the girlfriend of a bloke who's a friend of yours. So, you've got to prove you're not some mad dinner-for-one girl who secretly wants the bloke for herself.
Susan: Do you want to run dinner-for-one girl past us?
Sally: You know how some women go to the supermarket and they see all those little dinner-for-ones? And it's like you can hear them calling, "Come to us, Sally Harper. Come, join us!"
Jane: Yeah, I've noticed they do that. (Points) And it's always your name, isn't it?

Anyway, I've talked about dining alone and loneliness before and even commented about it on my friends' sites. Maybe I've just gotten used to it, but like I told Garrett, you can't let the unavailability of other people stop you from enjoying life. I obviously have plenty of thoughts, so there's always something to sort out when I am eating alone :)

But of course, I am also a proponent of being open to the surprises that life throws your way. If you ever see me eating alone at the bar, smiling like a lunatic who's pleased with his own company, don't be shy! Come and join me! :)

More news: I've set up a new blog about Photoshop and photo editing. If the subject interests you (or if you have any thoughts about the issue of editing food and travel photographs, or if you have any skills you want to learn or problems you want to solve), just shoot me a comment there. My frequency for updating it will depend on the demand for new lessons. Also, subscribing to the feed won't hurt ;) (After all, how often do I bug you by writing this blog?!)

This is a fairly involved recipe from Rose's Heavenly Cakes. And it has nothing to do with the baking, and EVERYTHING to do with the fact that after you're done making the first cake, you have to wash your beaters and bowl and do it all over again. UGH! But, the whole house did love the cake for its light but deep chocolateyness. A small serving goes a really long way, so make this for a fairly large party of 10 to 16 people, even if the cake itself is not that big.

Read my review of Rose's Heavenly Cakes!

Chocolate Feather Bed adapted from Rose's Heavenly Cakes
I've altered (and simplified, at this rate) the instructions in case you had the same difficulties manipulating the cake as I did. Also, some of you will be pleased to note that this cake is gluten-free.
Note: you will need double the quantities of the following ingredients for the cake recipe:

  • 113g (4 ounces) dark chocolate (at least 53% cacao), chopped
  • 75g (1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons) sugar, divided
  • 6 large eggs, separated and at room temperature
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
Preheat the oven to 175°C (350°F). Spray with baking spray, line with parchment cut to fit the bottom and sides with maybe a 2-inch overhang on all sides, and spray again 2 sheet pans 17.25 x 12.25 x 1 inch (44cm x 31cm x 2.5cm). Sheet pans 15 x 10 inches also work well.

In a microwaveable container at low power or a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water (don't let the bowl touch the water), melt the 113g chocolate, then let cool until no longer warm but still fluid. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat together 50g (1/4 cup) of the sugar and the 6 egg yolks for 5 minutes, or until very thick and falling in slowly dissolving ribbons. Add all the chocolate and beat until combined, scraping the bottom and sides occasionally.

In another large mixing bowl (or the same bowl, with the contents set aside and the bowl and beater thoroughly washed), beat the 6 egg whites on medium speed until foamy, then add the 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar. On medium-high speed, gradually add the remaining 25g (2 tablespoons) sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form when the beater is slowly lifted. Take a quarter of the meringue and fold it into the chocolate mixture to lighten it, then return everything to the meringue bowl and fold everything gently until just combined. Scrape into one of the prepared pans and bake for 16 minutes, or until it springs back when pressed lightly in the center. Let cool completely, then refrigerate for at least 45 minutes (I waited overnight), or if you are in a humid country, in the freezer. In any case, cover it with cling film or a towel.

And then, with another batch of the ingredients above, repeat everything. You can use the time it takes for the 1st cake to bake to do this, but it took me that much time to wash all my utensils and prepare the ingredients. D'oh! You can stack the cakes, but with the parchment still on them.

Note: if you have a large oven and a full (17 x 24 inch) sheet pan, you can make the batter all at once (with 12 eggs, etc.) and bake it for 20 minutes.

Light Whipped Ganache
  • 227g (at least 53% cacao) dark chocolate, chopped
  • 464g (2 cups) heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 60g (2 ounces) solid block of dark chocolate, at room temperature, for decorating

In a small microwaveable container in the microwave, melt the chocolate on low power. Scrape it into a large mixing bowl. In another microwaveable container or a saucepan over medium heat, scald the cream on high power. Pour it over the chocolate and whisk, scraping the bottom occasionally, until it's as combined as you can manage. (Alternatively you could process the chocolate in a food processor without melting, and pour the scalded cream into the feed tube, processing until smooth. Scrape it into a large mixing bowl afterward.)

Refrigerate the mixture in the bowl for 2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes, until cold (20°C or 65°F). Take out of the fridge, add the vanilla, and beat at low speed for 30 seconds or until it forms soft peaks (with drooping peaks) when the beater is raised.

Remove the cake from the fridge or freezer and using sharp shears, cut each cake WITH the parchment in half crosswise, so you have 4 smaller rectangles (8.625 x 12.25 inches each). You can stack them again with the parchment for up to 12 hours.

Dab a little of the whipped ganache onto the serving plate or carboard.

There are two approaches to removing the cake from the parchment. If the cakes are firm enough, you could separate them from the parchment using an offset spatula and using a large spatula to transfer them to the serving plate. If the cakes are NOT firm enough, then you could hold it over the serving plate with both hands, then slowly peel away the parchment (using a spatula for help if you need it) as you lay the exposed cake on the platter/assembled cake.

Anyway, just alternate between laying down a cake rectangle and a quarter (about 1 cup) of the whipped ganache at a time, finishing the top with the whipped ganache. To spread the ganache, use two offset spatulas, so you do not drag the cake with the spatula as it sticks to the frosting.

As you frost, leave the edges of the cake bare, or do as I did and cut through the entire edge with a warm serrated knife to expose a clean layered surface (like you do with an Opera).

Using a vegetable peeler or grater, make chocolate curls directly over the ganache. Rose prefers the cake at room temperature but I prefer it cold.

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