I love cookbooks and have way too many, but it is an addiction. About twelve years ago I bought one called Gourmet's Best Desserts. That is Gourmet as in Gourmet Magazine. The photos in this book are fabulous and I just wanted to drool over them and perhaps try some of the less-challenging ones. But my husband found the book, saw the chocolate cake on the cover, looked it up and said, "This is the cake I want for my birthday."
|Gourmet's Best Desserts - Chocolate Mousse Cake with Ganache Icing|
Isn't it beautiful? Who wouldn't want to try to make this beautiful creation for their loving husband? Well, I tried it that first year and since then, every year, he asks for this cake. Let me tell you, it is a killer. I have made it four times and dread it each time. But this week I decided I had to do it again. I had no good excuse not to. I felt fine, his birthday was Saturday so I couldn't claim I had work to do and I had plenty of time to buy the ingredients. Still, I started today less than enthusiastic about my endeavor. Let me explain why.
First of all, this cake takes up four pages in the cookbook - one page for the ingredients and three for method. There is a two-layer cake with chocolate mousse between layers and on top and then a chocolate ganache on top of the mousse. Each of these is flavored with Grand Marnier (orange liqueur.) It takes twenty-five ounces of semi-sweet chocolate -- eight for the cake, nine for the mousse and another eight for the ganache. There are eight eggs in the cake and six in the mousse, plus butter, sugar and, surprisingly, less than a cup of flour. I don't even want to think about the total calories, but, it is his birthday and he can afford a piece or two. (The rest will be snatched up by his poker buddies tonight.)
Second, for someone who doesn't like to follow recipes, this is a nightmare. I know enough about baking to know that you can't just wing it like you do as a cook. Alton Brown has taught me that baking is chemistry and that measuring and method are critical. This cake's instructions are detailed and delicate and remember, there are three pages of them. I started the cake at 10:00am today and did not get it into the refrigerator to chill until 3:00pm. That is five hours on one cake. To be fair, some of that time was chilling time - the mousse has to chill before and after you put it on the cake and then the ganache has to chill after you pour in on, before you can pipe the buttercream for decoration.
Third, it has to be decorated. My typical cake decorating consists of swirling the icing around or putting colored sprinkles on top. This cake requires a pastry bag and piping on the cake, something in which I do not excel. But I did my best and here is the result:
As you can see, I skipped all but one of the orange slices in the decoration because, when I tried that before, the juice from the oranges made everything a little messy. I made a noble effort and the bottom line is, Scottie (husband) loves it and it tastes unbelievably good.
So Happy Birthday, Baby. You can have your cake and eat it, too.
As for me, I'm already thinking about how I can get out of making it again next year.