Upon first glance at this recipe it seems like just your average run of the mill devil’s food cake. If you stopped there you would be oh so wrong. This is far more than your mothers weekly devils food cake. The addition of the cognac cherries and golden syrup transform this simple cake from the ordinary to the sublime. This is definitely an adult chocolate cake. I have to admit that after last weeks rich and decadent cake I wasn’t much in the mood for more chocolate, but, after reading through the recipe, I was intrigued and boy am I glad that I made this. Just as rich and delicious as last weeks extravaganza but not nearly as intense and perfect for everyday snacking as well as the end to a nice meal. The hardest thing about making this cake I have to admit is all the wait time. If you are not one of those people who reads through the entire recipe and assembles ingredients before you start in (and if your not you should be), you might get yourself into some serious trouble here. There is a wait time of several hours for the cherries, cocoa mixture and of course the ganache has a 5 hour wait time. Not something you want to do at the last minute. Now, with all that being said, I will admit that this cake is not without it’s problems. I don’t know what it is but I seem to have the worst time with Rose’s frostings. This one was no exception. Her frosting recipes seem simple enough. This one was easy and I followed it down to the letter. I used a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature while making the caramel. I even went through the tedious food processor hoo haw and still ended up with a runny mess that rolls off the cake and pools on the bottom of the cake plate. I made this frosting on Saturday morning and left it until Sunday morning before I put the cake together and it was still more of a chocolate sauce than a frosting. I finally whipped a bit and then chilled it for about 15 minutes and the stuff turned into total ambrosia. Not really any trouble to go through for something that tastes this incredible, still, since I always seem to have this problem with these frostings, I’d sure like to know what I am doing wrong. Rose or Woody, if you are reading this, what am I doing wrong. This has happened to me over and over again with the frosting recipes in this book. Is it just me or is anyone else finding these frostings way too soft and runny? Any ideas? Still, the frosting was absolutely delicious and the addition of the cognac soaking liquid while on first taste did nothing, once it sat for a few hours really smoothed and mellowed the flavors. Total heaven if you don’t mind a bit of trial and error to get the consistency right. Do give it a try. Okay, let’s bake.
While this cake has a few steps on the road to assembly, all are simple and as I have stated, should be done ahead. For the cake, it is a typical formula that we have seen before. Combine the chopped chocolate, cocoa and boiling water and whisk until smooth, cover and set aside to reach room temperature. In a separate bowl combine the eggs, egg yolks, creme fraiche and vanilla and whisk to lightly combine, set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt and blend.
Add the butter and blend until the ingredients are crumbly, then raise the speed to medium and add the egg mixture and beat for about a minute and a half.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl, lower the speed to low and add the chocolate mixture and combine. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds to fully combine.
Pour the completed batter into two prepared 9 inch cake pans and bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes or until done. Cool the cakes on a rack for 10 minutes and then unmold onto a rack and cool completely.
To make the cognac cherries, soak the cherries in the cognac for about an hour. Drain the cognac and reserve for the ganache. Stir the golden syrup into the drained cherries, cover and set aside until needed.
To make the ganache, combine the cocoa and boiling water and whisk to combine, cover and set aside. In a food processor, finely grate the chocolate and then proceed to making the caramel. Combine the sugar and water and stir to dissolve the sugar. Boil the syrup without stirring until it turns a deep amber (370 degrees). Remove it from the heat and carefully stir in the cream. Return it to the heat and stir over low heat until the mixture is fully combined and uniform in color. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
With the food processor running, slowly add the hot caramel and process until the chocolate is melted and smooth.
Add the cocoa mixture and process until evenly combined. Scrape the ganache into a bowk and allow to stand for 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to stand at room temperature for at least 5 hours.
To assembly the cake, place one layer of a serving plate and add about 1 cup of the ganache, at this point you can also add the reserved cherries (and why would you want to leave them out?). Place the second layer on top of the cherries and frost the top and sides and decorate as desired.
You can certainly go all out for this but for some reason I chose to pay homage to my mothers devils food cakes and just frost it with billowy swirls of frosting, just the way she always did. I think it was fitting. On thinking about this cake, I think it would also be great to add a layer of lightly sweetened whipped cream along with the cherries inside or just reverse the whole thing and use the chocolate ganache and cherries as the filling and then just totally cover the whole cake in sweetened whipped cream. No matter what you do, you can’t go wrong with this beauty.
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