I had made this cake for the first time almost 10 years ago as a birthday present for a family friend. I had boxed it up, put a chocolate butterfly or two on top - in those days I put chocolate butterflies on everything - and sent it over with my parents. One thing led to another, one conversation flowed into the next, and between toasts (we're Russian, so most occasions call for a LOT of toasts), between shared stories, and between more toasts, the cake was left in the freezer untasted. A few days later I received a thank you note and a phone call telling me how amazing the cake was. My father got a similar call, which prompted him to remember that he never got a chance to even try the pretty cake! How horrible! How unfair! He had the cake in his very hands and he literally let it slip through his fingers. My father can be very dramatic about cake.
For 10 years whenever we'd talk about the cakes I'd made for different occasions and my refusal to make a cake twice when there are so many new recipes to try, he never forgot that chocolate dome he never got to see the inside of...see with a spoon of course. Every couple of months he'd turn to me with a pout and remind me how there was that one cake he never got to try. So this year for his birthday I'd decided that he had waited long enough. This was an important birthday, one of those with a zero at the end and a growing number in the beginning and there were people gathering. Lots of people. This cake is rich and while the original says that it makes 8 servings, I think it can comfortably feed 12 chocoholics if not more. But I got nervous that there wouldn't be enough so I scoured the house for proper shaped bowls and made 3. Two of them were demolished. We sliced a generous piece for each guest and despite the fact that there was a ton of food and no one was hungry by the time dessert came, all my sisters had to do was whisper "Anna made that, you have to try it" and everyone grabbed a spoon. The few people that couldn't finish their slices were saved by their neighbor's spoons and all plates came back clean. And most importantly, even though the cake paled in comparison to the joy of having all his family and friends near, my dad was happy. Especially since he got a whole cake all to himself at the end of the night. No way was this one going to slip through again!
Frozen Chocolate Mousse Bombe
adapted very slightly from Marcel Desaulniers' Celebrate with Chocolate: Totally Over-the-Top Recipes. Really though, you should get this book. It's full of some really amazing recipes and even though it was published 10 years ago, they're just as current as anything else you can find on the web these days.
1/4 lb (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus an extra tsp for greasing the pan
8 oz good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 egg yolk (don't dump the white, you'll need it)
1 Tbsp sugar
8 oz good quality dark chocolate (divided), coarsely chopped
1/4 cup freshly brewed coffee
1/4 cup honey
4 Tbsp sugar
3 egg whites (you can use one of the ones left over from the cake)
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted. Pick out about half cup of pretty ones and chop the rest.
8 oz good quality dark chocolate, coarsely chopped*
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup honey
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1. Preheat the oven to 300F.
2. Line a 9" springform pan with parchment and grease the bottom and sides with a bit of butter. Set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate and the butter in a glass bowl in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring at each break until everything is smooth. Set aside.
4. Place the eggs, yolk and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip and whisk on high until light in color and slightly thickened (about 5 min). Using a rubber spatula fold in the chocolate and butter mixture just until it's incorporated. Try not to mix too much or you'll lose the volume you just whipped into it.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spread evenly and bake for about 25 min, or until a toothpick stuck into the middle comes up with a few crumbs but definitely not covered in raw batter. Cool completely at room temp before removing from the pan. Set aside.
1. Melt 5 oz of the chocolate in a glass bowl in the microwave at 20 second intervals , stirring at each stop until it's smooth. Set aside.
2. Combine coffee, honey, and 2 Tbsps of the sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and boil it, stirring occasionally, until it reaches 240F (about 5 min).
3. While the syrup is cooking combine the egg whites and the remaining 2 Tbsps sugar in a bowl of a mixer and when the syrup is almost ready, start whipping the egg whites on high and whip until soft peaks form, about 1 minute. Your syrup should be ready now, so lower the speed to low and slowly add it to the egg whites. Once it's all in there turn up the speed to high and whip until very thick (about 4 min).
4. Carefully fold in the melted chocolate.
5. In a separate bowl whisk the heavy cream on medium-high until stiff peaks form, then fold that into the chocolate meringue until it's uniform. Keep in the fridge until needed.
6. Melt the remaining 3 oz chocolate the same way as before, let it cool a bit and transfer to a large bowl. Add 2 cups of the chocolate mousse and the chopped pecans. Fold with a rubber spatula until combined and keep in the fridge until needed.
1. Lightly spray the inside of a large bowl, which should be about 9" in diameter at the top, with Pam, or some other vegetable oil spray, and line with plastic wrap, making sure to leave lots of it hanging over the sides.
2. Spoon the chocolate honey mousse into the bowl and use an offset spatula to make sure it's spread evenly and that there are no air bubbles. Pour the chocolate pecan mixture over the top and smooth that as well. Top with the cake and press down a bit to make sure there are no air bubbles or gaps trapped in between. Cover the top with the ends of the plastic wrap, adding more if needed and put in the freezer. It will need to chill at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
1. Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl.
2. Heat the heavy cream, honey, and butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat and stir to combine. DO NOT WALK AWAY or the milk will boil over. As soon as you see little bubbles at the edges take it off the heat and pour over the chocolate. Let it stand for a minute and then stir with a whisk until smooth.
1. Place a cooling rack on a baking sheet.
2. Remove the bowl from the freezer, unfold the plastic wrap from the bottom and flip onto a 9" cake circle placed on top of the cooling rack. If the dome doesn't pop right out of the bowl, soak a towel in hot water, wrap it around the bottom and sides of the bowl and hold it there for a few seconds, then try to unmold again. It should pop right out, but you may need to tug gently at the plastic wrap to help it along.
3. Pour the glaze over the bombe, letting excess drip down onto the baking sheet. Transfer to a plate or a bigger cake circle and stick it back in the freezer to set for 20 min. In the mean time scrape up the glaze that dripped onto the baking sheet into a bowl and let it chill in the fridge for 20 min.
4. Transfer the chilled extra glaze to a pastry bag fitted with a star tip, pull out the bombe from the freezer and pipe a border around the bottom, alternating with the reserved pretty pecan halves.
5. Store the bombe in the freezer, but take it out 20 min or so before serving to let it soften a bit, otherwise it will be really hard to cut. Enjoy!
* Yes, there is a pound and a half of chocolate in this cake. So what?