Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Chocolate Walnut Cake

You'd think that after spending several days doing nothing but playing with props, all the pictures featured in my blog going forward would be gorgeous, carefully styled and feature pretty spoons and napkins and stuff. Well, you'd be WRONG! See, while I've learned a lot and will definitely be doing my damnedest to try and incorporate all of those things, sometimes I have exactly 3 minutes to take pictures before the cake goes into a box and is rushed out the back door. Those 3 minutes don't exactly leave very much room for tweaking and styling. But I'm going to try, otherwise it would have been all for nothing.

For example this cake, which I've now made twice in the past two weeks (with the 2nd being an improvement on the first). Both times it was for someone else and both times I've had no time to take pictures, but I wanted to tell you about it, so I plopped it really quickly in front of my white fridge on a cake stand I haven't had time to put away yet and there you go.

Chocolate Walnut Cake

The cake itself contains two layers of a dense moist walnut cake with a layer of chunky walnut ganache and a layer of amaretto spiked chocolate mousse sandwiched in between. A smooth coat of ganache went on top and the sides got treated to rows of stars made of leftover chocolate mousse. A few toasted walnuts on top and Voila! Cake.

Chocolate Walnut Cake Top

Chocolate Walnut Cake

Double batch of Walnut Cake from here baked in two 9" round tins

Chocolate Mousse:
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp instant espresso or coffee
1 Tbsp Amaretto
3 egg whites (absolutely NO yolk), room temp
2 Tbsp sugar
1 cup cold heavy cream

Chocolate Ganache/Walnut filling:
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp unsalted butter
15oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/2 cup toasted walnuts, roughly chopped

Optional:
As many pretty toasted walnut halves as you can find and not eat

1. Make a double batch of the Walnut cake and allow the layers to cool completely while you make the mousse, filling, and icing.

Mousse:
2. Combine the chocolate, espresso and amaretto in a microwave proof bowl and melt the chocolate by heating at 20 second intervals, mixing with a spatula after each interval until the chocolate is smooth. Set aside to cool.
3. Beat the egg whites in a mixer with the whisk attachment (or a hand beater) until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and continue beating until stiff and glossy. Do not over-beat, you want to stop as soon as you get to the shiny stiff peak consistency.
4. Beat the whipped cream on high until peaks form, about a minute. Don't over-beat or you'll have butter (not a bad thing, but not what we're going for here).
5. Fold 1/4 of the heavy cream into the chocolate mixture and gently fold it in with a spatula until thoroughly combined. Add the whipped egg whites and gently fold in until combined. Add the rest of whipped cream and once again, fold in gently until thoroughly combined.
6. CHILL the mousse in the fridge for AT LEAST an hour before using. If you don't, it won't support the top cake layer and everything will ooze out creating a mess and you'll hate me for ever sharing this recipe.

Ganache/Filling:
7. Combine the heavy cream and butter in a small saucepan set over medium heat and heat it until the very first bubbles start forming along the edges. You don't want this to boil or even simmer.
8. Dump the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl and pour the hot cream over it. Gently whisk until completely combined and smooth and pretty.
9. Remove 2/3 cup of the ganache and combine with the chopped and toasted walnuts in a separate bowl. Allow both to cool to room temp.

Assembly:
10. Lay one cake layer on your cake plate/cardboard circle and spread the walnut ganache evenly over the bottom. Chill in the fridge for a few minutes if the ganache is still soft.
11. Spread a thick layer of the mousse over the ganache. Save some to use as garnish. Again, chill for a few minutes if you feel the mousse is still somewhat soft.
12. Top with the second cake layer and smooth down the sides if any of the ganache/mousse is peeking out.
13. Make sure your ganache is cooled to a still soft, but not runny consistency and pour it over the top of the cake, smoothing down the sides with an offset spatula.
14. Scoop the remaining mousse into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and pipe a ring around the base of the cake to cover up any mess the poured ganache may have made.
15. Chill any left over ganache, scoop into a pastry bag fitted with a star tip and alternate walnut halves with chocolate swirls around the top of the cake.
16. Chill the cake until ready to serve (use this time to wash the mountain of dishes) and remember to it out 30 minutes before cutting.

6 comments:

Cal said...

This looks fantastic! Walnut and chocolate are two of my favorites, and this cake takes me right back to childhood, even though it is a very grown-up cake, although I cannot exactly remember what cake it was I seeked as a kid, I remember the nut-cream-chocolate combo for sure. I remember moist, and nutty, with dairy flavors and some chocolate. I will try this one. Thank you!

Laura said...

Yum! What a beautiful, tasty-looking cake! And your pictures are lovely :)

Peggy G. said...

Sure is a pretty cake!

Darjeeling said...

The cake really does look gorgeous. Yum!

Simply Romanesco said...

What a gorgeous cake!!! It makes me want to reach through the screen and grab a slice, or the whole thing. I love the combination of chocolate and walnuts; it's always a hit :)

Heide M (TM) said...

Wish I had a slice of your cake.