A week before my fellow grad student Matt's 23rd birthday, he marched into my office and declared that lab had not seen enough cake lately. "How about you make something for my birthday out of that new German cake book of yours?"
After paging through each of the one hundred options, declaring many to look "bland" or "too fruity", he settled upon:
I do not keep rum on hand, so he kindly offered to provide it.
This recipe's German wasn't too mysterious. I did struggle with whether "Zartbitterschokolade" (translated as dark or plain chocolate) was completely bitter baking chocolate or just partially sweetened dark chocolate. The cake itself needed a couple hundred grams, the ganache needed another couple hundred grams, and the top was garnished with chocolate shavings. I bought unsweetened Baker's chocolate, a bar of Godiva 75% dark chocolate, a bar of Lindt hazelnut dark chocolate, and a bar of Lindt Touch of Sea Salt dark chocolate. Throw in a carton of heavy whipping cream and bless the grocery checkout lady for not batting an eye.
Matt and his housemates invited me over for dinner to pick up the rum, so I rushed to get the cake in and out of the oven in time. As I bake a lot, I have an efficient rhythm and haven't made a serious mistake in recent memory. Add an episode of the Biggest Loser (is that ironic?), though, put the extract bottles next to each other in the cupboard, and BAM: suddenly, my beautiful chocolate cake batter smelled strongly of peppermint, instead of the intended vanilla. NOOOOOOOOO!!!!
I frantically texted the birthday boy to see if he liked peppermint, and IMed several dessert aficionado friends to make sure rum, chocolate, and peppermint would taste good together. He does like peppermint and everyone agreed it sounded like a delicious, if wintery, combination.
Focused a bit more, I finished the cake, only to discover that while the picture showed a three-layer cake, my round tins were so big that this was going to be a two-rather-thin-layer cake. How big are German round cake tins, anyway?
The baked cake smelled DELICIOUS. I ran off to eat dinner and find that rum for the ganache.
Returning with my Tupperware full of rum (I put it in the trunk of my car. No driving with open containers for me!), I found another episode of the Biggest Loser and began the ganache.
I ended up using the Baker's chocolate in the cake itself, as it had plenty of sugar. I used a mixture of Baker's chocolate and the Godiva bar for the ganache, as it was just heavy whipping cream, rum, and chocolate. No added sugar. The recipe called for everything to be dumped into a pan and heated gently. Or so I think.
Soon the chocolate and cream mixed into one big ball floating in a sea of warm rum, no smoothing or combining. I gave up, microwaved it for a bit, and then whisked it. Hard. It finally resembled frosting, so I frosted the cake. I used the Lindt Touch of Sea Salt bar for the chocolate shavings. It looked pretty!
(I apologize for the dark Droid photo. I'm going to use my real camera next time.)
The next day at lab, everyone loved it! It was a bit rich for a couple of folks, but the plate was practically licked clean and I had no leftovers to bring home. :)
~added peppermint instead of vanilla extract.
Next time would:
~add vanilla instead of peppermint extract.
~follow another ganache recipe, like this one: internet ganache recipe
~add rum or rum extract to the cake itself?
~people who really like dark chocolate.