I love chocolate. I love it a lot. My favorite indulgence is to simply eat a handful of chocolate chips right out of the bag. Any time a dessert menu comes my way, my eyes immediately latch onto the chocolate creation and it is over: I order it up. There is an entire shelf in my fridge reserved for all different types of Baker’s chocolate. And my husband has even mused “I wonder what our chocolate budget looks like compared to a normal household.”
However, as much as I love it, my friend, Jared loves it more. At one point he even made me a deal: I would fill his freezer with home-made triple chocolate ice cream sandwiches in return for escargot on portobellos. He makes deals to ensure his chocolate supply remains uninterrupted. This is a true chocolate commitment.
So, for his birthday this year I knew his creation had to be a chocolate one.
In Edmonton we have this gorgeous little bakeshop call Duchess. It is all french pastries and delights. Everything they make is perfection. And they make a chocolate cake. It is called the Duke. It is an elegant chocolate layer cake that really takes chocolate cake to a lofty castle sort of place.
Originally, for my chocolate monster friend, I set out to imitate this cake because he loves it and it was his birthday. I thought about the layers of cake, ganache, caramel and the lovely thick milk chocolate icing. This cake even has gold flecks adorning the piped decorations… it is truly royal. As I considered its french chocolate and imported butter breeding, and its professional pastry chef up-bringing, I changed my mission, I set out to make my own more of a “cake of the people” version.
My ‘cake for the people’, more specifically for Jared ended up being a chocolate upon chocolate warrior that could challenge any other cake to a duel. Chocolate cake, topped with chocolate mousse, drenched with caramel icing, topped with another layer of cake and mousse, then a whipped chocolate ganache smothered with a silky ganache, like I said a true warrior, ready to lay down its chocolate gauntlet in a cake challenge.
The ‘Duff’: Chocolate Chocolate Mousse Cake with Caramel Filling & Ganache
2 oz dark chocolate
1/2 cup (1 stick butter) – room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup cocoa
2 eggs – room temperature
1 3/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
good pinch of salt
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup milk
Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 325F. Prepare two 8″ round pans: butter and flour the sides. Cut a piece of parchment to fit in the bottom and also butter and flour the paper, set aside.
Over a water bath, melt the chocolate and set aside.
In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy. Add the cocoa and mix until combined. Continue beating and add the eggs, one at a time. Scrape the sides whenever needed. Add the slightly cooled chocolate, ensure it is not too hot or it will melt the butter.
In a separate bowl combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.
Combine the milk and water and heat until hot (about 40 seconds in the microwave).
Mix the flour into the chocolate mixture until almost combined on low-speed. Continue mixing and add the water/milk to the bowl. Scrape the bowl and continue to mix on low-speed until relatively smooth.
Divide the batter into the two cake pans and bake for 30-40 minutes, until a tester comes out clean. Set aside to cool in the pans.
6 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup milk
1 Tbsp espresso
1/4 cup butter
1 egg yolk
1 cup whipping cream
To make the mousse: Over a water bath, combine the chopped chocolate, milk, espresso and butter. Once melted and combined, remove from heat and allow to cool a bit. At this time, whisk the egg yolk in to the mixture. In a separate bowl whip the cream to medium peaks. Fold the chocolate into the whipped cream.
1 1/4 cup heavy cream
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped finely
4 oz bitter-sweet chocolate, chopped finely
(or, for a lighter whipped ganache use 8 oz milk chocolate)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
To make the whipped topping: Place the finely chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the cream to a bowl over medium heat in a heavy sauce pan. When it boils, pour it over the chocolate and allow to sit for a minute. Using a whisk, slowly stir the cream and chocolate until totally combined. Place in fridge for three hours, until soft solid. Using the whisk attachment whip the ganache, powdered sugar and vanilla until light and smooth.
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup cream
3 Tbsp butter
1 tsp vanilla
To make the icing: In a heavy saucepan, combine the sugar and cream. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, cover and cook for about 3 minutes. Uncover and cook, without stirring until 238-240F on a candy thermometer. Add the butter and remove from heat, allowing to cool to 110F. Add the icing and using beaters, beat the icing until thick and creamy.
3/4 cup heavy cream
6 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 Tbsp light corn syrup
To make ganache: Place chocolate in a medium bowl. In a heavy sauce pan bring the cream and syrup to a boil. Pour over chocolate, allow to sit for a minute and use a whisk to slowly stir together. Once combined and smooth, use immediately.
Assembly: Once the cakes have cooled completely, level by slicing off the domed tops. Place each cake in an 8″spring form plan. Divide the mousse between the two cakes and smooth over each cake to the edge. Place both cakes in the freezer for three hours. Start the whipped ganache now. Remove cakes from spring form pan and place on a rack above a cookie sheet and spread all the caramel icing over the cake that will be used as the base. Place the second cake on top quickly before the caramel icing becomes hard from the cold. You want the two cake / mousse creations to become one here. Use the whipped ganache to cover the entire cake. Spread evenly with a spatula. If you want to pipe on any decorations, reserve a bit of the whipped ganache. Here is where it is important to have the cake on a rack over a cookie sheet: pour the ganache over the cake, using a spatula to coax it over the sides. Use the spatula to spread the ganache to any parts it may have missed. Let it sit for a few minutes before moving to your serving plate. Place in the fridge to set the ganache for half an hour. If you would like, use the left over whipped ganache in a piping bag to pipe around the base of the cake. And voila: your very own chocolate warrior.