Sunday, March 22, 2009

Banana Cake topped with Chocolate and Caramel Part II

So...the Banana cake needs a new name. I had some difficulties with the caramel part of this cake. The first time I tried to make the caramel (by boiling sugar and water until it turns a dark amber color) it burned. I almost thought that I might have ruined a pot. So I tried again, and this time I made sure to watch it before it burned, and I was successful. I pulled it off the heat and began to incorporate the heavy whipping cream. It just turned into a gloopy mess. I shouldn't have posted a picture. But I did. I figure that if I had to see it, then so should you.

The ganache part of the cake was a piece of cake (pun intended...if there is one). It was so smooth and delicious one of the cake victims asked if it was pudding. Which made me wonder, what is in pudding?

As for the decorating of the cake, I had hopes for something much more glorious and spectacular than what I actually pulled off. I was up until 1am working on this cake (my own fault - I didn't manage my time as well as I could have this weekend). Consequently, the amount of SMBC (short for Swiss Meringue Buttercream) that I made was not enough to do the striping on the cake that I wanted to do. However, it was probably for the best. The cake turned out really cute and the stripping might have turned out to be just a bit too much.

But just in case, I've done the math for an SMBC ratio that would yield plenty of extra icing for decorations on an 8 inch cake. As for the assembly of this cake, I torted both cakes (meaning that I baked two cakes, and I sliced each in half that gave me a four layer cake), used a #12 round tip to pipe some buttercream as a dam for the chocolate ganache (this was for each layer), crumb coated, chilled in the fridge for about half an hour, and then coated in the final layer of buttercream. I cannot speak more highly of a crumb coat. Crumb coats do not have to be perfect, but it does help to have good edges and to keep the coat as close the cake as possible. Ideally, you'll still want to see the cake and fill in any gaps or overhangs.

Chocolate Ganache
ganache recipe from the Hershey's Lavish Chocolate Cake (which is actually a really good cake, I'll have to make one for you one of these days)

1 cup (1/2 pint) heavy cream (aka whipping cream)
1 1/2 cups Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips or Hershey's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (I used mostly milk chocolate chips which I think is why it tasted like pudding. If you wanted a really rich ganache, then consider using a higher quality chocolate)

1) Heat whipping cream in heavy saucepan over low heat until warm (DO NOT BOIL). The trick to this recipe is to make sure that the cream is warm enough. If it's not, then the chocolate won't melt completely, and even though it is nice and smooth when you put it into the fridge, the ganache won't stay nice and smooth. This happened to me the very first time I made this stuff, and then I found out that I didn't let my cream get warm enough.

2) Add the chocolate chips; stir constantly just until chips are melted and mixture is smooth. Do not let mixture come to a boil.

3) Transfer mixture to a medium bowl; refrigerate until of spreading consistency, about 1 1/2 hours. I kept mine in the fridge for less time than that, which was perfect because it was cooled, but I didn't really have to spread anything. I just poured it on the cake and nudged into any empty spaces.

Swiss Meringue Buttercream (for icing - maybe also filling - an 8-inch cake, with plenty left over for lots of buttercream decorations)

1 1/2 cups sugar
6 large egg whites
39 tablespoons of butter, softened (4 sticks plus 7 tablespoons)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For the method, click here.

For the Banana Cake Recipe, click here.

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