I was always a bit hesitant to try it, but when I came across this recipe on the blog Portuguese Girl Cooks, I decided to go for it... and was not disappointed at all!
The ganache is not your average chocolate goodness. It is salted caramel chocolate ganache, where the salted caramel is mixed into the chocolate to form an amazing chocolate-toffee ganache.
The cakes are light and oh-so-airy, the perfect compliment to the heavy ganache.
To add the the airiness of the cake, whipped cream is gelified and sandwiched between the layers.
For the Cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cups cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup hot coffee, or 1 cup boiling water and 2 tablespoons instant coffee powder
1/2 cup oil
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
For the Salted Caramel Ganache
250g semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup sugar
3 Tbsp water
1 1/4 cups cream
2 big pinches salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the Vanilla Filling
2 Tbsp cold water
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavoured gelatin
1 1/2 cups chilled cream
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Sea salt for finishing
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Butter and line two 9-inch baking pans with parchment paper. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add in the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until well combined.
Add in the buttermilk, hot coffee, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
Mix on medium speed until well combined. About 1 to 2 minutes.
Divide batter among cake pans and bake until a toothpick inserted comes out almost clean, about 35 to 40 minutes.
Let cake cool in pans about 10 minutes then remove from pans and cool on a cooling rack until completely cooled.
If cake is slightly convex, gently cut with a serrated knife to flatten after cooling.
The Salted Caramel Ganache:
Place the chocolate in a medium bowl, set aside.
In a medium heavy bottomed pot, combine the sugar and water, and stir to combine.
Heat the mixture over medium high heat, without stirring, but swirling occasionally if the sugar is colouring unevenly.
Heat until the sugar turns amber in colour.
Remove from heat immediately and slowly add the heavy cream while whisking.
If there are any clumps of sugar, return the pot to low heat and stir until dissolved.
Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and salt.
Pour the caramel over the chocolate.
Allow the mixture to sit for about 5 minutes, then gently stir until the ganache is well combined.
Set aside to thicken, about 1 to 2 hours.
*If the ganache becomes to thick, warm it over a double boiler until more workable to in the microwave for 10 second intervals.
The Vanilla Filling:
Add the cold water to a small bowl, then sprinkle the gelatin over it.
Allow to sit for about 10 minutes, until it has set.
In a small skillet, add about 1/2-inch of water, and heat over medium-high heat.
Place the small bowl with the gelatin directly inside the skillet.
Stir the gelatin until it is melted, about 2 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the skillet.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla, and beat on high speed until soft peaks have formed.
Slowly add in the melted gelatin mixture and continue to beat until stiff peaks have formed.
Take the first cake layer and place it on a surface that is easy to move around and carry.
Spread a layer of ganache (a spreadable consistency) over the cake, about 1 cup.
Top with the vanilla whipped cream.
Top with the second cake layer.
Refrigerate the cake for about 2 hours until the filling has set.
Heat the remaining ganache over a double boiler until it is a pourable consistency.
Set a cooling rack over a clean baking sheet.
Remove the cake from the fridge and set it on top of the cooling rack.
Pour the ganache over the cake so that it covers the tops and sides of the cake.
Pour any ganache that has gone onto the baking sheet back into the bowl.
If you have enough ganache, give the cake a second coating.
Alternatively, while ganache is still thick, you may spread it like frosting over the cake.
Sprinkle the top of the cake with additional coarse sea salt.
Refrigerate cake again and serve chilled.
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