Hey, I'm not traveling this week for a change. Last week I was in Ohio, but came home Thursday night and was able to bake on Friday, my preferred cake-of-the-week baking slot. This week looked like a winner just from the title, and indeed it was. The cake itself is a chocolate butter cake made with cocoa, and a little oil to supplement the butter for, Rose says, a finer, moister crumb. It makes a single layer in a 9x2" pan, and that cake is then split in two to get the layers. The 2" depth was way more than my cake needed, though--an old-style 1-1/2" would have been fine, for my cake was, um, not very tall. I'm looking forward to seeing how the other HCB cakes turned out to see if mine was atypical.
However, flat or no, the cake itself wasn't important. It was indeed fine-crumbed and seemed moist and not overly dense, so maybe I was in the normal range for this cake. The caramel ganache, though, that's what's important, as it makes the cake. You caramelize sugar to 'deep amber' color--mine was a little deeper than I'd normally have risked thanks to a moment's inattention, and that was all to the good. Pour in heated cream and let it bubble up, stir until smooth, then stir in some butter. Now, pour that hot caramel over chopped unsweetened chocolate to make a ganache. I used Scharffen Berger chocolate, which is wonderful stuff. Pulse in a little vanilla, then let the whole thing cool until it's a spreadable frosting. I did resort to a little time in the fridge to firm it up, thanks as usual to my warm kitchen. Composing the cake just took splitting the cake then spreading with the ganache.
Results: a winner all round. The cake was, well, there, but no one much noticed because the ganache stole the show. The caramel and unsweetened chocolate combination was just right, dark and sweet and caramel-ly. I forsee lots of use of this ganache for other cakes in the future. Younger niece forbade me to take the rest of the cake to the office, which I'm going to ignore--though I did save a second round for the kids before I wrapped up the rest. Older niece said "really good", and everyone else, including me, mostly just said "Yum".