This week's cake is another of the many chocolate cakes in Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Don't get me wrong, chocolate is a Very Good Thing, but this one seemed to go a bit far in looking for novelty in chocolate cakes. However, from the introductory text, the sequence was not "what odd thing can I do to chocolate cake", but "how can I put Campbell's soup into a cake, to mark a corporate anniversary". And so, Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache, containing Campbell's condensed (I assume--the recipe actually doesn't specify) tomato soup, added to both cake and ganache.
The cake is made with cocoa, and is a butter cake. It has a very thick batter and needs a little special handling to not dome excessively--Rose tells you to press the batter against the sides of the pan when spreading it out. Mine came out fine, though I perhaps underbaked slightly (still had a few crumbs on my cake testers when I pulled the layers out). I again did a half-size cake and was baking in 6" cake pans, so I watched the timing pretty carefully. Results: the moistest chocolate cake I've managed yet from RHC, and perhaps the moistest period if you leave out the Tres Leches. :) Adding veggies to cakes is pretty common as a technique for adding moisture at fairly low fat content, and this one really worked for me.
The ganache, however, was less successful. A little additional canned tomato soup was added to the cream and chocolate, to give what Rose describes as a tang and presumably also for an added bonus for the Campbell's birthday. I can live with "tang" as a description of the taste, but everyone in my family found it an objectionable sort of tang. My brother said he could taste the tomato only on some bites, but that perhaps that was because he had been told the mystery ingredient--nonetheless, he was not a fan of the ganache. I'm not sure I would have been able to identify the taste as tomato, but it was odd and unpleasant. At the end of our taste-testing, the plates had little piles of peeled off ganache and (at least on mine and some others) the Pirouette cookies. When even the two teenage chocoholics leave ganache on their plates, something is off. After a quick look at the early posters from the HCB, I'm really surprised to see that no one else found the ganache to be objectionable. Did I have super-strength Campbell's soup??!
Let me digress on the cookies, now that I've mentioned them. I rarely buy cookies these days, and when I read the recipe I thought I knew what the Pirouette cookies were--lovely crisp cookies rolled into a hollow tube. I was upset to find that today's Pepperidge Farm Pirouette cookies are much larger than my memory, are all filled with some variety of flavored cream-like substance, and more resemble a baton than the crisp little cookie I recall. I don't find that this adds anything positive to the cookie at all...but then, I don't buy cookies often enough for Pepperidge Farm to care what I think. The main thing to note from a decorating standpoint, I guess, is that the vanilla-filled cookies are lighter in color and give a better contrast to the dark ganache than the "chocolate fudge" ones I used. And maybe that unless you really like the new-style Pirouette cookies, this cake would be better without them. They give a cool effect, but as I mentioned above, we mostly left them on the plate.
The finishing touch for the cookies was supposed to be little icing flames on the top of each one. I didn't have any premade frosting tubes on hand, having pitched my old collection a while back when I realize how old some of them were. Sister-in-law's one tube of red was too stiff, so I decided it looked fine without.
Final note: we used about half of the 6" half-cake I baked for the first round of tasting. I took the remains, threw away the cookies, and peeled off the tomato-tainted <g> ganache. Freshly frosted with a plain dark chocolate ganache, I had a very nice chocolate layer cake half with no strange flavor.