Sunday, September 26, 2010

RHC: Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache

Chocolate Tomato CakeThis 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.

Chocolate Tomato Cake
Chocolate Tomato CakeChocolate Tomato CakeChocolate Tomato CakeChocolate Tomato CakeChocolate Tomato CakeChocolate Tomato CakeChocolate Tomato Cake

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.

Chocolate Tomato CakeThe 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.


  1. melinda thought the ganache was bitter, too so i expected to taste the same. no-one out here said anything negative about it and i didn't notice a tomato-yness or a bitterness...maybe it was the chocolate used?

    i love the little 6 inch cake layer, and i'm glad you found a way to make the cake palatable.

  2. It's so cute! I've not made the cake yet, only the ganache and couldn't bring myself to put in the full amount of soup. A little voice was going "NOoooo, don't do it!" I put in a tablespoon if that and felt really guilty. After reading this I'm so relieved. Can't taste it at all.

  3. I used the chocolate cookies also, and I wish I had gone with the vanilla ones. But, I like the way yours looks especially with the swirl design on top.

  4. I love how at the end you made it work. I don't buy the PFarm kind of Pirouette.. my supermarket carries another brand and they are much better that PF.

    I pass this cake by this week.. could not get pass the tomato soup idea. I know lame but reading your post it seems that I may have been on to something.

  5. @Jennifer: unless there was some really strange reaction between the tomato soup and my usual 62% Scharffen Berger chocolate, I don't think the chocolate was the problem. But who knows?

    @ Vicki: this is a "less is more" case for me, certainly!''

    @Monica: I must keep an eye out for any alternate brands of pirouette cookies around here. I couldn't turn up any in a google search except for recipes to make your own. I don't think I'm going there for a cake decoration!

  6. Hello Nancy, Yes, I could taste a bitterness that I found unpleasant in the ganache. Garlic is used in the ingredients and that is what it seem to taste bitter from to me. I thought the cake crumbs I managed to taste were delicious. If you have read my post, which was done in May time, you'll see that I didn't get to taste the cake all put together because I made it for a cake sale. No one would eat it! So funny. Secretly, I was cross with them for being so pedestrian in their cake discrimination.
    I must say your cake looks charming! Doing a 6 inch cake is a good idea.

  7. I love the swirl design of the ganache--very pretty! The ganache didn't offend me, but it was definitely the biggest tomato soup giveaway. Thinking about the soup while you ate it, though, took away the pure, unadulterated pleasure of other cakes. My friends liked it, but I detected a slight cringe when I told them the secret ingredient :)