I learned from my experiences with last week's cake-of the week: I read the recipe carefully and in advance this time! I made the cognac cherries (sans the extra corn syrup) the night before. I made the ganache at about 9 in the morning--tackling caramel sauce while still working on the morning coffee is a challenge, as is not just spooning up the caramel sauce instead of making ganache with it. Then in the afternoon I baked the cakes, let them cool, then was ready to put it all together except...the ganache was still very soft. It had been 7 hours sitting at room temperature but was still gloopy, to use a technical term. I gave it a few sessions in the fridge which helped some, but it was still really too soft when I decided I had to frost the cake.
That perhaps explains why this was the most uncooperative cake I'd ever seen for frosting. The layers were fairly level, I decided not to put the cognac cherries in the middle because it looked like a recipe for instability and serving difficulties to me, and still the top layer wanted to slide to the side. Three times I just shoved the frosted layer back into place, and once I took a long spatula and lifted it, frosting and all, to a new position. When all the repeated passes on frosting was starting to lift sections of cake, I quit. All the efforts didn't matter, and the result was a rather bulgy cake with vague swirls--all I could do without tearing up the cake.
But that's OK, it tasted good. The cognac cherries, served on the side, really added a punch. Younger niece felt the cherries should have been in the cake to relieve the chocolate intensity. Everyone else just said "really good". Once again I thought the cake was too dry for my tastes, but the pile of intensely dark-chocolate ganache was well able to provide the lacking moistness of the cake.