Back to The Baking Bible after 2 weeks away. The schedule worked out well for my planned 10 days at Walt Disney World, as Marie scheduled the apricot-walnut bread I'd baked last Thanksgiving and then a catch-up week, and I've baked everything to date. This week's baking was a little hurried though, as I was rushing to get to younger niece's diving competition.
The Chocolate Pavarotti was a pretty good "rushing" recipe. It's a single-layer chocolate cake with a ganache frosting. The cake includes white chocolate to add moisture and improve the texture, and the ganache has some cayenne (either a mere touch or enough to get some heat) plus a little corn syrup for a shiny finish.
First let me note that the majority of my white chocolate was quite old, and didn't melt very smoothly although the taste seemed fine. If that's an indication the the bar lost some oil during it's time in my pantry (if that's possible without the bar's wrapping showing signs of it), perhaps that explains my cake's rather dry and very crumbly texture. I was careful to cover my boiling water-cocoa mixture to not lose moisture there, and I don't think I over baked it. All my tasters found it too dry, though judicious application of whipped cream seemed to help overcome that.
The ganache was quite nice to my taste. I used the maximum amount of cayenne, and liked the heat+chocolate. The folks next door agreed except for younger niece. Has her 6 months at college affected her tastebuds? :) I delivered 5 pieces for her to share with her diving teammates after the competition finals, and got back a texted comment that the spice was weird. She would prefer the full spice mixture of cinnamon and cayenne we've used in various "Aztec" chocolate recipes instead of just cayenne, and the only reaction I got from a teammate was negative on the heat from the cayenne.
In summary, not really a successful cake, and there's not enough promise here for me to try it again. The ganache was fine and did have a shiny finish to it, but for most occasions I think the classic chocolate and cream, without a separate step of melting unsweetened chocolate in corn syrup, is fine.
The recipe for the Chocolate Pavarotti is available online at the Guittard web site.