Sorry that I haven't posted in FOREVER! I've had a really busy couple of months. But fear not, I have several posts on the way and at least one more in the making.
I made this Black Tie Mousse Cake for one of my Christmas desserts. It's an Olive Garden copycat recipe. Here is where I got the recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/the-real-black-tie-mousse-cake-by-olive-garden-392181
This was a really fun dessert to make. It was different than any dessert that I'd made before. People on the site kept talking about how many steps it took to make and how much time it took. I've realized that I must make really complex desserts because I thought it was pretty easy. I did learn a thing or two, and I followed some tips from others, so now I'll share them with you.
The first deviation had to do with the bottom layer, the chocolate cake. Instead of using a box mix, I used Hershey's Perfectly Chocolate cake. I'm obsessed with this cake! It is by far the best scratch recipe that I have ever found. https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/recipe-details.aspx?id=184
I also read a lot of complaints that the cake that was baked in a cake pan didn't fit properly in the springform. So I baked my cake in the springform that I knew I was going to use. This way I knew it would be the right size.
After baking and cooling the cake, I was ready to start. I trimmed the top off the cake to make it level and put it back in the springform. The cake had tightened up and was still smaller than the pan so I kind of stretched it and flattened it a bit to make it fit the pan.
This was such a fun experiment for me because it had a lot of firsts! This was the first time I've made mousse, custard, or chocolate ganache. It was also the first time that I put chocolate chips on the side of a cake and made those pretty swirly's on the top. So I really had no idea how it was going to turn out.
I followed the instructions to make the mousse and had no problem.
Then I went onto the third layer (the vanilla custard). Some people said that you have to double the custard recipe to get the amount shown in the picture (from the recipe site that I used). I wasn't concerned about having it that thick though, so I just made the amount called for in the recipe.
Now you custard makers already know this, but the biggest thing I learned while making this cake is that custard curdles if you cook it too long. Now I know. As I was cooking it, it started to separate. I panicked and took it off the stove, stirring it until it came back together. Luckily, this is exactly what I was supposed to do to save it and I didn't have to start over.
I continued to follow the instructions for the chocolate ganache. This ganache was wonderful! I have been looking for a good recipe for a while, and will definitely keep this one because it was really easy and tasted heavenly!
I knew that if I tried to cover the cake with the ganache I would turn it into a sloppy, unprofessional mess, so I did a little cheat. I went ahead and pored the top while it was still in the pan. I made the white chocolate swirls, then I put it in the fridge to set up.
A friend told me how to make the swirls. Simple melt some white chocolate and pipe it in stripes on the warm ganache. I didn't even bother with a pastry bag. I just piped it from a zip lock bag that had it's corner cut off.
Then I ran a knife back and forth perpendicular to the strips to make the pretty swirls. Pretty, huh? You'd think I knew exactly what I was doing (as opposed to just hoping that it would actually work the way she said it would).
After I was done with the pattern, I put the cake back in the fridge to set up.
Once it was set up and the ganache had thickened a bit I removed the pan rim and frosted the sides. Normally I would have transferred the cake before frosting the sides to a pretty cake plate, but honestly, I had so much going on that day. I really didn't care about the ugly serving plate. I had been out of town until Christmas Eve morning and had about a million other cooking projects to finish that day, so I just let it be. This goes along great with one of my baking philosophies. Not everything has to be perfect. Sometimes things are good enough when it's just the amount you can handle.
After frosting the sides, I used mini chocolate chips as a garnish. I have a few thoughts about this as well. While the chips certainly looked pretty, the problem that I had using them is that the quality of the chips didn't match the wonder of the ganache. So when I got a bite with the chips, it was like this smooth wonderful ganache mixed in with hard waxy tasteless chips. I found myself not eating the parts with chips at all. A possible solution to this could be to use a finer chocolate and maybe shave it (or finely chop it). Or omit the chips all together.
The other thing I learned is in regards to decorating sides of cakes. I used to think it worked best to put your chips in your hand, then try and pat them on the cake. I've since figured out that you can hold them in one hand, then use the second hand as a shield on the cake and drop them down between your hand and the cake. This worked really well.
So here was the finished product. It turned out great and impressed my dinner guests. All in all, it was a really fun dessert to make. Hopefully my tips can help you if you decide to give it a try.