I have been waiting to make a cake with this dark chocolate lacquer glaze since I first read about it on
Rose Levy Beranbaum's blog in early 2007, when she made a dark chocolate wedding cake for the celebrated chef Daniel Patterson (of Coi restaurant in San Francisco, a place I hope to go someday) with recipes she had been developing for Rose's Heavenly Cakes. Leave it to Rose to come up with a stunningly elegant and delicious glaze that needs no embellishment at all.
The middle tiers were a moist yellow cake filled with the golden neoclassic buttercream mixed with raspberry puree and homemade satsuma plum jam.
Look at how happy I am in the midst of wedding cake havoc! I planned ahead and made as much in advance as practicable, so even though I had to re-bake the middle tier and make a frosting twice, I was able to unclench my jaw and enjoy the project. Any comments about my awesome bandana, besides how awesome it is, will be promptly deleted.
Because chocolate absorbs odors so readily, I also cleaned the fridge and freezer thoroughly, and bought enough baking soda to keep a junior high school science fair full of erupting volcanoes. As much as the groom wanted me to make a garlic chocolate salsa cake, I insisted on boring old chocolate cake.
I iced them as smoothly as possible because Rose warned that the lacquer glaze would show every imperfection underneath. As I was filling and frosting the day before the wedding, I am glad I cut myself off to get some sleep, because I could have kept smoothing and even-ing indefinitely.
One tip I will give to anyone trying the lacquer glaze from Rose's Heavenly Cakes, especially when making a larger quantity as for a wedding cake, is that the glaze seems to take a long time to reheat, but it is very easy to overheat. I re-heated my glaze from chilled, and it took over 20 minutes in a double boiler. Do not be discouraged by the seemingly immovable iceberg of glaze - it will reheat and pour perfectly. Once it is hot, it holds its temperature well, so if you overshoot the mark, stick your measuring cup in the freezer to bring it down to 82-84 degrees F. I got impatient when glazing my bottom square tier, and started pouring at 95F, and paid the price. It did not coat that well and required a lot of touching up. (Sorry for the flash; it's there to demonstrate the crazy shine).
However, once I got the glaze to Rose's recommended temperature, the middle and top round tiers were coated in a quick even pour. While the glaze was setting, I went off to prettify and wash any trace of chocolate off before packing the car for the two-hour drive to the wedding site. Despite the venue being located off a windy mountain road notorious for its accidents and aggressive local drivers, we had a calm and lovely drive. In fact, the only casualty the cake sustained during the drive was due to the air conditioning (which I always have on during cake transport) which was cold enough to dull the glaze slightly. You can see that in this cocktail hour shot.
But once the cake had been stacked and sitting in the reception hall a while, the glaze softened a bit and the shine returned. We decorated the cake with pine cones collected by a little boy for the occasion. The branches with tiny pine cones on the end stretching to the four corners of the cake are from redwood trees, which surrounded us at this gorgeous mountain retreat.
(Not a great shot; just something to capture the glaze reviving.)
I got in and helped sauce the plates with a dollop of pomegranate-raspberry puree (pomegranates and pine cones were a motif of the day). The fruity, tannic brightness cut right through the rich and mellow chocolate ganache to wake up any parts of the tongue that might still be taking a cat nap.
You might notice I left the top alone - I think it is austere, and starkly beautiful, perfect for a late fall evening in the mountains. It was a night of exuberant dancing punctuated with breaks to cool off in the brisk outside air, only to be surprised by how many stars and how much breath you can see. The couple had done so much to plan a fun celebratory weekend with friends and family that was relaxed and fun.
I was so overjoyed at how much people loved the cake. Several people gave the king of compliments : "It was the best wedding cake I have ever had." Of course, the flavor we made less of? The flavor people wanted more of.
Breakfast in the dining hall the next morning gave people even more opportunity to shower me with compliments, and I think I was starting to blush at one point. NAH. I enjoyed every second.