Given that it's my only RHC cake this month, I am hoping having made the multi-component Holiday Pinecone Cake will keep me in the good graces of the Heavenly Bakers.
In this recipe, a thin layer of chocolate sponge cake is filled with a ganache laced with toasted chopped almonds, rolled into a log, shaped into a cone, and...covered with a homemade chocolate rolled fondant. *eek*
I was excited to try my hand at Rose's chocolate fondant, because while I normally despise the taste of the fondant covering cakes, I appreciate how fondant keeps a cake fresh, and my previous attempts to make it at home have failed. Well, this time my fondant came out perfectly (the hardest thing was making a special trip to get glycerin) without adding water or powdered sugar. In the above photo, it looks quite dry, but it comes together with a thorough kneading and periodic spritzing with cooking spray. I made this Christmas Eve, and everything else the next day.
I toasted sliced almonds for the ganache instead of whole because I had already run to the store twice and that was my limit. Thumbs up because they added crunch and texture without causing any lumps in the coating that would show through the fondant.
I would like to interject something here, completely out of order. For cake batter and cookie dough, you will save yourself some time and mess by getting a Beater Blade for your stand mixer. It scrapes the bowl as it mixes, and makes quick work of scraping the finished batter out of the bowl. The only downside I can think of is for those who count on eating that smudge of raw batter/dough that gets stuck to the top of one's wrist when scraping out the mixing bowl between additions of wet and dry ingredients. I had to really think. I also discovered making this cake that the Beater Blade is great for incorporating beaten egg whites into a sponge cake batter - a couple strokes and it was blended, and no additional utensil was harmed in the making of this cake.
After this point, I needed to work quickly on getting the cake together and into the fridge to chill, so photographic evidence of the following does not exist. Perhaps because of the small size of the cake, or a strange angle of the pieces cut and attached to the bottom, my cake looked less conical, and, UM, more like, as my husband says, "more like a pine cone from a Fellini film." But luckily as I added ganache to te middle and sides, it looked less obscene.
I was impressed with how easy the chocolate fondant was to roll and shape. I should have cut my pine cone petals with an more open angle (i.e. fatter, squatter "v"s). While I would not want to eat a lot of it at once, the flavor is really good for fondant. It tastes somewhere in between a tootsie roll and chocolate candy. Because I took this cake to two different family gatherings over two days, I got a lot of opinions. The cake was well loved, and a seriously rich hit of chocolate. I used brandy in the ganache and the first day it was a little too assertive for my tastes, but very mellow the second day. People loved the little pieces of almond, and several said the cake tasted like a truffle in cake form.
The flavors were intense and delicious, but I think this cake would be best made with a little more cake and a little less ganache, as it was just a bit too rich for me. (Full disclosure: I am not a die hard chocolate dessert person, though! I tend to prefer fruit flavors.) I could barely finish a piece, but oh what a wonderful piece it was!