Julia Child's 85th Birthday Cake
Posted by Tuddles: Mon, 28 Jun 2004, at 3:57 p.m.
CHOCOLATE ALMOND CAKE
1/2 lb. pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-ounce pieces; plus 1
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 teaspoons almond extract
1/2 cup amaretto
3/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
3 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, finely grated
CHOCOLATE RED RASPBERRY MOUSSE
2 1/4 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
6 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped and melted
1 pint fresh red raspberries
QUINTESSENTIAL CHOCOLATE GANACHE
12 ounces semisweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
THE FINISHING TOUCH
1 cup sliced almonds
1 ounce milk chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ounce semisweet baking chocolate, coarsely chopped
Make the Chocolate Almond Cake
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Lightly coat the insides of four 9×1 1/2-inch
nonstick cake pans with some of the 1 tablespoon of melted butter. Line the
bottoms of the pans with parchment paper (or wax paper), then lightly coat the
paper with more melted butter. Set aside.
In a sifter combine 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon
baking soda, and 1 teaspoon salt. Sift onto a large piece of parchment paper (or
wax paper) and set aside until needed.
Place 1/2 pound butter and 1 cup sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted
with a paddle. Mix on low speed for 1 minute, then beat on medium-high for 3
minutes until soft. Use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl
and the paddle, then beat on medium-high for an additional minute. Scrape down
the sides of the bowl. Add 2 eggs, one at a time, beating on medium for 20
seconds after each addition, and scraping down the sides of the bowl once both
eggs have been incorporated. Operate the mixer on low while gradually adding
half the sifted dry ingredients; mix until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add
1/2 cup sour cream and 2 teaspoons almond extract and mix on medium to combine,
about 15 seconds. Gradually add the remaining dry ingredients while mixing on
low speed until combined, about 20 seconds. Add 1/2 cup amaretto in a slow,
steady stream and mix on low to combine, about 30 seconds. Remove the bowl from
the mixer, add 3/4 cup sliced toasted almonds and the grated chocolate, and use
a rubber spatula to finish mixing the ingredients until thoroughly combined.
Immediately divide the cake batter into the prepared pans (about 1 1/2 cups of
batter in each pan), spreading it evenly. Bake on the top and center racks in
the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake layer
comes out clean, about 20 minutes. (Rotate the pans from top to center halfway
through the baking time.) Remove the cakes from the oven and cool in the pans
for 15 minutes at room temperature. Invert the layers onto cake circles (or
directly onto cake plates). Carefully peel the paper away from the bottoms of
the cake layers. Refrigerate the cake layers until needed.
Prepare the Chocolate Red Raspberry Mousse
Place 2 1/4 cups heavy cream, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1 tablespoon instant espresso
powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whip. Whisk on
medium-high for 2 minutes until firm, but not stiff, peaks form. Add 1 1/2 cups
of the whipped cream to 6 ounces melted unsweetened chocolate, and use a rubber
spatula to fold together until thoroughly combined. Add the combined whipped
cream and chocolate to the remaining whipped cream and use a rubber spatula to
fold together until smooth and thoroughly combined. Now use the rubber spatula
to fold in 1 pint red raspberries.
Begin the Cake Assembly
Remove the cake layers from the refrigerator. Use a cake spatula to evenly and
smoothly spread about 1 3/4 cups of Chocolate Red Raspberry Mousse over the top
and to the edges of each of 3 of the inverted cake layers. Stack the
mousse-coated cake layers (use a utility turner to remove the layers from the
cake circles); then top with the last inverted cake layer, bottom facing up.
Refrigerate the cake for 1 hour, until the mousse layers have firmed, before
making the ganache.
Make the Quintessential Chocolate Ganache and Coat the Cake
Place 12 ounces chopped semisweet chocolate and 4 ounces chopped unsweetened
chocolate in a large bowl.
Heat 2 cups heavy cream and 2 tablespoons sugar in a small saucepan over
medium-high heat. When hot, stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil. Pour
the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate. Set aside for 5 minutes before
stirring with a whisk until smooth.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Smooth the mousse on the sides of the
cake with a cake spatula. Use a utility turner to remove the whole cake from the
cake circle. Place the cake onto a baking sheet with sides. Ladle three 4-ounce
ladles of the ganache over the top of the cake. Use a cake spatula to spread a
smooth coating of ganache over the top and sides of the cake. (This looks like
an ocean of ganache, but it is the correct amount; of course, too much ganache
is always perfect.) Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes to set the ganache.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator and pour the remaining ganache over the
top of the cake; then use a cake spatula to spread the ganache smoothly and
evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Use a utility turner to transfer the
cake onto a clean cardboard cake circle. Refrigerate the cake for 20 minutes to
set the ganache.
Prepare and Apply the Finishing Touches
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Toast 1 cup sliced almonds on a baking sheet
in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, until light golden brown. Remove the
almonds from the oven and cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Holding about
1/2 cup of the cooled sliced almonds at a time in the palms of your hands, crush
them into irregular-size pieces (this is the best method to break almonds into
irregular-size pieces without creating fine particles of almonds). Set aside.
Melt 1 ounce chopped milk chocolate in the top half of a double boiler over
medium-low heat. Use a rubber spatula to stir the chocolate until completely
melted and smooth, 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from the heat, then transfer the
chocolate to another small Ziploc bag.
(The milk chocolate may also be melted in a small Ziploc bag in a microwave oven
set at medium power for 1 minute. After removing the chocolate from the
microwave, the chocolate will be completely melted and ready to use.)
Now melt 1 ounce chopped semisweet chocolate in the top half of a double boiler
over medium-low heat. Use a rubber spatula to stir the chocolate until
completely melted and smooth, about 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Remove from the heat,
then transfer the chocolate to another small Ziploc bag.
(As with the milk chocolate, the semisweet chocolate may also be melted in a
small Ziploc bag in a microwave oven set at medium power for 1 minute. After
removing the chocolate from the microwave, the chocolate will be completely
melted and ready to use.)
Snip the tip from a bottom corner of the Ziploc bag containing the melted milk
chocolate. Pipe the entire amount of chocolate in the Ziploc bag across the top
of the cake, going from left to right in a zigzag pattern. Snip the tip from a
bottom corner of the Ziploc bag containing the semisweet chocolate. Turn the
cake 90 degrees. Pipe the entire amount of chocolate in the bag across the
surface of the milk-chocolate-topped cake, again moving from left to right in a
zigzag pattern to create a free-form lattice of piped chocolate. Refrigerate the
cake for 10 to 15 minutes to set the chocolate lattice.
Press the crushed almonds into the sides of the cake, coating it evenly.
Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.
Heat the blade of a serrated slicer under hot running water and wipe the blade
dry before making each slice. Serve immediately.