I'm the kind of person who really likes to share happy moments with others--I think this is probably why I enjoy food so much, because it's an experience that you're meant to share. So I'm so excited to share the news that I had my first photography exhibit and showing of my first collection this past weekend, and, to celebrate, I'm doing my first giveaway EVER on this blog! Read on for details...
My collection is called in Una Selva Luminosa and is a set of eight black and white photographs that I took last summer. You can view the entire collection here. The collection was really somewhat of a labor of love for me, since I also matted all of the custom-sized photographs myself--hence all of the tweets from a few weeks ago that my kitchen table had devolved into a framer's workshop!
The photographs were taken in Taiwan, though I really like the fact that they're sort of non-specific in their forest-ness. I was just so incredibly lucky to be where I was at the right time, during the summer when the humid heat from the valleys met the cold mountain air and produced this amazing mist all around. The collection is dedicated to my maternal grandmother, for whom the hike on which these photos were taken was her last. A few short months after going on this climb, she suffered a debilitating stroke and now cannot speak or use the right side of her body.
"Light, with Dark"
For me, art should be a mulit-media experience, so naturally, I had the perfect dessert planned to go with my exhibit: "the Blackest Forest Gateau."
Made with black cocoa powder, this "Blackest Forest Gateau" has layers of deep and moist black chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache, and sweet dark cherry filling, all wrapped up in generous mounds of light and airy mascarpone whipped cream. This cake is a perfect transformation of my photography collection into dessert form, with the balance and interplay of light, frothy cream and rich, dense dark chocolate.
And, after tasting this cake, I have to say that it's hands-down one of the BEST chocolate cakes I have ever made. I'm dead serious, and I absolutely do not say this lightly. The black cocoa makes the chocolate cake layers so much richer and deeper in chocolate flavor--the cake is barely sweet at all and makes for a perfect counterpoint to the sweetness of the cherries and cream. Then, just to up the chocolate ante a bit, I added a layer of dark chocolate ganache on top of each cake layer--you know, just because I can. (and because hidden chocolate ganache seems to be a recurring theme of this blog.) The dark cherries really help make the cake, adding a sweet hint of dark, rich berry goodness to offset the incredible chocolaty-ness that you would otherwise have. Finally, I whipped up a whipped cream with mascarpone cheese, which really helped to make the cream more substantial and add more flavor (and, again, just because mascarpone cheese is awesome). The outcome is ... well, it leaves me a bit speechless because I'm busy gobbling it all up.
So, onto the giveaway! The giveaway is now closed. Thanks for participating!
Tell me what you would make with black cocoa. Tell me which one of the four photographs featured in this post from my collection ("the Guardian," "Ascent," "Light, with Dark," "Descent") you would like if you win!
Oh man, I hope you are all as excited as I am. Make this cake--you won't regret it, and don't forget to drop by and check out my entire collection HERE.
Read on for recipe...
Blackest Forest Gateau
makes one 2-layer 9" cake. For suggestions on other sizes, see the tips below the recipes.
for black chocolate cake:
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
1/3 cup black cocoa powder
2/3 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
1 tspn salt
1 tspn baking powder
1 tspn baking soda
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup whole milk
1 cup boiling water
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease, flour, and line the bottoms of two 9" round cake pans. If desired, line the cake pans with bake-even strips.
2. In a mixer bowl, combine sugar, flour, black and Dutch-processed cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix to combine.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the beaten eggs, vegetable oil, and milk. Stir to mix. Then, with the mixer on low, pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix on low until evenly distributed.
4. Pour the boiling water into the batter and mix on medium low until smooth.
5. Divide the batter between the two cake pans.
6. Bake for 35-45 minutes. When a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out cleanly, the cakes are done. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.
for dark chocolate ganache:
3 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
2.5 oz. manufacturing or heavy whipping cream
1 Tbspn butter
1 Tbpsn Godiva chocolate liquor, optional
1. Place the chopped chocolate in a bowl and set aside.
2. In a saucepan, heat the cream and butter just until simmering.
3. Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate. Let sit for a minute or so.
4. Whisk the cream into the chocolate until smooth. Add the liquor, if using, and mix until thoroughly combined.
5. Spread a thin layer of ganache on top of both of the cooled chocolate cakes. Let set for at least two hours, or an hour in the refrigerator.
for dark cherry filling:
10 oz. frozen dark cherries
3 Tbspn sugar
1 Tbspn cornstarch
1 Tbspn kirsch or brandy
1. Place the cherries in a saucepan and cook over medium heat until the cherries begin to release their juices.
2. Add the sugar into the cherries, stirring until dissolved.
3. Pour some of the cherry juice into a small bowl. Add the cornstarch to the juice and whisk until the corn starch is completely dissolved. Add the cornstarch and juice back into the saucepan.
4. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook for one minute. Remove from heat and stir in the kirsch or brandy. Let cool before using.
for mascarpone whipped cream:
1 cup mascarpone cheese
4 cups manufacturing cream, or heavy whipping cream
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1. Combine the mascarpone cheese and cream in a bowl. Whip until soft peaks.
2. Add the powdered sugar to the cream, continue whipping just until you reach stiff peaks. Be careful not to overwhip! Use immediately.
1. Spread a layer of mascarpone whipped cream on the prepared ganache-chocolate cake.
2. Top the whipped cream with the cherries.
3. Place the next layer of cake on top of the cherries and whipped cream.
4. Frost the outside of the cake with the remaining cream. Decorate with chocolate shavings, chocolate trees, fresh cherries, or a dusting of powdered sugar/cocoa powder, if desired.
5. Store in the refrigerator.
Tip: If you don't have access to black cocoa powder, regular Dutch-processed cocoa will work.
Tip: For two four-layer 4.5" cakes like the ones in this post, use 1/2 of the black chocolate cake recipe and about half of the whipped cream. For a four-layer 9" cake, split the cake layers from this recipe, double the cherry filling and chocolate ganache recipes, and you may need to make 1.5 times the amount of whipped cream prescribed here.