Cenk Sönmezsoy is the detail-oriented chocoholic behind the lovely food blog, Cafe Fernando. The first time my friend sent me a link to the blog, I thought, “Why is she sending me to some shop’s website??” But then the page loaded and I was bowled over by all the beautiful chocolate concoctions I saw, click after click. Given his penchant for chocolate, it only made sense for Cenk to offer us a dramatic devil’s food cake with ginger-spiced ganache. Do you know many people who can resist a chocolate layer cake with a luscious ganache? The only person I ever met who could was allergic to chocolate. — Kristina
About Cenk Sönmezsoy: Cenk Sönmezsoy is a food blogger, photographer, food stylist and a shameless chocoholic from İstanbul, Turkey. In 2006, Cenk started his award-winning food blog Cafe Fernando to share his kitchen adventures. On his blog’s fourth anniversary, he ditched his corporate job and became a full-time blogger. He is currently working on his first cookbook, which is scheduled for publication in Turkey in September 2011. His blog is named after The Golden Girls character Rose Nylund’s (played by the amazing Betty White) one-eyed teddy bear, Fernando. You can visit his portfolio here.
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Devil’s Food Cake with Whipped Biscoff Ganache and Chocolate Shards
Yields one 8-inch, two-layer cake
For the Devil’s Food Cake
- 2/3 cup (150 grams) unsalted butter, plus more for pans
- 2/3 cup (50 grams) Dutch-process cocoa powder, plus more for pans
- 2/3 cup boiling water
- 1/3 cup whole milk, scalded
- 1 1/2 cups (210 grams) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cup (300 grams) granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Whipped Biscoff* Ganache
- 4.5 ounces (150 grams) bittersweet (70% cacao) chocolate, chopped
- 4.5 ounces (150 grams) milk (40% cacao) chocolate, chopped
- one 14-ounce (400 grams) jar Biscoff spread*
- 1 2/3 cups (400 grams) heavy cream, cold
*Biscoff spread is made from spiced cookies, like gingersnaps. You can substitute peanut or hazelnut butter for the Biscoff spread. If unsweetened, add 1/4 cup of powdered sugar.
For the Chocolate Shards
4 ounces (120 grams) bittersweet (70% cacao) chocolate, chopped
MAKE THE CHOCOLATE SHARDS
In order for the chocolate shards to stick to the cake easily, the whipped ganache should be at room temperature, so make sure to have them ready by the time you are finished with the ganache.
Place the chopped chocolate in the top of a double boiler set over hot water and allow to melt, stirring often. Place a 16-inch-long parchment paper on your work surface. Pour the melted chocolate onto the paper and using an offset spatula, spread it in a thin and even layer, about 1/3 of an inch off each edge. Place a second sheet of same-sized parchment paper on top and gently press to release the air bubbles. Starting with one short end, roll the parchment paper tightly into an-inch-wide tube. Place it seam side down on a rimmed baking tray and chill in the refrigerator until set, for at least 2 hours.
Have a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready and remove the tube from the refrigerator. Unroll the tube in one quick motion, which creates the chocolate shards. Remove the top sheet of parchment paper, and with the help of a large offset spatula go underneath the pieces, pick them up and transfer them to the lined baking sheet. Refrigerate until ready to use.
You can make the chocolate shards 3 days in advance.
Making the Devil’s Food Cake
1. Adjust the oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper. Butter the parchment papers, dust with cocoa powder, tap out excess and set aside.
2. Sift cocoa powder into a medium bowl, add boiling water and whisk until the cocoa is completely dissolved. Add milk and whisk to combine. Set aside to cool.
3. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter on medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the sugar and beat on medium speed for 5 more minutes, scraping down the sides with a spatula as necessary. Add the eggs, one at a time, making sure each one is fully incorporated before adding the next. Beat in vanilla.
5. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with the cocoa mixture.
6. Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted in the center of each layer comes out clean, rotating pans halfway through for even baking. Allow to cool in the pans for a few minutes, then take out and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
Making the Whipped Biscoff Ganache
Place both chocolates in the top of a double boiler set over hot water and allow to melt, stirring often. Remove from heat and whisk in the Biscoff spread. Add the heavy cream and with the help of an electric mixer, whisk until soft peaks form. Be careful not to overbeat, as the frosting will become grainy.
Composing the Cake
1. Remove parchment papers from the bottoms of the cakes. Using a long, serrated knife, remove the top crusts to flatten the surface of the cakes. Place one cake on an 8-inch cardboard round or your serving plate (wide strips of parchment paper placed under the cake will keep the serving plate clean after frosting).
2. Frost the top with a little more than 1/3 of the ganache. Place the second cake on top and frost the top and the sides with the remaining ganache.
3. Take the frozen chocolate chards out of the refrigerator and gently stick the shards to the ganache with the help of a tweezer. Use long pieces for the sides and smaller pieces for the top. Place the cake in the refrigerator until the ganache is firmly set, for about an hour, then serve.
Why Cenk Chose This Recipe
Devil’s food cake is my definition of comfort food. Since I like it so much and bake it more frequently than one really should, I occasionally play around with the frosting and presentation. This time around, I wanted to incorporate my current obsession — the Biscoff spread (also known as Speculoos cream in some parts of the world). For the presentation, I decided to go with chocolate shards, which must be the most elegant chocolate decoration of all time. And considering how little effort you put in, the payoff is huge. Hearing the chocolate breaking into shards as you unroll the tube is worth the effort alone. Once you stick the shards to the frosting, your cake looks like a million bucks. Bon appétit.