Monday, August 30, 2010

HCB - Chocolate Layer Cake with (Whipped) Caramel Ganache & Plum-Blueberry Upside Down Torte

Earlier this month, the Heavenly Cake Bakers made the Plum-Blueberry Upside Down Torte. Although I baked it at the time, I didn't get a chance to post it, so here it is today. This week's HCB recipe is the Chocolate Layer Cake with Caramel Ganache. I was very excited about this cake, especially the ganache. My fellow blogger, Leslie of Lethally Delicious, has given it rave reviews and this lady knows her chocolate!!! :o)

Chocolate Layer Cake with Whipped Caramel Ganache

Plum-Blueberry Upside Down Torte

How did we like these cakes? Please continue reading. I also have step-by-step pictures.

I cut the recipe in half because we still have tons of State Fair goodies left (all frozen for now). This week's chocolate cake is one of the chocolatiest cakes I've ever had. Each bite unapologetically delivers a huge chocolate punch while the ganache frosting gives it a subtle caramel undertone.

Instead of plain ganache, I made whipped caramel ganache. This gives the ganache more volume and a lighter texture (as well as a lighter color). Making whipped ganache is also much faster and less time consuming than regular ganache frosting. Just pour the warm ganache in a bowl. Put the bowl in ice water, stirring often for about 5 minutes to cool the mixture a bit. Then mix it with a hand mixer until the ganache has thickened, taking care not to overbeat it otherwise it becomes grainy. Use it immediately.

First, I made the caramel. Since I was making half the recipe, I skipped using the thermometer and just eyeballed the "amber" stage.

The caramel is ready to be mixed with very hot cream. Once the hardened caramel was dissolved, I added butter and 58% Ghirardelli chocolate into the hot caramel and whisked it until the chocolate dissolved, sans food processor :o)

I poured the (fairly runny) chocolate batter into a 6" pan, wrapped with cake strips.

Ready for the oven

The cake took about 35 minutes in the oven. The cake strips kept the cake from doming, making it nice and level.

Just out of the oven, nice and level which makes for easy frosting

After it was frosted, it was time to sample it. The first bite was pretty intense (in a good way). The cake was tender and moist (almost fudge-like), and the ganache was rich, chocolatey, smooth and creamy with a very subtle hint of caramel. I think the chocolate overpowered the caramel undertone a bit. My husband said "it's good but it's a little too strong". Let me translate: it's too chocolatey and not sweet enough! :o)

A slice of intense chocolate goodness

The Plum-Blueberry Upside Down Torte was a big hit. I served it when we had visitors over from out of town (and Europe). Since there were going to be kids too, I also made brownies, thinking that the kids wouldn't like the fruity cake. Boy, was I wrong. They all wanted a piece of each dessert and then came back for seconds (and they didn't ask for more brownies, ha ha).

I only used a handful of blueberries

The sweet-and-tart plums worked really well against the sweet caramel and the juicy blueberries. I had no issues releasing the cake from the pan. The cake was moist and vanilla-ey. I think I prefer the cake that came with the Pineapple Upside Down Cake but this one was pretty good too.

See how the cake soaked up some of the fruit juices? Delicious!

Final thoughts/tips:
  • Both cakes were fun to make and a joy to eat, even though the Chocolate Layer Cake was a bit too much chocolate for my husband. He still gave it a 8.5 out of 10. I forgot to ask him to rate the Plum Torte but I know he liked it a lot.
  • When making caramel, always spray the inside of your pan with non-stick spray. This prevents sugar from crystallizing.
  • My adapted caramel ganache: 1/2 cup sugar, 1.5 Tbsp water, 3/4 cup cream, dab of butter, splash of vanilla, 3 oz of 58% Ghirardelli chocolate.
  • To make whipped ganache: place warm ganache in a bowl. Put the bowl in a bigger bowl filled with ice water. Stir frequently until the ganache has cooled a bit (about 5 minutes). With a hand mixer, whip until the ganache has thickened. Avoid overbeating otherwise the ganache becomes grainy. Use right away.


  1. These cakes look delicious! But the chocolate one looks the best, i'm a chocolate person :)

  2. Both are beautiful! Seeing the plum torte makes me want to make another one!

  3. P.S. I keep forgetting to say how beautiful your blog page is. Are these tagines? I have and have yet to use it.

  4. @Danielle: you can't go wrong with either cake :o) But if you like dark chocolate, then this choc is your match :o)

    @Vicki: thanks Vicki. Yes, those are tagines. They're so beautiful. I love using mine. We recently cooked a lamb tagine in ours last weekend.

  5. Whippped Caramel Ganache is a great idea!! I would try that next time i make..:) I love how yummy your plum torte looks!

  6. I LOVE all your pointers Hanaa. Whipped ganache sounds like a winner. The plum and blueberry cake is gorgeous too. I think I will bake it for the open choice week.

    I read where someone felt the ganache should be likened to a wine for layers of flavor, which was funny because I felt the same way on the first bite.

    I had a LOT of fun this week baking but I am getting tired. The ABC cake is getting posted later tomorrow because I am getting rum dum looking at the computer monitor and trying to get everything blogged. (Still trying to get TWD shortbread cookies photos sorted out.)

    Look at how you did your topping for design on the chocolate layer cake then, when you have a chance, look at what I did with mine. (A quite smile moment.) Hugs, Shandy

  7. They both look so beautiful. Wonderful decoration as well, do you have any tips for getting the chcolate like that?

  8. Hanaa, beautiful cakes. Love the swirls on the chocolate cake. Just a note: I use 7 inch pan for my 1/2 recipes now, so it won't be quite as tall as using 6 inch pan :).

  9. Love your cake, looks book picture worthy.. and I'm putting the tip down in whipping the ganache for next time (if there is a next time, since I'm still mad at it). I brought the whole thing to work today and it was gone in like under an hour. So regarless of what I thought, it was a winner with others.

  10. Have I died and gone to heaven?! These BOTH look absolutely fantastic!! Now I have to buy more cookbooks and bake from those too ;) My mom would LOVE the plum cake and I would devour the chocolate one!!

  11. They both look DELICIOUS! But because it's the plum season, I can't resist to your plum-blueberry torte :)

  12. @Faithy: thank you! Let me know how you like the whipped ganache, if you make it.

    @Shandy: thanks! Glad you like my “tips” section. Funny how you too swirled the ganache on top. Pretty, isn’t it, and so simple.

    @Brittany: thank you. It’s very easy. Just frost your cake like you normally would. Then take a spoon or a spatula. You start at the edge of the cake and basically draw a big C from the edge to the center of the cake. Keep doing this all across your cake. If you mess up, smooth and the frosting on top, and start over. Let me know if you have any more questions on that.

    @Jenn: thanks. Ah, that explains why your cake wasn’t as tall as with a 6” pan.

    @Monica: thank you very much! Ha ha, I hope you’re no longer mad at the ganache. Do try whipping the ganache next time. Let me know how you like it.

    @Jeannette: thank you so much. When it’s that hard to choose a cake, I say, bake both :o)

    @Victoria: merci beaucoup! I love cakes with fresh fruit and this was definitely another winner from Rose’s Heavenly Cakes.

  13. Hanaa, is there anything you can't bake? I saw the State Fair treats, they looked divine!

  14. Although that chocolate cake looks fantastic, your plum blueberry torte is a work of art! Your husband might like Ina Garten's Beatty's chocolate cake. The layers are dense and fudgy but the frosting is as light as a feather (pounds of butter beaten for 10 minutes can give the illusion of lightness!)

    I hope your Ramadan has been joyful and rewarding. It's hard to believe it's Sept. 1st already...

  15. Both cakes look wonderful. As a matter of fact everything on your blog looks beautiful. I love the recipes and the food you feature here. I'll be back often. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  16. I love the tips you included and that cake looks so professional.

  17. @Leslie: thank you. Great suggestion but I don't think that'll work. My husband isn't very fond of overly "buttery" things so there's no way I can get that frosting past him :o)

    @Mary: thanks! Please do come back.

    @WizzyTheStick: thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I will check out your blog too :o)

  18. Hi Hanaa, I hadn't stopped by here for a while and I love the new look of your blog! Both cakes look absolutely divine. That's great that the kids liked the plum torte.

    I am baking a birthday cake for my fiance's father this weekend; I think it will probably be something from "Rose's Heavenly Cakes." You really can't seem to go wrong with that book.

  19. Both of these cakes look amazing, but the plum torte in particular made my heart sing! I love fruit desserts and that one looks absolutely delectable.

  20. Whoa! Two beauties, and that plum cake in particular makes me swoon! Really wonderful, Hanaa! Now that's just the kind of plum cake I want on my table. I must remember to try this recipe.

  21. Hi Hanaa - both cakes look amazing! I'm so sorry I've been out of the loop for so long. Looks like I've missed a lot!



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