30 July 2008
This month's Daring Bakers Challenge was hosted by Chris at Melecotte. Chris was the best host every and so supportive when I emailed her (multiple times) about the recipe so I really want to say thank you to her for helping me get through this one. At first I had a mini panic attack about all the components (jaconde, syrup, buttercream, praline cream, whipped cream, glaze and ganache- my heart rate is rising just typing it out again) but once I realized that most of the components are very similar to those of the Opera Cake I calmed down a bit and the cake actually started to sound good. Plus, it would give me a chance to use the Shrubb orange liqueur that my friend C- recently brought us from Martinique.
The base flavors of the cake are hazelnut and chocolate, with a hit of citrus with some lemon zest and the Shrubb, along with a tart apricot glaze. The directions Chris gave are really detailed (another reason for my worries- if a recipe goes on for more than a page, I have doubts about my abilities to follow it) but my breaking the cake down into it's component parts and taking two days to put it together it wasn't so bad at all (although Zach might disagree since I dirtied nearly every pan/bowl/dish in the kitchen in the process). I did make a few minor substitutions, like using lime zest (3 for a dollar) instead of lemon ($1.25 each) and Nutella in place of the praline cream. Although Chris gave directions for making praline cream, it was one thing I didn't think my blender could handle and since the only item even resembling praline cream in the grocery store was marzipan I decided to use Nutella to flavor the buttercream since it's a least made with hazelnuts.
For the glaze, I added a tablespoon of lime juice to the apricot preserves instead of water since everything I had made up to that point (the cake, buttercream and whipped cream) was so rich, I thought they really needed a strong and slightly sour fruit flavor to balance them out. Once I had put together the cake with the cream fillings and the apricot glaze, I let it chill for a day before topping it with a rich bittersweet chocolate ganache and attempting to decorate it. I say attempting since you all can see the strange hydra-like creature that is inhabiting the top of my cake. In my defense, I will only say that I don't own any piping tips so it was all done with a ziploc bag with one of the corners cut off.
Well, after piping both the cake and I needed a bit of a break, so it spent another day in the fridge before we gave it a try. This is, by far, my favorite Daring Bakers challenge so far. The chocolate and hazelnut are really the dominant flavors in this cake but the citrus and apricot provide a background fruitiness that keep it from being boring. The jaconde stands up really well to the both the sugar syrup and the creams and remains moist without becoming mushy.
Will I make this cake again? I think so, but only after I get in a bit of practice with piping tips!
I haven't posted a recipe here since Chris's explains everything so well but I did halve the recipe so if you would like a copy of the halved recipe with my substitutions send me and email and I can send you a copy.