Who doesn’t love cakes? Who doesn’t love chocolates? But having so many at once might scare some people, but not the real ones; not uninhibited desserts. Beloved by NBA legend Michael Jordan and former United States President George W. Bush, to name a few, this abomination of opulence has garnered many followers over the years and to In the age of Instagram, this fanfare has only spread and grown stronger. .
12 layers of decadent chocolate sponge cake, with 11 alternating layers of chocolate Swiss meringue buttercream frosting topped with a semi-sweet dark chocolate ganache, this towering monstrosity stands a foot tall and weighs nearly 10 kilograms with the right to boast of being larger than a normal sized human head. Talk about the proportions all you want, but it takes more than half a day to bake, chill, slice, glaze, and repeat until you’ve assembled the Instagram-worthy cake. It would most definitely cost you a fortune to have a slice and even then there’s a good chance you and a few friends won’t be able to finish it. But what a slice it would be, almost heavenly in its extravagance, unparalleled to anything you’ve ever had before. That’s why it was named the number 1 chocolate dessert in America by the Food Network.
Originating in the steakhouses of New York, or more generally in the United States of America, the cross section of this cake looked so enticing that it quickly took off. From amateur to professional, home cooks and bakers, they have tried their hand at making this giant cake and it has spread like wildfire to other parts of the world as well. Today in India we have locations in Delhi and mainly in Mumbai where you can find and indulge in this larger than life creation. And for the uninitiated, if you want to try your hand at baking for yourself (we won’t judge) or for a special occasion involving friends and family, here’s how.
For the chocolate sponge cake-
- 2 ¼ cups (177 g) Dutch cocoa powder,
- 2 cups (456 g) boiling water,
- 3 cups (639 g) brown sugar, light or dark
- 1 ½ teaspoons (4 g) kosher salt
- 1 ½ cups (297 g) sunflower oil (or any other neutral oil)
- 3 Egg Yolks (45g)
- 6 Whole Eggs (300g)
- 2 ¼ cups (270 g) all-purpose flour
- 3 teaspoons (12g) baking powder
- Move your oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 176 degrees Celsius.
- Butter the inside of three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottom of each pan with parchment paper. Sprinkle a very light layer of flour inside the pans.
- In a large mixing bowl, add the Dutch cocoa and pour boiling water over the cocoa. Use a whisk to stir; you will have a steaming hot bowl of thick chocolate batter, let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the chocolate flavor to develop.
- Add brown sugar, salt and oil. Whisk until it forms a thick liquid chocolate sauce. The brown sugar granules may not dissolve completely, but when you stop stirring, the chocolate sauce will settle into the bowl and look super smooth.
- Add your egg yolk(s) and eggs all at once and whisk for at least 1 minute by hand. It should be completely smooth and you shouldn’t see any yolk or white steaks at the end. You may see some slight bubbles – that’s a good sign.
- Sift your all-purpose flour and baking powder. Use a spatula to stir until you no longer see any remaining flour on the sides of the bowl.
- Divide the batter evenly into the prepared pans.
- Bake for about 40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs attached. (Start about 35 min.) If you don’t have three pans, you can bake them one after the other.
- Move the pans to a cooling rack and let the cake cool completely in the pans.
- Loosen the edges of the cakes using an offset spatula or butter knife and invert the cakes onto a cooling rack. Then peel off the bottom of the parchment paper and make sure they are completely cooled before assembling and/or frosting.
For the Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream Frosting-
- ½ cup (42g) cocoa powder
- 6 tablespoons (84g) boiling water
- 1 ½ cups (363 g) fresh egg whites
- 3 cups (600g) granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 3 ¾ cups (849 g) unsalted butter, softened to cool room temperature
- 1 ½ teaspoons (3 g) kosher salt
- In a small bowl, combine cocoa powder and boiling water to create a paste. Put it aside.
- Prepare your water bath. Make sure you can set your heatproof bowl on top so the bottom is exposed to the steam but doesn’t touch the water directly. Bring the water below to a gentle boil.
- Add the egg whites, sugar and cream of tartar to the bowl. Mix with the spatula. It will be viscous and thick in consistency. Place on top of the bain-marie and check that the steam reaches the bottom of the bowl.
- Stir continuously with the spatula. The eggs will thin out, all the sugar will melt, and the mixture will become more opaque. Use a thermometer to make sure you reach 74 degrees Celsius. Then remove the bowl from the water bath.
- Place the contents of the bowl in a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on high speed for 10 minutes until the bowl is cool to the touch, the meringue has more than tripled in size and begins to wrap around the whisk. Let cool completely.
- Add the butter, a tablespoon piece at a time. The frosting will lose volume at first, then start to come together and look a bit like freshly whipped stiff cream, leaving streaks in the frosting.
- Add your salt and the chocolate paste that was prepared previously. Stir on low speed until frosting is uniform in color and texture.
Assembling the cake:
- Trim the tops of the cakes to get a flat surface.
- Then cut each cake into six equal layers.
- Place the thickest layer on the plate. Place a ring of an 8-inch springform pan around the cake.
- Spread a thin, even layer of chocolate frosting, then place the next layer of cake. Continue with subsequent layers. Chill the cake in the freezer for an hour, then stack the layers on top of each other.
- Refrigerate the cake so the decadent meringue frosting stays firm and doesn’t get too hot when assembling the cake. Repeat the process until all 12 layers are stacked in perfect alignment. Store in the refrigerator until the ganache is ready.
For the semi-sweet dark chocolate ganache-
- 566g Semi-Sweet Dark Chocolate, chopped
- 2 ½ cups (595g) heavy cream
- 2 ½ tablespoons (35g) unsalted butter
- Chop the block of semi-sweet dark chocolate and set aside.
- In a large saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a little less boil gradually. Once it starts to see a little steam rise, remove it completely from the heat.
- Add all the chopped chocolate and unsalted butter and let sit for about 3-5 minutes.
- Use a whisk to stir until the ganache is smooth and evenly colored.
Finally, drizzle the ganache in a controlled manner over the layer cake, so that every part of the cake is coated. Leave to rest for a while and put back in the fridge. Once cooled, take it out very carefully and slice it open to reveal the holy cross section of all cross sections. Get out your forks and knives, dress the plates, roll up your sleeves and invite your whole neighborhood to enjoy the fruits of your day’s labor! Cut yourself a slice, you deserve it!