By NANCY ZAMBELL
For The Vista
I’ve always been a bit afraid of decorating desserts. Those pretty cakes and cupcakes in magazines and on the TV cooking shows just look very intimidating to me. I’ve always been a good baker—most of my desserts are very tasty, but I always shied away from those that required any kind of decorating genius.
So a couple of years ago, my friend Phyllis, and I decided to take the bull by the horns and enrolled in a cake decorating course. It, supposedly, was for ‘beginners’. Well, we discovered very quickly that everyone else in the course had a lot more experience than we did!
Nevertheless—after about a month or so, and many practice sessions covered with flour and icing from head to toe—we ‘graduated’. Neither one of us are yet expert bakers, but we did come away with a few new tricks, including how to make roses, some fairly easy methods of making pretty nice icing patterns (and deviled eggs, too!), and best of all—some neat tools (like icing knives and cake cutters) that make decorating a little less complex.
But the most important thing that class did for me was to remove my fear (mostly) of decorating. Since then, I’ve tried several more complicated desserts; most have come out pretty well; but best of all, I’ve learned they don’t have to be perfect, and they don’t have to look exactly like the picture to be very attractive!
This cake is a case in point. I just made it for Phyllis’ birthday. My garnish wasn’t quite ‘as angular’ as the picture looked; instead, I made the lines squiggly, and they looked fine. I hope you enjoy it!
3⁄4 c butter, cubed 8oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 t vanilla extract
3⁄4 c ground pecans
1⁄4 c all-purpose flour
4 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1⁄2 c heavy whipping cream
2 T butter
2 oz white baking chocolate 3⁄4 c finely chopped pecans
Preheat oven to 350°. Line bottom of a greased 9-in. springform pan with parchment paper; grease paper.
In a microwave, melt chocolate and butter; stir until smooth. Cool slightly. In a small bowl, mix pecans and flour.
In a large bowl, beat eggs until frothy; gradually add sugar, beating 4-5 minutes or until mixture triples in volume. Gradually beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Fold in pecan mixture. Transfer to prepared pan.
Bake 30-35 minutes or until cake springs back when lightly touched. Cool on a wire rack 15 minutes. Run a knife around sides of pan; remove rim from pan. Invert cake onto a wire rack; carefully remove pan bottom and paper. Cool completely.
For ganache, place chocolate in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, bring cream just to a boil. Pour over chocolate; stir with a whisk until smooth. Stir in butter. Refrigerate until mixture thickens slightly, about 15 minutes.
Place cake on a serving plate. Pour ganache over cake and quickly spread to edges.
Fill a food-safe plastic bag with melted white chocolate; cut a small hole in one corner of bag. Pipe thin horizontal lines 1 in. apart over ganache. Use a sharp knife to draw right angles across the piped lines. Refrigerate until set, about 30 minutes. Yield: 16 servings.