Sunday, February 15, 2015

Alpha Bakers -- Chocolate Pavarotti with Wicked Good Ganache

The wind is howling outside, the radiator is gurgling, and it's good to be inside. It seems like the ideal time for oatmeal, or cocoa. Instead, I bought two kinds of ice cream yesterday and made chocolate cake. I might be the only person in the world who likes oatmeal and cocoa more than chocolate cake, though not more than strawberry ice cream. Strawberry ice cream is fantastic. Why would anybody ever eat any kind of ice cream other than strawberry? My deviant predilections aside, the Chocolate Pavarotti (so-called because it 'sings in the mouth') is a very nice cake. 

If you detected a bit of damning with faint praise there, your detector is working. The Pavarotti is a smooth, almost dense single layer, made with the addition of melted white chocolate (I used Trader Joe's chips). Perfectly delicious, a bit forgettable. More like my response to opera than Rose's. I always want to love opera more than I do. It's such spectacle, such grand location, such mystique and heavy wigs and wild feats of vocal daring, but ultimately, I find it slow. I want more choreography. I want the story to move more quickly. I was raised on the American musical, not the opera, and there's very little help for it now. 

As for the 'Wicked Good' ganache, it is indeed very good ganache. I find this unsurprising, because the name indicates that it is clearly from Massachusetts, and all things from Massachusetts are excellent, including yours truly. While I continue to refuse to make ganache in the food processor if it is not a special occasion, I followed all of the other meticulous steps to make this one carefully. Corn syrup makes it shiny, cream makes it rich. In this case the cream was not dairy but coconut cream, lightened with a bit of coconut milk. I've found that for most things coconut will make a good substitute--it's fatty and coconut oil hardens up nicely at a cool room temperature. The substitution wasn't a matter of avoiding dairy, just a matter of realizing that there was no cream in the house and I wasn't going out for groceries again.

We ate the cake as part of an impromptu Valentine's Day celebration that included a feverish and cranky baby, sauteed greens and macaroni and cheese, and highlights from High Fidelity ('it. was. called. James') and X-Men: Days of Future Past. I can't talk about High Fidelity right now, that would take most of seven more posts and some sobbing. X-Men, on the other hand, is great fun, but apparently impossible to follow if you have never seen or read anything about it before. Days of Future Past spends an absurd amount of time on expositing its own absurd plot, but expects you to know exactly who its characters are and what they're up to already. I do, but a certain friend who shall not be named Miriam was unable to master even the basics of their names and relationships. "They all have three names and two ages," she very reasonably complained, and "also Katya WHY is it called a Pavarotti?" 

A little recourse to the book and I was able to answer that question (see above), but I couldn't convince her not to call Magneto 'Cogneto' (actually a very decent amalgam of Professor X and Magneto) or Incognito. Everyone liked the cake, at least. One person said that its dense texture and very sweet filling (I added some raspberry cream cheese frosting) made it taste 'like a candy bar.' So there you have it. Opera plus comics plus indie geekery = chocolate cake that tastes like candy bars. Don't say you weren't warned.


Unknown said...

Haha very amusing post. I haven't tried my cake yet since its for a morning tea at work tomorrow but I suspect it looks better than it tastes (all my own fault). Did you use the cayenne?

Jenn said...

Hahahhaha.. funny post Katya. I haven't seen the latest Xmen but can understand that one who does not know the story would be confused. There's a lot of characters in that series.

Your cake looks fabulous and I'm glad it was a hit.

Patricia @ ButterYum said...

You're so funny!!! So adding the raspberry cream cheese frosting sounds like an excellent addition.

Vicki said...

Raspberry cream cheese frosting, brilliant!!! Second your view of opera. The only opera I ever liked was that I Love Lucy episode....."I am queen of the gypsies, gyp, gyp,gypsies."

Mendy said...


I can totally imagine the x-men professor eating a slice of this cake with strawberry ice cream.

"Spicy strawberry" has a nice ring to it, don't you think?

Good to know about the coconut milk substitute.

faithy said...

LOL! You are so funny! I think I'll fall asleep if I attended any Opera... anything that is slow moving makes me fall asleep! Literally! I get bored easily. However, the only opera I like is the Phantom of the Opera. LOL!

faithy said... the button too quickly. I wanted to add that your cake looks great and the addition of frosting makes it look pretty! I was spying at the pink color in the centre of the photo on Facebook wondering what that was!

Michele at The Artful Oven said...

Katya: rolled or steel cut? I love oatmeal too!! The cake looks great! It was easy, not necessarily my all time favorite, but very good. I'm not in the X-men loop, but if you like High Fidelity, we are already fast friends!!

Unknown said...

Katya..."a bit forgettable. More like my response to opera than Rose's. I always want to love opera more than I do." best.line.ever!

That is how I felt about opera before someone actually told me what the whole thing was about and slow I began to love it... but like you said, its like this chocolate cake, love it or hate it - no in between.

Funny post!

evil cake lady said...

I made the lacquer glaze with coconut milk once but never considered that it would make a good milky substitute across the board, duh. Thanks for the tip! I love strawberry ice cream, too, but I like it best with hot fudge.

Unknown said...

Hi Katya, Me too. I was raised on the American musical. I know most of the words to most of the songs. Barbara Streisand, Shirley Jones, Gordon MacRea. How I love the songs to Oklahoma (where the winds come sweepin down the plain. Where the wavin wheat, can sure smell sweet...)Sorry. Anyway, good post. Onto the Lemon Posset.

Unknown said...

What a funny post. Opera to me is like eating dried fruit. Don't care for it much.