Chocolate Featherbed

This week is another free choice week, with the Heavenly Cake Bakers group. I’ve been using some of these free choice weeks to catch up with cakes I missed while our kitchen was out of commission. This week is one of those. The chocolate featherbed cake looks really fussy, and not at all like the sort of cake I normally expect to enjoy (not the sort of thing I’d order at a restaurant, for example), but when I looked at the components, and Rose’s description of it, I couldn’t imagine it not being good. And it is. Good, that is. Not not good.

Chocolate Featherbed

The recipe calls for two batches of batter, baked in a half sheet pan. Since I only have one half sheet pan, I had to actually make the two batches of batter completely separately, and allow one to cool fully before starting the next. As a result, I got everything ready for both batches at once, and set them out.

Mise en Place for two batches

I’m really loving the fact that even with a variety of things stacked on my counter, including a batch of cookies cooling, I can still lay out all of these ingredients and have plenty of room to bake. I love my new kitchen!

I love my baking corner!

It’s been a while since I posted pictures of the particular kitchen alchemy that is egg yolks and sugar, so I figured it was time to do it again. Beating egg yolks and sugar together turns this bright yellow goo…

Beating Egg Yolks and Sugar

…into this beautiful fluffy softness (plus some chocolate):

Adding Chocolate to Yolks

While you’re beating your egg yolks (and letting your melted chocolate cool a touch), it would behove you to use a hand mixer to make a stiff meringue. That starts by beating egg whites until frothy, then adding cream of tartar to stabilize the whites.

Adding cream of tartar

Beat the whites to soft peaks, then start adding the sugar.

Softish Peaks

Continue beating to stiff peaks, then fold 1/4 of the meringue (if they’re stiff enough, it should be pretty easy to measure out 1/4) into the chocolate/egg yolk mixture. You did go ahead and mix those together, right?

Folding in the Meringue

After gently folding in the rest of the meringue, spread the batter in a prepared pan. With my first pan, I used parchment. With the second, I decided to use my silpat, partly because it fits the pan better. I didn’t really notice any significant difference between the parchment and silpat, so I think I’ll use the silpat next time I make this. It’s just as easy and feels less wasteful.

Prepared Batter

Bake, cool, and repeat. ๐Ÿ™‚

In the meantime, I have a confession to make. When it comes to ingredients, I can be really cheap. My secret shame is uh… Swedish.

Secret Weapon

To be fair, though, I actually really like this chocolate. The fact that it’s only $0.99 a bar doesn’t hurt, but… I really do like it! It’s “minimum 60%” cocoa content, which I figure means it’s probably exactly 60%, but that means it works for basically anything that requires chocolate in the range of 50-70%. Whenever I’m at Ikea, I buy a stack of a dozen or so bars, and the cashiers look at me like I’m nuts, but I don’t care. I sometimes buy my butter at Walmart, too. So ashamed!

So. Moving on. The next step is to figure out what you’re going to serve this on. I was taking this cake in to work today for our R&D holiday party, which turned out to be a meeting where R&D’s name changed to “Products”, and we sat through 2.5 hrs of updates about where we’re going next and where we’ve been recently in order to be treated to Chinese food for lunch. We also partook in real eggnog (the founder of the company is famed for his — it’ll knock you off your feet), desserts, and then we got a bunch of software developers, testers, and product managers in a room and decorated gingerbread houses. It was great! My team won (kudos to Wendy, Mike and Martin)! I don’t have pictures, but someone else might. If they share with me, I’ll post ’em. Anyway, I digress. I couldn’t come up with a plate the right shape to serve this as a half-sheet size, so I decided to make it half the width and twice as tall, and serve it as a sort of a loaf shape. I cut each layer into 4 strips instead of 2 rectangles.

Moving the layers

Oh, you also need to make the whipped ganache. I’d be more inclined to call it chocolate mousse, though. I used the quick method, because, to be honest, after reading through the one about curdling and cooling and stirring every half hour and whatever else was involved, I thought the “quick, but more work” method sounded like a lot less stress.

Chocolate Mousse?

Stack the layers, spread the filling, sprinkle with chocolate of some variety or another, and trim up your edges.

Look at all those layers

I loved this cake. It was light in texture, but heavy on chocolate flavour (which I loved). Sometimes you get a whipped chocolate dessert and all it tastes like is cream. This one really showcases the chocolate, which is delicious, even if it is cheap chocolate that must be assembled with an Allen key.

Chocolate Featherbed

Given that there were about a dozen other desserts, and everyone was full from Chinese food, eggnog, cider, candy and gingerbread, I’ll take it as a compliment that my dessert disappeared completely. At the end of the day when I left, I saw a few pieces of other things hanging around in the kitchen.

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11 thoughts on “Chocolate Featherbed

  1. Your cake looks delicious! I’m normally not a fan of this type of cake, but I think I’ll have to give it a chance. I love the side view picture with all of the layers. It looks like it would be hard to slice without it falling over though. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  2. nice! and i love your new kitchen too. i have been thinking about the ikea chocolate (so cheap! so swedish!) and now that i haveyour endorsement i think i’ll pick some up! i love your double-tall, extra-thin stack.

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  3. Ohhh thanks for the Ikea tip on the chocolate… I’m going to stock up!
    and I’m jealous (in the good way) of your new kitchen too. Here is hoping that I go thru the “trauma” of remodeling a kitchen in our future home in 2011…

    And the featherbed looks beautiful

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  4. Hi Kristina, yes it is fun crossing the list off. I do update the table of contents in the book by dating the one I’ve done, but I feel the need to do the web list too. Borrowed the idea from you, :).

    I’ve made 52 (though some are the ones the group hasn’t make). Am looking forward to the next couple of long weekends, as I want to try to catch up!

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  5. Love your new kitchen. Especially the island. Great job on the Featherbed. It’s on my todo list. I’m thinking I should go ahead and spend $10 and get a Nordicware half sheet pan I saw at Target a couple days ago. Sounds like it would be money well spent, even if it’s used for this recipe only, but I’m sure it’s handy for other recipes too.

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  6. Thank you for all the lovely comments, ladies!

    Rose, a featherbed is sounding pretty tempting here, too. It’s -5C (23F, my computer tells me), here. I think some chamomile tea is in order!

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