Chocolate Chiffon Cake:
3 large eggs
1 large egg white (30 grams)
1 cup (200 grams) granulated white sugar, divided
2/3 cup (85 grams) all purpose flour
1/3 cup (35 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch processed)
1 1/4 teaspoons (5 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) salt
1/2 cup (120 ml) safflower, canola, vegetable, or corn oil
1/3 cup (80 ml) water or coffee, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons (6 grams) pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) cream of tartar
Chocolate Whipped Cream:
1/2 cup (120 ml) cold heavy whipping cream (cream with a 35-40% butterfat content)
1/4 teaspoon (1 gram) pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon (7 grams) unsweetened cocoa powder
8 ounces (230 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy whipping cream (cream with a 35-40% butterfat content)
2 tablespoons (25 grams) unsalted butter, diced
1 tablespoon Grand Marnier, brandy, or rum (optional)
Chocolate Chiffon Cake: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F (180 degrees C) and place the oven rack in the center of the oven. Butter and flour an 9-inch heart-shaped cake pan with 2 1/4 inch (6 cm) sides.
Separate the eggs, placing the whites in one bowl and the yolks in another. To the whites, add the additional egg white and then cover both bowls with plastic wrap. Bring the eggs to room temperature (this takes about 30 minutes) before using.
Meanwhile whisk or sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together the oil, coffee or water, and vanilla extract.
In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer or wire whisk) beat the egg yolks with 2/3 cup (135 grams) of the sugar. Turn the mixer on low speed and slowly pour the oil mixture into the egg yolks and beat until well combined. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat until well incorporated.
In a separate mixing bowl, fitted with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the egg whites and cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in the remaining 1/3 cup (65 grams) of sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. With a rubber spatula or wire whisk, gently fold the egg whites into the batter (in three stages) just until blended (being careful not to deflate the batter).
Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 35 - 40 minutes, or until a wooden skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (When lightly pressed the cake will spring back). Cool on a wire rack for about 15 minutes. To remove the cake from the pan, run a spatula around the inside of the pan to loosen the cake. Invert onto a wire rack.
Chocolate Whipped Cream: In a large mixing bowl combine all the ingredients. Then beat the mixture until stiff peaks form.
To Assemble the Cake: Once the cake has cooled completely, place on a flat surface and, using a sharp knife, cut the cake, horizontally, into two layers. Turn over the top layer of the cake (so the top of the cake becomes the bottom) and spread with the chocolate whipped cream. Place the second layer of cake, cut-side down, on top of the chocolate cream, gently pressing to compact. Cover with plastic wrap and place the cake in the refrigerator for several hours, or even overnight, before covering with the ganache.
Ganache: Place the finely chopped chocolate in a medium sized heatproof bowl. Heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring just to a boil. Then immediately pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for a few minutes so the chocolate melts. Gently stir until smooth. Add the liqueur, if using, and let cool for about 10 minutes.
Remove the cake from the refrigerator, take off the plastic wrap, and place the cake on a wire rack. Put the wire rack onto a baking sheet to catch any drips. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake and, with a large spatula, push (spread) the ganache over the sides of the cake, to create an even coating of ganache. If there are any bare spots on sides of the cake, cover with some of the ganache that has accumulated on the baking sheet. (If there is leftover ganache you can use it to make chocolate truffles. Strain the ganache to remove any crumbs, chill until firm, form into small rounds, and roll in cocoa powder.)
Let the cake set a little on the wire rack and then gently transfer the cake to your serving platter and place the cake in the refrigerator until serving time. This cake can be made a day or two before serving. You can decorate the top of the cake with the chocolate truffles or fresh raspberries or strawberries, if desired.
Serves about 8-10 people.
Chocolate is about pleasure and what could be more pleasurable than a heart shaped chocolate chiffon cake that is filled with a chocolate whipped cream and then covered with a layer of chocolate ganache. This would be the perfect Valentine's Day dessert and I like to use any leftover ganache to make chocolate truffles to decorate the top of the cake.
For this dessert I've used a chocolate chiffon cake which is a cross between a butter and a sponge cake. It is similar to a butter cake in that it contains fat, but the fat is in liquid form (oil). A chiffon cake also uses more leavening than a regular butter cake and that is because oil is heavy and needs the extra leavening to ensure the cake will rise properly. The advantage of oil is that it makes for a moist and delicate cake that doesn't harden even when refrigerated. I have filled the chiffon cake with a chocolate whipped cream, made with unsweetened cocoa powder, which I think pairs very nicely with the lightness of the cake. A chocolate ganache is the finishing touch and if you have any leftover ganache you could make a few chocolate truffles. You can decorate the top of the cake with the truffles or even some fresh raspberries or strawberries. And I often serve this cake with either a Raspberry or Strawberry Sauce. The great thing is that you can assemble this dessert a day or even two before serving.