I might as well start my re-entry into the blogosphere with a bang. And, really, if you can’t eat pie/cake when you are pregnant, when can you? I made this for Casey’s birthday as it is his favorite dessert. I had contemplated making this for several years but always felt intimidated by it. This year I decided to tackle it and it was fabulous! I’ll admit that it is time consuming and dirties a TON of dishes but entirely worth it, in my opinion. Still, this will be a strictly once-a-year feat both due to labor and calories consumed.
2 cups half-and-half
½ cup sugar
Pinch of salt
5 large egg yolks
3 tbsp. cornstarch
4 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
½ cup cake flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
3 tbsp. milk
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. vanilla extract
5 large eggs, at room temperature
¾ cup sugar
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup light corn syrup
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ tsp. vanilla extract
Start by making the pastry cream at least 2 hours ahead of time. You can also make it a day or two before you plan to serve the cake. Make the sponge cake the day of but allow yourself enough time for the cake to cool, you to make the ganache, the cake assembly, and 1 hour once assembled for the cake to set up.
Heat the half-and-half, 6 tablespoons of the sugar and the salt in a saucepan over medium-high heat until simmering. Stir occasionally to dissolve the sugar.
While the half-and-half mixture is heating, combine the egg yolks and remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a medium bowl. Whisk until sugar has begun to dissolve and the mixture is creamy, about 15 seconds.
Whisk in the cornstarch until combined and the mixture is pale yellow and thick, about 30 seconds.
When the half-and-half mixture reaches a simmer, slowly add it to the egg yolk mixture to temper, making sure to whisk constantly while combining. Return the mixture to the saucepan and scrape the excess from the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Return the mixture to a simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until a few bubbles burst on the surface and the mixture is thickened and glossy, about 30 seconds. Be sure to watch the mixture very carefully during this step. You want to keep whisking just until the mixture starts to thicken. Do not take the mixture off the stove before it has thickened. However, leave it on the heat too long and it will begin to curdle.
Off heat, whisk in the butter and vanilla. Strain the pastry cream through a fine mesh sieve set over a medium bowl. Press plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold and set, at least 3 hours and up to 2 days.
Adjust an oven rack to the lower middle position. Preheat the oven to 350. Line the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans with parchment paper. Grease and flour the sides of the pans. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk together cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
Combine the milk and butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until the butter is melted. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Set aside.
Separate 3 of the eggs. Place the whites in the bowl of a stand mixer and the 3 yolks plus the other 2 whole eggs in a separate bowl. With the whisk attachment, beat the 3 whites on low speed until foamy. Increase speed to medium and beat, gradually incorporating 6 tablespoons of the sugar. Continue to beat until the whites form soft, moist peaks, being careful not to over-beat. Transfer the egg whites to a clean bowl.
Add the yolk-whole egg mixture to the stand mixer bowl. Beat with the remaining 6 tablespoons of sugar at medium-high speed until the mixture is very thick and pale yellow in color, about 5 minutes. Add the beaten eggs to the bowl with the egg whites.
Sprinkle* the flour mixture over the beaten eggs and white. Using about 12 strokes, very gently fold the flour mixture into the eggs. (Check out these tips
on folding, *Bon Appetit recommends sifting the flour into the eggs). Make a well on one side of the bowl and pour the milk mixture into the well. Continue folding until the batter shows no trace of flour and the eggs are evenly mixed.
Immediately divide the batter between the prepared cake pans. Bake about 16 minutes until tops are light brown and spring back when touched. Immediately run a knife around the edges of the pans to loosen the cakes. Place one pan on a towel and cover with a plate. Invert the pan so that the cake is upside down on the plate. Peel off the parchment paper and re-invert cake onto a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the second cake.
Combine the heavy cream and corn syrup in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and add chocolate, cover and let stand for 8 minutes. If the chocolate has not completely melted, return the saucepan to low heat and stir constantly until melted.
Gently stir in the vanilla until smooth. Cool the glaze until tepid so that a spoonful drizzled back into the pan mounds slightly. To speed up the cooling process, you can refrigerate the glaze, stirring every few minutes to ensure even cooling.
To assemble the cake, place one cake layer on a cardboard cake circle. Place strips of parchment paper underneath the edges of the cake perimeter. If desired, reserve some of the pastry cream for decorating, Spread the remaining pastry cream evenly on the top of the first cake, all the way to the edges. Top with the remaining cake layer and press down gently. Pour the ganache onto the middle of the top cake layer and let it flow down the sides of the cake. If necessary, use a spatula to help cover the sides of the cake and smooth out any rough spots. Allow the cake to sit until the glaze fully sets, about 1 hour.
The cake is best served the day of, however, leftovers can be refrigerated for later consumption.
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