Chocolate-Pistachio-Strawberry Cake

2010-03-12

Chocolate Pistachio Strawberry Cake
Chocolate Pistachio Strawberry Cake
 
Recipe from Perfect Cakes by Nick Malgieri
Notes: After spending 9+ years at one company, I recently decided to switch jobs. As a final treat to my coworkers, I decided to make a fancy-ish cake. This one from Malgieri's cake book combined a lot of my favourite flavours and didn't seem difficult to make, especially since I was going to do it all on a weeknight.

The original recipe calls for fresh raspberries and a raspberry eau-de-vie. My first setback was difficulty in finding framboise at a local liquor store. Instead of driving around to different LCBOs, I settled on a bottle of Fragoli, a wild strawberry liqueur. I thought the little tiny fruit floating in the bottle would make for an interesting garnish. At the supermarket, I bought strawberries to use in the filling of the cake.

The cake was a nut sponge, made with a little bit of flour. I made sure to beat the yolks until they were very light and foamy, and also to grind the nuts finely (using a bit of the flour in the processor bowl). I didn't have a 10" tin, and the cake baked up fine in a 9" one. While that cooled, I set to work making the syrup and ganache filling. I had a lot of leftover milk chocolate, so I used about a 50:50 ratio of bittersweet to milk in the filling. Leaving the bowl of ganache outside helped to cool it quickly.

For assembly, the cake held up nicely after splitting but was still delicate so handle it gently. I didn't have any cardboard rounds, so I put together the cake right on the base of a portable cake carrier. With a little less surface area due to the smaller pan size, the cake didn't need all of the strawberry syrup. After spreading the bottom cake layer with ganache, I sliced several strawberries, patting them dry before arranging them all over. A layer of whipped cream was next, followed by the top piece of cake. Masking has never been a skill of mine, so I covered the cake as best as I could. Making the rosettes was a bit messy, as the small quantity of ganache melts quickly in your hand, and you need it to be stiff enough so that the piped stars hold their shape. I put the cake in the fridge overnight to let the flavours meld and the cream and ganache to firm up.

The next morning, I arranged the tiny wild strawberries on top, and also sprinkled nuts on top. I used a smaller 7" springform ring held carefully over top to contain the nuts to a neat circle. Finally, I used a vegetable peeler to make chocolate curls and pressed them sloppily onto the side of the cake.

What a delicious combination of flavours! I really liked the berry flavours throughout (soaking the cake, and in the cream) as well as the contrast of crunchy and soft. Having a layer of ganache in the middle was a nice surprise. Highly recommended.