Thanks to Ceshell and the others who helped me last weekend. Here are the results of my chocolate cake taste test:
Chocolate Layer Cake (posted on CC by tripletmom)
Chocolate Layer Cake (Food Network from Timeless Treats episode)
WBH Chocolate Butter Cake
Chocolate Sour Cream Cake (BHG Feb magazine, posted by martmarg
To Die for Chocolate Cake with ganache and brown sugar SMBC (recommended in another post, not sure of author)
Too Rich Chocolate Cake from recipes4cakes . com
Hershey's Chocolate Truffle
To start off, these are all chocolate cakes, so of course they are yummy.
The adults preferred tripletmom's Chocolate Layer Cake. It's dense, rich, and dark almost to the point of strong. Paired with the truffle filling and ganache, the adults were swooning.
The kids preferred the lighter flavor of the Food Network Chocolate Cake with the mousse filling and Ganache. It's a moist, light cake with a good milk chocolate flavor. The WBH had a very similar flavor and texture, but was slightly more crumbly. Because I intend to carve this cake, the Food Network one won out on that attribute, but otherwise they were very similar.
The Too Rich Chocolate Cake was more the consistency of a flourless chocolate cake. It didn't rise and didn't turn out easily from the pan. Therefore, it was not good for a layer cake. I had considered using Scott Clark Woolley's highly recommended Fudge Brownie Cake recipe until I saw in the instructions that the cake would likely be similar to the Too Rich Cake (more dense, doesn't rise much, top domes and cracks). Perhaps someday I will give that one a try.
Chocolate Sour Cream Cake
While a big fan of sour cream baking, this cake did not turn out well at all. I did have to leave the batter sitting at a warmish room temp for a while before baking, so that could have had something to do with it not rising much (small crisis needed my attention). Don't wrap it in plastic out of the oven. The texture became the consistency of cat food and tasted about the same. Again, not sure if it's the recipe or the crisis that prevented me from baking it right away, but that cake was not a favorite.
A note on ganache. I had a terrible time finding a ganache recipe that didn't end up resembling mousse when beat. Most seemed to have WAY too much cream in them. Not sure what my problem was, but at last I did find a fabulous, no-fail recipe. It was in another thread, and I just wrote it down on a sheet of paper, so I'm not sure who submitted it (but if it was you, please post so I can give you credit).
Melt one can sweetened condensed milk with 2 cups chocolate chips. It's that simple! It's like fudge on a cake. It's a bit runny to start with, so if using it as a filling, make sure you refrigerate it well after assembling but before you frost the cake. It is also yummy just to eat with a spoon... Mmm.
I'm sure those of you who've tried these recipes have your own opinions, and individual baking styles play a role in the outcome, too, so some probably work better for one individual than another. But I just thought I'd share the results for those of you who helped me out. Thanks again!
thanks for this!
can you post tripletmom's recipe? i did a search but couldnt find it. thanks!
Here you go, onceuponacake:
Oh, and I should note that the testing was done 24 hours after baking in order to let the flavors mature a bit.
I've wondered about the WBH one & Scott Wooley's as well. One you didn't test I've wondered about is Hershey's chocolate cake. I've always liked dark chocolate but some like a med. to light flavor so I've had issues w/ that. One I liked but thought too crumbly (but I may have turned it out too soon) is Kate Sullivan's http://lick-the-spoon.blogspot.com/ . The flavor is rich, but not tooo rich, but you'll have to resist from eating the entire cake if you trim the layers. OMG toooo yummy.
On the ganache, I'm taking it it's a good pourable consistecy when warm. When cooled (room temp or in fridge) is it a spreadable consistency? Do you think it could be whipped? And would it make good truffles? Sorry for so many questions.
The WBH recipe was quite good. I would put it in second place.
Yes, I had heard a lot about the Hershey's recipe. I was mostly interested in trying out cake recipes that included coffee, as I had never had any of those before, but I did end up adding a few others. I probably ought to try the Hershey's, given how many people have raved about it.
Actually, now that I look back at my notes, I chickened out of the Woolley cake after having two cakes that didn't rise well and I noticed that the instructions said this one would not, either. It also said the top cracks, which also wouldn't have worked well for my layer cake needs. I should take that one out of the list because I ended up not doing that one, even though it came highly recommended as well. I'll bet it would make a good brownie-type presentation.
As for the ganache, yes. When warm, it is thick but pours well. I didn't keep it out at room temp much, but in the fridge, it is excellent truffle consistency. You could take your hands and roll it into a ball. I don't think it would whip well. For whipping, I would use the cream and chocolate recipes. I've seen people recommend 1 cup cream to 1 1/2 cups chocolate, so that's probably a good place to start, as the other recipes I tried were much too liquid.
Thanks for the link to Kate Sullivan's cake. I may have to do another testing weekend! It looks really yummy.
Thanks for posting the results! And well, you know me, I'm gonna tell you to try the Scott Clark Woolley cake
If you ever do attempt that recipe, please post back in this thread with your opinion about how it compares to the others, I am curious! I love the info about the lighter cake for the kiddos, thanks for that
Thanks for the info, Ceshell. I can see there is definitely going to be another taste test weekend coming up. Are you all trying to ruin my diet?!? LOL
Haha, well, if you don't like that cake then I will simply die
A lot of good info here....thanks
Haha, well, if you don't like that cake then I will simply die
I love the WBH recipe, and it sounds like you really like the Scott Wooley recipe. Do you have the Scott Wooley recipe? I'd like to try it.
Thanks for doing this. I have been looking for a great chocolate cake recipe and I may try the two you liked. I have a question about ganache.
Your recipe sounds good for coating - is that true?
Also, when making ganache should you heat the cream first then add the chocolate or melt the chocolate then add the cream? I don't remember what I did last time but I tried to make white chocolate ganache and ended up with a separated oily runny mess.
Heat the cream then add the chocolate
Just want to point out that the chocolate cake recipe posted by tripletmom is the "Double Chocolate Layer Cake" from epicurious.com (she does credit epicurious at the bottom of the recipe; this is NOT a criticism of tripletmom).
I point this out because there is literally years' worth of running commentary from the epicurious members re: this recipe vs. the Hershey's recipe, with many entertaining comments from both camps. There is also a video demo of how to make the cake. I've used this recipe in my bakery for many years & often go back to see the latest comments, just for fun.
Re: the ganache question - the most consistent, safest way to make ganache is to add hot cream to room temp chopped chocolate. If you add cold cream to melted chocolate, you may re-solidify the chocolate. Yes, you can make it other ways, but hot cream/chopped choc. is the safest, IMO.
Ganache is generally used as a coating over frosting. I heated the milk until almost boiling, then poured it over the chocolate. Let it sit a couple minutes, and then stir. It pours well when warm.
It's so great of you to have not only taken the time to do the testing, but sharing the results w/ all of us as well!
The ganache w/ sweetened condensed milk and chocolate chips sounds awesome--especially since my DH loves anything w/ "Eagle Brand" in it!
(Does anyone have the Scott Wooley recipe? I'm not familiar w/ that one. TIA!)
What is the Hershey's truffle filling?
Thank you for sharing these yummy results with us. Now, I am going to have to make the choc cake tonight as well as the cake I am already doing!!!
I would also like to know the recipe for the Hershey's truffle filling.
First off, I just have to say I am very new at all this and have quickly become extremely obsessed since I discovered cake central! I want to say thank you to all you experienced bakers for sharing all your wisdom, it really gives a novice like me the inspiration and tools to improve.
Whew! I just had to get that out!
I just happened to have done a chocolate cake teste myself last month so I thought I would share my results.
This recipe was everyone's favorite by a mile! Including my family! My boys wanted me to "keep trimming" the cake so they could keep eating!
Another thing you can do hawkette is replace the water with coffee in a recipe you like & it just gives it a richer flavor.
I don't mind dense, but ultra dense/brownie like should be left for, well brownies. I like the consistency of the WASC, but that's as dense as I'm willing to go. Ceshell, if you've made the WASC would you say Scott Woolley's cake is similar in texture? I've always wondered about acheiving height b/c I don't want to have to bake extra cakes just to get my 4"
Link to the egullet modification of the Scott Woolley recipe: http://forum.cakecentral.com/cake-decorating-ftopic-52587-30.html
Incidentally, the egullet forum that decided this was the best chocolate cake, then went on to compare it to that very same Epicurious double choc. layer cake (also with modifications). At the end of the 21 page thread there was no consensus as to which was better, the Woolley cake or the Epicurious cake. (But again, both recipes had been modified by the egulleters). If you have time for a nice long read you can check out that original thread here http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=41144
I like the dark chocolate cake recipe here on CC (its also on recipezaar)
dandelion56602, I've only made the WASC once but I'd say it's in the ballpark as far as comparable density to the SCW cake. The SCW cake is dense, but it is still 100% cake, it is nothing like a thick, chewy (or even the dry kind) brownie. I think he calls it Fudge Brownie cake because it's deep, dark and moist like a brownie. It's not light and fluffy, but when you bite into it, it's cake decadence, not like you are eating the wrong dessert. But I am sure that density is a matter of preference and I know there are some for whom the cake is just "too rich."
If you are torting your cakes then achieving 4" should be no problem - check out the cakes in my gallery that I mentioned on p1 of the thread, all are amply tall and from a single recipe of the SCW cake, they're torted for 4 layers of cake/3 filling so naturally that jacks up the height.
It bakes well for cupcakes too but it bakes them to liner height - I mean you get a little puff but it is definitely not a doming cupcake recipe. That is a plus for some, a minus for others.
I can't get enough of it. I hoard the leftovers. But I AM a chocoholic, if you are not, then of course a lighter recipe might still be a better option (I can't believe I just said that
Cut the recipe in half and give it a whack!
Sorry to ask again, but I really would like to know the truffle filling recipe?
CakeMakar, sorry I didn't get back to you last night. The recipe was just a standard truffle recipe in a Hershey cookbook. I will try to find it for you tonight, although I didn't find it that impressive. You could use any truffle recipe (or even the ganache mentioned earlier in this post), and it would be just as good. Add slightly more cream if you want it a little less stiff, although you don't want it too creamy or the layers may slide.
Can you post the recipe for the chocolate mousse filling as well.
cakemkr, fiddlesticks has a great truffle recipe, eat out of the bowl yummy...it is......I forgot, it can be used as a cake/cupcake filling or rolled to make truffles as well. but it is soooooo yummy!
Chocolate truffle filling:
*courtesy of Fiddlesticks
3 3/4 cups (31 oz.) granulated sugar
3 cups heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. light corn syrup
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 pound unsweetened chocolate, chopped (I use Baker's brand)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped (again, I use Baker's brand)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
Combine first 4 ingredients in heavy 6-quart saucepan or Dutch oven. Stir
constantly over high heat until mixture comes to a rolling boil. Reduce heat to
medium and cook without stirring for EXACTLY 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Add
remaining ingredients and stir until melted and smooth. Cool. (Can be prepared
one day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature.)
The can of sweetened condensed milk with 2 cups of chocolate chips was mine!
For ganache I always use 1 cups chocolate chips and 3/4 cups whipping cream.