Have you ever had cake paralysis before? Cake paralysis is when you are so stuck on making one kind of cake, that you can’t bake anything else until you make the one cake that has been taking over all the cake space in your brain. It’s a real thing, even though I kind of made it up. Sort of like frosting OCD. You’ll be seeing commercials about it on TV shortly (ask your doctor about cake paralysis)…
Anyway, that was the case with this cake. It was going to consist of a chocolate genoise that I made in a jelly roll pan, and then cut to make a rectangular layer cake, brushed with simple syrup, filled with chocolate almond whipped cream and cherries, and frosted with a chocolate ganache. But then I realized that I didn’t own a jelly roll pan, it wasn’t cherry season, I was out of heavy cream, and the my last attempt at a genoise ended up with sunken cakes and a lot of tears.
I did, however, have 3 6-inch cake pans, leftover egg whites for swiss meringue buttercream, and a jar of morello cherries from Trader Joe’s that had been sitting in the back of my pantry for at least a year now. I found some fresh cherries at Whole Foods, but on my musician/food blogger budget, I could only afford enough to throw a few on top of the cake. I also found a foolproof chocolate genoise recipe that used egg yolks in place of the melted butter.
I love tall cakes, but this cake turned out way taller than I intended since the genoise layers rose more than I expected. If you want a shorter cake, you can use 7 or even 8-inch pans, but you will need to reduce the baking time. Shorter layers will do a better job of soaking up the syrup, as well.
- 3 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- Pinch of salt
- 3/4 cup (150 grams) sugar
- 1/3 cup (40 grams) cake flour (spoon flour into dry-measure cup and level off)
- 1/3 cup (37 grams) cornstarch
- 1/4 cup (23 grams) cocoa powder
- 1/4 (60 ml) cup of morello cherry juice
- 2 tablespoons amaretto liquor
- 3 egg whites
- 3 ounces sugar
- 1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons/170 grams) unsalted butter, softened but still cool
- 3 ounces (85 grams) milk chocolate, melted and slightly cooled (I used Guittard)
- 2 ounces (57 grams) semi-sweet or bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 1/4 cups morello cherries (or fresh cherries cut in half)
- Chocolate shavings
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit and grease and line 3 6-inch cake pans with parchment.
- Fill a medium saucepan a little less than half full and bring the water to a boil. Turn the heat down and let the water simmer.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, and salt.
- Place the bowl over the simmering water, and whisk frequently until the egg mixture is lukewarm (about 100 degrees fahrenheit).
- Remove the bowl from the heat, and using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer, beat on medium high until the mixture has cooled and tripled in volume (about 5 minutes). The mixture will have thickened and will form a slowly dissolving ribbon when you lift the whisk.
- While the eggs are whisking, in a separate bowl, whisk together the cake flour, cornstarch, and cocoa powder.
- Sift 1/3 of the flour mixture into the eggs, and use a rubber spatula to fold them together, making sure that you scrape the bottom of the bowl. Be gentle so as not to deflate the eggs.
- Repeat this process two more times until all of the flour has been incorporated.
- Divide the batter evenly between the 3 prepared pans. If there is excess flour at the bottom of the bowl, leave it there, since it may prevent the cake from rising properly.
- Bake for 20-23 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven, immediately run a knife around the edges of the pan, and turn the cakes out onto wire racks.
- Cool completely.
- Combine the morello cherry juice and amaretto liquor and set aside.
- Combine the egg whites, sugar, and salt in a bowl (I used the bowl of my stand mixer).
- Place the bowl over a pan of simmering water. The bowl should not touch the water, nor should the water be at a rolling boil. It's the steam that's going to heat the egg whites.
- Heat the egg white mixture until it reaches 160 degrees fahrenheit, whisking frequently so as not to get scrambled eggs.
- Remove the bowl from the heat, and whip the egg whites on medium high using the whisk attachment of your stand mixer.
- Whip the egg whites until they become fluffy and double in volume. The bowl should be neutral to the touch (this will usually take several minutes).
- Turn the mixer down to medium low, and add the butter in one chunk at a time, until it has all been incorporated.
- If the mixture looks curdled at this point, this is normal. Just keep whipping for a few more minutes until it comes together. If the mixture looks soupy, you can add a few cubes of chilled butter, or stick the whole bowl in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes and then continue beating.
- Once the buttercream has become smooth, and the melted chocolate all at once and beat until incorporated. You'll need to do this quickly, since the melted chocolate can form chips against the side of the bowl.
- Add the vanilla and almond extract and beat until incorporated.
- Place one layer of the cake on a plate or cake stand.
- Brush with Cherry Amaretto syrup.
- Place 1/3 of the frosting on top of the cake layer
- Place 3/4 morello cherries on top of the frosting.
- Repeat with the 2nd and 3rd layers and top with chocolate shavings.
Unlike butter cakes, this cake tastes best when made the day before, brushed with syrup, and refrigerated overnight. This lets the syrup soak in properly to the cake.
The day after I posted this, I found an abundance of cherries at the grocery store. Yay!
If you use fresh cherries and don’t have morello cherry juice, you can sub maraschino cherry juice or even plain simple syrup with amaretto.
Genoise recipe adapted from Epicurious
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream adapted from Bravetart