Monday, March 7, 2011

Heavenly Cake Baker: Moist Chocolate Raspberry Génoise

heavenlycakeplace This week's Heavenly Cake Baker cake is the Moist Chocolate Raspberry Génoise, page 187, from Rose Levy Beranbaum's Rose's Heavenly Cakes.

This cake was pretty complicated and, for me, a two-day affair. I started last night with the raspberry sauce - a delicious concoction which I will definitely be making again! I want to buy an ice cream machine just so I can make this tart, light, sweet sauce into raspberry ice cream or frozen yogurt. Honestly, it was so good I almost just ate it all last night, straight out of the bowl. Can you tell that I liked it? I need to find some way to use it and lemon curd in a recipe.

One thing that I really appreciate about this cookbook are all of the tips that RLB gives with the recipes. In this one, for example, she tells you to cook down the chocolate for the cake until it "thickens to a puddlinglike consistency...and pool(s) thickly when a little is dropped on its surface." That kind of guidance is very helpful.

Overall, while the finished cake was very pretty and I liked the different pieces that made up the whole, I have mixed feeling about the génoise (which, see below, may actually be my fault). I've only made a génoise once before but I found this one to be almost a little too spongy and kind of dry by the second day. When I put my fork in - it's a bit hard to describe - I felt like the cake separated from the cocoa syrup/ganache instead of being one cohesive bite.

Here is my finished cake - I loved this picture so much I've added it to the header of my blog! My decoration - which I really like - actually came about from a mistake. I had been putting each layer into the fridge between frosting them but by the time I was finishing the top layer, the cake was so cold that the ganache got hard and very matte. I didn't like the look of it at all, so I drizzled some of the leftover cocoa sauce around in a swirly pattern and...voila, pretty again!

love it!

Now, from the beginning...

The raspberries seemed to take forever to start defrosting and giving up their juice. I tried putting the bowl in the oven with the light on and then up under one of the under-cabinet lights without much luck. Finally, after about 4 hours I turned a burner on low and put the bowl as close to it as I could. I felt so accomplished when I finally got a few drips.

so simple, yet so delicious

finally starting to give up its juice

boiling down the raspberry juice

I don't have a food mill so I just pressed the berries through a fine strainer. It took a while but I ended up with about 2/3 c. of puree and then added the raspberry syrup, lemon juice and sugar. Delicious!

my camera doesn't do "red" well...this looks a bit like tomato paste...

ready to be added to the chocolate ganache

I didn't have any cocoa powder so went to a little local market down the street,
which happens to be a Greek grocer. I have no idea whether this is
alkalized or non since everything is in Greek, but I was desperate! It turned out great.

in the cocoa syrup, I substituted raspberry brandy (framboise)
for vanilla, hoping for a little extra raspberry punch

The raspberry ganache was absolutely fabulous! It would be divine over vanilla ice cream. The smell reminded me of those old Dannon chocolate covered raspberry frozen yogurt bars from the '80s/'90s...but warm (does anyone else remember those?). Oh yum.

I also love RLB's food processor method for making ganache. It's so easy and it's lovely to see it come together...and the smell as the chocolate melts...incredible.

mise en place for the raspberry ganache

creamy raspberry swirls

dark and white chocolate, processed into fine bits

pressing through a strainer, look how shiny and pretty

mise en place for the génoise

chocolate, cooked and cooled

adding the eggs to the castor sugar

before beating the egg/sugar mixture

after beating the egg/sugar mixture for 5 minutes - wow

(I'm going to need a bigger spatula...) the flour has been folded in, chocolate is next

it made a lot of batter so I made four extra ramekins for some individual sized cakes

After exactly 25 minutes, the cakes were done. They came out smooth and looking great...until I tried to get them onto the cooling racks. I didn't have enough racks to follow the directions in the cookbook, so I tried to improvise by flipping them on to cardboard covered parchment paper and then onto the cooling rack...big mistake. Both tops were ripped entirely off (and a good-sized chunk on one). It was sad, but since the tops would be cut off anyway, it wasn't too great a loss (except to my ego) and gave me a chance to taste the cake.

very pretty...until...

argh! must. get. more. cooling. racks.

I was very nervous about cutting these cakes in half since they were already pretty thin and my only serrated knife - a bread knife - is kind of thick and shorter than the length of the cake. I was worried things would get ugly (or uneven), fast.

an adventure in not having the right equipment, my makeshift cake turntable

While I actually managed pretty even layers with the first cake, I dropped half of the first layer on the floor as I was attempting to put the cocoa syruped side down on the cake plate. RLB says the génoise is very fragile after you brush on the syrup - she wasn't kidding! So, my four-layered cake became a three-layered cake.

Since I hate soggy cakes - and I felt like I was drenching the layers - I decided at this point to only brush the top of each layer with the cocoa syrup. This change may be what made my finished cake separate a little from the ganache and also seem dry. In the future I would definitely soak both sides!

my poor broken layer

three one need ever know about the fourth....

one mini ready to enjoy

another mini with some raspberry sauce decoration

the finished cake - pretty!

Can't wait for next week's cake, Devil's Food Cake with Midnight Ganache.

Bye for now...


  1. What a beautiful cake, Alice. Like Marie, you too got lucky and found some lovely raspberries. I enjoyed reading your post :o) The Greek cocoa is pretty cool!

  2. Thanks, Hanaa! This one was really fun to make even though the genoise itself wasn't quite my cup of tea.

    I'm glad they photographed person, my raspberries were actually pretty unimpressive ;)

  3. Alice, beautiful cake! I love the overhead shot - it's so pretty!

    If you like the raspberry sauce so much you don't need an ice cream machine to turn it into cold dessert. You can make granita out of it. I don't have a recipe on hand but I'm sure it's easily available on If you do buy an ice cream machine, you can make sorbet out of it!

  4. Thanks, Jenn. Granita would be fabulous, thanks for the suggestion! My friend made a delicious fig (I think) one last year so I'll see where she got her recipe and also check foodnetwork.

    No I'll just have to clear the freezer space...

  5. That looks so, so good!!! I'll bet it didn't last too long! :) Love all the pictures too!