Sunday, September 29, 2013

Chocolate "Ding Dong" Cake

We all remember the Hostess ding dongs..cakes shaped like hockey pucks filled with cream and coated in rich chocolate.  This is basically a large 2 layer cake version of that.

The name of this cake is actually called a "Salted Caramel Ding Dong Cake."  However, when I think of caramel I do not think of chocolate.  The "caramel" ganache is made with chocolate but it does cook up to a caramel-like consistency. 

One slice proved to be a tasty combination.  Also the sight of the rich chocolate layers filled with a fluffy whipped cream filling did attract a lot of attention.  The last piece of this cake created a secondary request from a group that missed out on the first one, so I went ahead and made it a second time.

Note that this cake is 9 inches in diameter and requires 2 nine inch layer cake pans and also one nine inch springform pan.  Even though it has chocolate in it, melting does not require a double boiler. The cake does have to rest in the fridge for 6 hours or overnight.  This process is prior to the last coat of ganache.

Chocolate "Ding Dong" Cake
adapted from Bon Appetit Oct 2012 Issue


1 cup hot strong coffee
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup or 2 sticks of butter (room temp)
4 oz chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
2 cups cake flour
1 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder
2 cups sugar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder

Ingredients /Ganache

1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
9 oz chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate
1 1/8 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water


1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 vanilla bean
1 1/4 tsp unflavored gelatin
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Prepare all three pans by spraying the interior with non stick spray or oil.  Line the bottom of each with parchment paper and then oil or spray the paper.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Start making the cake layers by filling a medium size bowl with the hot coffee.  Then add the 4 oz of chopped chocolate, making sure it is even along the bottom of the bowl and not piled in the center. Sprinkle the cocoa on top and let the mixture sit for about 1 minute.  Stir until all the chocolate is melted and the cocoa is evenly distributed.  Once the mixture is smooth, blend in the buttermilk and vanilla extract, set aside.

Using a stand mixer on medium speed, cream together the butter and sugar.  The mixture should become light and fluffy after about 4 minutes.  Then beat in one egg at a time, running the mixer for about 1 minute for each egg and scraping down the sides prior to adding the next egg.

In a separate bowl, sift together the cake flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Add one third of the sifted ingredients to the butter/sugar batter.  Stir with a wooden spoon until the dry ingredients are completely blended.  Pour in half of the chocolate batter and mix together.  Repeat the process, adding the last third of the sifted ingredients at the end.

Fill the cake pans with the batter, making sure the batter is measured evenly into each pan.  Place pans in oven and bake until tester indicates done.  Cakes should take about 35 minutes to bake.  Remove pans and let cool for 10 minutes.  After the 10 minutes, run a sharp knife around the edge and invert the cakes onto a cooling rack.  Peel off parchment paper and let cool completely and flip over again prior to assembly.  If cakes have a dome or are uneven, trim to a a flat, even surface.

For the ganache, fill one bowl with the 9 oz of chopped chocolate and salt.  Then fill a saucepan with sugar and water, place over medium low heat.  Stir mixture until the sugar dissolves.  Increase the heat to medium high and stop stirring.  Let the sugar cook for about 9 minutes.  At one minute intervals, swirl a wet pastry brush along the upper side edges of the ganache, preventing it from becoming a hard sugar layer.  Also swirl the pan at each interval.  Once the sugar becomes a deep amber color, removed from heat.

Add the cream to the sugar mixture, pouring it in a steady stream and mixing it at intervals. Since the cream is cold, the batter will seize into caramel.  Place the pan back on the medium heat and stir until it reaches a smooth consistency.  Add the caramel mixture and the vanilla extract to the reserved bowl of chocolate and salt.  Let cool for about 5-10 minutes.  The ganache is ready to use once it reaches the consistency of honey.

Place one cake layer in the springform pan and pour 1 cup of ganache over cake.  The ganache will need to set up.  Place the pan with the coated cake layer in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.  Let the remaining bowl of ganache sit at room temperature, covered with plastic.

While the ganache is setting up, the filling can be made.  Fill a heatproof bowl with 2 tbs of cold water and sprinkle the gelatin evenly over the water.  Let rest for 10 minutes.  Take out a small saucepan and fill it 1/2 inch deep with water.  Place it over a medium high burner and place the bowl of gelatin into the water.  Stir and cook for about 2 minutes.  The two minutes should be long enough for the gelatin to dissolve.  Remove small bowl from saucepan and set aside.

Fill the bowl of a stand mixer with powdered sugar and heavy cream.  Then split the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the same bowl.  Using the whisk attachment, beat the ingredients together until soft peaks form.  Continue to beat, pouring in gelatin in a steady stream.  Once the mixture reaches a firm consistency, the filling is ready.   Spoon out all the filling and place on top of the chilled ganache layer.  Smooth the filling over the top of the cake layer, making sure it is all even.  Carefully place the other layer on top.  Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for a minimum of six hours or overnight.

Once that stage is completed, remove the cake from the refrigerator and open side latch of springform pan.  Run a spatula along the outer edge of the cake, making sure that the filling is flush with the edge of the cake layers.  Keep the cake stationed on the bottom of the springform pan but place it on a wire rack set over a baking sheet.

Check the consistency of the remaining ganache.  It should be the same state as when used on the first layer, like honey.  If too thick, rewarm in the microwave, stirring and checking every 30 seconds.  If to thin, place in fridge to thicken up a little.  Once the ganache is at the right consistency, pour over cake letting it drip down sides.  By tilting the cake and using an offset spatula on the sides, the ganache should evenly cover the whole cake.  Chill cake for another hour for the ganache to set up, then it is ready to slice and serve.

Tips and Notes:

1. This cake is moist and fragile when warm, so be careful when inverting after 10 minutes of cooling.
2. The recipe suggests semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, so if you like dark chocolate consider using special dark Hershey brand of cocoa.
3. The recipe states you can chill for 2 days before serving, but I think the chilling can make it dry.  For the best texture, serve it the same day as you pour the coat of ganache over the top.
4. The cake layers do deflate upon cooling.
5. The filling is quite thick but remember that it is sweetened whipped cream, not buttercream frosting.
6. I let the remaining ganache sit covered in the microwave overnight.  Since it is an extended amount of time, you may want to place it in the fridge and rewarm the next day.

                                    **LAST YEAR: Red Velvet Cake Roll**