This classic, French-inspired, signature cake has been in my repertoire for nearly thirty years. I created it in the early 1980s while working at The Commissary, a very popular restaurant in New York’s TriBeCa neighborhood (I worked there at the same time Madonna did, only she was a coat-check girl back then, not a superstar!). There has always been a high demand for this cake even from places like New York’s Bloomingdale’s department store, which used to ask me to ship them dozens of these cakes every week. With its alternating layers of choco¬≠late cake and chocolate ganache, it’s no surprise that it is SoNo Baking Company’s #1 most requested chocolate cake. Store any extra ganache in the refrigerator for up to one week.
SoNo Chocolate Ganache Cake
For the Ganache
- 1 pound semisweet chocolate very finely chopped
- 1 pound bittersweet chocolate very finely chopped
- 4 cups heavy cream
- 1/4 cup good-quality honey
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 1 vanilla bean split in half lengthwise, or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
For the Chocolate Sponge Cake
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/3 cups good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder plus extra for dusting
- 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
- 4 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 11 tablespoons 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 1/3 cups buttermilk
- 1 1/3 cups brewed American coffee
- To make the ganache: Place all the chocolate in a heatproof bowl; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine the cream, honey, and salt. Scrape the tiny black seeds from the vanilla bean pod, if using, into the cream, and add the pod. Bring the cream to a boil, pour over the chocolate, and let stand for 5 minutes to melt the chocolate. Whisk until smooth. Strain through a fine strainer into a bowl. Discard the vanilla bean. Stir in the vanilla extract, if using. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the ganache stiffens, at least 6 hours or overnight. (Or, place in the refrigerater and chill, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes, until the ganache stiffens.)
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 9 by 2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with a round of parchment paper and dust with a little bit of cocoa powder, tapping out any excess.
- To make the cake: In a bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, sift in the flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix on low speed to combine.
- Add the eggs, vanilla, melted butter, buttermilk, and coffee. Mix on low speed until fully combined. Pour the batter into prepared cake pans. Bake on a baking sheet until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Then unmold the cakes onto the rack and let cool completely.
- Using a serrated knife, slice the top ¬π‚ÅÑ8 to ¼ inch off each cake to level it, if necessary. Discard the top pieces. Splice each cake horizontally into two layers for a total of four layers. Place the bottom layer on a 9-inch cake round, a turntable, or a platter, and using an offset spatula, spread thickly with about 1½ cups of the ganache. Repeat with the second and third layers, spreading another 1½ cups ganache over each layer. Add the final cake layer and spread it with a very thin layer of ganache (this is your crumb layer). Place the cake in the refrigerator until the crumb layer is set, about 30 minutes.
- Remove the cake from the refrigerator and place it on a wire rack set over a sheet pan. In the top of a double boiler set over simmering water, heat the reserved ganache just until liquid. Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, allowing it to run down the sides. Using a large offset spatula, help spread the ganache from the center to the edges so the cake is completely covered. Smooth the top and sides. Refrigerate to set, about 30 minutes. Serve at room temperature.