In a period of 5 years, you learn a lot about a person, whether you want to or not.That was how in 2005, I came to know so well about a man who I never thought would change my life so drastically. Everything was about to change, for a better one. This man is very much passionate about food, just like me. As much as he tries to enjoy the best quality caviar you serve him or your aged old balsamic vinegar, he still is very much down to simple food. He will still eat it if you insist but he'll tell me later what was served to him, they're not delicious. I like how he say no to food, it's very cute.
Having said that, it's Aaron's birthday today and no, I'm not gonna let his birthday cake be a simple one, despite him always telling me 'less is more'. Having said that, it's also my mother's birthday today. Yes, cheapo Aaron earned so much brownie points from mum just by sharing the same birthday, my mum really likes this guy seriously it freaks me out sometimes. As you are reading this post, we have wished and 'kind of celebrated' with my mum. We called home and also 'Skyped' my mum. She's very happy, virtually eating the cake. Did I mention my mother's favourite cake is either Orange Cake or Pandan Cake and period. Anything else, she'll hardly eats it but if my mother is here, I know she would eat this cake simply because I am amazing in her eyes. How I know? I made a vanilla bean ice cream once and accidentally doubled the sugar and my mum hates sweet stuff. She ate the whole scoop and said it was yummy. I absolutely love my mum sometimes. People around me sometimes are also too nice to be mean and gimme frank opinion. It's a love-hate situation.
Aaron likes cakes and chocolates but not the expensive ones you get from award winning restaurants. He likes the typical steamed chocolate cake and please use the cheapest Homebrand cocoa powder if you could because he is allergic to Dutch Pure Cacao, just like how he is allergic to figs, prawns, caviar and so forth simply because they are not delicious. Hot piping bowl of pho and a glass of cold soy milk or chrysanthemum tea, that is my Aaron. He likes a chiffon cake, plain as it is but I would throw ganache or sugar glaze over it and that would drive him mad. The only time he would tolerate frosting is when I make banana cake with a peanut butter and chocolate frosting. Any other times, he would never forgive me.
This is one of the rare occasion where he forgives me. In fact, we both regret why did we chance upon this amazingly good cake rather late. I chose a cake with frosting, or rather ganache to be exact. It's Peanut Butter Mousse sandwiched in between layers of Light Angel Food Cake and Rich Devil's Chocolate Cake. Now you know why this cake is called a Heaven and Hell cake. Because this cake is simply irresistible, heaven at your lips because it's lipsmacking good and hell to your body and pocket. The cake ain't cheap to make. The cake ain't easy to make, that's a dead sure one. Wanna hear the worst one? Calorie count my dear! The cake has 1,0007 calories and 64 grams of fat per slice and that figure has not taken into account the raspberry coulis, the quenelle of raspberry sorbet and fresh raspberries that you serve as garnish along each slice of cake.
This Heaven and Hell cake, a wonderful creation by Stephan Pyles from Dallas is beautiful to look at and beautiful to eat. If you could, slice them into 16 servings rather than 12 because they are oh-my-goodness so rich that I didn't make the raspberry garnishing set to go with it. We downed it with a tall glass of milk. Not we, just me. Aaron doesn't like milk, I love anything with dairy. Aaron loves vegetables and I hate greens! He just loves being the opposite of me. Opposite attracts....
I gave Aaron a few choices of birthday cakes. It was this Heaven and Hell cake, a Tres Leches Cake and a Chocolate Ganache cake. He picked the one with peanut butter in no time! It was good, sinfully good we couldn't finish it, we shared it with housemates and friends to finish it. Thank God I have a mini bar fridge in my room that is now empty and only storing this cake in it because this cake is so huge and it simply takes on smell from your meat or durian too easily.
Also because we're all happy about Aaron's birthday and my Mother's Birthday, I'm submitting this recipe to the Monthly Mingle theme this time around, Special Sweet Treats. I believe nothing beats a slice of this calorie-cum-sugar loaded cake! A special sweet treat for two special and important people in my life!
Below here is the very lengthy recipe for a gigantic 10'' round cake, along with modifications I've made to make it a 'light-and-not-overly-sweet-cake'. Aaron doesn't like overly sweet stuffs and it's his birthday after all! I assemble the cake with all layers frozen. It's so much easier to work with this way, trust me! I've cut down the ganache a bit because I felt there was too much of it.
For the Peanut Butter Mousse, I added in more cream and use less cheese because I wanted a 'lighter-in-texture' filling. I also added gelatine to stabilize the cream so it'll hold its shape better even after chilling overnight in the fridge. I love the chocolate cake but I still change shortening to oil and cut down the sugar because I wanted a really moist cake. It was so moist that it broke in half after I slice it and was trying to transfer it to a plastic wrap to freeze. It wasn't obvious. The ganache did the trick and act as glue for me. I failed my first attempt in making Angel Food Cake and have to redo it again. I don't know why my cake is so yellowy comapred to other Angel Food Cake out there. I had so much leftover yolks I make creme brulee and ice cream with it the following day. Now, we have so many frozen desserts in our freezer compartment. I wasn't too sure about keeping raw egg yolks because they don't work and keep well like egg whites. I make everything the night before except for the Angel Food Cake because I wasn't sure if it'll keep well and there's no more rooms in the fridge and freezer for anything else!
If you have the guts, time to kill or really wanna impress or propose to your partner, do it. I know, you don't have to tell me..... I am an amazing girlfriend/partner and my housemates and friends are so spoilt by me....
Heaven and Hell Cake
(courtesy of Stephan Pyles)
FOR THE GANACHE: Probably the easiest component of the whole cake!
300g dark chocolate (I use Lindt's)
1/2 cup thickened cream
Place the chocolate in a large stainless steel bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a large saucepan and pour it over the chocolate. Let it sit for 5 minutes to melt the chocolates a bit. Using a whisk, combine the chocolate and cream. Run a rubber spatula down the sides of the bowl and cover with plastic wrap and set aside to let rest for 4 hours. I chill it in the fridge. Use the ganache to crumb coat and reheat remaining with a dollop of butter for pouring later.
FOR THE ANGEL FOOD CAKE: Failed the first one and had to make another one!
1 1/4 cups icing sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/8 tsp. kosher salt ( I use 1/4 tsp salt instead) 1 cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla (Omitted)
1 tsp. almond extract (I substituted this with vanilla bean paste)
Preheat the oven to 160°C. Line the bottom of a 10" round cake pan with ungreased parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners' sugar and flour; set flour mixture aside. In a large bowl, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt with a hand held mixer on low speed until frothy. Increase mixer speed to medium, sprinkle in sugar and vanilla bean paste, and beat until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle half of the confectioners' sugar–flour mixture over egg whites; using a rubber spatula, fold until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake until top of cake springs back when touched, 45–50 minutes. Transfer cake to a rack and let cool upside down.
Very gently slice the cake in half. I use a long strong thread and place it around the circumference of the cake where I gently marked with toothpick and scored lightly. I tie both ends together and cross my fingers and tie a knot quickly. Voila, cake split in half and it's still very fluffy after that, it's like sponge!
FOR THE DEVIL'S FOOD CAKE: I trim the cake a little and had leftovers, Baker's treat!
1/2 cup vegetable shortening, plus more for pan (I use canola oil)
1 1/2 cups cake flour, plus more for pan
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 cup coffee
1/2 cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 1/2 cups sugar (I use 1 1/4 cup)
1 tsp. vanilla
If your oven cannot fit two 10'' pans at once, split the recipe in half and bake twice. If you let any batter with baking soda in it sit longer than 10 mins, you'll get beehive cake. Freeze each layer individually, wrapped tightly in plastic to avoid freezer burn.
FOR THE PEANUT BUTTER MOUSSE: So expensive to make!!!!!
680g cream cheese, room temperature and softened a bit (I use 375g)
1 kg smooth peanut butter, at room temperature (I use 500g)
3 1/2 cups icing sugar, sifted (I use 2 cups)
Stabilized whipped cream (see below)
In a very very large bowl, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and icing sugar with a hand held mixer on medium speed until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Using a rubber spatula, fold the stabilized whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Weigh the mousse into 3 equal parts and set the mousse in 3 separate bowls. Chill in the refrigerator until needed.
Stabilized whipped cream
1 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp icing sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste
300ml thickened cream (It's usually the whole tub)
Place the cold water in a shallow bowl and sprinkle over the gelatine. Let it stand for 5 minutes. Bain-marie it over medium low heat until completely dissolved. Whip the remaining ingredients until almost stiff and pour in the gelatine liquid and continue whisking until stiff peak. Keep covered until ready to use. Just gently fold it around with a rubber spatula upon using.
ASSEMBLING THE CAKE: I know, my layering is horrible, you don't have to tell me!
Place 1 layer of the frozen Devil's Chocolate Cake on it and spread 1 bowl of the Peanut Butter Mousse over the top with a butter knife. Top mousse with a layer of the Angel Food Cake and spread with another bowl of Peanut Butter Mousse. Repeat with the last layer of frozen Devil's Chocolate Cake, Peanut Butter Mousse and last layer of Angel Food Cake. Stir ganache until thick and smooth. Spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake with a butter knife. Chill it for 2 hours. Warm up the remaining ganache to pouring consistency and pour over the cake, covering all top and sides evenly, using a spatula to grab some of that glaze back on the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours again before slicing. If you don't have a fridge for the cake itself, try to put the cake in a large airtight container and chill it, though I strongly doubt you'll be able to find any container that can fit a cake 10'' round in diameter and 5.5'' in height!
My final tip is to slice both the cakes in half and flash freeze them on a flat baking tray for 20mins. It helps in ensuring an even and flat cake. I didn't and I just freeze them when they are cooled completely and very soft and fluffy and moist. When I took it out to assemble, I notice my angel food cake was slightly squashed and not flat but I couldn't be bothered anymore at this stage and just frost and assemble them!
SERVES 10 – 12 (I'd say 16!)
Happy Birthday Aaron. Happy Birthday Mum! Aaron, I know you're in the room next door as I'm typing this but if you're reading this, drop me a comment will you? Also, if you haven't realize, you do know that you're the luckiest bloke still alive on earth right?