Chocolate Pavarotti with Wicked Good Ganache

My ear for music is as refined as my sporting ability.  I have been to a few operas in the past eight years in some fairly fancy opera houses and I am embarrassed to admit that I couldn't differentiate the tenor from the baritone, let alone high C from an E - Pavarotti's claim to fame (one of them).   I am however, much better at reading a crowd and could generally work out whether it was good, bad or indifferent from other cues.  In all, I was an okay guest but not stellar.   I tended to not participate in the post mortem conversation, but instead concentrate on drinking my champagne and voicing my appreciation of the invitation.  "Airhead" pops to mind.

The Chocolate Pavarotti - I think I missed the E, and instead hit an off note.  The cake contains three different sources of fat - white chocolate (containing cocoa butter - I used Green and Blacks and a bit of Marks and Spencer white Belgian), butter and canola oil.  I was expecting this cake to be even better than the Chocolate Cuddle cake, with the added bonus of not having to divide and conquer egg whites from their egg yolks.  High, high E hopes.

It all came together pretty easily.  A number of Rose's chocolate cakes dissolve the cocoa powder in the boiling water first.  This definitely intensifies the chocolate flavour.  In this cake it was quite a fluid mixture - most often it is thick and viscous, less dissolving and more cocoa mud pie.

Rose's other party trick when it comes to cakes, is to mix the fats and liquids into the dry mixture, rather than creaming the butter and sugar and then adding in the flour/dry/egg.  Which I happily did.  After the fats and cocoa mixture you then beat the eggs in to build the structure (still not overly sure about this but it does give a great visual - I think gluten and protein and fat all get together and arm wrestle?).

All brilliant until I read the next line which says "add the melted chocolate".  Um.  What melted chocolate? It took me another read of the recipe to work out that the white chocolate I beat into the dry ingredients at stage 2 was the same chocolate required at stage six.  Um.  As I bake I always take note of the Ums because these are the reasons I will later reveal to my taste testers if the cake doesn't live up to expectations.  Defend Rose's recipes and lay my baking ability upon the cake knife.
The cake bakes in a single 9 inch cake pan and supposedly between 30 - 40 minutes.  I am usually right on the lower end of cooking times, but at 30 the toothpick was barely warm and dripping with wet cake mix.  Another five minutes, better but still not cooked.  Another 3 minutes, still not complete.  Another five minutes and cooked.  But I do think overcooked by 3 minutes.  A fine line between cooked and uncooked for this cake.  I have made a note to cook this with the rose nail to even out the cooking time.

Whilst the cake was slowly cooking I tackled the Wicked Good Ganache.  Really? Wicked Good?  I feel like some old person trying to hang with the kids when I say that.  Hang on.  I am an old person.  That said, I have yet to overhear any youth use wicked good in the same breath as ganache, so perhaps I just need to get over myself.  Again.

I am guessing the Wicked Good of the ganache is the sneaky cayenne pepper - between 1/4 - 3/4 of a teaspoon mixed in.  Sneaky huh?  It is either that or the corn syrup/dark chocolate enrichment base.  I used golden syrup instead of corn syrup.  And I broke a few rules with the ganache.  Rose did the enrichment process in one pot and the scalded cream in another pot and then added them to the chocolate.  Having already used five bowls to make the cake I economised and just made boiled the syrup and then scalded the cream as an all in one activity and then mixed into the two types of chocolate.  Glossy good ganache.  Not wicked good until I added the 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper.  And not to self, 1/2 teaspoon is pretty mild if you are eating it on the day, but it does seem to get hotter in the following days ...

I served this cake as dessert for Valentines Dinner - we had friends over.  Friends who have sampled any number of Rose's cakes over the years.  Friends with expectations.  The resounding refrain was, "not one of your better cakes..." - they must be good friends, usually the British are terribly polite!  It was a crumbly chocolate cake, with more than a toe in the "dry" camp.  Those extra three minutes of baking.  Definitely an off note.  The sneaky heat in the ganache was novel, but for me didn't accentuate the cake.  I think hot and dry was not a great combination.  Maybe if I hadn't over cooked the cake?  Maybe?  The cayenne added heat, but no extra taste.  Chris opines I should maybe think about adding some Sudden Death Sauce but he can do that on his watch.

All in all, not a keeper.  I have noted to add more water to the cocoa - some of the other Alpha Bakers did this and had a great result.  I want to love this cake, it is quick and easy, so I need to get it to work.


  1. Ahh, the Pavarotti, how vexing it was. I'm still sleuthing this chocolate conundrum and came across something very interesting from David Lebovitz. He discovered chocolate extract

  2. so confounding how varied all the results have been! oh well, at least it wasn't one of those 3 day projects.


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