We celebrated my older daughter’s birthday recently with a four-layer gluten-free chocolate cake with a chocolate ganache frosting and filling. I have to admit, it looked and tasted amazing.
I recently took a baking boot camp at Kendall College in Chicago, which gave me inspiration for creating this cake. In the class, we made an opera cake, but my daughter wanted chocolate, so I improvised from there. I started with my favorite King Arthur gluten-free chocolate cake mix. I don’t usually use mixes, but the King Arthur cake is so intensely moist and fudgy that it always elicits raves from kids and adults.
To make chocolate ganache, heat 1 1/2 cups heavy cream in a saucepan until the cream starts to steam. Then pour the cream over 10 ounces of semisweet or dark chocolate chips. Wait two minutes, then stir until smooth. Let cool to room temperature. Set aside some ganache for frosting the top of the cake. Whip the rest in a stand mixer to make whipped chocolate ganache for the filling.
To make the thin layers, I baked the cake for 15 to 18 minutes in a jelly roll pan or half-sheet pan (18 x 13 x 1-inch) lined with parchment paper. I then cut the cooled cake into four equal-sized rectangles, stacked the layers on top of each other while smoothing whipped chocolate ganache between the layers, and topped it with chocolate ganache that had not been whipped. For a distinctive presentation, freeze the cake for 30 minutes and then evenly trim the sides.
Now that’s a happy birthday!
I wanted to share some good gluten-free experiences we’ve had recently, with a Harry & David gluten-free gift box, King Arthur gluten-free cake mix, and four restaurants in Chicago: Hub 51, Wilde, Lula Cafe and Nano Sushi.
Harry & David Gluten-Free Goodies
- Harry & David Gluten-Free Hat Box
— The good folks at MB Limited, who help us out with our computers, sent us a Harry & David Gluten-Free Hat Box. It’s always exciting to open a Harry & David gift tower, so it was fun to unwrap the two hat boxes. Imagine our delight when we discovered that the hat boxes were filled with gluten-free brownies and cookies.
The brownies were some of the most scrumptious brownies I’ve ever had — gluten-free or regular. I looked at the ingredients and was surprised to see that they used black bean powder instead of flour. I was also surprised to see the high amount of fat, but let’s not go there (on the positive side, they had high protein). The gluten-free brownies — two fudge brownies, two walnut brownies and two chocolate chunk brownies — were rich and thick and chocolate.
The gluten-free cookie assortment included two macaroons, two chocolate chip cookies, two peanut butter cookies and two mint chocolate cookies. They were quite good, but the brownies were definitely our favorite. I sent Harry & David an email, asking if their gluten-free goodies were made in a dedicated gluten-free area etc., but I did not hear back.
UPDATE 10/29/11: I just found out that Harry & David has discontinued their gluten-free brownies and cookies. Unfortunately, there’s no explanation from them. I’m sad, those brownies were really delicious.
King Arthur gluten-free birthday cake
- Birthday cake made with King Arthur gluten-free chocolate cake mix
— Speaking of rich desserts, it was recently my older daughter’s birthday. Although she does not have celiac and usually orders a bakery cake, she requested that I bake her cake this year. I told her it would have to be a gluten-free cake, as I don’t bake with regular flour any more since flour can remain airborne for a few hours and settle on kitchen appliances and counters.