SoNo Chocolate Ganache Cake...It Just Might Kill You

This classic, French-inspired, signature cake has been in my repertoire for nearly thirty years.

  SoNo Chocolate Ganache Cake


Ingredients
  • 1 pound semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped (for ganache)
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate, very finely chopped (for ganache)
  • 4 cups heavy cream (for ganache)
  • ¼ cup good-quality honey (for ganache)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt (for ganache)
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise, or 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (for ganache)
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1⅓ cups good-quality unsweetened cocoa powder, plus extra for dusting
  • 2⅔ cups granulated sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 2½ teaspoons baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 11 tablespoons (1 stick plus 3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
  • 1⅓ cups buttermilk
  • 1⅓ cups brewed American coffee (If you don't drink coffee, get a Tall 12-ounce black coffee at Starbucks)

Instructions
  1. To make the ganache: Place all the chopped chocolate in a large heatproof bowl (1 pound semisweet, 1 pound bittersweet); 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 instead of the vanilla bean. Cover with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature until the ganache stiffens, at least 6 hours or overnight. Alternatively, place in the refrigerator and chill, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes, until the ganache stiffens. (IMPORTANT NOTE FROM JANE AND NIKKI: Nikki said that the ganache never gets hard enough if you just leave it at room temperature. She recommended making the ganache the day before and refrigerating overnight. This is what I did and it worked perfectly. I refrigerated overnight and then took the ganache out a couple hours before I was going to assemble the cake. It was the PERFECT consistency for spreading at that point and super easy to work with.)
  2. 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. (JANE NOTE: I buttered the pan, placed the parchment round and then buttered again. Then I dusted with flour instead of cocoa because it's easier to work with.) (JANE AND NIKKI NOTE: Nikki uses three 8-inch pans and does a 3-layer cake and this works really well. I didn't have 3 8-inch pans, so I did 2 9-inch pans and split them as directed for a 4-layer cake. BE WARNED: The batter will overflow when the cake bakes, it's just a bit too much batter for 2 9-inch pans, so make sure you cook it on a baking sheet as directed in the recipe.)
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