Last Thursday was my sister's 21st birthday. It was a given that I was going to make the cake. I told her with a week to go to have a think about what sort of cake she wanted. She had no idea. It's harder to think of ideas when you're not a baker – you're much less aware of the possibilities.
A few days out I became resigned to having to work it out myself. Almost as soon as I came to this resolution, she piped up with, "I know what I want! A chocolate ripple cake!"
". . . really?" I replied.
My heart sunk a little. I'd been looking forward to the opportunity to create something whimsical, test some new skills, have some license to create. Of all the things I could make, she chose the easiest cake in the entire world.
Well, the birthday girl has to get what she wants. But, me being me, I couldn't stop at making just any old ripple cake…
For those of you who don't know, a chocolate ripple cake is simply biscuits sandwiched with cream. Left to chill in the fridge, the biscuits absorb the moisture and become cake-like. Some countries refer to these as a zebra or an icebox cake. Here in Australia, we call it chocolate ripple because chocolate ripple is the name of the biscuit usually used for these cakes. The biscuits are usualy stacked end-on-end to make a log cake. Four years ago, for my sister's birthday, I came up with the idea of making a circular cake out of it and covering it with ganache. It was my first attempt at cake decorating.
I've learnt a lot in 4 years, so it was time to put it to the test. Once I settled on the idea, it wasn't long before the creative cogs started to turn and my brain was flooded with ideas.
I made the circular choc peppermint cake, as requested, in my usual fashion. I created a joconde imprime exterior for the cake. Between the joconde and the chocolate ripple cake is a layer of dark chocolate mousse. I would usually make mousse for my sister using milk chocolate, as she's a total sweet tooth. But I was worried about the cake becoming overly sweet, so I made efforts to dull the sweetness where possible.
Before the chocolate ganache had set, I quickly whipped up a little white chocolate ganache and piped some swirls and dots. My swirls could definitely have been a bit neater.
Once it had set I added some chocolate garnishes, as well as some corinthian wafers and a white chooclate truffle. The entire aesthetic for the cake was something I made up as I was going. It looks a lot more cohesive than I thought it might, as I tend to be a bit of a train wreck when I don't have a game plan.
This was my first time trying chocolate ruffles, and boy do I need practise. I had to try so many times to get some that worked, so I didn't bother tempering the chocolate. As a result, the choclate is not as pretty in colour as it otherwise could have been.
We all went out to Azurea's for dinner and I brought the cake along to show my sister who'd not yet seen it. She nearly died of glee. After oogling, she gave it to a waitress to put in the fridge, who asked her, "Where did you buy that from?" She replied proudly, "My sister made it!" Lovely little flattering moment for myself. Azurea's is a cafe/restaurant that has some amazingly gorgeous cakes for sale, so for the staff there to be impressed by mine was really lovely.
After we stuffed ourselves with food, they brought her cake out with sparkers. Here are some phone-photos courtesy of my sister's friends:
Sister cutting through the cake whille my dad watches on, skeptical of sister's ability with a knife. And with good reason.
They gave us a steak knife to cut the cake with, so needless to say the slices got a bit messy. We had a little left over, so I cut a prettier slice at home so you guys could see the layers a bit better:
This is definitely one of my favourite cakes in the history of cake ever. My concern that it would be too sweet were culled the second I tasted it. I think this owed partially to the switch to dark chocolate, and partially to the peppermint throught the ripple cake. It was a lot better balanced than I could have hoped for. Even the joconde turned out much better than my first attempt. It was lighter and much more flexible. This one is definitely on the to-repeat list. The family is such huge fans of chocolate ripple cake that this was bound to disappear quickly, but the addition of mousse and ganache saw this disappear at lightning speed.
But wait, there's more! If you guys haven't died of a chocolate overdose yet, that is.
If I've convinced you that you need to try this but you don't have need for an entire cake, there's a mini version!
I had some ingredients left over, so I decided to put them in some ramekins. Each ramekin has three biscuits worth of chocolate ripple cake and some mousse. I didn't have heaps of spare ganache, so these don't feature them. It didn't miss the ganache terribly, but you can add it if you like. Depending on how many you want, you could use 1/2 or even 1/4 of the below recipe.
They make a very quick and lovely dessert.
For the chocolate ripple cake and ganache I always eye ball it, so I don't have an exact recipe. Below is a rough approximation of what I do, but there's room for movement.
This recipe looks intimidating in length, and it is definitely the longest recipe I've ever written, but the process doesn't take all that long (I've spent longer baking bread than making this cake).
To pattern the décor paste you can use a variety of different methods. I’ve written step-by-step tips over on this entry.
Triple Chocolate Ripple Joconde
Chocolate Ripple Cake
Cocoa Décor Paste
Chocolate Ripple Cake
Cocoa Décor Paste
Printable version of the recipe here.