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Test Kitchen: Barefoot Contessa’s Chocolate Ganache Cake Mix

January 19, 2010

I got the Barefoot Contessa’s chocolate ganache cake mix for Christmas and decided to test it out on some friends at a gathering for my birthday (thank you). I’ve never tried anything on the baking spectrum between Betty Crocker and completely homemade, so I was pretty excited. The kit comes with cake mix, chocolate chunks and a jar of fudge sauce and you need to supply a stick of butter, some heavy cream and eggs.

It started out simply enough with some easy mixing, but I did have a moment of concern when it came to adding the fudge sauce. “Sauce” is an iffy label for what was in that jar, because that conjures up images of easy-flowing liquid. Maybe it was an issue of temperature or something, but that stuff was solidly packed in there. It required three different utensils to get everything out, and I was worried that it would never incorporate fully – so much so that I took a picture to document exactly where the cake went wrong.

My pessimism continued when it came time to add the rest of the dry ingredients. My little hand mixer was straining under that freaking sauce and the dough looked really dry. But, with some patience and hope the batter eventually resembled the consistency I was expecting. It was actually surprisingly light and airy and reminded me a bit of mousse.

My scientific testing methods (licking the beaters and spatula) concluded that the cake was safe, seeing as how the batter tasted like a melted box of Valentine’s Day chocolates. I popped it into the oven and waited. Miz Contessa warned me that when it comes out it won’t appear to be fully baked but to just trust her and let it sit for a half an hour. Even though I had assured myself I wouldn’t freak out, the poofy, wiggly site of the finished product still unnerved me. (If you’re wondering why I was panicking so much over a cake mix when I’ve done plenty of much more complicated baking, it’s because I have a tendency to screw up really simple stuff despite succeeding at more difficult concepts).

Thankfully, the Barefoot is not a liar nor plotting for my failure and within the allotted time the cake settled down into a fairly dense consistency (it was for this reason and this reason only that I forgave it for being only a single layer cake. The finished product is RICH and no human being could handle two layers of the stuff.) Meanwhile, I set to work on the ganache. I managed to finagle a working double-broiler-esque setup out of my college-kitchen supplies which didn’t create the best method for melting the chocolate and cream but it happened eventually.

And finally, the cake was complete. It was a beautiful sight:

As for the rest of that heavy cream? Well, you know what to do:

The cake went over very well with my extremely discerning panel of guests. The texture is dense and fudgy, the chocolate is high-quality, the sweetness isn’t overbearing. Whipped cream and small slices are a must, though, for tackling it. This mix might not be suited for an everyday affair, but as a special treat for a celebration, this is a good place to turn to.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Daddy-O permalink
    January 19, 2010 10:12 pm

    Looks yummy.

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