A Childhood Dream Revisited — the BFG V2.0 (pg.143)

As a child, every time cake was mentioned (usually during a conversation about what to have for special occasion X), I would pipe in


and my mom would reply kinda like

ew. No.

So then I’d probably make a face and cross my arms and pout about how dumb it was to not want anything called Black Forest Cake.

I mean really, to a child (and especially a twisted one), the words BLACK and FOREST together conjured up the most wonderful images, specifically involving shrubs and trees alike, all black, and probably some roving ROUSes (rodents of unusual size). I didn’t care about the chocolate or the cherries. I likely neglected to notice the presence of whipped cream. All I wanted was a cake. From a forest absent of colour. I also really liked to order the ham, but this post isn’t about swine.

The Black Forest Gâteau was invented in the 16th Century in the Black Forest region of Germany. The area abounds with sour cherries, and the locals distill the cherries into a clear brandy they call Kirschwasser. The cake itself is traditionally a lot like this:

So exciting!

In school I was stoked to make this cake, because man oh man did I want to show my parents how tasty this thing could be. This is what I made:

Now that I am a grown-up and I know there are no forests made of coal, no ROUSes, that Get Smart was really racist, I understand that BFG isn’t all its name is cracked up to be, that it’s pretty boring and too often made with Maraschino cherries, waxy chocolate, and whipped topping.

Wait, I forgot!

Why do I keep calling the Black Forest Cake a BFG?

Technically, it is a Gâteau. Sure it’s a French term, but the French have their ways for a reason; although the English to French translation of cake becomes gâteau, which the English use liberally and without purpose, there is more to it. The French use the word cake. Weird, eh? I didn’t see that coming either. A cake is, well, cake, but gâteau is cake with flair, gusto, joie de vivre!

Let’s look at a drawing, since I kind of like those:

My favourite Chef from school summed it up much more simply than that drawing: A cake goes on the counter, a gâteau goes in the fridge. Because a Black Forest cake is smothered in whipped cream, it is really a gâteau, as some very unpleasant things happen to whipping cream when left on the counter.

However, I will note that this particular version is more of an Entremet.

Maybe I’ll bore you with the definition of an Entremet another time?


Devil’s Food Cake

Chocolate Mousse

Vanilla Chantilly Cream (whipped cream with a touch of sugar and vanilla)

Cherry Compote

Start by baking a chocolate cake. I know this sounds Sandra Lee instructions, but I still haven’t found one I like, so until I do you’re on your own. The closest I ever managed was a gluten-free/vegan cupcake I doctored that actually made me happy. I find the recipe for Devil’s food suggested is…boring. I’ve tried it now four times, and have been disappointed each time. I also find it is very easy to overmix, as I have overmixed the batters 50% of the time.

The Mousse though, is fucking lovely. I recommend it for most of your special occasions.

Dark Chocolate Mousse pg. 147

200g Eggs

58g Sugar

250g Chopped Dark Chocolate (64%)

Heavy Cream, whipped Medium peaks and chilled

Prepare a Bain Marie for sabayon – Whisk eggs and sugar over double boiler until 60 degrees Celsius (140F). Whip by hand or in a mixer until 35C and ribbony. Melt chocolate over hot water bath or in microwave and cool to 35C. Strain the eggs over the chocolate and whisk until homogeneous (will be thick). Start by folding half the cream into the chocolate mix, then incorporate the rest. Fill piping bag with mousse.

With the cherries, I picked up a compote of Montmorency Cherries, loosened it over heat by adding half a cup of water and some lemon juice to cut the sweetness, along with a couple glugs of Heerings Cherry Liqueur.

The vanilla chantilly is as mentioned above, slightly sweetened whipped cream with vanilla, spread on a saran lined tray, frozen, and trimmed to the size of the cake layers.  I used some left-over mousse and cream to create mounds for my forest landscape, then froze it overnight.

I finished it all up with my fav, the chocolate spray-gun, chocolate trees, and cause it’s Valentine’s Day (okay, no, because I needed some colour and visual excitement), teeny gold hearts and red sugar flakes.

I like the landscape look — I’ve been ruminating over this for many years, but this is my first execution. I think I’ll work on it some more. This isn’t perfect, but it is a good start.

Here I threw together a plated version, cheese-y tree and all. I left it “deconstructed” despite my hatred for that cliché term, only because I had to use this bowl for something. And quite frankly, often desserts must be designed around the dish available to serve it on. Oh well.

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