Friday, June 8, 2012

Viking aka Mom's Birthday Cake!

 I love the name of this cake: Viking.  It sounds so bold and strong just like its flavors and for a cake, it sounds completely mysterious too.  I don't think your guests would be able to tell if they call and ask what cake you're serving that night and you mischievously say "Viking."  

"Huh? What's it made of?" 

Well this was the exact reaction I got from my Mom when I called to tell her that her birthday cake (to help mark her 58th birthday) was ready and waiting for her in the fridge.  If I had said that I made "Chocolate Almond Praline Torte" which would be quite an appropriate name for this cake, then that would've been an obvious clue if not a dead giveaway as to the nature of the cake.   

Hmm maybe I should've topped the chocolate rosettes with horns to make it match its name LOL

I got the recipe from the book "Extraordinary Cakes" written by Karen Krasne and it's definitely a chocolate lover's dream as every single one of the six components of this cake has chocolate in it.  In fact, people who are just "Okay" with chocolate cake should steer clear of this one LOL.  No, I'm just exaggerating but it is indeed quite rich and over-the-top chocolatey which in away is perfect for parties because a really thin slice would be just the right amount for one person.  

As I've mentioned above, this cake has 6 components -- a chocolate sour cream pound cake baked in a 10 x 3 baking pan, semi-sweet chocolate ganache flavored with rum, chocolate chantilly (whipped cream) with milk chocolate, cocoa simple syrup to moisten the layers of pound cake, chocolate creme brulee that uses 68% chocolate, and chocolate almond praline made even more decadent with cocoa powder -- it's definitely a must to use the best chocolate you can find in order to have the best-tasting cake.  Although each component is very simple and easy to make on it's own, this cake is impossible to  finish in one day as the creme brulee needs overnight chilling in the freezer and the chocolate chantilly has to be chilled for a long time in order to whip up nicely.  Then after assembling the layers of the cake the following day, another round of overnight chilling in the freezer is required again.  So much planning is required before you even embark on this cake project.  My schedule went like this:

Day 1:

I made all of the components enumerated above except for the chocolate almond praline.  Once they were properly cooled I wrapped the pan containing the creme brulee in plastic and placed it in the freezer then wrapped the pound cake with saran and left it on the counter while the rest of the ingredients I placed inside the fridge.  

Day 2:

This is assembly day.  I un-molded the creme brulee from the pan and let it stay in the freezer until ready to use then I divided the pound cake into 3 even layers using a long serrated knife.  I brought out the rest of the ingredients from the fridge as well.  The chocolate ganache hardened but became soft after just a few minutes in room temperature.  I whipped the chocolate chantilly until soft peaks are formed and covered and placed it in the fridge until ready to use.  After assembly I wrapped it again and placed it inside the freezer which will have to stay there for at least overnight.

Day 3:

This is now decorating day, the most fun part.  I brought out the reserved chocolate ganache so it would soften to spreadable consistency and made the chocolate almond praline.   Once the praline is cool I processed it in two batches.  This will be used to coat the cake.  I brought out the assembled cake and loosened the sides with a spatula dipped in hot water and wiped dry.  Once un-molded I spread the ganache on the top and sides of the cake then used the crumbled praline to coat the top and sides of the cake.  The cake was so heavy so I had to rest it on an elevated plate so I could coat it properly.  I sprinkled powdered sugar on top and used the leftover ganache to pipe in chocolate rosettes.  To add more oomph I topped some of the rosettes with whole almonds dipped in ganache and powdered sugar.

After decorating the cake it will be left in the fridge for at least 6 hours so it can properly thaw then must be brought out to room temperature for at least an hour to have the best eating quality to the cake.  I didn't think much of these requirements at the beginning but I noticed that I got cleaner-looking slices after the cake stayed a few hours in room temperature.


All my efforts paid off as everyone really loved the cake especially my Mom who was delighted to see that I made her a very chocolatey birthday cake!  To make it less chocolatey and rich the next time though I could make a few flavor changes by adding Irish cream/whiskey to the ganache and maybe a little coffee to the chantilly.  I think omitting the cocoa powder from the praline would also help balance the richness of the cake.  


  1. Oh my goodness. That's chocolate heaven!!! Hubby wouldn't like it too much but I certainly would, ha ha. That just looks amazing. I can see where a thin slice would go a looooooong way. I would love your recipe for a cocoa simple syrup. That sounds really interesting. I wonder how similar it is to Rose's cocoa syrup from Rose's Heavenly Cake (I think it's called the Black Party Cake).

    1. Thanks Hanaa! I'll email you the recipe for the simple syrup but this one is much simpler than Rose's. I just boiled water and sugar then added cocoa powder but Rose's seems more complex because of the inclusion of vanilla extract and liqueur.

  2. Would you be able to email the recipe? I would like to make this for a co-worker's 60th birthday, but the book is sold out everywhere and can only be ordered online since I don't live in San Diego anymore. I sounds like it takes a few days to make this and I wouldn't get the book in time. And I'm pretty sure my mom already got it for me for Christmas anyway.