You may or may not recognize this cake. When I first started this blog a few months ago I created an entry about it, but the sole surviving picture was taken long before this blog was even a twinkle in my little eye. I absolutely cringe when I look at it because the picture just really doesn’t do it justice.
So I decided to make it again! Blackberries are in season anyway. 🙂
That’s right. You see, this recipe is my “baked” version of a “non-baked” version that you can find on Donal Skehan’s page. What can I say? I like to make things harder for myself. That recipe uses pre-baked flan cases, but with this being the USA I don’t think those exist in our supermarkets. Plus, doesn’t chocolate look so much prettier with blackberries?
I had some serious issues putting this thing together though, so feel free to learn from my mistakes!
In the no-bake version, Sharon Hearne Smith (the recipe creator) stamps out her cake layers by pressing a springform pan into the flan layers. This ensured that the cake layers fit snugly into the springform pan, which is very important.
Well, I wanted a six-inch cake…and I don’t own a six-inch springform pan. So I was forced to improvise.
I made the three beauties on the left, but since cakes shrink away from the tin while baking you can see a gap around the edge. I tried to make up for that gap by filling in the space using tin foil. “Genius!” I thought. But alas:
The marshmallow laughed heartily at my stupid idea. 🙁 As you can see I tried to take a knife and simply cut off the extra marshmallow, but the cake is just so delicate that it ended up being a mess. In the end I decided to just
eat it all and hide the evidence start over.
The second time around I had a better idea: I would bake the cake in a sheet pan and then “stamp” out layers just Sharon did! I decided to use an old coffee container to build up the layers since it just so happened to be six inches and it is much taller than my cake tin.
As you can see, my stamped out cake layers fit in there nice and snug. But before I stuck them in there I lined the inside with parchment paper and sprayed it down really well with non-stick cooking spray.
After the cake set I simply cut away the cardboard and voila! Distinct layers! I won’t lie—I did have to use some cooking scissors to neaten up some of the marshmallow, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the previous attempt.
So let’s talk about the filling, shall we? Since that is really the heart of the cake. You can use any cake you want, but the filling is what makes it magical!
It starts off with a blackberry compote. WTF is compote? I didn’t know either. I have learned that it is essentially just fruit (like berries) cooked in a little bit of sugar so that the fruit releases some juices and a sort of syrup is formed. It literally takes about 3 minutes. . Just throw 16-20 blackberries in a sauce pan with a couple spoonfuls of sugar and then set it to med-low heat. Crush the berries a bit with a fork and stir every once in a while until the sugar is completely melted. It will look something like this:
Now just set it aside to let it cool back to room temperature. Meanwhile, you can make the marshmallow.
I will admit that making marshmallow is a bit of a pain in the ass. The first step in Sharon’s recipe is to bloom some gelatin at the bottom of your stand mixer. In the meantime you’re supposed to heat up some water, sugar, and maple syrup to 130º C/260° F. Once that is achieved you set your stand mixer speed to low and slowly pour in the liquid. Once it’s all in your crank it up to med/high and let it get all thick and mallow-y. Takes about 3 minutes.
But getting the syrup to reach the bottom of the bowl with no issues is where I found I had problem. The “trick” is to pour it down the side of the bowl in one nice consistent stream, but my bowl just so happens to be practically vertical and my whisk attachment was having none of that. After my first attempt there was syrup literally everywhere but the bottom of my stand mixer bowl where it was supposed to be. Worse yet, my bowl must have been ice cold or something because the syrup was literally hardening while I was mixing it. I was a lot more successful on my second try although I have no idea what I did differently. Regardless, I took a bunch of pictures of my plight to share here. And then -OF COURSE- the very next day Gretchen over at Gretchen’s Bakery posted a S’mores Cookies recipe where she made a way easier version of marshmallow. This always happens to me. 😛
In her version she basically adds everything (including the gelatin) to the pot and heats it up, then pours the entire mixture into the stand mixer to whip at once. Seriously, so much easier. Just do that! It was like I was doing the tricky Italian version when there was this easier Swiss version hiding in the shadows. I have been enlightened.
So as a slight adaptation of her recipe, here is how I would make the marshmallow:
Place 2 packets of unflavored gelatin in a saucepan and add 1/3 cup (80 ml) of cold water. Let it sit for 5 minutes so the gelatin can bloom. Then add 1 1/4 cup (250 g) of granulated sugar and heat it over low heat until the sugar is melted. Transfer this mixture to your stand mixer and then add 1/3 cup (75 ml) of maple syrup. Whisk on high speed for 2-3 minutes until it looks like marshmallow! Thick, gooey, white, and tripled in volume.
The only picture I have is from when I did it the hard way, so ignore all the sugar syrup splattered all over the bowl. This is what you’re looking for though:
And now you just lightly “swirl” in your blackberry compote. Don’t mix too much though! Right here is good.
Once you’re happy with the swirl you have to act quickly! There is gelatin in there, after all. So whether you are using a springform pan, tin foil, or a coffee container assemble the cake as soon as possible. Cake layer, big scoops of marshmallow, cake layer, big scoops of marshmallow, etc. End with a cake layer, of course. Then throw it in the fridge to set for one hour.
After the unveiling all you have to do is liberally dust the top of the cake with some powdered sugar. Then, using a barbecue skewer that you heat up on your stove top, create a crisscross pattern on the top of the cake (it will sizzle and smoke). If you don’t have one of these metal skewers then consider placing a fun cookie cutter shape on top and then dusting the sugar around it. For example, this is actually a tool for heart-shaped pancakes, but you get the idea:
The last step is to add some fresh blackberries. Make sure to use some really nice plump ones.
And there you have it!
What can I say about the way it tastes? Well, if you read my last entry then you know the chocolate cake is divine. The marshmallow is an interesting break away from your standard icings. I strongly recommend maple syrup in place of corn syrup for the marshmallow though. It just makes it taste so much better! And the little bursts of sweetened blackberry with every bite is just amazing.
I truly hope you’ll give it a try! I really want to do this again but maybe with a lemon cake a raspberry marshmallow filling. If you can think of any other flavor combinations let me know!
Until next time 🙂