Chocolate ganache cake balls

My third birthday in Australia recently came and went and it was without a doubt the best one I’ve experienced here.  No birthday is complete without copious amounts of baked goods of course, and add in my best friend’s visit and there was really a steady stream of baking occurring throughout (although honestly I was re-using a lot of recipes from this blog that were my favourites, like these crack cookies, when I threw a party).  I did want something new for my actual birthday though, so I decided to go with the absolute most chocolate thing I could find.  Another friend of mine threw this recipe my way a few weeks ago and I decided this was the perfect occasion to test it out.

It does not disappoint.  Firstly, I have never seen a cake made in this way before and I definitely plan on doing it more often.  You literally mix all the ingredients for it together in the one pan that you are baking it in and then just toss it in the oven.  Amazing.  The ganache is easy to make as well and the combination of dark chocolate cake and dark chocolate ganache is just sinful enough to make it great for a birthday, but also great for well, a Wednesday night.  You can dress them up with the meringue topping I’ve included below or just make the cake balls, but either way, you’re in for a treat. I ate one (ok, two) of these for breakfast on my birthday just because eating cake in the morning is fun.  They will also do well as a dessert. 🙂

Chocolate ganache cake balls (adapted from Flourish)

Cake

1 1/2 cups (6 1/4 ounces) flour
1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
1/4 cup (3/4 ounce) cocoa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup (2 5/8 ounces) vegetable oil
1 cup (8 ounces) cold water

Ganache

1 cup heavy cream
10 to 16 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (about 1 2/3 to 2 2/3 cups)
1 tablespoon liquor or liqueur of your choice, or vanilla or another flavoured extract (optional)

Meringue

3 large egg whites
1/8 teaspoon salt (aka, a little pinch)
6 tablespoons sugar

You will actually want to make your ganache first as it should be put in the fridge for several hours or ideally overnight.  I actually made both the cake and the ganache one night and formed the balls the next morning.  To make the ganache, heat the cream until it begins to steam.  Dump in all the chocolate and let it sit for a good 3 minutes.  Then stir it all up and add any flavouring if you’re using it.  It’s ready when it’s completely blended.  Pop it in the fridge to harden (I just did this right in the pot…in fact the leftovers are still sitting in the fridge in the same pot).

For the cake, measure all the dry ingredients into a round or square cake pan.  I used a rectangular one that was a bit less deep, but if you’re using a square or round one make sure it’s at least 2 inches or 5 cm deep.  Blend all the dry ingredients together right in the pan.  Yes that’s right, just dump them all in there and mix it up. Then, make two little wells in the dry ingredients, and pour the vanilla extract into the first and the vegetable oil into the second.

Take the cup of cold water and pour it directly over everything in the pan.  Stir all the ingredients together with your fork until they are well blended.  Then it is just ready to go and pop into the oven!  Bake it for 30 to 35 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted in the centre comes out clean.

When the cake has cooled slightly, crumble the whole thing into a bowl (that is quite fun).  When you form the balls, it’s ideal if the cake is still a bit warm but obviously cool enough so that you can handle it.  Form small golf size balls out of the cake crumbs – the cake should be moist enough so that it should easily be able to stick together.  At this point, you can either put it in the fridge if you’re making them the next day, or if your ganache is cold and set enough to handle, make the cake balls then.  If you are not putting them in the fridge, let them cool a bit more before handling again.

When you’re ready to assemble the cake balls, take one ball and split it in half and take a teaspoon of ganache and put it in the middle.  Then put the other half back on and form the cake ball around the chunk of ganache in the centre. (I know…so genius right?)  Continue until you’ve put a ganache centre in every ball.  You can leave them just like this (they store in the fridge beautifully) or you can cover them in a little blanket of meringue!

To make the meringue is incredibly easy – just whip your egg whites up real nice and when they start to get frothy (hint: use an electric mixer – even I, who never even uses a mixer to cream butter and sugar, makes meringue with an electric mixer) add in the pinch of salt and the sugar.  Your meringue is done when the egg whites form stiff peaks – meaning you can take a fork and lift up the egg white batter and it will be stiff enough to hold its shape.

Using a spoon, spoon the meringue over the cake balls.  If you have a kitchen torch here (like a creme brulee one), this is an ideal time to use it – just use it to toast the meringue all over.  If you are a sad excuse for a cook like me and don’t have one, then preheat the oven to quite a hot temperature (220 C / 450 F) will do, place the cake balls covered with meringue on a high shelf of the oven, and broil it until the meringue gets golden brown and toasty.  Be VERY careful if you do this – definitely no more than 5 minutes or they will burn to a crisp!  I checked after about three minutes and they were done.  The only problem with this method is that it makes the ganache all melty as well so really they are just sort of a mess.

BUT, they are utterly delicious regardless.  If you swath them with meringue I’d suggesting eating them the day of – if not, they can keep in the fridge for several days and make a heavenly midnight snack.

IMG_7415Mixing all the dry ingredients together

IMG_7416It’s like a zen sand garden – smooth it all out!

IMG_7417Pouring in all the wet ingredients

IMG_7430One pan cake pan.  SO simple, you literally don’t even use a bowl and just mix it in the damn pan.  This is baking innovation at its finest.   Here it is ready to go into the oven.

IMG_7432Stirring the chocolate into the cream to make the ganache

IMG_7433Ganache made! Ready to go into the fridge to set

IMG_7434Cake balls assembled on the right and set ganache on the left – let’s do this

IMG_7435Splitting those little cake balls in half and filling them with dollops of ganache

IMG_7436Completed ganache filled cake balls on the sheet

IMG_7437Whipping up those egg whites to make the meringue

IMG_7438Making all the cake balls have meringue hats

IMG_7440Toasted meringue and melty ganache and we’re ready to go!

Yes, there are multiple steps involved in the making of these beauties, but honestly, please don’t wait for the excuse of “it’s my birthday” to make them or demand someone else make them for you.  You don’t need to add the extra meringue step at the end and making both the cake and the ganache is honestly ridiculously easy.  Obviously, they are not for the faint of heart – a prerequisite is that you must adore chocolate in its darkest form.  If you do, this dessert is a must try.

One year ago: Roasted cauliflower, broccoli, and chickpea salad and rosemary cherry tomato focaccia

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