chocolate glazed frozen mocha cake

The full page photo looked very inviting. The recipe very long. The reader feedback on-line seemed to indicate possible trouble in execution—but worth every bit of hassle was the universal conclusion. Indeed this is a three stage, multiday, labor intensive project with required time delays between and during the stages. However, nothing that a rank amateur with an upbeat attitude can't handle. dr bob rises to the challenge for brother-in-law Paul's 45th birthday. Paul is also convinced by the photo. A promise is made for the birthday cake. Will it be kept? Only by resorting to inventive time management involving 6:10am kitchen activity.

The first weekday morning before heading off to work produces the thin chocolate cake layers so that the abbreviated evening that followed could handle the mousse production and sandwiching in time for the overnight freeze. Then a real early morning to do the melted chocolate two hour two stage application process before a 9am hair appointment and then work. (Academic flexibility in play here.)

The first stage is familiar from the many out-of-the-box cakes bob made as a kid. (Betty Crocker, Duncan was simple.) The 30 plus year old 9 inch round aluminum pans come out of the closet for the first time in ... longer than we can remember. Parchment paper is a new twist that bob has recently adopted for all cheesecakes after decades of fighting with sticking crusts. Almost like the wax paper that wrapped decades of peanut butter and jelly or bologna and cheese white bread sandwiches that were synonymous with lunch in school or on the job with dad. But must be more sophisticated to rate a classy word like "parchment". Ani had bought the stuff for some recipe or other, and then some cheesecake recipe called for it and observing the results, the light bulb went off (= ahah!) and the practice became a dr bob standard. Quick release paper makes all the difference. You trace the bottom of the pan on the paper with a pen, then try to judge how much inside the line you have to cut with the scissors to take into account the thickness of the sides (not necessary for the removable springform pan case). With these delicately thin chocolate layer crusts, the parchment paper is essential, since it is very easy to crumble when removing from the pan otherwise. The original recipe called for buttering the pan before inserting the paper, but we decided using cooking spray was easier and more efficient. The paper sticks nicely onto the sprayed pan bottom, which is good since it wants to curl up from being tightly rolled up before use. While you are cutting the paper, find some stiff cardboard to cut circles in the same way to help in the removal process.

The second stage is familiar from the bad egg tiramisu zabaione. Same deal. Minor aggravation waiting for the temperature to reach the critical value. Whip up some cream. Whip up some egg whites. Combine. Sandwich. Followed by almost problematic plastic wrap packaging activity. Requiring a partner to help pull out long enough strips of wrap without it immediately catching on itself. That leaves the third stage. Not familiar. Working with quickly hardening melted chocolate application to the exterior of the cold cake. Even carries a more sophisticated name: ganache (guh-nosh' !). Contemplating the bare cake before glazing it, bob realizes the unconscious attraction: it's a super-sized cookie snack! The Italian name for a round chocolate-bit studded ice cream sandwich available almost everywhere prepackaged ice cream bars are sold in Italy. A dr bob favorite. After the chocolate layer goes on, another memory surfaces—the dreaded chocolate glazed marshmallow filled "scooter pie" that found its way into his lunch against his will all too frequently while underage. (From the product line of Burry's Best cookies, no longer with us.) Fortunately the comparison is only superficial.

Scouting out the bittersweet/semisweet chocolate offerings in the local supermarket, economic considerations came into play. The convenient semisweet chips in 12 oz packages were cheaper than a single 4oz bittersweet bar. We decided on the classier bar for grating into the mousse, and chips for the cake and glaze, saving a few bucks. Not that we couldn't afford it, but somehow your childhood influences the rest of your life. Intellectually bittersweet would have made a richer glaze as a higher grade chocolate, but the final result was perfectly yummy anyway.

Then there was the light corn syrup. A forgotten staple in the closet with the bread maker supplies, long dormant. A nearly empty bottle of dark corn syrup emerges at glazemaking time, and a full tablespoon does not quite accumulate after a slow drip, but enough to call it close and move on. And what's the deal distinguishing between heavy cream and heavy whipping cream? We go for a 2 cup 1 pint package of heavy cream for the 1.5 cups needed, and then throw the extra half cup into the glaze together with the remaining 1/6 package of chocolate chips since neither one was looking very useful as a leftover ingredient. Didn't seem to make a difference with the glaze except that it never stiffened up enough to require reheating for the second application. Success in spite of the bad judgement.

For transport we discovered that our 11 inch springform pan clamped nicely around the Corelle plate on which we'd set the cake sitting on the inverted 9 inch springform pan bottom. Transport quickly if necessary and reinsert in the target destination freezer until immediately before serving as instructed below.


4 oz bittersweet/semisweet chocolate, chopped [2/3 c chips = 1/3 12oz package semisweet chips]
2 T water
3 large eggs, separated [recipe total: 8 eggs]
touch of cream of tartar for egg white beating
1/4 c sugar
5 large egg yolks
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c Kahlua coffee liqueur
1 c chilled heavy (whipping cream)
2 1/2 t instant expresso powder
3 large egg whites
touch of cream of tartar for egg white beating
1/4 c sugar
1/2 c finely chopped bittersweet/semisweet chocolate [about 1.5 oz from a 4 oz bittersweet bar, grated with a cheese grater]
1/2 c whipping cream
1/4 c Kahlua coffee liqueur
1 T light corn syrup
6 oz bittersweet/semisweet chocolate, chopped [3/4 c chips = 1/2 12 oz package semisweet chips]


  1. CAKE (2 hours). Make sure you've got a rack moved to the middle of your oven, preheat to 375 F.
  2. Trace out and cut parchment paper circles to fit into the 9 inch cake pans. Repeat for cardboard circles to help remove the cake layers after baking.
  3. Spray the cake pans with cooking spray and apply the paper, curl side down, and flatten. The cooking spray acts like glue.
  4. Combine the chocolate and water in the top of a double boiler set over simmering water and stir until smooth. Remove, transfer to a large bowl and cool 5 minutes.
  5. Wisk the egg yolks into the chocolate.
  6. Beat the egg whites in a medium dry bowl with dry beaters and a touch of cream of tartar until soft peaks form, then add the sugar 1 T at a time, beating until stiff and "glossy" (judgement call).
  7. Gently fold 1/4 of the whites into the chocolate, then follow twice with the remaining two halves of what is left, doing the minimum folding to combine without deflating the batter.
  8. Pour half the batter into each of the pans and bake until the cakes begin to pull away from the sides of the pan and a sharp metal object stabbed into them comes out clean, about 10 minutes.
  9. Cool the cakes in the pans on a cake rack 1 hour, then put your cardboard circles into the pans and carefully invert, jiggling a bit to release the cakes and then lay down on the cardboard on the cake rack. Peel off the parchment paper and let cool completely.
  10. FILLING (1 hour). Get out your 9 inch springform pan. With a partner, pull out enough plastic wrap to go across the bottom, come up the sides and then fold over across the cake, like 9 + 3 + 3 + 10 = 25 inches, twice. Make a centered cross over the bottom of the pan and then lift into the sides and lock.
  11. Carefully put one of the two cakes into the pan. Set aside.
  12. Grate your bittersweet chocolate onto a plate and set aside.
  13. Beat together the egg yolks, 1/4 c sugar and Kahlua with an electric mixer in the top of a double boiler until mixed and then put it on the double boiler with preheated simmering water (make sure water does not touch bottom). Continue beating until this zabaione thickens and reaches 140 F and stays there for 3 minutes, about 9 minutes total.
  14. Remove top from double boiler and continue to beat for 3 minutes until the mixture has cooled somewhat. Set aside.
  15. Clean the beaters and chill them a few minutes together with the medium bowl in which you will then whip the cream and expresso powder together until firm peaks form. Do that. Set aside.
  16. Clean the beaters and dry thoroughly, then beat the egg whites with a touch of cream of tartar in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Gradually add the remaining 1/4 c sugar and beat until stiff and "glossy".
  17. If your double boiler is anything like ours, the zabaione is in the smallest bowl, so gently dump it into the whipped cream bowl and fold together. Then fold in the egg whites gently. Finally dump in the grated chocolate and fold it in until uniformly distributed. The mousse is complete.
  18. Pour it into the waiting cake layer in the springform pan and jiggle it around with the spatula until it is leveled off. Then top off with the second layer and fold the plastic over the top to enclose.
  19. Insert the cake into the freezer and leave overnight.
  20. GLAZE (1.5 hours). Simmer everything but the chocolate in a small nonstick saucepan. Remove from heat.
  21. Add the chocolate and wisk smooth. Put half in a small bowl and chill 10 minutes till it is slightly thickened.
  22. Meanwhile get the cake out of the freezer, remove the springform pan side and the plastic wrap. Clean the springform pan bottom and place the cake on the inverted bottom on a plate (resting on a round heat protector to take up the slack if you have one). Working quickly with the cooled chocolate, pour half from the bowl onto the center of the cake and spread towards the edges and then over the sides. It will solidify rapidly. Try to make an even layer. Then put back into the freezer to set the glaze for about 1 hour.
  23. Get the cake out again and repeat with the second half of the chocolate, which you can slightly warm if it is too stiff to work with.
  24. Freeze again for at least 4 hours until serving.
  25. SERVE. Cut with a long thin sharp knife, dipping into a tall glass of hot water and wiping between cuts. Pull the knife out the side to avoid messing up the glaze edge at the top. Be restrained in the size of the slices. This is not a light cake.


  1. Bon Appetit, May 2003, frozen mocha cake with chocolate ganache glaze, p.114, from "The Pleasures of Cake" by Cindy Mushet. "Ganache" is a bit wierd for us, so we dropped it. Probably a French word, which in 2003, is not very popular anyway in the USA. The coffee beans suggested for garnish were never even in the running to retain. Who wants to eat a whole coffee bean?
  2. For once bob is ahead of his time. Maybe even the first food blogger? bob was "blogging" before there was a word for it last century. On-line diary writing. That's exactly what this lifetime cook"book" project has been since its move to the internet.  Actually this makes twice—who hasn't heard of tiramisu among the restaurant frequenting American public? bob started his tiramisu (producing) career in 1981 before anyone stateside had a clue.
  3. Oh, that's where the word "blog" comes from. Web log. Blog. Weblogging. Blogging. Got it. We're a bit slow.
  4. Illustrations available. The original magazine shot is perfection, with a mirror smooth chocolate glaze. Ours is kind of frumpy, and developed a little white speckle from freezing condensation in the freezer. I guess that's why they are the professionals and we are not.
cgmchack.htm: 3-may-2003 [what, ME cook? 1984 dr bob enterprises]