Chocolate Tomato Cake with Mystery Ganache


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves:

    16 to 20

Appears in

Rose's Heavenly Cakes

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2009

  • About

I created this cake for the Campbell’s Kids fiftieth birthday and brought it in to the New York Stock Exchange for the company celebration and honor of ringing the opening bell for the stock market. (Getting through security was harder than making the cake.) I decorated the cake with a pastillage model of “the Kids” and made a ring of Pirouette Rolled Wafer Cookies around the cake to serve as candles. The flames were piped with buttercream tinted red.

This cake is great for a party. No one will ever guess the mystery ingredient. Tomato adds both a deeper color and intriguing zing to the chocolate. Don’t worry about the absence of salt in the ingredients—it’s in the soup.



Volume Ounce Gram
unsweetened (alkalized) cocoa powder 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (sifted before measuring) 3 85
condensed tomato soup, preferably Campbell’s (1 can) 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) 10.7 305
4 large eggs, at room temperature ¾ cup (6 fluid ounces) 7 200
pure vanilla extract 1 tablespoon . .
cake flour (or bleached all-purpose flour) 3 cups plus 2 tablespoons (or cups), sifted into the cup and leveled off 11 312
superfine sugar 2 cups 14 400
baking powder teaspoons . .
baking soda ½ teaspoon . .
unsalted butter (65° to 75°F/19° to 23°C) sticks 14 400

Special Equipment

Two 9 by 2-inch round cake pans, encircled with cake strips, bottoms coated with shortening, topped with parchment rounds, then coated with baking spray with flour


Plan Ahead

Make the ganache several hours before using.

Preheat the Oven

Twenty minutes or more before baking, set an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C.

Mix the Liquid Ingredients

In a medium bowl, whisk the cocoa, tomato soup, eggs, and vanilla until smooth.

Make the Batter

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the flat beater, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and baking soda on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and half the cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Raise the speed to medium and beat for 1½ minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Starting on medium-low speed, with the mixer off between additions, add the remaining cocoa mixture in two parts. Beat on medium speed for 30 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the batter into the prepared pans, being sure to press the thick and fluffy batter against the sides of the pans, and smooth the surfaces evenly with a small offset spatula.

Bake the Cakes

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until a wire cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean and the cakes spring back when pressed lightly in the centers. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.

Cool and Unmold the Cakes

Let the cakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the pans and the cakes, pressing firmly against the pans, and invert the cakes onto wire racks that have been coated lightly with nonstick cooking spray. To prevent splitting, reinvert the cakes so that the top sides are up. Cool completely. The cakes will be slightly smaller at the tops (more so if you haven’t pressed the batter up against the sides of the pans).

Make the Mystery Ganache

See recipe.

Compose the Cake

When the cakes are completely cool, spread a little ganache on a serving plate and set the first layer on top. Slide a few wide strips of wax paper or parchment under the cake to keep the rim of the plate clean.

Spread about 1 cup of the ganache over the layer. Place the second layer on top and use the remainder to frost the top and sides. With the tip of a 1¼-inch-wide metal spatula, make wavy lines through the ganache on top of the cake. Slowly slide the paper strips from under the cake. If storing the cake under a cake dome, allow the ganache to set for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight before applying the Pirouettes or the moisture from the ganache will soften them.

To surround the cake with the Pirouettes, you may first have to trim them to about 4 inches, using a small serrated knife. Repair any broken ones using ganache and press them gently against the sides of the cake. The ganache will hold them in place. If the ganache becomes too firm, heat it by applying a spatula run under hot tap water and dried.

If desired, pipe little flames of red buttercream on top of each Pirouette. If not using a coupler or tip that screws on to the tube of buttercream, hold the small star decorating tip in place with your hand. Hold the tube of buttercream in a vertical position over the Pirouette and squeeze with your free hand to pipe the flame onto the top of the cookie. Allow it to dry until set, about 30 minutes. As a further option, you can enhance the look of the “flames” by painting them lightly with piping gel, brushing them very gently with the artist’s paintbrush from the bottom of the flame to the tip.

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