The Elkins’s 25th Anniversary Silver Snowflake Cake

When my friends Judi and Paul Elkins celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary, I was unfortunately out of town, but I made this cake before my departure. Since their anniversary was in winter, and silver is traditional for a 25th anniversary, the snowflake motif seemed perfect. If the event you are celebrating falls on another time of year, simply changing the cutout to a different shape (stars or hearts, for example) will give a whole different look to the cake.

It is especially thrilling to cut into such a pristine-looking cake and discover the shock of dark dense chocolate hidden inside, so I chose Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte from The Cake Bible for the cake. The creamy bittersweetness of this flourless chocolate cake blends exceptionally well with the sweet chewiness of the rolled fondant. In fact, the whole experience is more like eating candy truffles than cake!

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Make the cake, fondant and roses at least 1 day up to 2 weeks ahead
Preheat oven to: 425°F.
Baking time: 18 minutes

*Available in art supply stores.

INGREDIENTS MEASURE WEIGHT
room temperature volume ounces/pound grams
Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte
bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt Excellence or Valrhona extra bittersweet* 8 3-ounce bars pounds 681 grams
unsalted butter cups ¾ pound 340 grams
9 large eggs liquid cups 15.75 ounces    450 grams

(weighed without shells)

Rolled Fondant ( pounds)
water 3 tablespoons
gelatin 1 tablespoon 10 grams
corn syrup ½ cup 5.75 ounces 64 grams
glycerine 1 tablespoon 18 grams
solid white shortening 2 tablespoons 0.75 ounce 24 grams
powdered sugar 8 cups (lightly spooned into cup) 2 pounds 920 grams
Decoration
3 marzipan roses and 2 rosebuds
silver petal dust 1 small vial
vodka or other high-proof clear drinking alcohol a few drops
8 white chocolate rose leaves (page 21)
tiny silver dragées ½ teaspoon
Royal Icing (¾ cup)
Marizipan for Modeling Decorations
almond paste ½ cup 5 ounces 142 grams
cornstarch ½ cup (lightly spooned into cup) 2 ounces 60 grams
powdered sugar ½ cup (lightly spooned into cup) 2 ounces 60 grams
corn syrup 3 tablespoons 2 ounces 62 grams
Royal Icing
meringue powder 2 tablespoons 0.5 ounce 16 grams
water ¼ liquid cup
powdered sugar 2⅔ cups (lightly spooned into cup) 10.5 ounces 300 grams

*Available from Williams-Sonoma (415-421-4242).

†Available in cake-decorating supply houses such as Maid of Scandinavia (800-328-6722) and the Chocolate Gallery (212-675-2253).

Preheat the oven to 425°F.
STORE: 6 months refrigerated, indefinitely frozen. Allow to come to room temperature before kneading to prevent oil separation.

Method

Chocolate Oblivion Truffle Torte

In a large metal bowl set over a pan of hot, not simmering, water (the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water) combine the chocolate and butter and let stand, stirring occasionally, until smooth and melted. (The mixture can be melted in the microwave on high power, stirring every 15 seconds. Remove when there are still a few lumps of chocolate and stir until fully melted.)

In a large bowl set over a pan of simmering water heat the eggs, stirring constantly to prevent curdling, until just warm to the touch. Remove from the heat and beat, using the whisk beater, until triple in volume and soft peaks form when the beater is raised, about 5 minutes. (To ensure maximum volume if using a hand mixer, beat the eggs over simmering water until they are hot to the touch, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and beat until cool.)

Using a large wire whisk or rubber spatula, fold ½ of the eggs into the chocolate mixture until almost incorporated. Fold in the remaining eggs until just blended and no streaks remain. Finish by using a rubber spatula to ensure that the heavier mixture at the bottom is incorporated. Scrape into the prepared pan and smooth with the spatula. Set the pan in the larger pan and surround it with 1 inch of very hot water. Bake for 5 minutes. Cover loosely with a piece of buttered foil and bake for 13 minutes. (The cake will look soft, but this is as it should be.)

Let the cake cool on a rack for 45 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap (preferably Saran brand) and refrigerate until very firm, about 4 hours.

To unmold: Wipe the outside of the pan with a hot, damp towel. Run a thin metal spatula around the sides of the cake and release the sides of the springform pan. Unmold the cake onto the cardboard round and refrigerate for at least 12 hours. Use a hot, wet spatula to smooth the surface of the cake so that it is perfectly smooth. Smooth the edges to bevel them slightly. Return the cake to the refrigerator.

Rolled Fondant

In a 2-cup glass measuring cup, place the water. Sprinkle the gelatin over the top of the water and let the gelatin soften for at least 3 minutes. Place the measuring cup in a small saucepan of simmering water and stir the mixture for 2 to 3 minutes, until the gelatin is completely dissolved. (This can also be done in a few seconds in a microwave on high power.) Stir in the corn syrup and glycerine, then add the shortening and stir until almost completely melted. Remove from the heat.

Place the powdered sugar in a large bowl and make a well in the center. Add the gelatin mixture and stir with a lightly greased wooden spoon until blended. Mix with lightly greased hands and then knead vigorously in the bowl until most of the sugar is incorporated.

Turn the mixture out onto a lightly greased smooth surface such as Formica or marble and knead until smooth and satiny. If the fondant seems dry, add several drops of water and knead well. If it seems too sticky, knead in more powdered sugar. The fondant will resemble a smooth, well-shaped stone. When dropped, it should spread very slightly but retain its shape. It should be malleable like clay, soft but not sticky.

Wrap the fondant tightly with plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. It will firm slightly on standing.

Marzipan Roses

This marzipan is very easy to make in a food processor. It can also be made in a heavy-duty mixer such as a KitchenAid or kneaded by hand.

Mix together the almond paste, cornstarch and powdered sugar until it falls in fine crumbs. Add the corn syrup and process until well incorporated. (The mixture should not look greasy. If you do overmix, the marzipan will be usable if allowed to rest until the oil is reabsorbed.) Pinch a small amount to see if it holds together. If still too dry, add a few drops of corn syrup.

Dump onto a smooth counter or work surface and knead until very smooth and uniform in color. Wrap tightly with plastic wrap and place in an airtight container. Allow to rest for at least 1 hour before using.

Keep the marzipan well covered to avoid drying out while working with it. If the marzipan does become slightly dry and cracky, rub your fingers lightly with shortening and knead lightly. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in an airtight container.

To shape roses: Begin by forming the center cone and base. Use the natural contours of your hand to form a pointed cone and pedestal base which will be removed after the rose is completed (Fig. 1).

Have ready a little bowl of water or lightly beaten egg white and a small artist’s paint brush.

Roll out thin sheets of marzipan between 2 pieces of plastic wrap—but not too thinly because each piece will be rolled and shaped a second time. Keep the marzipan covered at all times to prevent drying.

Cut out a free-form rounded rectangle 2 inches long. Lift it from the plastic sheet and roll it a second time between plastic wrap to thin it (Fig. 2). Wrap it around the cone, overlapping to form a point and then folding it back. This is the closed bud of the flower (Fig. 3).

Cut three 1-inch rounds for petals. Remove each, 1 at a time, to a second set of plastic sheets and roll the upper section to thin the tip and form an oval shape (Fig. 4). Place around the bud, overlapping slightly and curving one side realistically back (Fig. 5). Paint tiny dabs of water or egg white toward the base to attach the petals. A small metal cuticle pusher is ideal for molding the petals and pushing them slightly away from the center bud.

For the second row of 3 petals, the rounds must be rolled slightly more elliptically because they have a wider circumference to cover. Cut three -inch rounds, again making the edges thinner than the base (Fig. 6). When the petals are in place, use a fingertip to form a center point and curve the sides slightly back (Fig. 7).

The completed rose (Fig. 8) will hold its shape well if placed in a bed of cornstarch to support the petals. When the marzipan sets and is firm enough to hold its shape, cut off the base with a small sharp knife. When the rose is thoroughly dry, use a small paint brush or dust atomizer to dust off the cornstarch.*

*Marzipan roses can be purchased through Albert Uster Imports (800-231-8154).

TIP: After rolling out and cutting the petals, use a fingertip to thin the edges of the petals. If the marzipan seems slightly soft and the petals droop, allow them to dry for a few minutes before applying them.

When the roses are completely dry, paint them with the silver petal dust.

Sprinkle a little petal dust into a small cup and add a few droplets of the vodka to dilute the “dust” and produce a thick “paint.” Use a small clean artist’s brush to apply the silver. Set any leftover aside for the rose leaves.

Rose Leaves

White summer coating (also known as compound chocolate)* is ideal for making the leaves as it does not require tempering. Simply melt it over hot, not simmering, water, stirring often.

*Available in cake-decorating supply houses such as Maid of Scandinavia (800-328-6722) and The Chocolate Gallery (212-675-2253).

Select well-shaped rose leaves with no holes. Wash the leaves and dry them thoroughly. Each leaf can be used several times until it tears.

Holding a leaf by its stem and supporting it underneath with a finger or the palm of your hand, use a small metal spatula or artist’s brush to smooth an even layer of chocolate on the underside of the leaf (Fig. 1). Be sure to use the veiny underside as all the delicate lines will be imprinted on the chocolate. (Don’t allow the chocolate to get on the other side of the leaf or the chocolate leaf may break when peeling off the leaf.)

Carefully place the chocolate leaf on a baking sheet lined with foil, parchment or wax paper and refrigerate or freeze for 3 minutes, until set and no longer shiny. Add a second coat of chocolate for stability.

To remove the chocolate from the leaf, peel back the stem end, touching the chocolate as little as possible (Fig. 2). If the chocolate adheres to the leaf, it has not set long enough.

Add a few more droplets of the vodka to the silver petal dust and brush the silver gently onto the leaves.

Cover the Cake with Rolled Fondant

Unwrap the fondant. You will need pounds (or about two thirds) of it. Some of the remainder can be used for the cutouts and the rest can be frozen for several months.

Spray a smooth, clean work surface with nonstick vegetable spray. Also coat a large heavy rolling pin with the spray. Form the piece of fondant into a flat disc and roll it into a 13-inch by ¼-inch circle. Lift up and rotate the circle every 2 or 3 rolls to ensure that it is not sticking. If necessary, respray the work surface. Work quickly to keep the fondant from drying. If it is taking more than 3 or 4 minutes to roll out, cover the fondant with a few pieces of plastic wrap to keep it from drying.

Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Slip your fists palm side down under the fondant being careful not to stretch or tear it. Lift the fondant onto the cake, covering it as evenly as possible. Using the palm of your hand, quickly smooth the top with a circular motion, starting from the center, to eliminate air bubbles. (Bubbles can be pierced with a needle and smoothed out if necessary.) Smooth the fondant gently against the sides, working from the top down with a semicircular motion, using both hands. The oil from your hands will give it a lustrous glow. With a pizza cutter or sharp knife, trim the bottom edge of the cake to remove the excess fondant.

Snowflakes

Trace the snowflake template and transfer it to the cardboard. Use the X-Acto knife to cut it out.

Roll a small piece of the fondant on top of plastic wrap, inch thick. Allow it to dry for at least 1 hour. Dust the surface lightly with powdered sugar to keep the template from sticking and lay the snowflake template on top. Using the tip of a sharp knife or the X-Acto knife, cut out the snowflake, following the template’s design. Lift off the template and repeat as needed.

Royal Icing

In a large grease-free mixer bowl, preferably with the whisk beater of a heavy-duty mixer, beat the meringue powder and water on low speed until mixed. Add the powdered sugar and beat for 30 seconds or until the sugar is moistened. Increase the speed to medium high and continue beating for 5 to 8 minutes, until the icing forms stiff, glossy peaks when the beater is lifted. (The tips of the peaks should curve slightly.) Cover the bowl with a damp cloth to keep the icing from drying.

Decorating the Cake

FINISHED HEIGHT: inches

Use the plastic wrap to lift the snowflake and gently invert it and peel off the plastic wrap. Lightly brush the back of each snowflake with water and gently place it on the cake. Be sure to leave room for the roses.

It is best to apply the dragées to the fondant within a few hours of covering the cake, as the dragées will adhere. Alternatively, you can use a speck of royal icing to glue them in place but this is unnecessarily tedious. Use the stenciling tool or the pointed toothpick to mark the fondant for the silver dragées to form five-pointed star bursts. Lift each dragée using the tweezers; place it on the fondant and press it in.

Attach the roses and leaves to the fondant using the royal icing to hold them in position.

To Serve

Use a thin, sharp knife, dipped in hot water between each slice.

STORE: Room temperature.

*2 large egg whites (¾ cup, 2 ounces/60 grams) can be used in place of the meringue powder and water.

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