The design of this cake came about when I was decorating a cheesecake for the press party for The Cake Bible in the fall of 1988. I had an inspiration to encircle the cake with a train of elephant-shaped cake cutouts because they are my favorite animal. But as it was an election year, and my purpose was to enhance the cake, not to make a political statement, I alternated the elephants with donkeys. My five-year-old nephew was so intrigued with the shapes that I used the cutters the next day to make him animal-shaped peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! If ever you want to get your kid to eat something he or she is resisting, put it between bread and cut it into a favorite shape. It will work for at least one bite!
The elephant and donkey motif makes this a fun cake to serve when friends come to watch the election returns. The creamy orange cheesecake is so delectable it will satisfy both Democrats and Republicans.
|cocoa, preferably Dutch-processed|
|pure vanilla extract||•||•|
(weighed without shells)
|superfine sugar, divided|
|sifted cake flour|
|cream of tartar||•||•|
|cream cheese (softened)*|
(weighed without shell)
|orange zest, finely grated, divided (from about 5 navel oranges)|
|pure vanilla extract||•||•|
|orange juice, freshly squeezed (from about 3 oranges)||•||•|
|unsalted butter (softened)|
|(orange zest reserved from the cheesecake)||(
|Ganache Glaze (optional)|
|bittersweet chocolate, preferably Lindt Excellence, finely chopped|
*Don’t be tempted to use the more expensive “natural” cream cheese. Philadelphia brand, available even in Japan, offers the best and most consistent flavor and texture for this cake. Cream cheese without gums will aerate more, yielding more volume and less creaminess.
One day ahead, make the Chocolate biscuit and the cheesecake.
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven, and
In a small bowl, with a rubber spatula, stir together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and cover tightly with plastic wrap (preferably Saran brand).
Separate 2 of the eggs, placing the yolks in one large mixing bowl and the whites in another. To the yolks, add the additional yolk, the remaining 2 eggs and
Sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and set it aside.
Beat the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form when the beater is raised. Beat in the remaining
Use the bottom of an
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Place the chocolate biscuit round in the bottom of the prepared 8-inch pan.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar, preferably with the whisk beater, until very smooth, about 3 minutes. Beat in the egg, then the yolks, beating until smooth and scraping down the sides once or twice. Add
Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Set the pan in the larger pan and pour
Bake the cake for 45 minutes. Turn off the oven (without opening the door) and let the cake cool for 1 hour. Remove it to a rack and cool to room temperature, about 1 hour. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
In a heavy noncorrodible saucepan, beat the yolks and sugar with a wooden spoon until well blended. Stir in the orange juice mixture, the
*The Cordon Rose candy thermometer is available through Dean & DeLuca (800-227-7714).
Allow the orange curd to cool for about 5 minutes. Reserve
To unmold, wipe the sides of the pan with a hot, damp towel. Run a small metal spatula between the sides of the cake and the pan and release and remove the sides of the springform. Place the cake on a serving plate and refrigerate until shortly before serving.
At least 1 hour or up to 6 hours before serving, prepare the ganache glaze.
Place the chocolate in a small heavy saucepan with a lid. Place
† Bring just to the boiling point (small bubbles will begin to appear around the edges).
Gently stir the mixture until uniform in color, trying not to create air bubbles. Pass it through a fine strainer and stir in the optional Cointreau. Allow the glaze to cool until just tepid. Makes
Place the animal-shaped cutouts on a rack set in a pan to catch the glaze.
To check the consistency of the glaze: At a tepid temperature, a small amount of glaze should mound a bit when dropped from a spoon before smoothly disappearing. If the glaze is too thick and the mound remains on the surface or if the glaze seems curdled, warm the remaining
Spoon a heaping tablespoon of glaze over each cutout so that it cascades down the sides, being sure that the upper side of each cutout is well covered as these will show when placed on the cake. If necessary, use a small metal spatula or artist’s brush to apply the glaze to any areas missed or to break any air bubbles. Set the rack and pan in a cool spot and allow the glaze to set so that you can touch it without leaving a mark.
Up to 2 hours before serving, lift each glazed cutout, handling the glazed surfaces as little as possible, and apply a little of the reserved orange curd to the underside of the cutouts to help them adhere to the curved sides of the cake. Press each one gently in place, placing them evenly around the sides of the cake. If the cutouts are slightly higher than the sides of the cake, carefully paint a little of the chocolate glaze on any exposed areas on the bottom sides.
To serve, cut the cake with a knife that has been wiped and dipped in hot water between each slice.
© 1992 Rose Levy Beranbaum. All rights reserved.