Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Red Hot Chocolate Torte

My lopsided cake!

Welcome back everyone!  Its good to be cooking again.  Not that I ever stopped, I'm just back to doing what I love...dutch oven cooking.  Today I thought I'd share a Valentine's day recipe.  Something sweet for your sweetie!

Now, I have to tell you, me and layer cakes don't have a good history together.  I've made exactly 2 layer cakes in the last 10 years, and both times I had to fight them every step of the way.  Today's cake had many problems, not the least of which was that it sunk in the middle.  I'm not much of a baker, so I couldn't tell you what causes it, just that it happened.  So what was supposed to be a triple layer cake became a double layer cake. 

My next disaster happened while I was putting the layers together.  Since the cake was concave it was really hard to cut in half.  The center of the top layer was really thin and that didn't bode well.  When I went to put the top layer on the cake it fell apart.  So I pieced it together the best I could and hoped the ganache would hide it.  And it did to a point.

Once I had the top pieced together I noticed two things.  First that there was a ton of filling left (since my triple layer cake had been unexpectedly downsized), and second, that I had a big sunken well in the top of the cake.  So, not wanting to be wasteful, I took most of the leftover filling and filled the well to even off the top of the cake.

Next came the ganache.  Like I said, I'm not much of a baker and I've never worked with ganache before, so I wasn't sure what to expect.  Since I've never worked with it before the cake looked a little bit like my 5 year old had frosted it.  I had to come up with a way to hide it from all of you, so I quickly crushed up some red hots and pressed them onto sides and top of the cake.  Problem solved! 

Now I realized it isn't the most beautiful thing you've ever seen, but let me tell you, is is delicious!  It has just a hint of cinnamon flavor from the red hots, but its not hot at all.  You could even all a touch of cinnamon oil to the ganache if you wanted.  It was also nice that the filling isn't uber sweet.  Its a nice contrast to the sweet ganache.

If red hots aren't your thing, there are a lot of variations to this cake.  You could use crushed candy canes or starlight mints in the fillins and a 1/2 tsp. peppermint extract in the ganache, or use orange zest in the filling and orange extract in the ganache.  Both would be delicious. 

After hearing my horror story, what can you do to make it easier for you?  Try baking the cake in 2 12" dutch ovens or even in 3 10" ovens.  That way you wouldn't need to try to slice the cake into layers.   You could bake, fill and frost without the headache.  So give this a try is is really delicious! 

Red Hot Chocolate Torte
2-12" ovens or 3-10" ovens

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cup cocoa
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup boiling water


1 1/2 cup cold whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2/3 cup finely chopped red hot candies
3/4 tsp. vanilla
red food coloring (optional)

In a small bowl, beat the whipping cream and powdered sugar until stiff.  Fold in the red hots, vanilla and food coloring until well blended.


1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 cup water
4 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

In a small dutch oven, over about 8 coals, melt the butter and add the cocoa and water.  Stir constantly until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and add powdered sugar and vanilla.  Beat with a wire whisk until smooth and spreadable.  Add more water, 1/2 tsp. at a time, if needed. 


In a large mixing bowl, mix the dry ingredients.  Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla, and mix well.  Stir in boiling water.  The batter will be thin.  Prepare your dutch ovens by greasing them, then dusting them with flour.  Put a parchment circle in teh bottom of each pot and spray with cooking spray.  Pour the batter into the ovens and bake at 350° for about 20-30 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Use 1 1/2 rings on top and 1 ring on the bottom.  Cool with the lid ajar for 10 minutes.  Remove the cake from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack.

When cool, spread the filling between the layers and top with ganache.  Garnish with filling squeezed from a pastry bag.  Keep in the refrigerator.


  1. I find it much easier to pick apart the cake and eat it than pick your self apart. You did great, and if you hadn't said anything, I wouldn't have been any wiser. Save some for me! That cake looks so good! Thanks Toni!

  2. I thought I'd let you all know how NOT to make this cake. There is definitely an easier way to make it! :) It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about handling layer cakes. I just need more practice. I'm going to be making it again.

  3. TONI:
    I am not a user of the ring methed, but it work for you, but when doing a layer cake I use two or three ovens. One for each layer, and when I se the middle not rising, I pull the charcoals into the center, and it rises. I learned this from the master, Dick Stucki. It almost always works. Don't give up on layer cakes, you will get it. I know you. Good luck.
    Ron Clanton

  4. Your cake looks delish to me, I'm not a baker either so I don't judge, I just eat!


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