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Chocolate Indulgence

Chocolate Cake with Bavarian Cream, Toffee and Caramel Layers by Maria K. Fisher

Chocolate Cake 2 1/4 cups flour, sifted 2 teaspoons baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 8 tablespoons butter, softened 2 1/4 cups brown sugar, packed 3 eggs 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract 3 1 oz. squares unsweetened chocolate, melted, cooled 1 cup sour cream 1 cup boiling water

Bavarian Cream 1/3 cup sugar Pinch salt 1 tablespoon gelatin 5 large egg yolks 1 2/3 cups milk 1 vanilla bean, split 1 cup heavy whipping cream 3/4 cup caramel topping 3/4 cup toffee pieces

Chocolate Ganache 3/4 cup heavy whipping cream 12 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped 6 tablespoons butter, softened

For the cake, sift the flour, baking soda and salt together. Combine the butter, brown sugar and eggs in a large mixing bowl and beat at high speed until light and fluffy. Beat in the vanilla and chocolate. Add the dry ingredients alternately with the sour cream, mixing well with a spoon after each addition. Stir in the boiling water; the batter will be thin.

Spoon the batter into 2 greased and lightly floured 9-inch cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes or until the centers spring back when lightly pressed. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans and cool completely on wire racks.

For the filling, refrigerate a mixing bowl for the whipping cream. In a small saucepan, stir together the sugar, salt, gelatin and egg yolks until blended. In another small saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla bean to the boiling point. Stir a few tablespoons into the egg yolk mixture; then gradually add the remaining milk and vanilla bean, stirring constantly. Heat the mixture, stirring constantly, to just before the boiling point (170°F to 180°F). Steam will begin to appear and the mixture will be slightly thicker than heavy cream. The mixture will leave a well-defined track when a finger is run across the back of a spoon. Immediately remove from heat and pour into a strainer, scraping up the thickened cream that has settled on the bottom of the pan. Remove the vanilla bean and scrape the seeds into the sauce. Stir until the seeds separate. In the chilled bowl whip the heavy whipping cream until it mounds softly when dropped from a spoon. Refrigerate. Cool the sauce in the refrigerator for 1 1/2 hours. Fold in the whipped cream until just incorporated.

For the ganache, pour the heavy cream into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave on medium for 2 minutes. Add the chocolate and whisk until blended; microwave for 1 minute longer if necessary to melt completely. Whisk in the butter. Let stand for 30 minutes or until thickened.

To assemble, split the cakes in half, creating 4 layers. Spread the caramel over the bottom layer, top with the Bavarian cream, then sprinkle with toffee. Repeat until cake is assembled. Pour ganache over the cake, allowing it to drip down the side. Spread the ganache evenly over the cake with a spatula. Garnish with chopped toffee and chocolate curls.

Yield: 12 servings

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