Today is the very last Project Pastry Queen challenge. Over 2 years ago, Ashley and I met up in Austin to attend a cooking demo with The Pastry Queen, Rebecca Rather. I’d forgotten about several great recipes in the book and decided that I’d cook and bake all the way through the book.
100-ish recipes later, it is my most used, most stained, and most beloved cookbook.
The final challenge is pretty representative of the book: an involved, multistep, Texas-sized, show-stopping dessert with 9 eggs, 26 ounces of chocolate, 2+ sticks of butter, and 1 1/2 cups of heavy cream. Y’all…
It’s an intensely rich, dense, flourless chocolate cake that’s topped with a semisweet chocolate mousse, and then coated in a chocolate glaze. The Pastry Queen calls it The American Beauty Cake. My husband calls it The PMS Cake.
It’s similar to the Chocolate Overdose Cake but has one less component. And it’s one of those recipes that require you to read all the way through first because there’s an overnight step. One I missed last night but welcomed the “quiet time” in the kitchen this morning for a little baking therapy.
The cake is meant to be served from the freezer, so if – like me – you were born with a negative amount of will power, there’s still hope. I cut the cake into wedges, placed it on a plastic wrap-lined baking sheet, and froze the slices solid (~2 hours) before individually wrapping them in more plastic wrap.
Check out the other PPQ members’ take on American Beauty Cake. Thanks to all those who’ve baked and followed along with the project over the last couple of years. It has been fun.
I’ve already started to work up a fun twist for Project Pastry Queen, Part Deux. Stay tuned
American Beauty Cake
An intensely rich flourless chocolate cake, topped with mousse and a chocolate glaze.
- 2 sticks (1 cup) butter
- 12 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 6 large eggs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp dark rum or liqueur of choice
- 4 Tbsp (1/4 cup) butter
- 10 oz semi-sweet chocolate
- 3 large eggs, separated
- 3 Tbsp sugar
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 4 oz semisweet chocolate
- 1/4 cup light corn syrup
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Fresh fruit, like raspberries (optional)
- Make the cake:Preheat oven to 350.
- Line the bottom of a 9-inch sprinform pan (outside wrapped with a triple layer of foil to protect from leaks in the waterbath) with a parchment round and lightly spray the bottom/sides with baking spray.
- Melt the butter and chocolate in the microwave in a large bowl, on 30-second intervals until melted.
- Whisk in the eggs and sugar until well combined.
- Stir in the vanilla and liqueur and then pour the batter into the prepared pan.
- Place the pan in a larger pan (like a 13x9) and fill the larger pan with enough hot water to come up level with the batter.
- Bake 35-40 minutes, until firm to the touch, and then remove from the oven (but let cool completely in the waterbath).
- After the cake cooled, I cut ~4-inch wide strips of parchment and lined the sides of the springform pan, pushing the parchment down between the cake and sides (shrinkage made this possible). This helped with removal later.
- Make the mousse:Melt butter and chocolate in the microwave, stirring until smooth; set aside to cool.
- Whisk the yolks, sugar, and vanilla together until smooth and then whisk in the chocolate mixture.
- Using a mixer, whisk the whites until stiff peaks form.
- Fold the egg whites in 3 batches into the chocolate. Once an addition is almost completely incorporated, add the next. The texture will look completely questionable but keep going. It gets better.
- Place the cream into the mixer bowl and whip that just until soft peaks start to form.
- Fold the whipped cream into the mousse mixture until the texture is uniform - you'll fold this much, much more than a more traditional mousse.
- Spread the mousse over the cooled cake, wrap the top with foil, and freeze overnight (at least 6 hours).
- Make the glaze:In a small sauce pan, bring corn syrup and cream just to a boil.
- Turn off the heat and add the vanilla and chocolate.
- Whisk until smooth and then let sit in the pan for 30 minutes to cool and thicken.
- Remove the cake from the freezer and turn it out onto a rack set on a baking sheet or on a cake plate, mousse-side on top - remove the ring and peel off the parchment sides.
- Pour the glaze into the center of the cake, letting it flood the top and run down the edges (it won't cover the sides completely).
- I put the cake in the fridge to set the glaze and then cut pieces for the freezer.
- To freeze the whole cake, chill the cake to set the glaze and then wrap with plastic wrap and freeze.
- The cake is recommended as best-served just minutes out of the freezer.
Yields: 14-16 slices
Estimated time: 8 hours