Recipe Trend: Angel or Devil? With This Cake, You Don’t Have to Choose

heaven and hell cake

My version of this recipe may not cut or present well, but wow was it good. Item #4 on Saveur’s recipe trends list is heaven and hell cake, and as luck would have it, the weekend I decided to tackle it was a the same weekend as Halloween, fittingly. So while I kind of wanted to devour the entire cake by myself, the better choice was to bring the cake to a Halloween party. My friends (and my waistline) were grateful.

My husband took one bite and deemed that the cake should just be called heaven cake, because that’s what it tastes like. On the other hand, the entire time I was preparing this (which took several hours spread over a day and a half), I kept thinking that it should just be called hell cake, because it is a beast to prepare, but I knew this going in. As I’ve explained, I usually prefer simpler foods, but since I am determined to complete Saveur’s meager list, I didn’t really have a choice.

Regardless of whether it’s heaven or hell or anywhere in between, with a delectable combination of devil’s and angel food cakes, chocolate ganache, and peanut butter mousse, there’s no way this cake could possibly disappoint.

HEAVEN AND HELL CAKE

Modified from Saveur, who got it from Stephan Pyles

For the ganache:
20 ounces dark chocolate (either chips or chopped)
1 ¼ cups whipping cream

Make the ganache about 4 hours before assembling the cake. Place the chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan; pour cream over the chocolate and let melt for 5 minutes. Stir to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and let rest for 4 hours.

For the angel food cake:
1 ½ cups confectioners sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 ½ cups egg whites
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Line bottom of a 10-inch round cake pan with ungreased parchment paper. In a medium bowl, sift together confectioners sugar and flour and set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and salt on low speed until frothy. Increase mixer speed to medium; sprinkle in sugar, vanilla, and almond extract; and beat until stiff peaks form. Sprinkle half of the flour mixture over egg whites; using a rubber spatula, fold until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour mixture. Pour batter into prepared cake pan and bake 45–50 minutes or until top springs back when touched. Allow cake to cool in pan.

For the devil’s food cake:
½ cup vegetable shortening
1 ½ cups cake flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
1 cup coffee
½ cup cocoa powder, sifted
1 ½ cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour (or use a floured cooking spray) a 10-inch round cake pan. In a medium bowl, whisk together cake flour, baking soda, salt, and baking powder; set aside. In another medium bowl, whisk the coffee and cocoa powder until smooth; set coffee mixture aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the shortening, sugar, vanilla, and eggs on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 minutes. Alternately add the flour mixture and the coffee mixture, beating to combine after each addition. Pour into the prepared cake pan and bake 30–35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out clean. Allow cake to cool in pan 15 minutes before inverting onto a rack to cool completely.

For the peanut butter mousse:
1 lb. cream cheese, at room temperature
2 cups smooth peanut butter
2 cups confectioners sugar, sifted
¾ cup whipping cream

In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, and sugar on medium speed until smooth and fluffy. (By this time I was tired of rewashing bowls, so the next step is my own special lazy variation.) Add cream and continue to beat on high speed until light and fluffy, about 2–3 more minutes.

Assemble the cake:
Using a serrated knife, slice each cake horizontally into two layers. (Tip: stick toothpicks around the perimeter of the cake to help guide you, like this.) Place one of the devil’s food cake layers on a plate or cake stand and spread a third of the peanut butter mousse over the top. Top mousse with a layer of the angel food cake and spread with half of the remaining mousse. Repeat with the remaining devil’s food cake, mousse, and angel food cake. Wrap cake in plastic wrap and freeze for 2 hours. Stir ganache until smooth (if too firm, microwave it in 15-second intervals until it reaches desired consistency) and spread evenly over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake for 2 hours before slicing.

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