Ah, February. Hearts, chocolates, long-stem red roses, and yes– it is the time when cupid roams the land in search of would-be lovers to stick with his aphrodisiac arrow. I admit that I celebrate Valentine’s Day with a hearty eyeroll, but I do love all manner of heart-shaped baked treats and anything slathered in chocolate. Angel food cake is not exactly what would come to mind on my shortlist of Valentine’s desserts, but now I know it would be very sad to dismiss it on principle. This Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake with Milk Chocolate Glaze from Baked Occasions is the perfect homage to Cupid– all the better when sprinkled with tiny candy hearts! Baked Sunday Mornings is on our last round of Valentine’s Day for this book, and I was excited to finally get to this one. Truth be told, I’ve never actually made an angel food cake (I think?), and they’ve never interested me much, but this combination sounded delicious. I loved the vanilla perfume and I can’t say enough about this chocolate glaze! Also, you can easily decorate the basic cake with different glazes and colors for all kinds of occasions.
To get the cake batter started, I whipped 12 egg whites with a little water in my stand mixer, then added cream of tartar, eventually achieving soft peaks. (FYI, I used thawed frozen egg whites here, which I was a little nervous about, but they worked beautifully. When you’re working with a recipe that calls for egg yolks only, pour the leftover whites into a ziplock bag, label it, and pop it in the freezer; then thaw on the kitchen counter when you need them.) I then added the sugar, which gave the peaks a silky texture, followed by a generous helping of vanilla bean paste.
Lastly, I carefully folded in the dry ingredients (confectioners’ sugar, cake flour, all-purpose flour), which I had sifted into a bowl earlier. Make sure that you fold gently, but also check for flour pockets; several times I thought I had incorporated all the flour, but there were still streaks lurking in the batter. Once they were really blended in, I transferred the batter to my ungreased tube pan.
The batter was perfect, sexy even– a gorgeous meringue-like texture that whipped up exactly as described in the recipe. Then I waited, hoping that the cake would, in fact, climb up the sides of the pan like an angel food cake is supposed to…
I was overjoyed with the results! The cake baked up just right, with a springy, golden top, slightly crackled. I flipped it over to cool, then carefully loosened it from the sides of the pan, and from the bottom of the removable tube the next morning. I decided to leave the cake upside-down, rather than flipping it over because I liked the shape better. (Small beads of sugar had formed on top overnight, but it was not an issue once I drizzled on the ganache.)
I made the ganache glaze by pouring a hot mixture of heavy cream and corn syrup over chopped milk chocolate… and I seriously contemplated just eating the whole bowl with a spoon and forgoing the cake altogether. It was abject chocolate perfection with its smooth, satiny, luxurious dripping. GAH.
There will be lots of ganache left over. After drizzling the cake, I sprinkled on some tiny candy hearts and let it set. The only challenging part of the recipe is cutting the cake without destroying it! You’ll want to use a serrated knife and a very gentle sawing motion, and possibly employ some cussing. 😉 If you try to use a single downward motion, you will have a pile of fluffy crumbs.
The cake itself was not too sweet and every bite was made better by ganache– please do use the extra ganache for individual slices! I expected to like it, but it exceeded my expectations, and my tasters loved it. Huge thumbs up for this one! Find the recipe for Vanilla Bean Angel Food Cake with Milk Chocolate Glaze at Baked Sunday Mornings (really, go do it), and see how the other Valentine’s bakers liked it too. 🙂
© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2017.