Last month we journeyed down from Sonoma, and spent an evening in San Francisco at the Herbst Theatre for Chef Jacques Pepin's birthday party. The reason for all this was our friends at CocoaPlanet were tasked with baking Chef Pepin's 80th birthday cake. I've been using and cooking with CocoaPlanet chocolate for the last couple of years. Even though their chocolate is available all across the US, they're a local Sonoma based company. In fact they're building their new chocolate factory right here in Sonoma right now... right on Broadway.
All their chocolate is Gluten Free, since the chocolate makers themselves are gluten intolerant. All but one type is lactose free, it's all low in sugar, organic, and non GMO. In their new facility, they'll be having tastings, chocolate pairings, and of course all the chocolate goodies you watch being made are going to be on sale. They're also going to have a cafe and garden dining. Since I do a lot of vegan, and gluten-free cooking, I've been hired to do some menu consulting for them and together we're whipping up all sorts of tasty stuff. One thing that's definitely going to be on this menu is Jacques Pepin's Birthday Cake.
This cake is gluten free, lactose free and out of your mind delicious. The recipe is CocoaPlanet co founder Anne McKibben's old French family recipe. I wish I could share it with you, but this is a for real family secret that's never been published and so you'll just have to come to Sonoma and taste it. She baked the cake you see here, three layers to accommodate everyone. Normally the cake is one layer. She gave me the recipe so I could try it, and I baked it for Halloween night at our house.
It's a Chocolate Mandarin Orange cake with Chocolate Mandarin Orange Ganache. The only part I am free to share is the ganache recipe and wow! It's a perfect icing. Even without the cake recipe, this ganache is easy to make and great for anything you might want to bake. So without further ado....
CocoaPlanet Mandarin Orange Ganache
Here's What You Need:
10 squares of CocaPlanet Chocolate Mandarin Orange ...this comes out to about 10 ozs.
1/2 cup of whipping cream or canned full fat coconut milk.
Here's What To Do:
Take the chocolate pieces and place them in a pan on the stove. I use copper for most dessert stuff, chocolate melting etc. Paula Wolfert gave me an old copper pot of hers ages ago and it works like a charm.
Heat the chocolate gently until it melts.
Keep stirring so it melts evenly.
Add in the 1/2 cup of cream or coconut milk if you want this to be vegan.
Stir things around until it's all well blended and take it off the stove.
Let it cool a bit and then ice your cake/ cupcakes/ whatever. For this ganache you want the icing to be on the thick side.
Let the ganache dry and you are good to go!!! After your cake is frosted, keep it at room temperature as chocolate and fridges are not a good combo.
Serve it up and enjoy.
I love this ganache, perfect, smooth, creamy and if you use coconut milk... totally vegan. I wish I could share the recipe, but I promised... family secret and all. Since my family's coat of arms features two crossed keys which in heraldry stand for secret keeping I figure I may as well keep my family tradition. Right now the only place you can get this cake is Anne's house, or my house but very soon any visitor to Sonoma can drop into CocoaPlanet and have a slice of this delicious gluten-free and lactose-free cake of their very own. Coming up next... whats new in the garden? It's root vegetable time Indian style!
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