DEAR SOS: My dear friend adores, nay, loves, nay, worships the chocolate cake at Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse in Los Angeles. Please help me help him by getting this wonderful recipe. Thank you.
DEAR TAL: This cake is three separate recipes put together to create one very rich chocolate cake: a devil’s food-type chocolate cake, a chocolate mousse and a chocolate ganache glaze. When presenting it to your dear friend, be careful. It weighs about 10 pounds, when completed.
Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform pan with a removable bottom, line it with parchment paper, and set aside.
Sift together the flour, cocoa, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl mix together the water, oil and vanilla.
Beat the eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer, then mix in the sugar. Mix in the water mixture in thirds, alternating with thirds of the sifted dry ingredients, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula between each addition. Mix until smooth.
Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 20 minutes; reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean, 65 to 75 minutes.
Place the pan on a rack and cool the cake to room temperature. Remove it from the pan and split into 3 equal parts horizontally. Trim the top layer of the cake to make it flat. Place 1 round of cake back into the pan, then prepare the mousse.
Beat the sugar and yolks in a mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, bring the half-and-half to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Pour about 1/2 cup into the yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Return the mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 10 minutes.
Place the chocolate in a large bowl and pour the hot mixture over it. Let stand 1 to 2 minutes, then stir until the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth and shiny.
Whip the cream in another bowl until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Fold 1/3 of the cream into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining cream.
Spread half the mousse onto the bottom cake layer in the pan, then place the middle cake layer on top. Spread the rest of the mousse over it, then place the top cake layer on top. Wrap the cake well in plastic wrap and freeze it overnight.
Chocoalte ganache glaze
Place the chocolate in a bowl. Bring the whipping cream and syrup to a boil in a saucepan, then pour over the chocolate. Let the chocolate melt, about 1 to 2 minutes, then mix to blend completely.
Remove the frozen cake from the cake pan and place on a rack. Pour 1/2 the glaze over the cake and spread it so that it goes down the sides. Remove the cake from the rack and place on a platter. Refrigerate the cake until the glaze sets, 1 hour. Place the cake back on the rack and pour the remaining glaze over the top. Return the cake to the platter and refrigerate again for the glaze to firm, 1 hour. Let the cake stand at room temperature awhile before serving.
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