A surprise party to say good-bye requires cake, doesn't it? The request was for a dairy-free chocolate cake for a dear francophile. Here's the result, which served thirty celebrants generously (some more than once, but who cares?).
A cake called D'Or et Noir
Noir expresses the chocolate cake's dark flavor and its bittersweet chocolate glaze. Or expresses the complimentary flavor of apricot and was reflected in a decoration of the flower hemerocallis "Stella d'Oro." The value of Jess' work was golden, her effect on others was brightening. Sad feelings exist in the dark of her departure. Thus, the dark and light of a cake in her honor.
Gold? The closest I could come was apricot. Dried whole fruit was reconstituted in warm vanilla syrup, then pureed to an intensely-flavored paste.
Taking non-dairy to a fortuitous extreme, milk solids and water were removed from the cake's four pounds of butter. By browning the milk solids before straining them out of the butter, the result was a clarified butter with the heady scent of hot, buttered toast.
The cake itself was a double-layer butter cake made with cocoa, cut into 4.5-inch strips, then placed end-to-end on an oak plank. Both layers were generously imbibed with a syrup of vanilla and orange flower water.
To intensify flavor, apricot preserves were boiled, pureed, strained, and cooled. This sauce then topped the buttercream.
Stirring softened butter into melted chocolate permitted an addition of vanilla (depth and aroma), orange flower water (brightness, aroma), and corn syrup (mouthfeel, stability). This chocolate glaze was strained for additional smoothness as it was being applied to the constructed cake.
Fortunately, the serving plank with finished cake fit between the back doors of the car, an inch to spare on either end.
The party was almost over when guests began requesting "some to take home."
Thus it was: a lactose-free gâteau made with toast-scented, clarified butter.
- cocoa-based butter cake
- imbibing syrup of vanilla and orange flower water
- apricot mousseline buttercream (no egg yolks)
- apricot sauce
- chocolate butter glaze
- presented on a plank