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It is no secret that Chef Ron Ben-Israel tastes some of the best, most impressive dessert dishes around on his show, Sweet Genius. But did you know that Chef Ron also creates his own ingeniously inspired and impeccably decorated cakes? Yes, he is a New York City-based wedding cake baker who has a passion for designing whimsical confectionary creations that taste as heavenly as they look.
A few weeks ago I caught up with the Sweet Genius himself and we chatted about what it takes to make a classic, tried-and-true dessert: chocolate cake. Not surprisingly, Chef Ron shared that he has discovered two tricks to baking the best-ever chocolate cake and they are both easy, no-fail techniques.
“The different thing about my recipe is that it gives the strongest chocolate flavor possible. I learned to pour boiling water or very hot coffee on the cocoa powder. The cocoa powder is actually very rich with cocoa fat, and if you pour the hot liquid on it, the liquid brings out the aroma and deep flavor and makes the chocolate much more intense,” explains Chef Ron. If you’re worried about the cake tasting like coffee, don’t be — the hot coffee will merely enhance the chocolate’s natural flavor, not cover it up.
His second technique is a lesson in what not to do. Chef Ron says, “I eliminated milk from the recipe because I found that milk actually tapers the flavor of the chocolate and makes it a little bit less intense and even a little bitter.” Ron’s Chocolate Layer Cake (pictured above) recipe featured in Food Network Magazine does not include milk, unlike many chocolate cake recipes, but rather calls for hot strong coffee. He stacks rich, decadent cake with whipped ganache then covers the entire tower with even more creamy, bittersweet ganache and decorates the sides with paper-thin chocolate bark.
Check out how Ron prepares this four-layer showstopper and learn how to bake it at home.
Don’t miss Ron Ben-Israel on Sweet Genius, Thursday nights at 10pm/9c.