The Devil & Miss Irene Thompson

A while back I got this book from Amazon:  Rose’s Heavenly Cakes by Rose Levy Beranbaum.  I was looking for something to bake for dessert for supper tonight.  We like to have a nice meal one night on the weekend.  We had some beefy steak etc. and this for dessert.

well, hello, gorgeous!

(The little chocolate sunbursts at the bottom were from me pulling out the paper strips I’d put down to keep the foil cakeboard clean.  Not the intended effect, but I like it!)  The recipe is called “Devil’s Food Cake with Midnight Ganache”.

The recipe is a little fiddly, in the mixing method and also in the baking. She advocates using “cake pan strips” to help the cake rise evenly so you don’t get that hump in the middle. Conveniently, you can buy the cake strips from her, but you can also make your own by wrapping some wet paper towel in foil and fastening it around the cake pan:

tried out my new stainless steel cake pans

Another use for binder clamps!  It actually worked pretty darn good.  The layers came out completely even and not humped.   The layers did not rise a great deal, but I think they baked just as the recipe called for.  They are quite dense and fudgy.  I could have probably baked it another couple of minutes, but I didn’t want it to dry out.

There are many beautiful cakes in that book and lots of recipes I’d like to try.  The ganache for this cake, though, calls for you to make it at least six hours before you need to use it.  It is an interesting method/ingredients (you make a caramel and incorporate that into the ganache) and I’d like to try it, but this week I just didn’t have the time nor inclination to fuss with it.  (I also omitted the brandied cherries, those which had to be prepared at least eight hours ahead of time).  So I flipped back a few pages in the book and found another cake recipe that had Miss Irene Thompson’s Dark Chocolate Frosting.  I read a little online last night and learned that if you wanted to use the frosting as a frosting and not as a glaze (as many of the recipes have you do) just let it sit for 30 minutes or so and it will firm up enough to use in this manner.  It took more like 40 to 45 minutes, but that could be because the kitchen was warm from having the stove on.  It was a dream to work with, very pliable and forgiving.  I will definitely use this frosting recipe again.  It set up nicely overnight so the swirls were firm and set and it was easy to slice through and serve.

dig in!!

I accompanied my piece of cake with a tall glass of icy milk and it was simply divine!


Rose Levy Beranbaum also wrote The Cake Bible. I actually had that book many, many years ago (got it from the book club) but I liberated it during one of our pre-move declutterings.  (One good thing about moving every five years for the past 25 years, I’m ruthless about clearing things out.) I don’t remember it having a ton of photos, though. Maybe it’s been updated in the 20-some years since I had my copy.

There’s quite a huge online following of Ms.Beranbaum’s books and recipes.  I came across more than a couple of blogs that were working their way through her books.  Cool.

ETA – I meant to add this link last night but for some reason, Firefox keeps eating my bookmarks.  Here is a page with some fabulous photos of the cake made with the Midnight Ganache.  Doesn’t it look FAB?!


7 thoughts on “The Devil & Miss Irene Thompson”

  1. i love chocolate cake. there is no way i’d deny myself any seconds or thirds to look polite. that kind of cake does not hear “no” from my mouth. it’s called a cake hole for a reason.

  2. Terri,
    ON a previous blog you posted about your Boston Cream Cupcakes. You mentioned that the ganache seemed runny but set up nicely overnight. OK – A question form a ganache neophyte. Did you ice the cupcakes and let them sit overnight or was it just the ganache itself that sat overnight to be applied the next morning? Thanks Tonight I’m serving your recipe for Breaded Chicken breasts. Thanks for all your recipe links.

  3. Thanks for the link! Sorry it took me so long to notice. I love Miss Irene Thompson’s frosting but I hope you get around to the Midnight Ganache; it is divine! Great looking cake!

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