So here is the marjolaine, after 36 hours of refrigerated resting:
Here is the final product:
It was fantastic. The wine group members loved it, and one said the result was on par with things her dad (a master German baker) produces - high praise indeed!
For future reference:
- It really is easy, and is best if you take 3 days to do the various bits. Starting on Sunday for a Friday reveal was perfect.
- I am not very skilled at caramelizing sugar (used to make the praline, used in the top layer). That was by far the most difficult step and I probably could have gone a bit darker, but got too nervous. Next time try to go just a trifle longer.
- I might make the ganache in two batches next time - 1/3 for the cake layer, and the other 2/3 for the frosting. Reheating the ganache was not easy and its texture was a tiny bit off.
- I used Guittard 72% bittersweet chocolate, because I thought the whole dessert would be quite sweet and wanted to offset it a bit. However I didn't love it mixed with the tartness of the creme fraiche, so next time I'll go a shade lighter with 61% semisweet. My local shop sells it for $10/pound which is the best price for the high-end chocolates I've found. I would also consider getting one of Trader Joe's big ol' pound-plus and chopping it up, but the discs in the Guittard box are very handy to work with.
- The trickiest layer to work with was the vanilla creme fraiche - the white layer in the middle. It was pretty runny, so I would work a bit harder to get it thickened and might consider researching additives like cornstarch or gelatin or cream of tartar to try to get it to stiffen better. Once it was refrigerated it was pretty good, but it was not easy to stack & wrap without the goo sliding out every which way.
- I would trim the edges of the cake before assembling to try to limit the tilt factor
- OR next time I'll cover the layers side by side, then stack & wrap quickly. That might be the easiest solution, actually.
- I made this with a gluten-intolerant friend in mind - the only thing I had to modify was using corn starch on the parchment paper, instead of flour. The recipe itself is naturally gluten-free.
- Next time I'll try making my own creme fraiche - apparently you just put some buttermilk into heavy cream, but that is a LOT cheaper than buying it already soured/thickened.
- The ingredients for the dessert ran about $25 - definitely the most expensive thing I've made.