Even the shyest pastry chef craves attention. Instead of seeking it directly, some of us hide behind our work. I love the “oohs” and “aahs” that come when people taste a dessert that I’ve made. I also love to hear “wow” and “gorgeous,” especially when followed by: “How the heck do you think she did that?”
Chocolate is such a marvelous medium for invention—it can be shiny or matte, flowing-and-lava-like, plastic and malleable, or brittle and shattering. It begs to be played with.
Everyone loves the marbled spider web pattern on a chocolate glazed cake, or a fondant-covered éclair, but we’ve all see it, and there’s little mystery in how it’s done. My favorite marbling effect is free form and harder to figure out; I call it a Jackson Pollock–type effect. Simply scribble melted white and milk chocolates together and let them drip over chocolate glaze; then, gently drag a fine artists brush (or very thin skewer) every which way through the scribbles and drips before the chocolate or the glaze begins to set. See the top-center example here:
For an even wilder effect, channel Salvador Dalí's The Persistence of Memory (the painting that features a melting clock sliding off a table). This is done by pouring a generous puddle of chocolate glaze in the center of the top of a crumb coated cake (we used this recipe for the photo). Then, quickly drip melted white and milk chocolates over that puddle. Then, lift and tilt the cake so that the glaze flows slowly over the edges, pulling and distorting the drips, until the sides of the cake are covered all around. So much fun! So easy! Such a fabulous effect!
You can use any pourable ganache, or my chocolate butter glaze recipe, which includes the procedure for crumb coating and producing the "Salvador Dalí" effect. Read and envision the whole process carefully before you start. The key to success is getting all your ducks in a row so you can do it without interruption. One huge secret: you can practice the entire routine—and perfect your own method— on the back of a cake pan. Once you have the hang of it, scrape the glaze off the pan(s) and into a bowl (stirring in any white and milk chocolate drizzles) and use it again on a real cake!
One small secret: You can make your own milk chocolate (as dark or light as you like!) by mixing dark chocolate with white chocolate. Show me your cakes on Instagram by tagging me (@alicemedrich).
For the glaze
- 6 ounces (170 Grams) any dark (semisweet or bittersweet) chocolate, chopped coarsely
- 8 tablespoons (4 ounces/113 grams) unsalted butter, cut into several chunks
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (or honey or golden syrup)
- pinch salt (I use fine sea salt)
Chocolates for decorating
- 2 ounces White chocolate (not chocolate chips), finely chopped
- 2 ounces milk chocolate (not chocolate chips), finely chopped
- 1 8 or 9 inch cake or torte, at room temperature