The other day, my boyfriend and I made a trip to Gourmet Warehouse, a local store that sells cooking supplies and ingredients. Their baking section has an amazing array of every form or chocolate or sprinkle or flavouring you could imagine. I bought some freeze-dried raspberries and was very excited to incorporate them into a cake. I have been seeing lots of pictures of cakes by Katherine Sabbath, and cakes inspired by hers. They are super colourful and dramatic, and many are decorated with shards of chocolate bark sprinkled with freeze-dried berries, nuts, or candy. So using her cakes as inspiration, I made a raspberry, pistachio, and white chocolate layer cake decorated with chocolate bark.
Since chocolate will seize if you add any water to it (unless you add enough to smooth it out into an actual sauce or ganache), I couldn’t colour the chocolate just by adding normal water-based food colouring. I think most people use candy melts, which are pre-coloured “chocolate” pieces that are very stable for melting and re-hardening. I wanted to use good quality white chocolate, but rather than going out to buy some oil-based food colouring, I just pulverized some of the freeze-dried raspberries and mixed in the dust to some of the chocolate. This actually worked quite well to colour it pink without changing the consistency (I don’t think the flavour was noticeable, but I really just wanted the pink colour). After swirling together the white and pink chocolates on a parchment-lined baking sheet, I sprinkled on toasted pistachios and crumbled up freeze-dried raspberries, and put it in the fridge to set.
If you look at Katherine Sabbath’s Instagram page, you will probably see the chocolate bark I was inspired by! Hers has gold leaf on it – maybe something to try next time. I saw some fancy bark like this at the recent “Eat! Vancouver” festival. I think it would make a nice gift on its own, or as part of a little box of treats. I plan to experiment more with other toppings I can add – I have seen dried rose petals on some!
For the cake itself, I used three layers of Alice Medrich’s hot milk sponge cake, and two layers of pistachio sponge. I was hoping the pistachio cake would be a little greener… my sister pointed out that it looks a little like falafel! Maybe next time I’ll add a bit of green food dye – although, to be honest, the flavour wasn’t particularly noticeable, so maybe next time I’ll just use almonds. In any case I think it’s an interesting contrast to the vanilla cake. In between the layers I used raspberry filling from Sprinkle Bakes (very tasty), and white chocolate swiss meringue buttercream. I sifted more raspberry dust over the top of the cake and then stuck in the chocolate bark. I just made a 6-inch cake because we seem to have an unhealthy amount of dessert over here! If you happen to be in my neighbourhood, please stop in for a piece of cake…