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Close your eyes and picture a cake with a dark, satin-like chocolate coating. If it is perfectly smooth, soft to the cut but firm. You are looking at a perfectly made chocolate glaze. While the recipe for the classic chocolate glaze is easy to prepare, you need to pay attention to details in order to achieve the desired result. Because this is simply a ganache mixture of chocolate and cream with an enrichment of butter, make sure and use a good quality real chocolate and unsalted butter.
The glaze can be applied to a number of confections. Try cutting pound cake or cake style brownies into small squares or triangles to make petite fours. Use your favorite cake and icing recipe a make a short layer cake (2 1/2 inches - finished is about the tallest you can successfully glaze). You will have to cut your traditional cake layers (a cake mix or recipe usually makes two 1 1/2 inch layers) in half and then use only three of the four layers. Save the other layer of cake well wrapped in the freezer to crumble over ice cream -- yum! There are also European cake recipes to be found in a good dessert cookbooks where you bake only one taller layer and then cut it into three more layers.
The fillings between the layers can be a traditional buttercream or sugar icing, whipped ganache or fruit purees. Smooth the icing across one layer then place the other layer on top of the iced layer. Ice that layer and then cover with the last layer and ice that to the edges. You can now smooth a thin layer of icing or ganache around the outside of the cake. If you are using fruit purees instead of icing or ganache, try to make sure that the sides of the cake are as smooth as possible. The smoother the cake's surface, the smoother the finished product will be. At this point to make the next step easier, refrigerate or freeze the cake until firm.
Once you have the cake or petite fours prepared and chilled, you can start the glazing process. Prepare the glaze, then place the petite fours or cake on a wire rack set in a cookie sheet. The wire rack will allow the extra glaze to fall off the bottom o f the cake. Smooth about 1/2 cup of the glaze over the top of the cake and around the sides. This forms a base for the final layer. Chill the cake for a few minutes making sure to keep the reserved glaze at room temperature so it will still pour freely. If it becomes too thick, place the bowl of glaze in another bowl or saucepan of hot water and stir until the desired consistency is reached. Remove from the hot water and wipe the underside of the bowl to get rid of any water.
Remove the chilled cake or petite fours from the refrigerator and immediately pour about one cup of the remaining glaze on top of the cake. Working quickly, use a knife or long spatula to smooth the glaze across the cake letting it fall over the sides. Try not to use your knife or spatula on the sides of the cake but let the glaze just run over the sides and into the cookie sheet below. Add more glaze as needed to the top of the cake pulling it across to fall over and cover the sides. When the glazing is completed, let the cake or petite fours cool on the counter or in the refrigerator until the glaze has solidified. Decorate simply with a fresh flower or two, chocolate leaves or use the leftover glaze in a pastry bag with a small tip to pipe decorative designs.
1 cup/250 ml Whipping cream
8 oz/250 gm Semi-sweet or bittersweet real chocolate chopped into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons/30 ml Unsalted butter at room temperature (optional enrichment)
Heat the whipping cream to the boiling point in a small saucepan.
Place the chocolate in a medium bowl and pour the boiling cream over the chocolate.
Using a plastic spatula, slowly stir the chocolate and cream mixture until it is smooth. Stir in the butter enrichment until well blended. Use immediately.