HCB: Bernachon Palets D’Or Gateau

I feel whole.

Why? Well, because after 2 weekends of skipping my baking routine (not by choice) I was LOST (no pun intended – but, did anyone see the final? – Dude was that awesome or what?) and now I’m totally “aligned” with the internal baker universe once more.

Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

This week’s choice with the Heavenly Bakers was the Bernachon Palets D’Or Gateau. (Boy was that a handful to say and to write, even without the accents).  Not only its one of the most impressive cakes in the book, it’s also the one used for the cover of Rose’s Heavenly Cake book.

I was looking forward to this cake.  One because it had that awesome piano lacquer glaze technique that I love and that I had already tried (and fell in love with) when we baked the Chocolate Apricot Roll and two, it’s a chocolate lover's dream – A chocolate cake, with chocolate ganache and covered in the shiny lacquer glaze made of chocolate.

And those that know me know that I’m a huge chocoholic and a snob one too.  I live to find the perfect chocolate bar or dessert, unfortunately having lived in Europe and experiencing some of the world famous chocolate makers has totally ruin my palate when it comes to chocolate anything.  There is some that will argue with me on this but, I dare you to visit Europe, eat a simple candy bar or chocolate cake, and then get back to me on the comparables that you are not going to find in the US.

Did you know that France was the second country in Europe where chocolate was introduced? After chocolate was widely accepted in Spain in the sixteenth century, it was transferred to France by merchants who anticipated chocolate to be a big business in the near future. At the beginning, chocolate was greeted with suspicion and skepticism in France, and it was always referred to as a “barbarous product and noxious drug”. Thus, The French court encouraged the Paris Faculty of Medicine to investigate this sweet substance and the faculty issued its approval, this made the wife of Louis XIII, Anne of Austria, to declare chocolate as the drink of the French court. Later in 1660, chocolate was introduced to ordinary people when Maria Theresa of Austria, the wife of Louis XIV, kindly shared her love of chocolate with the people of France.

Today, some hi-grade chocolate products which are sold around the world are produced by French chocolate manufacturers such as Valrhona, Chocolat Bonnat, Jean-Paul Hevin, La Maison du Chocolat, Michel Cluizel, Chocolat Poulain and much more.

And this cake is inspired by a great chocolate maker.

Bernachon is a world-famous Chocolate boutique in the city of Lyon, France.  They make not only great chocolates, but they actually make the chocolate itself as well - they don't just buy chocolate and melt it down, but they roast and grind the beans and make the bars themselves. And that is how you know the differences between a chocolatier (who buys the chocolate already made) and a chocolate-maker. This small shop produces one of the best chocolate in the world and as Rose mentions on her introduction to this recipe, their most famous bonbons are the seriously-rich, ganache-filled Palets d’Or, flecked with bits of real gold.

And this cake was born out of those bonbons.

Don’t let the 5-page instructions scare you.  Making the cake is pretty simple and a straight-forward chocolate cake.  It was pretty easy to put together, mixing some of the wet ingredients of eggs, sour cream, and extract with the cocoa powder, then mixing the dry ingredients with the butter, adding the previously prepared wet mixture and into the oven it goes.

The cake baked beautifully.

The house smelled delicious!

Next up was the ganache made with Crème Fraiche.  Except that I took an exemption here, because when I went to pull the handy Crème Fraiche jar that I usually keep in the refrigerator, I found that I did not have enough for what the recipe called for.  So I went the sour cream replacement route.  No harm done, the ganache came out yummy and luscious.  I also added the Crème de Cassis, which Rose’s tell us it’s a great compliment to the fresh currants. And while I did not use the fresh currants, because hello! I live in Florida, where fresh markets suck, and the possibilities of me finding fresh currants was like winning the lotto, I still wanted the alcoholic knick anyway.

That’s me, breaking all the rules folks.

Once the ganache had a rest period, I coated the cake with the recommended “crumb layer”, in order for the final coating to come out as smooth as possible – because if you are going to use the piano lacquer (new name!) every little bit of fault on your frosting technique will show up once you pour the glaze.

Did I tell you I’m a bit fixated when it comes to “smoothing” my ganache layer?

I did not think I was until Tom pointed out that I needed to quit doing it and go to bed.

Into the refrigerator it went until the next day to await that glossy goodness of the lacquer glaze.

But things happen when you are in dream land.

When I took it out of the refrigerator the ganache was cracked all over the cake – SO MUCH FOR ALL THAT EFFORT IN SMOOTHING IT IN THE FIRST PLACE!

Guess what I did?

Yep, covered the whole thing in another layer of ganache. *Grrrrr*

Next up: the lacquer glaze.  Pretty easy to do at this point and this time I enjoy it much more than when I did it for the Apricot Roll.  They do say that practice makes perfect.

Once it was covered and left to dry out, just take a moment to sit and watch in amazement as it becomes glossier and shinier until it’s this marvelous chocolate mirror.

I did not have gold leaf, or the fresh currants, but I did find some gold leaf flakes that I sprinkled all over making the cake look like a sparkly night full of stars.


Tom:  “Oh Boy, this is CHOCOLAT-Y!  I like that is not so sweet, but it needs something to balance out the strong chocolate flavor” He then served himself a large, tall glass of cold milk and a second piece.

Me:  I like it, very much, because well it’s all chocolate, it’s not sweet, it’s perfect for my dark chocolate preference, but! I’m NOT crazy about it.  I agree with Tom’s suggestion and think it needs something to sort of balance that entire chocolate overload.  Because this cake is just that - a HUGE rich chocolate overload and once piece is plenty.  This is one of those cake that I will probably eat only 1 or 2 pieces and then forget about it.