Asian Black Pearl Layer Cake with Ginger, Wasabi and Black Sesame Seeds

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I’m a big fan of Vosges Haut Chocolat’s exotically flavored chocolates, so I was dying to try this recipe for a cake modeled after their Black Pearl chocolate flavored with ginger, wasabi and black sesame seeds. The opportunity finally arose when I had to make a cake for my brother-in-law’s birthday. At first I was a bit wary of the chocolate bar’s translation into cake form, but this recipe ended up being a knockout. I think it was one of the most delicious cakes I’ve ever tried or made. If you’re a fan of ginger and Asian flavors, I would highly recommend it.

The flavor combination is sophisticated but cohesive. The chocolate cake layers with ginger bits are soaked with a vanilla bean/ginger syrup, which infuses moistness throughout; the ganache is flavored with ginger, wasabi and laced with black sesame seeds for a subtle crunch. The lightness of the ginger whipped cream frosting sprinkled with more black sesame seeds is a perfect compliment to the luscious cake.

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The modifications I made to the recipe were using one 10″ springform pan instead of three 8″ pans. The cake rose right up to the edge, so I would not use a 9″ springform, or it will probably spill over. Using one springform increased the baking time to a total of about an hour. I also doubled the ginger powder and added extra wasabi, but the latter was still very subtle. I also stabilized the whipped cream with 3/4 tsp of powdered gelatin dissolved in 3 tsp water. This is not necessary – I just like the added insurance. For decoration, I added slivers of crystallized ginger.

Tip: If you are pressed for time for waiting for the ganache to set, place it in a pot over a ice-water bath, stirring the ganache. It should firm up in minutes.

Black Pearl Layer Cake

Please see recipe at epicurious.com

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9 Responses to “Asian Black Pearl Layer Cake with Ginger, Wasabi and Black Sesame Seeds”

  1. Ginny Says:

    Beautiful! That is my favorite Vosges bar. I must try this cake! Thanks for sharing it with us!

  2. kellypea Says:

    This is a spectacular cake. I love exotic flavors in desserts, but haven’t delved too deeply into them in my own kitchen. I scrolled through your archives and can say that I’ve been looking for this type of place for quite a while when I’m trying to learn something new. Your photos are very helpful in accompanying the directions. Thanks!

  3. linda Says:

    Love the way you recreated the Vosges chocolate bar. Intriguing combination of flavours.

  4. latifa Says:

    looks delicious.i like this new trend….mixing western desserts with asian flavours.

  5. Floortje Says:

    That sounds like such a wonderful cake!
    I might just try and make it for my boyfriends birthday in a few months.
    Im quite sure he’d love this.

  6. aoi_aka Says:

    Hi!

    I googled wasabi cake and found this same recipe. I bought all the ingredients and made it. It took me about three days ’cause I had to let the syrup and ganache set for two days. I should’ve read the instructions first to know what to make first. I had the three cakes sitting in saran wrap for those three days waiting for the other two ingredients to set. The hardest part was making the frosting ’cause I have a dinky hand held beater that’s not very fast or good so it took a while for the cream to finally peak.

    I didn’t taste but I was told it was so good that there wasn’t a single piece left. I tried making it again and this time I was too lazy to finish it up. Plus the cakes didn’t really come out from the pans very well and I left them out without saran wrap. A week later I tried to level the tops but they were too hard so I ended up with three separate cakes to frost. This time I tried it and I liked it. I did expect the wasabi to be the strongest flavor but it was the ginger.

    You really have to be dedicated to your kitchen to spend so much time and money on making this cake. The vanilla beans alone are extremely expensive and this second attempt tired me out so much that I swore not to bake another one. We’ll see. I still have more ingredients left over that I can only use to make this cake. In the end it is worth having a slice.

  7. prettytastycakes Says:

    aoi_aka, thanks for taking the time to write about your baking experience. I’m glad you thought it tasted good! Some recommendations – you could definitely add more wasabi and/or ginger to the ganache. Also, the syrup doesn’t need to be refrigerated for an entire day, an hour minimum should suffice. The ganache can also set up quickly if you set it in a bowl over ice water.

    A week of the uncovered cake would certainly dry out the cakes. If you are not using the cakes right away, you can freeze the layers- wrap each layer individually in 2 layers of saran wrap, then in foil. It can keep for over a month. When you are ready, defrost in the refrigerator overnight in the saran wrap/foil. It will still taste delicious.

  8. Jane Says:

    I am making this cake for a friend’s birthday and want the ease of using a spring form pan. Wondering if you had to bake it longer? Ands if you did any special pan prep?
    Thanks
    Jane

  9. prettytastycakes Says:

    Jane, the batter is enough to fill generously a 10″ springform pan (even then, it’s pushing it). A 9″ won’t be sufficient, unless you use some batter to bake cupcakes or something in a separate pan. The springform pan prep is the same – butter, dust with flour, line the bottom with parchment paper and butter the paper again. You will have to bake the cake longer – about an hour but start checking for doneness about 10 minutes before then. A toothpick or cake tester inserted in the middle should come out try, or when you press lightly on the top it should spring back.

    Also, please note that when using a springform pan in general, cakes may come out a bit dryer due to longer baking time. Fortunately, this recipe uses a syrup, which will help with that. You also run the risk of a domed top, due to the sides of the pan getting hotter and setting faster than the center. To fix/avoid the domed top, you can 1) just slice off the dome and enjoy the scraps or 2) use “baking strips” – aluminum strips that you wet to prevent the sides from heating faster than the core. You can even make your own strips using wet paper towel wrapped well in a long strip of aluminum foil folded over the paper towels. You will also need to slice the cake into three layers.

    I know this is a lot of info. Good luck!