The picture of the chocolate chiffon in Kim's cookbook is beautiful, with huge white and dark chocolate curls scattered over the chantilly cream frosting. The chiffon cake looked tender and moist and I was hoping that this would be the holy grail of chiffon recipes. I had previously halted my quest for the perfect chiffon recipe. I had completed some heavy research and testing of various chiffon recipes and arrived at the conclusion that the America Test Kitchen's chiffon cake was the best thus far.
However, Kim's illustrations were enticing and I was curious to see if it could be better than the ATK recipe.
here's my feeble attempt at creating the dramatic swirls. note how crumbs get caught so easily
I knew before I even started that the "chantilly cream" frosting would be a challenge. I mean geez, I've tried to frost a cake with whipped cream before and it's not so easy. Crumbs get into the frosting and it tends to droop. It also doesn't hold up very well in warm weather either. Kim's frosting technique has these dramatic large propeller-like swirls on the sides of the cake.
*update: thank you for the comments on creating a crumb coat everyone! Your advice is much appreciated! However, it is always my practice to apply a crumb coat before frosting. I DID do a crumb coat on this chocolate chiffon, but because the stiff whipped cream has a high water content and is so soft, it does not set in the refrigerator like a buttercream does. A buttercream will harden in the refrigerator but a chantilly cream doesn't. As a result, when you bring it out of the refrigerator, the cake has absorbed the moistness from the thin layer of whipped cream and the surface is still soft. When you apply the rest of the chantilly cream frosting, the cake crumbs will still tend to lift off the cake layers, but I suppose not as much as if you didn't apply any crumb coat at all.
I gave it my best shot, but I looked at the amount of whipped cream in my mixing bowl and realized there was no way I could do it. I didn't have enough of the frosting to create the dramatic swirls. I had a feeling that in his professional kitchen, he probably made a huge batch and had more prepared whipped cream to play with. I could only make little swirls and when I made it all the way around the cake sides and back to where I started, I couldn't figure out how to finish it neatly. I ended up muddling it. Oh well, it's all good if you camouflage it with chocolate shavings. doesn't that look moist?
After tasting this chiffon, I was surprised by how moist and yet dry it was. I know it sounds like an oxymoron, but it's true! The crumb appeared tender but it tasted kind of like a sponge in texture and flavour. I was disappointed with the faint chocolate flavour. As well as not having a deep enough chocolate flavour, it also left a funny flat aftertaste in my mouth. Perhaps it required some vanilla extract or more cocoa powder. I don't know. It needed something.
looks can be deceiving: all fluff and no depth
The chiffon was okay but not the best I have made. Besides all this I'm left with extra egg yolks. It's such a bother when a recipe requires more whites than yolks. Now I have to figure out what to do with the yolks. The ATK chiffon utilizes 7 whole eggs. I like that. It also fits a standard chiffon tube pan (and not the two mini 6 inch pans that Kim requires in his recipe).
the chantilly cream frosting saves this cake
Without the chantilly cream frosting, I don't think this chocolate chiffon would be too enjoyable to eat. Though I scarfed down my first piece of cake in mere seconds, I don't think I'll be making this one again. I'll stick to the ATK chiffon recipe and all its wonderful variations.