It was the Greek's idea to make this cake for Valentine's Day. We had decided to stay in and make our own feast, rather than fight the crowds, not to mention the overly organized couples who made reservations well in advance. Considering we had the main course and side dishes to attend to--steak, beets with pistachio butter and an arugula salad--I saw the cake as an almost insurmountable challenge. And, honestly, it was the most time consuming portion of the preparation for the meal....Let's just say that, if you go the Sachertorte route, by the time the thing is assembled and glazed, you'll really have "sung for your supper."
But what a cake! What a thing to "sing" for! I don't usually go crazy for layer cakes--it seems dangerous to have to cut a cake in half, or to have to stack one layer on top of another (such potential for disaster, after all)--but, for some reason, this one really did it for me. I've always been one of those people who enjoys the combination of fruit and chocolate and the tangy apricot glaze added a nice touch--a zing, if you will--to the barely there sweetness of the cake. I had had a moment of blasphemy when I suggested to the Greek that we go with raspberry glaze instead of apricot. He gave me the usual look of "we will not mess with classic dishes/flavor combinations" (I got the same look when I suggested sun-dried tomatoes in Spanakopita. Mark my words, I will try this one day) and so, for the sake of being classic and channeling the accidental pastry glory of nineteenth-century Vienna, we went with apricot. No regrets were had.
This is the thing I like best about chocolate cake. Or, really, about dessert in general. Usually (as in 98 times out of a 100), if you make some kind of sweet and you give it to people, they will like it. More importantly, they will most likely all be in agreement about its fine qualities, although they all will maybe focus on something different--chewiness, moistness, airiness of the frosting. The general impression, however, will be the same. And this is why I'd like to bake my dissertation rather than to write it. There would be less room for disagreement. Imagine a world in which there were a Sachertorte for each and every committee member; I assure you that, if more dissertations had a dessert component, everybody would be a lot happier, both writer/baker and reader/potential eater. And a dollop of whipped cream to offset the shimmering chocolate would remove the need for words. The smiles would be enough.
For the cake: