In my last blog post, I explained my childhood love of Ruby Tuesday’s chocolate tall cake. When I discovered that it had been removed from the menu in 2009, I was devastated. Now, three years later, I’ve decided to make my own chocolate tall cake. Follow my efforts below!
Step one – the goblet. Without the goblet, this dessert would be just plain cake and ice cream. It’s that majestic, glass goblet that makes this dessert so special.
I bought my goblet for three dollars at a Goodwill in Baltimore. Enough said.
Step two – the chocolate cake. Ruby Tuesday’s chocolate cake consisted of multiple layers separated by a rich, chocolate mousse. The cake was soft and moist, but still sturdy enough to support the explosion of toppings that followed.
With my limited pastry experience, I decided my best option was to Google “really moist chocolate mousse cake.” The recipe I finally chose was from Barefoot Contessa. I figured Ina Garten wouldn’t lead me too astray.
Beatty’s Chocolate Cake
from Barefoot Contessa at Home
- 1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups sugar
- 3/4 cups cocoa powder (I used Dutch processed)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 extra large eggs, room temperature (I used 2 large eggs and about half of another egg)
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
- Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter and flour two 8 or 9 inch round cake pans.
- Sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet to combine. Slowly add the hot coffee just until combined.
- Pour batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.
I made a few adjustments to the ingredients, such as using canola oil for vegetable oil, and 2% milk for buttermilk. I also used less brewed coffee than the recipe called for, because I thought my batter would be too thin otherwise.
The first layer came out too dry because I baked it for too long. Impatient and wanting to start the second layer, I removed the cake from the pan before it had cooled completely. As you can see from the photo, this was a bad idea.
I lined the pan with canola oil (I had no butter), hoping this would work better. As the second layer was baking, I started on the chocolate mousse filling. The recipe came from the same website as the cake did.
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
- 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons Dutch processed cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 5 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon whiskey
- 2 large eggs, separated
- 1 tablespoon sugar, divided into 1 1/2 teaspoons each
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons cold heavy cream
- Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, espresso powder, water and whiskey in a medium heat proof bowl. Heat over a double boiler, stirring frequently until chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In another medium bowl, combine the egg yolks, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and salt. Whisk until mixture lightens and thickens slightly (about 30 seconds if using an electric mixer). Pour the melted chocolate into the egg mixture and whisk until combined. Set aside until mixture cools to just warmer than room temperature.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk, beat egg whites on medium speed until frothy; add remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar and increase speed to medium-high and beat until soft peaks form. Stir about 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten. Gently fold in remaining egg whites until only a few white streaks remain.
- Using your now empty mixer bowl (no need to wash it), whip heavy cream until soft peaks form. Fold the whipped cream into the chocolate/egg white mixture until no white streaks remain. Cover and refrigerate until firm for at least 2 hours (or up to 24).
I subbed the rest of the coffee from the cake recipe for the whiskey and left out the espresso powder.
Everything went smoothly until I made the meringue. For some unknown reason, I failed. Using my mixer, I blended the egg whites for 10 minutes, but nothing happened. No “soft peak,” no anything. Just white, frothy liquid. Screw it, I finally said, and dumped the whites down the drain.
After spending a year in culinary school, I’ve learned that there is always another way to achieve the final product. I folded whipped cream into my melted chocolate and skipped the meringue entirely. This resulted in a thinner, less dense mousse, but I figured it would thicken after chilling for an hour or two. Despite everything, the mousse tasted great.
My second layer of cake came out much better than the first. After I spread the mousse over the first layer, I tried to detach the second layer from the pan. Let’s just say that canola oil is no substitute for butter and flour. I gathered the broken pieces of cake and placed them on top of the mousse as neatly as possible.
Looks like a cheeseburger with rye bread!
I took a small bite of my cake. Ruby Tuesday’s cake was moister, and aesthetically way more appealing. The chocolate mousse in my cake, however, was out-of-this-world good.
I should have refrigerated my cake right away to let it set. Instead, I left it out on top of the stove, which was still hot from the oven. Ten minutes later, I realized that the whipped cream holding my mousse together had melted, causing the top layer of cake to slide off of the plate. Oops.
Step three: Chocolate sauce and caramel sauce
After my cake fiasco, I wanted to keep everything else simple. I made both chocolate and caramel sauce at L’Academie de Cuisine, so I recreated these recipes from memory.
- Chocolate chips
- Heavy cream
- Vanilla extract
- Add about 1 cup chocolate chips and a little cream (helps keep the chocolate from burning) to a stainless steel bowl over a pot with simmering water. Use a spatula to stir until the chocolate has melted.
- Remove from heat and add a little vanilla extract and stir.
- Add more cream until desired thickness.
- How simple was that??
- Heavy cream
- Vanilla extract
- Add about 1-2 cups of sugar to a pot. Add a little water, just enough so that all the sugar can absorb it. This will help the sugar not to burn.
- Over medium-high heat, cook the sugar until it turns a medium brown. Then, add a few small cubes of butter and remove from heat. Swirl the pot to combine the butter.
- Add heavy cream until caramel has reached desired thickness. Add a little vanilla extract for flavor and that’s it!
No drama here. Just delicious sauce. Thank God.
Step four: Vanilla ice cream, whipped cream and crumbled Oreos
Like I said before, I’m no pastry chef. Sometimes, it’s just easier to go to 7-11. It’s especially easier when it’s about 30 feet away from my apartment. I bought Haagen Dazs vanilla ice cream and a six-pack of Oreos.
I always asked for no whipped cream at Ruby Tuesday, so let’s be historically accurate here and just leave it off. I also ran out of heavy cream after the chocolate and caramel sauces and didn’t feel like buying more.
Step five: Assemble!
Now that’s just beautiful.
Step six: Eat!
For me, the homemade caramel sauce was the star. The slight bitterness of the caramel was the perfect contrast to the sweetness of just about everything else going on in the dessert. In addition, the smoothness of the chocolate mousse and crunch from the Oreos contributed a different texture.
Because of limited time, making the tall cake on my own took several days. I don’t know what it is exactly, but there is something pretty awesome about ordering a dessert like this at a restaurant and having it appear in a matter of minutes.
After I finished my creation, I made a shocking discovery. A Ruby Tuesday in Hong Kong is still serving the chocolate tall cake (don’t believe me? Check out their website). Well, I guess I’ll be making a quick trip to Hong Kong in the near future.