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Robert Redford Cake

Robert Redford Cake, aka Better Than Sex Chocolate Cake.

Robert Redford Cake, aka Better Than Sex Chocolate Cake. (Photo: Juan Llamas)



For chocolate cake:
3 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ cups cocoa powder
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 tablespoons baking soda
3 ¼ teaspoons salt
6 ½ cups sugar, plus extra to coat cake pans
2 1/8 cups room temperature water
2 1/8 cups milk
1 cup canola oil
2 1/8 cups boiling water

For caramel mousse:
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Okinawa or regular brown sugar
¼ cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted Plugra butter
4 cups heavy cream, divided    
1 tablespoon vanilla paste
3 gelatin sheets (see note)

For coconut sauce reduction:
1 (13 oz.) can of coconut milk
2 cups soy milk
3 cups sugar

For chocolate cocoa nibs crunch:
1 1/8 cups semisweet chocolate
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ cup cocoa nibs
4 tablespoons Maldon salt

Recipe directions: 

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.

In a stand mixer, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar for two minutes. Slowly add room temperature water, milk, and canola oil to form a paste consistency. Reduce speed, add boiling water, and continue to mix, occasionally scraping the sides, until a creamy consistency is created.

Spray two 8-inch leakproof cake pans with removable bottoms with nonstick spray and lightly coat the pans with sugar, which will form a delicious, light crust while baking. Divide the cake mixture into the two cake pans and bake for 45–50 minutes. When the cakes are done, allow them to cool slightly, then pop the cakes out of the pans. Chill the cakes overnight to make them easier to split into layers.

The caramel mousse also should be made a day ahead of time and allowed to cool and set in the refrigerator overnight. In a sauce pot, bring white sugar, brown sugar, and water to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat, then add butter and half of the heavy cream. Return the pot to the stove, and over low heat, add vanilla paste and gelatin sheets. Stir to mix and once sugar and gelatin melt, remove from the stove, cover the pot with a lid or aluminum paper, and store in a refrigerator overnight to set.

To make the coconut sauce reduction, combine coconut milk, soy milk, and sugar in a sauce pot over low heat. Stir and cook for 30 minutes. Remove from the stove and allow coconut sauce to cool in the refrigerator overnight.

For the chocolate cocoa nibs crunch, microwave semisweet chocolate and olive oil in a microwave-proof bowl until smooth. Evenly spread melted chocolate about ¼-inch thick onto parchment paper. Be careful not to spread it too thin. Sprinkle cocoa nibs and sea salt. Transfer to the freezer to cool and set overnight.

When you’re ready to assemble the cake, whip the remaining heavy cream into the caramel mousse with a stand mixer until soft peaks form. Set aside in the refrigerator or a cool place.

Now, slice the two cakes with a serrated knife into four layers. Place one layer in an 8-inch cake pan with a removable bottom. Poke holes in the cake with a toothpick then spread 2 ounces of coconut reduction on top. Gently spread an even layer of caramel mousse on top of that. Place each cake layer on top of the other and repeat this process. You can make either a three- or four-layer cake. Use either whipped cream or the remaining caramel mousse to frost the cake. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Makes 10–14 servings.

Note: You’ll need to soften the gelatin sheets (called blooming) in a cold liquid, e.g., water, wine, or fruit juices. For this recipe, submerge the sheets in cold water for five minutes, or until malleable, springy, and jelly-like.

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