Dark and ruby chocolate layer cake

So my sister recently purchased a stand mixer for herself so that she can pick up baking as a hobby. Well, that and she makes a ton of bread at her house, and she is tired of kneading it by hand(I do NOT blame her, kneading bread makes my arms four times as sore as bowling for five hours straight). So to help guide her into the wonderful world of pastry, I figured, why not teach her how to make a cake? So this layer cake was actually the first time we made a cake from scratch together. I made her measure, mix, and spread the cake and the crumble all on her own! And I think she did a great job too! So for our layers, we have a dark chocolate cake, dark chocolate ganache, ruby chocolate chip crunch, and ruby chocolate pastry cream, with an almond milk soak. I wanted this cake to be a celebration of all things dark and ruby chocolate, so that was how we wound up with a cake that uses predominantly those two flavors. With dark chocolate, you get earthy, bitter, fragrant, while with the ruby chocolate, you get slightly tart, rich, and fruity. Both are chocolate, but they explore different notes of the same cacao plant!

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For the chocolate cake:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups almond milk
3 egg whites
3 tablespoons black or balsamic vinegar
3/4 cups olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
a pinch of salt
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

Combine all of your ingredients. Pour onto a parchment-lined sheet tray and spread the batter evenly. Bake the batter at 350 degrees F for 22 minutes. Allow the cake to cool down completely before removing the cake from the sheet tray.

For the ruby chocolate chip crunch:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup ruby chocolate, chopped finely

Combine all of your ingredients together to form a crumbly dough. Spread the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet tray and bake at 350 degrees F for 20 minutes. Cool the crunch down to room temperature then break into smaller pieces.

For the ruby chocolate pastry cream:
3 egg yolks
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 cup ruby chocolate
a pinch of salt
1 tablespoon pitaya powder

In a pot, melt down your almond milk, heavy cream, ruby chocolate, and salt on low heat. In a bowl, whisk together your egg yolks, cornstarch, and sugar. Combine the two mixtures into the bowl first, then pour back into the pot. Transfer the pot onto the stove again and whisk together on high heat for 2 to 3 minutes, or until the custard begins to thicken around your whisk. Take the pot off heat and whisk in the pitaya powder. Pass the pastry cream through a strainer into a bowl. Press cling wrap against the surface of the pastry cream and transfer into the refrigerator to continue cooling down. You want the pastry cream to be cold to the touch, and have a consistency thicker than pudding.

For the dark chocolate ganache:
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup almond milk
1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips
1/4 cup olive oil or unsalted butter
a pinch of salt

Melt all of your ingredients together to form a consistent mixture. Keep the ganache at room temperature and as a soft, spreadable texture. If the ganache firms up, place the ganache into a heatproof bowl over a double boiler and reheat until softened again.

For the almond milk soak:
1 cup almond milk
a pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk ingredients together.

For assembly:
Cut out two 6-inch rounds from your chocolate cake. Then cut out two half-circles from the cake using your ring mold, and if needed, take any other cake scraps and use them to fill in any cracks or missing pieces. Line a 6-inch ring mold with acetate. Place your scrap layer of cake down first, then pour in a third of your soaking liquid. Spread on your ganache, then your crunch, and then your ruby chocolate pastry cream. Repeat these steps with a regular round of cake. For your third and final layer, start with your last round of cake and the last of your soak. Spread the ganache, then the pastry cream onto the cake, swirling the two mixtures together, and then arrange some ruby chocolate crunch around the rim of the cake. Freeze the cake for at least 2 hours before removing the ring mold and acetate.

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