This is quite a project, but worth the time and effort when you want something extra special and chocolaty. Be sure to read the directions all the way through well before you intend to make this. The ganache needs to be prepared a day ahead of time and you may want to also prepare the glaze and decorations ahead as well, to save time and energy on the day of preparation.
Source: Bon Appetit/March 1989
1CHOCOLATE GANACHE (needs to be prepared day before) Recipe makes enough for one 9" cake. About 1 1/3 cups.
Bring cream to boil in heavy small saucepan. Remove pan from heat. Add chocolate and stir until melted. Pour into bowl; refrigerate overnight.
Just before using, beat with electric mixer until just fluffy, about 5 seconds.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter and flour 9" cake pan with 1 1/2" high sides.
3Sift 3/4 cup flour with cocoa and baking powder into medium bowl.
4Whisk eggs and sugar in large bowl. Set over saucepan of boiling water and whisk eggs until warm to the touch. Remove bowl from over water.
5Using electric mixer, beat egg mixture until it whitens and more than triples in volume, about 5 minutes. Mix in vanilla.
6Sift dry ingredients again and gently fold into egg mixture until just incorporated.
7Add butter and fold in until just incorporated; do not overmix.
8Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake until cake begins to pull away from sides of pan and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Invert on cake rack and cool.
Bring first 3 ingredients to a boil in heavy medium saucepan. Reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced to 2 tablespoons, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes.
10Puree mixture in blender with brandy. Cool completely in blender. Add butter to puree and blend until smooth.
Recipe makes enough for 1 9" cake. (about 1 1/8 cups)
12Melt butter and chocolate in heavy small saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Mix in corn syrup. (can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and let stand at room temperature. Whisk over low heat until melted before continuing.)
13Let glaze stand until just cool to touch, about 20 minutes. Use immediately.
14ASSEMBLING THE CAKE:
Cut cake horizontally into 3 layers using a serrated knife. Place bottom layer on a 9" cardboard round or cake pan bottom.
15Set aside 1/2 cup ganache for cake top and sides. Spread half of remaining ganache over bottom cake layer.
16Spread scant 1/2 cup fruit filling over layer of ganache. Top with middle cake layer.
17Spread middle cake layer with other half of ganache.
Spread scant 1/2 cup fruit filling over that layer of ganache. Cover with top cake layer.
18Spread remaining fruit filling over top of cake. Refrigerate 30 minutes.
19Spread reserved 1/2 cup ganache over top and sides of cake. Refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 1 hour.
20Place cake on rack set over rimmed baking sheet. Spoon some of the glaze over sides of cake. Pour remaining glaze over top of cake.
21Smooth top and sides with spatula if necessary. Let stand 30 minutes. Press toasted walnuts onto sides of cake using palm of hand.
22Roll 3 dried apricots and 3 pitted prunes out on lightly oiled surface to thickness of 1/8". Cut into assorted leaf shapes. Arrange in clusters atop the cake. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead, refrigerate. Let cake stand 3 1/2 hours at room temperature before serving.)