Friday, May 22, 2009

Chocolate Cake

Loco Over Choco
A chocolate cake horizontal tasting seemed daunting. There were just TOO many to consider! Fudge, decadent, flourless, or mousse? Ganache, fudge, or buttercream icing? Custard inside icing allowed? The possible permutations and combinations seemed endless, and when we started asking people for nominations, we were swamped with names. After a while, just the thought of chocolate made us sick.

The thought of having to eat more than 10 cakes made us quesy, to say the least, so we decided to limit the candidates to the following parameters: plain chocolate cake with plain icing. The Cookie Monster cake of yore. Custard inside icing allowed. Our benchmark: Polly Garilao's popular chocolate cake. We trimmed down the list from a high of 20 to a more digestible number of 10.

As a disclaimer, I personally like gooey gooey gooey chocolate cakes....the type that sticks to the roof of your mouth, smears your teeth, and smudges your napkin. The kind that unabashedly screams "chocolate" and "lots of it", with no finesse whatsoever. Pretty cakes are obviously appealing, but there is something so decadent (that word again!) about chocolate that makes a gooey mass/mess a turn-on. In my opinion, at least. :) But, as all tastes differ, that night, 19 souls sat down for the great Chocolate Cake Showdown.

So, our candidates:
1. Ultimate Chocolate Cake by Symphony Sweets ~ P1,500 / 8" Round Tel # 823-5235 - Marcelo Green Subdivision, Bicutan Also available in Salcedo Market on Saturdays.

This cake actually was disqualified by appearance alone, as we were looking for a cake without embellishments. As you can see, this handsome cake, with its truffles and almond slices, was far from a Plain Jane. This could also account for its high ticket price. However, the cake and icing were exceptionally good, and if judged on these alone, would have ranked quite high.

Upon further investigation the next day, it was discovered that a plain, chocolate cake by Symphony Sweets existed (called the Supermoist Chocolate Cake, P700 for a 9" round). This would have been more suitable for the tasting, and by gosh, with a name like that, how could it lose? :)

2. Wine Club ~ P575. / 8" Round Aguirre St., Legaspi Village, Makati Tel. # 893-7784

This cake literally paled in comparison, as its light brown buttercream icing looked anaemic among all the deep dark chocolatey colors. The buttercream icing also was very different from the fudge and ganache icings that night, in terms of texture (silkier and not gooey) and flavor (definitely less intense in chocolate). That being said, the cake itself was great....moist and flavorful.

3. Diimpy Camara's Chocolate Cake ~ P400. / 9' x 9' Dasmarinas Village Makati Tel # 843-8086

Dimpy Camara, of Frozen Brazo fame, also makes a deadly chocolate cake. This cake comes with a caramel sauce which only makes it EVEN better. Apologies for the unflattering blue glare (coming from Old Swiss Inn's stained glass window). A plain, square, gooey chocolate cake. Good stuff!

4. Chocolat's Deep Dark Chocolate Cake ~ P400. / 8" P427. G/F Llanar Bldg. 77 Xavierville Ave., Loyola Heights, QC Tel. # 928-9304

This cake was the only cake with MATTE chocolate icing. Not really sure if matte icing worked to its advantage. While it did look like a lusciously gooey cake (the icing was irregulary slathered, as if consciously trying to avoid the manicured looks of a store-bought cake), I must admit, in my opinion, the matte icing looked less attractive than the glossy, fudgy icings. However, as this was nominated by several people, we thought that it had to be included in our line-up.

5. Rosanna Baron ~ P500. / 9" Round La Vista Subdivision Tel. # 928-4118

This cake looked like the epitome of a gooey chocolate cake. Thick swirls of chocolate fudge icing haphazardly crowning this cake promised an even more luscious inside.

6. CALEA - Bacolod

Bacolod's entry was a 2 layered dense chocolate cake topped with a lighter fudge icing and an almost frozen-like cream center. In fact, after 30 minutes in room temperature, the icing began to ooze most attractively down the cake.

7. Med Chef's Moist Chocolate Cake ~ P650. / 10" Dome shape Q.C. - also available in Legaspi Market (Sundays) 0918-3596538

Imagine your favorite childhood Choco Mallow blown up 100x.....that's what this cake reminded us of. Not your best looking cake, but one that you will remember.

8. Karen Young's Chocolate Ganache Cake ~ P700. / 8" Round Karen’s Kitchen (KEY Specialty Foods) 428 Adalla St. Palm Village, Makati 898-2280

Rich ganache icing made this stand out. Had great icing:cake ratio. And decorated beautifully as well!

9. Polly's Chocolate Cake tel # -401- 4588 ~ P220. / 8" Round Merville Subdivision, Bicutan Also available in Shell Magallanes

Our benchmark. However, some people observed that this round cake did not taste was good as their square ones. Not really sure if there's a valid reason behind this, or if chocolate fatigue just set in. But for P220 for an 8" round cake, this had definitely the best bang for the buck!

10. Chocolatier Classics - Malu del Rosario ~ P400. / 6" Round Tel # 850-6051 or 842-5882 Ayala Alabang Subdivision

Judged the most photogenic cake. You just couldn't take a bad picture of it! Moist chocolate crumb, deep fudge icing, high cake:icing ratio. Definitely a contender. And pretty too!

Pretty maids, all in a row. Thanks Arg Camacho, for the photo!

Judges had to alternate between chocolate cake and "palate cleansers" of sausages, pork knuckles, and other salty fare. We didn't want chocolate fatigue to set in too early.

Taking the job seriously
Scores were submitted, tabulated, and recounted. The winner? Chocolatier Classics by Malu del Rosario. It had everything that we were looking for......deep, intense chocolate flavor, not too cloyingly sweet, gooey fudge icing, good cake:icing ratio, and looked gorgeous as well!
Special mention has to go to Symphony Sweets, who would have won the tasting had it not been eliminated. Also special mention to Calea's frozen cake, for having the best icing.


  1. hey Katrina... great blog... is this yours? totally yummy! and torture for me because i've really to cut on sweets substantially since i was diagnosed diabetic (but of course, knowing me, i defy this condition every chance i get).

  2. hey Teddy! Yes, I contribute to this blog, along with 3 others. We have a bunch of friends (and growing in number) who get together to "horizontally taste" different products. We started with sans rival.

    You know, every since I've known you, you've been a diabetic, yet this is the first time I've heard you say you've cut down on sweets! :)

    Join our tasting the next time!

  3. Hi Katrina, these horizontal tastings are a great idea! I'm looking forward to reading more so I can figure out what to sample during our next trip to Manila.

    Was wondering if you have a tasting in mind for the best Chinese lumpia (the one with the ground peanuts and lots of garlic).


  4. Hi Joyu!!

    Great idea on the Chinese lumpia!! I'll ask the group. Our next horizontal tasting is Pork Siomai, so maybe after. But it might take a while, as eating fatigue can take its toll, and we need time to recuperate (tasting is so taxing on the body! :) ).

    Do you have any contenders for Chinese lumpia? I like the ones sold in the Saturday and Sunday markets.

    Nice to hear from you!


  5. Quik Snack for the longest time until 2007. Actually went to their restaurant in Binondo (through the little eskinita), but was quite disappointed. There wasn't enough garlic or hothieh (the seaweed with fried bihon). I'm not sure if this is just a fluke or what.

    I did try the one in the Sat Salcedo village market and liked that one very much...

  6. goodness, i know so many of the chocolate cake entrants palak and didn't realize they baked! pathetic...

  7. Very nice comparative analysis. I think you have picked the best ones of the many competing chocolate cakes in Manila.

    The chocolate cake by Symphony Sweets looks really great. Id like to try that too...!

  8. oh my!! these cakes are soooo heavenly :) I love Chocolat's Deep Dark Classic and Tablea cake.. also the Choco Carrot Cake :) Two thumbs up for Becky's Swiss Choco cake, Conti's Black Velvet, Chocolate Kiss Cafe's Devil's Food Cake and Goldilocks choco birthday cake! I'm a sucket for chocolates (or sweets in general) :D