A friend of mine was crusing the Epicurious site earlier this week and sent me the link for a Black Pearl cake from Katrina Markoff the owner/CEO of Vosges Haut-Chocolate (I believe the recipe may also be in the January 2005 issue of Bon Appetit). Since I had some time and the ingredients on hand today, I decided to go ahead and make the cake. Wow. This is one of the best cakes I've either made or eaten in a while. If you've eaten a Black Pearl chocolate bar from Vosges you will know that it is made with chocolate, wasabi, ginger and black sesame seeds. So is the cake, and it is an inspired combination with none of the primary ingredients taking center stage (well, maybe the chocolate does), but all of them blending together to create a pleasing total flavor profile.
The ingredient list and method might seem a little long or intimidating, but the cake is actually pretty easy to prepare. The flavor and texture were both outstanding. A previous rater on Epicurious had suggested doubling the amount of wasabi powder in the ganache filling, which I did, and which I think was a very good suggestion. The wasabi flavor came through so that you could identify it as wasabi, but the bite had been tempered, tamed and enhanced by the chocolate and ginger. The recipe also calls for using 3-8" cake pans which I didn't have, so I used 2-9" cake pans with no discernible problems. I did increase the baking time by 10 minutes. The cake is not especially inexpensive, but it's worth the time, effort and cost. Definitely a keeper and a winner.