Friday, May 20, 2011

Jumping on the bandwagon: the best ever double-chocolate cake

This was all that was left to be photographed of the best-ever chocolate cake.
I went to work on Monday as usual, saw my friends/coworkers at lunch as usual, chatted about our weekends, and it wasn't until I got home and checked FB that I realized that it was one of my friend's birthday! And not just a birthday, but a big 6-0 birthday! I was so sad that I hadn't known in time to make her a birthday treat.

This is a friend with a lot of will-power...she turns down every goodie offered at the lunch table. So while normally I would want a birthday treat to be a surprise, I grilled her yesterday because I really have no idea what she likes (as I said, she always says no). I informed her that she would be getting a birthday treat and she would eat what should I make? She said either chocolate-chocolate cake (preferably dark chocolate) or carrot cake. Figuring I'd make a little cake for work and a few extra cupcakes for home, I gave the choice to hubby. His response? "Make the chocolate cake...but that could just be the fat guy talking."

I searched and searched for a good recipe...I checked my baking challenge books (killing two birds and all), but all of NM's recipes seemed to require much more time than I had to give to complete all of the steps. Finally, I discovered this recipe, via Smitten Kitchen, and it didn't seem too complicated and I had all of the ingredients on hand. As usual, I read most of the reviews. I could not find one single negative comment, and there were about a billion "this is the best chocolate cake ever" comments.

I halved the recipe and then followed it as written. Well, except I only had one bar of semi-sweet chocolate in the house (and my friend had requested dark chocolate anyway), so I used it, plus part of two 60% bars, and a tiny bit of a 72% bar. Oh, when I asked hubby to brew me a bit of coffee, he used French vanilla flavored coffee. And I didn't have buttermilk, so I used milk + lemon juice. And I guess my cocoa isn't entirely natural (it's Hershey's Special Dark, which is part natural and part dutched). Hm...why don't I just give you my ingredient list? (Sorry for the mixed measurements...I'll convert them all to grams the next time I make it.)

Double chocolate layer cake
adapted from Gourmet, March 1999

for the cake layers:
1.5 oz semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli)
.75 oz hot brewed coffee (French vanilla)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder (I used Hershey's Special Dark)
1 tsp baking soda
3/8 tsp baking powder
5/8 tsp salt
75 g eggs (I used about 1 1/2)
3/8 cup oil (I used safflower)
3/4 cup milk + 3/4 tbsp lemon juice (= fake buttermilk)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

for the frosting:
8 oz mixed chocolate (I used Ghirardelli semisweet + Ghirardelli 60% + Lindt 60% + Lindt 72%)
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp light corn syrup
2 tbsp unsalted butter, softened

For the cake layers:
1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
2. Line bottoms of pans with parchment paper and grease them.
3. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and then pour the hot coffee over them. Let it stand, stirring a few times, until all of the chocolate is melted (it took about 5 minutes for me).
4. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.
5. In a different bowl, beat the eggs until thickened slightly (about 3 minutes in the stand mixer). Slowly add the oil, buttermilk (or fake buttermilk), vanilla, and coffee/chocolate mixture. Beat until combined.
6. Add dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until combined.
7. Divide batter between pans. (I put 380 g of batter into each of my 6" rounds and then made 5 cupcakes (filled about 2/3 full)).
8. Bake until testing skewer comes out with a few crumbs but no wet batter (my cupcakes were done in 30 minutes; the cake was done in 50 minutes).
9. Cool pans on a cooling rack. When cool enough to touch, invert cake layers onto rack and allow to finish cooling completely. (Mine took about 2 hours to cool. Having read that it's a very moist cake which can make it difficult to frost, I stuck the layers in the fridge for about 20 minutes prior to frosting.)

For the frosting:
1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces.
2. In a small saucepan, bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves.
3. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate. Whisk until the chocolate is melted.
4. Add the butter and whisk until melted.
5. Allow to cool before frosting. (The half-batch of frosting was perfect for the 6" double layer cake and a small smear on the top of the cupcakes.)

This cake was a hit! It was dark and chocolately and rich and dense and so incredibly moist. I was worried that the frosting would be too dark, but it ended up being a perfect match for the cake. We were able to get about 10 smallish slices out of it, which were perfectly sized because it was so rich.

Given how easy it was to make, and that the birthday girl declared it was the best chocolate cake she'd ever had, this will be our new go-to chocolate cake recipe. Try it!


  1. I can attest that it was as good as you say. Yum.

  2. Another chocolate cake recipe I'll have to try, it looks absolutely sinful and so moist, a must for me. Your friend is very lucky - I would love to have someone bake me this cake for my birthday!

  3. This is the recipient of this delightful creation. I am REALLY fortunate to have Abby as a good friend.....and lunch companion. The cake was completely out of this world. Because I have attained the generous age of 60, I have had the opportunity to have many kinds of chocolate cake over the years. As I thought through the past cakes in my life, this one kept claiming the top spot. It really is the best chocolate cake ever! Dark chocolate, very moist, light (but not too much so), and last but not least, made with such affection. Thank you Abby for the best 60th birthday present ever!