Kate Moss famously stated in a 2009 interview, when asked whether or not there were any mottos that she ascribed to: “There’s ‘Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.’”
I could wax on and on about the wonders of chocolate and how much I love it. I literally cannot stop myself from eating it if it’s in my vicinity.
I discovered the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made/eaten on a stunning food blog Sips and Spoonfuls. I love this blog – I can’t get enough of the light, modern feel of Sukaina’s photography, her delicious and unique recipes and her heart-felt writing. Plus, I’m eternally indebted to her for introducing me to this chocolate cake recipe, a recipe that she got from Allrecipes.com.
This is my go-to chocolate cake recipe. Even the Husband likes it, which is quite the feat for any chocolate flavoured dessert.
This cake is so easy to make – you mix everything in only one bowl. It’s incredibly moist and rich but light in texture at the same time, with a deep dark intense chocolate flavour enhanced by the addition of hot coffee in the recipe. You don’t taste the coffee but it enriches the flavour and adds an aggressive bite to the chocolate. In the past, I’ve made it in a bundt pan and covered the cake in a dark chocolate ganache – warning: this is dangerously addictive.
It’s my birthday on Friday and we celebrated with the Husband’s family yesterday night. I requested my favourite celebratory meal (pizza and fried chicken) and I just had to bake my own cake. Of course I chose this one. I usually bake lighter, fruitier cakes for the in-laws because, as typical Asians, they’re not into dense, sweet desserts. I figure since they’re celebrating the glory of my birth that I have the honours of picking what they’ll eat.
MY FAVOURITE CHOCOLATE CAKE (adapted from Sips and Spoonfuls)
2 cups all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot brewed coffee
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour whatever pan you plan on using (I used two 8″ round cake pans).
In a bowl, sift together all the dry ingredients and mix. Create a well in the centre and add all the rest of the ingredients except coffee.
Mix well until combined and then add the coffee. Mix once again. The batter will be really liquidy but don’t worry. It’s supposed to be like that. It’s going to bake into a piece of chocolate heaven – trust.
Pour the batter into your greased pan and bake in the middle rack in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until a skewer comes out just clean. I cannot emphasize enough how important baking time is. You don’t want to overbake your cake or else it’ll be dry and burn-y (no one likes dry, burn-y cake). I have no idea how long my cake was in the oven – I was just constantly checking it.
Cool on a wire rack.
While the cake itself was easy to make, the rest of the components and actually putting the layer cake together felt like a marathon.
Let me put this into context. I got home from work at 6 p.m. and started working on the cake. The Husband came home, graciously offered to make dinner resulting in the two of us constantly bumping into each other in our small kitchen. The oven was on, the gas stove top was fired up, it felt like our apartment was 30 degrees C – we were sweaty, tired and irritated. We finished dinner at 7:15 p.m. – finally, the kitchen was mine! Wrong. The Husband, sweet as the gesture was, chose tonight to do the dishes. I was at the kitchen table hacking away at chocolate for the ganache when the Husband accidentally knocked a dish over and dirty dish water spurted forth from our counter onto the living room floor. I ran over with towels while a fly was buzzing hungrily over the cooling cakes and chocolate, just waiting to dive bomb into my food with a body that spent the day in a trash can.
Who’s brilliant idea was it to bake her own birthday cake? I want to kick her ass!
I ran back over, wielding the sopping wet dish rag like a weapon to shoo that fly away.
7:45 p.m., standing over the hot stove, heating up cream for ganache. I used Dorie Greenspan’s recipe from Baking From My Home to Yours.
DARK CHOCOLATE GANACHE (from Dorie Greenspan)
8 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup & 2 tablespoons whipping cream (we don’t carry heavy cream up here)
4 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
Chop the dark chocolate as fine as you can get it and put it in a heatproof bowl. In a small sauce pan, heat the cream until boiling, remove from heat. Pour half the cream into the chopped chocolate and stir until smooth. Pour in the rest of the cream and stir to combine. Then drop the butter in a piece at a time and stir until melted. The butter will make the ganache silky and super glossy.
I put the ganache into the fridge so that it could cool into a thicker consistency.
Ok, what next? It’s 8:10 p.m. – time to tackle Dorie’s marshmallow frosting.
This is the frosting that envelops the cake that graces the cover of her baking cookbook. It’s gorgeous, white and fluffy. As I was collecting the ingredients, I envisioned that same gorgeous, white and fluffy frosting, not too sweet, silky on the tongue, providing a lovely bright pop of contrast against the layers of dark chocolate cake. I could see myself crumbling a layer of cake and pressing them playfully and artfully against the sides of my frosted masterpiece, just as Dorie did. As freakish as this makes me sound, I was getting pretty excited.
Hmmm, it looked pretty simple. Water, sugar and cream of tartar went into a small saucepan. Mix it together, then bring it to a boil. Done. When the temperature hit 235 degrees F, start whipping your egg whites. Hmmm…the temperature according to my candy thermometer refused to rise above 225 degrees F, no matter how long I kept the mixture boiling. Ah well, hot is hot, right? The egg whites were forming nice soft peaks so in I poured the sugar/water mixture.
I watched in fascination as the mixer expertly whipped the egg whites with the mixture. The frosting grew in size and became glossy. Dorie says to keep mixing for about 5 minutes, allowing the frosting to come down to room temperature. Was I there yet? I thought so. I stopped the mixer and admired the frosting. I spooned some into my mouth – even though I reduced the sugar, it was still too sweet for my taste. It was also very foamy, light, and airy – not exactly what I expected. Oh well, I was sure it was fine. After it cooled a bit longer, I popped it into the fridge until show time.
The cake had baked up with domed tops so I cut them off to make even layers and reserved the excess for crumbling against the side of the finished cake.
After all four layers were filled with ganache, it was time for the final touch – that dreamy marshmallow frosting. Out it came. I plopped three big spoonfuls of the frosting on top of my cake before I noticed…
Epic fail of the day – marshmallow frosting.
The frosting had completely separated so that a fluffy mound of egg whites was floating on top of an ocean of sugar water. What the hell happened? Dorie’s recipes have never done me wrong! I couldn’t use this!
It was 9 p.m.
I’d been baking and assembling for three hours at this point.
Good God, this was gruelling!
What to do? I scraped the frosting off and went back to consult Dorie’s book. I flipped through furiously, looking at the different cakes and what kinds of frosting she used. In the end I settled on a simple frosting made of melted chocolate and butter.
Thankfully, it worked like a dream! I waited for the chocolate to cool before smoothing it over the cake. I then crumbled up pieces of the excess cake and smushed the crumbs over the sides of the cake.
I had to wait a full day before tasting my masterpiece. It was exactly what I wanted – a rich, moist cake that wasn’t too sweet, filled with deep, dark, creamy ganache. The chocolate frosting had hardened and made a delightful crispy exterior.
Everyone loved it. I am never going to buy another chocolate cake again when I have the absolute perfect recipe at my disposal.