Forgive me, Father, for I have sinned.
At least, I’m planning to.
A decidedly gluten-full chocolate cake lies in wait in my oven at this very moment, and the ingredients for the chocolate frosting beckon to me from my mixing bowl.
Yes, a night of wickedness is in store.
I’ll regret it in the morning, but, you know, if I don’t make it until tomorrow morning, if my time should come in the middle of the night, I’ll be really glad that my last meal included this cake.
I wanted to surprise my husband with something special tonight, and I think this cake will be perfect. He loves this cake. It’s so moist and chocolaty and, surprisingly, not too sweet. Don’t get me wrong. It’s cake, so it has to be sweet. But it’s not tooth-achingly, cloyingly so like some chocolate cakes. This one strikes the perfect balance.
I wish I could claim that this is my own personal recipe, but I can’t. I can’t even pretend to have improved upon the original. I make it exactly as written, because it’s simply perfect that way.
Well, come to think of it, I have discovered one way to improve it, but it’s so non-invasive it probably doesn’t count. The very best way to make this cake is to increase the cake ingredients by 50% and fill 3 cake pans, then double the frosting ingredients. Result: an impressive 3-layer cake with an even more perfect cake-to-frosting ratio. Of course, this is only practical if you have lots of people to eat your labor of love. . .or if you don’t mind gaining 7 pounds in a weekend.
Since I’m only cooking for 2 tonight, I’m forgoing the extra layer and frosting and preparing the recipe as originally written. To give credit where credit is due, I should mention that I discovered this recipe by Ina Garten in Food & Wine Magazine at least a year ago, maybe more.
Please join me in my badness and make this cake too. Then we can feel rotten about our lack of self-control together.
Double-Chocolate Layer Cake
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1/2 teaspoon sea salt or table salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
6 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup + 1 tablespoon confectioners’ (powdered) sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
2 teaspoons hot water
Preheat oven to 350. Butter two 8-inch cake pans and line with parchment paper; butter paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out excess.
(I now skip the parchment paper step because I have really high quality nonstick cake pans. If you do choose to use parchment paper, please note that it is not the same thing as wax paper.)
In an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt at low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk buttermilk with oil, eggs, and vanilla. Slowly beat into dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in hot coffee until fully incorporated.
Pour batter into prepared pans. (It will be quite thin and runny. Don’t be alarmed.)
Bake for 35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. (Be careful not to overcook. The oven in our new place runs hot, so I checked it after 31 minutes, and it was already done. Consider checking yours early too.)
Cool cake in pans 30 minutes, then invert on rack to cool completely. Peel off parchment paper (if using).
Microwave chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring until melted. (Obviously, you can also do this on the stove, as I prefer. I’m wary of microwaves.) Set aside to cool to room temperature.
In an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute. At low speed, slowly beat in confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute. In small bowl, dissolve instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat coffee and cooled chocolate into butter mixture until just combined.
(Note: absolutely do NOT mix coffee and chocolate together before adding them to the butter. Your frosting will be lumpy if you do this. As they say, ask me how I know.)
Set a cake layer on a plate with flat side up. Spread 1/3 of the frosting on top. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Frost the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing. (I always skip the refrigeration step and never have any problems, but you’re free to do as you please.)
The frosted cake can be refrigerated for 2 days. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.
Note: If you’d like to put your cake on a cake stand or other platter and you care about the final presentation, slip strips of wax or parchment paper underneath the edges of the cake all the way around before frosting it. Then, when you’ve finished frosting, carefully pull away the pieces of paper. Like this:
I found this tip a long time ago, and it works like a charm.
Well, my cake is out of the oven now, so I’d better get moving. Adieu!