This has been my “go-to” chocolate cake for a few years now, though I usually make it with a white butter and sugar, or cream cheese frosting. Here in the “Oui, Chef” kitchen, every family member gets to choose which cake we’ll make for their birthday each year, and this one has been a staff favorite for some time now.
Peyton generally goes for a cheesecake of some sort (key-lime was a big hit), Muppet is death by chocolate all the way (no surprise there). Arthas requests a chocolate-pistachio log that I learned how to make at Le Cordon Bleu, and everyone else requests some version of this cake.
The lovely one you see above is actually my wife’s birthday cake, artfully decorated with flowers by Peyton, and is made the way it was originally intended, with a chocolate ganache frosting. It is a chocoholics dream. I have only slightly adapted this recipe from the original, in that I use bittersweet (not semi-sweet as is originally called for) in both the cake and frosting recipes. The cake we make is almost black, it is so dark and rich (see the exposed side in the photo above), and it gets rave reviews every time. If you’re concerned with it being too much for you, by all means make it with semi-sweet chocolate instead.
For a REALLY special treat, take your slice of cake (not too big, this baby is rich) and toss it into the microwave for 15 seconds before eating it. That gives it just enough time to slightly warm the cake, and start melting the ganache. The results will leave you utterly speechless.
For cake layers
- 3 ounces fine-quality bittersweet chocolate such as Vahlrona
- 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
- 3 cups sugar
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 large eggs
- 3/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
- 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
For ganache frosting
- 1 pound fine-quality bittersweet chocolate such as Vahlrona
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
- 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
- Two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans
for the cake layers
- Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.
- Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
- Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
- Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.
for the frosting
- Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.
- Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).
- Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.