I came up with this little number to serve at a family graduation party for Jordan (Arthus), who graduated from H.S. last week….HUZZAH! When asked what type of cake he wanted he immediately reached for our go-to bittersweet chocolate cake and opted this time to have it finished off with a cream cheese frosting.
It has been my default chocolate cake for years now and without fail, every time I serve one up someone comments on how it is the BEST chocolate cake they’ve ever had. The only thing I ever change is the frosting I put on it, sometimes it’s a bittersweet ganache, sometimes a peanut butter frosting, it all depends on what the celebrant requests.
Usually when I make this cake I use two 10″ round pans with slightly sloping sides that I bought in France and frost just the top of each layer. This time I used three 9″ pans I have that have perfectly straight sides to that I could make an attempt at frosting the whole shebang. It does take a little more time and effort to coat the whole cake, but I have to say, the WOW factor when it is all done makes it a worthwhile undertaking. The flavor alone is reason enough to make this cake, but as they say “you eat first with your eyes”, so why not make it a beauty to look at too! Wilton has a pretty good video on how to frost a cake like this here.
Cheers – Steve
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 the frosting:
- 3 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese at room temperature
- 3 sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 6-7 cups powdered sugar (depending on what consistency you want)
for the cake layers:
- Preheat oven to 300°F and butter pans. Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper and butter 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, 50-60 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:
- Cream the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar in 2 additions and mix until fully incorporated. Spoon 1/2 cup of the frosting into a small bowl to be used later for finish decorating.
- Place the bottom cake layer on a cake stand (a revolving one is ideal) and spread an even layer of frosting on top. Place the second cake layer making sure that the sides line up evenly with the first layer and repeat the frosting process. Place the final layer and top with frosting as you did the first two. Working with an offset spatula, and slowly rotating the stand, set a thin layer of frosting on the sides of the cake as a "crumb coat". Smooth as much as you can, then place the cake in the fridge for 15-30 minutes to firm up the first layer.
- Put an even finish layer on the top and sides, working to establish as smooth a surface as you can. Place the cake back in the fridge for 15 minutes to set the frosting.
- Meanwhile, add sifted cocoa powder one tablespoon at a time to the reserved frosting and mix with a rubber spatula until the desired color and taste is achieved. Place the chocolate frosting into a piping bag and decorate the cake as you with, with stars, flowers....whatever!