Tuesday, August 4, 2015

The Best Chocolate Cake You'll Ever Eat

One thing to know about me right off the bat, I have a love for anything and everything chocolate. I literally will never turn it down, in any form. So obviously, finding the perfect chocolate cake recipe was first on my to-do list when I started baking. 

I’ve probably tried over a dozen chocolate cake recipes throughout the years, including Hershey’s “Perfectly Chocolate” chocolate cake recipe you’ve probably seen pinned all over Pinterest, Martha Stewart's recipe, Ina Garten’s recipe, and a couple from Bon Appetit... to name a few. Unfortunately, I wasn’t completely satisfied with any of them. (Like I said, I take my chocolate cake very seriously, and was not about to settle on a recipe that was too dry, too dense, or not rich enough).

After combing through dozens of chocolate cake recipes and trying about half of them, I did learn to keep an eye out for a few things in a chocolate cake recipe that would lead to success: the type of chocolate, the type of wet ingredients, and the amount of wet ingredients. So, when I finally came across Sweetapolita’s Campfire Delight Cake (if you don’t already know about Sweetapolita, check her out! She is a cake goddess and my inspiration for baking delicious cakes. I’ll post about the entire Campfire cake another time, but for now, let’s stay focused on chocolate cake), I was immediately drawn to it because she was the first person to require a dark cocoa powder. And let me tell you, it’s a game changer! She specifically uses Cacao Barry Brute Cocoa Powder, which you can find on Amazon or specialty baking supplies stores for about $20. It’s worth every penny. It gives the cake a rich, dark chocolate flavor, which was a homerun in my book. However, if you don’t want to spend this much money or don’t have time to order and wait for it to be shipped, you can certainly use an alternative dark cocoa powder. In fact, I’ve used Hershey’s Extra Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder and have been very happy with the results.


The other thing that stood out to me about this particular recipe was the type of wet ingredients and the amount of wet ingredients she used – eggs, buttermilk, coffee, and vegetable oil. I’ll warn you now, the batter will be thin, but don’t worry, your cake will moist and rich.


Side note about the coffee - the first time I try any recipe, I follow it exactly. So, the first time I made this recipe, I did use decaf coffee. The coffee flavor is barely noticeable and I’m sure if I made you this cake with coffee, you’d never know the difference. However, I also know some people don’t want to use coffee, decaf or not, so the next time I made the cake, I simply used hot water in place of the hot coffee and it works out perfectly. The cake still comes out super moist and because of the dark cocoa powder, the flavor is still rich and decadent.

I’m excited for you to try this cake. But before you do, one final tip. Probably the most important tip I can ever give you about any cake, especially chocolate cake. DO NOT OVER BAKE IT! One or two minutes over the optimal cooking time could completely ruin your cake. I’ve had it happen. It sucks. Since everyone’s oven is different, I suggest you watch your cake like a hawk the first time you make it. Really start paying attention toward the end of the baking time. You’ll know the cake is almost done when your house starts to smell like cake. You can also tell by touch – first, by using a toothpick, and sticking it into the center of the cake. You want just a few crumbs to come out with the pick. Second, you can also test the cake by lightly tapping the top of the cake. If it jiggles, it’s still wet inside. If the top bounces back a little, it’s time to take it out. And since there are three cake pans in this recipe, you need to check all three pans. Sometimes I need to leave one pan in for an extra minute.

And in case you need more convincing that this homemade chocolate cake is worth making verse a box mix, let me show you the difference in texture: the left is from a box and the right is homemade. The box cake is dry and airy. The homemade cake is moist and rich.



Pretty convincing, right?

Ok, I think you're ready. And here's a finished chocolate cake with a chocolate buttercream frosting, which I've also posted below.


Enjoy!
  

Rich, Dark Chocolate Cake 

Yields: One 6-layer, 8-inch round cake (adapted from Sweetapolita)

Ingredients:
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
3 cups granulated sugar
1 cup Cacao Barry Extra Brute Cocoa Powder (or similar premium brand)
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 ½ teaspoon salt
3 eggs, room temperature
1 ½ cups buttermilk, room temperature
3/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 ½ tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Instructions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare three 8” round cake pans (butter or spray, line bottom with parchment paper, butter or spray paper and dust with flour).
2. In a bowl of electric mixer, sift all dry ingredients. Set aside.
3. Combine eggs, buttermilk, coffee, oil and vanilla in a measuring cup and lightly beat with a fork.
4. Add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix on medium speed for two minutes. Batter will be thin. Scrape sides and mix for another 30 seconds. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans (I like to use a kitchen scale to ensure the batter is evenly distributed).
5. Bake for 25-27 minutes (you may need more time depending on your oven), until toothpick comes out almost clean. Cool on wire racks for 10-15 minutes, then gently invert onto racks until cooled completely.
6. When cakes are completely cooled, I like to wrap each cake layer individually with plastic wrap and stick it in the refrigerator or freezer until I’m ready to frost. The cake will be easier to work with if it’s cooled a bit. If I’m making the cake a day or two before I actually need to frost it, I put it in the freezer to ensure freshness. If I’m frosting same-day, I’ll just put it in the refrigerator to chill until needed.

This cake goes great with just about any frosting. I typically pair it with the classics: chocolate and vanilla. Here's the chocolate buttercream frosting I used for the cake pictured above. I'll post the secret to my favorite whipped vanilla buttercream soon. Stay tuned!

Chocolate Frosting (adapted from Sweetapolita)

Ingredients:
2 cup unsalted butter
4 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
10 oz. good quality milk chocolate, chopped melted and cooled
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

Instructions:
1. In a bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the confectioner's sugar and butter. Beat on low speed for 1 minute.
2. Add vanilla and salt and beat until combined.
3. Add the melted chocolate and beat on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes.
3. Slowly add whipping cream, with mixer on low speed, then increase speed to med-high and beat for another 2-3 minutes, until light and fluffy.
4. Frost cake right away, or, if you cover and use later, make sure to mix with a rubber spatula right before applying to the cake to get rid of air bubbles.

6 comments:

  1. Looks delish-which auto correct keeps trying to change to selfish-I think it's a Freudian thing because I would want to eat it all myself :-)

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  2. Oh my mouth is watering! So happy you finally started your blog. Would you be willing to post tips and techniques for frosting cakes? Yours always look so beautiful!

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    1. Yes, decorating cakes will definitely be a part of the blog!

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  3. Dying to try this! I have my own favorite Chocolate cake, and its all about the moisture! It is from the Keeping Up Cookbook. It is called the Favorite Go-To Chocolate Cake.... But my family has fondly come to call it "Crack Co-Cake".

    Please do a post about decorating, because I am seriously lacking in that department!

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    1. I'll have to check out that recipe and compare it to this one. Thanks for the recommendation! And I will definitely do some decorating tutorials!

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  4. I've made your chocolate cake and it was amazing. For some reason it did take quite a bit longer to bake and, unfortunately, my peeking caused it to fall in the middle. But I just leveled them off and it was still delicious. I haven't had a cake do that so didn't know if you had any tips to avoid in the future? Thanks for the recipe. And yes, boxed is so bad!

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