Mocha Double-Chocolate Birthday Cake

Chocolate Cake

Chocolate CakeAfter making the practice cupcakes, I decided to be adventurous and try a new recipe. While the devil’s food cupcakes were really good, I was not happy with the frosting. I was able to salvage the recipe by adding unsweetened chocolate and cocoa, but the consistency was a little off and by omitting half the sugar I wasn’t sure it would be enough for a two layer cake.

Instead I decided to try Ina Garten’s Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Food & Wine Magazine. I read about this fantastic cake on another Food Blog, Dine and Dish. I was intrigued by this cake because it did not call for the usual creamed butter, but used buttermilk and coffee. The frosting only had 1 cup of powdered sugar which was much better than the 3 – 4 cups in most recipes.

The cake batter was very thin, which concerned me a little before baking. One of the layers was a tiny bit lopsided so I trimmed a bit off. This also allowed me a sneak taste, it was divine. My husband thought it was fantastic and he’s not a big cake fan.

The frosting was luscious. I made sure to get the freshest organic butter I could find. The last time I made a butter-cream frosting, I made the mistake of buying whatever butter was on sale. The butter was not great and the taste came through in the frosting. I did add two tablespoons of dutch processed cocoa powder to the frosting in the final mix. It didn’t really need it, but I wanted an extra chocolate punch.

I really love the taste of almonds with chocolate. I toasted some almond slivers in the oven and added them to the side of the cake. I finished off the top with some chocolate shavings from a bar of Scharffen Berger Semi-sweet chocolate. This is the same chocolate I used in the frosting.

The birthday girl was out sick on Monday, so we are saving the cake for today. My hope is that it will still be moist and delicious after being refrigerated for almost 48 hours. I’ll update later today with more comments and hopefully more photos of the cut cake.

Update

Well, the birthday girl is still out but she wanted us to eat the cake and save her a piece. Boy, was that difficult. This cake is amazing, even after two days. I had a line of colleagues out the door begging for a piece. A few people commented that they are very picky about their baked goods and that this cake was divine. It’s not difficult to make and the results are spectacular. One person who hates chocolate (I know, hard to believe) ate the crumbs off the cake round. So, if you need to make a chocolate cake for an event, try this one. The almonds on the side worked very well. For future cakes, I might chop them a bit smaller. They fell off the cake during cutting.

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

MAKES ONE 8-INCH LAYER CAKE

“This is the most fabulous chocolate cake that I’ve ever made,” says Ina Garten, host of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa. “It’s so easy and so moist and light. There’s buttermilk and a cup of coffee in the batter! The frosting is just buttercream and a little coffee.”

Ingredients

CAKE

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (sifted)
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee (1 cup of instant coffee works well, too.)

FROSTING

  • 7 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablespoon instant coffee granules

Directions

MAKE THE CAKE: Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.

MAKE THE FROSTING: In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the powdered sugar, about 1 minute. In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 1 tablespoon of hot water.  Slowly beat cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined. Add the disolved coffee and mix until well combined.

Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up. Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge. Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.

MAKE AHEAD The frosted cake can be refrigerated for 2 days. Let stand for 1 hour before serving.

Update: April 9, 2007

I made this recipe a second time this past weekend as cupcakes. They were amazingly good and were a huge hit at my work and my husband’s work.

Cupcakes

Tip: The batter is very thin. You can pour the batter into a liquid measuring cup for easier portioning.

Line muffin pan with cupcake liners. Pour the batter into each muffin cup to 3/4 full. Bake for 20 – 22 minutes or until toothpick inserted into the center of the cupcake comes out clean. Let the cupcakes cool in the pans on a wire rack for 10 – 15 minutes and then remove from the pan and cool to room temperature.

I made 28 cupcakes with this recipe. With the frosting, they are about 200 calories and 10 grams of fat. Not too bad for the delicious richness. I’d take this over a Krispy Kreme any day.

2 Comments

  1. KitchenNut on April 18, 2007 at 4:59 am

    Wow!! The almonds stay on so beautifully!! How did you get them to arrange so perfectly? My mouth is watering!

  2. Syl on April 21, 2007 at 7:25 pm

    Thank you. 🙂 I held the cake in one hand over a sheet pan and pressed the almonds onto the sides. In spots where there were fewer almonds, I placed them one by one to fill up the bare spots.

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