Friday, February 10, 2012
Double Chocolate Cake
It’s always the season for chocolate. And the more chocolate cake you try, the more you come to realize there are a number of routes to travel when searching for the ultimate bite. I’m always looking for the deep flavor of cocoa not masked by too much sugar; the perfect texture that is neither too soft nor too toothy; a soothing balance of crumb and moisture in each bite; a wondrous hit of chocolate without being too rich or overwhelming. These are the elements that - depending on the quality of ingredients, technique, method, baking time and temp - conspire in different ways to fulfill that dream chocolate cake experience. Sometimes you want the lightness of a genoise and sometimes you want the perfect balance of Devil’s Food. Or sometimes you want the deep charge of a flourless concoction or the density of a pound cake. And then there’s everything in between.
Which brings me to today’s chocolate cake. This is the famous recipe from Epicurious, Double Chocolate Layer Cake. I’m tempted to call it Chocolate Heartthrob Cake because it’s so superhumanly popular with mostly positive reviews from over 1,400 readers. Since I’d never tried it, I thought I would see what everyone is talking about.
Well, to begin, this is a massively huge 10” cake that would serve 14 - 16, so I scaled back the ingredients to bake a single 8” layer. The cake is very easy to make. It has a little semisweet chocolate bolstered by natural cocoa for a fairly intense chocolate bite. It’s made with oil rather than butter, so you can expect it to be moist with an open crumb. And the very odd part is that it’s baked at 300 degrees for a longer period of time, but it works.
This is a very rich, very moist cake. It wasn’t quite there for me on the perfect texture side of the equation. I thought it was almost ever so slightly too moist, if that’s even possible to understand. But the flavor is very good and everyone who tasted it loved it, so it’s definitely easy to see why it’s gotten so much adoration. It will be another very good chocolate cake in my arsenal of good chocolate cakes.
So off we go. Let’s bake some cake.
- Do take note: the oven temperature is not a typo. The cake bakes at 300 degrees fahrenheit.
- I first whisked the one egg in the bowl by hand to aerate it and give it some volume so it would be viable on a stand mixer.
- The original recipe calls for a rich chocolate ganache to finish the cake but I used a looser chocolate glaze for a lighter, creamier result. You can use bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, depending on your own desired level of flavor and sweetness. Or you can use half bittersweet and half semisweet.
- For the chocolate glaze, finely chopping the chocolate into small bits ensures it will melt more evenly and efficiently. When the hot cream is added, let it sit for about 2 – 3 minutes so the chocolate can absorb the heat. Then stir gently and slowly, starting in the middle and working outward in concentric circles, to prevent it from cooling down too fast and creating air bubbles. The glaze can be reheated over a low simmering bain marie. When it's ready, flood the center of the cake quickly and then move to the edges.
- The use of corn syrup adds to the viscosity and shine of the glaze. I rarely use corn syrup but in this preparation it is a fairly small amount. You can certainly leave it out if you wish.
- You can also bake this in a 9” pan for about 38 - 40 minutes. Or make cupcakes and bake for 22 – 25 minutes.
Dark Chocolate Layer Cake
scaled down and adapted from Epicurious
1 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 C hot brewed coffee
3/4 C + 2 T all purpose flour
1/2 C cocoa powder
generous 1/2 t baking soda
1/4 t baking powder
generous 1/4 t salt
1 C sugar
1 large egg
1/4 C canola oil
1/2 C buttermilk
1/4 t vanilla extract [I used 1 t]
5 oz bittersweet chocolate (or 2 1/2 oz each of bittersweet and semisweet)
3/4 C heavy cream
1 T corn syrup
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees fahrenheit. Grease the bottom and sides of an 8” x 2 1/2” cake pan and line with a circle of parchment.
Finely chop the semisweet chocolate and place in a bowl. Pour the hot coffee over it and let it stand for a minute or so. Whisk until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.
In another bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt and sugar together.
Beat the egg at medium speed until it is pale yellow, about 1 minute. Add the oil, then the buttermilk and vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined. Mix in the melted chocolate and coffee mixture. Add the dry ingredients all at once, and beat on low speed until the batter is just combined. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir to make sure all the dry ingredients are absorbed. Pour the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of comes out clean.
Cool the cake in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto an 8” cardboard round or removable tart pan bottom. Carefully peel off the parchment paper and cool completely. Place the cooled cake along with the cooling rack on a baking sheet lined with parchment.
For the chocolate glaze, finely chop the chocolate into very small pieces and place in a medium bowl.
Bring the cream and corn syrup to a simmer. Keep your eye on it because it will spill over if left unattended. Just as it begins to boil, take off heat and pour it over the chopped chocolate and let it sit for about 2 minutes. Then stir slowly and gently, starting in the middle until thoroughly combined and then working outward in concentric circles until the mixture comes together.
To glaze the cake, pour the glaze quickly in the center of the cake and then around the edges. Let it run for a few seconds and then gently jiggle and tap the baking sheet on the work surface to encourage the glaze to run down the sides of the cake. Just as it begins to dry, run a small flat spatula around the underside of the cardboard round to smooth the bottom edge and prevent “feet” from forming. Let glaze firm up before serving.