Recipe: The Chocolatiest Chocolate Cake
By Lisa Fielding of Secret Ingredients
I found it! Just in time for summer celebrations, a chocolate cake that tastes exactly like a rich chocolate bar. I’ve written about my passion for chocolate before and how I tend to avoid chocolate cakes and make other chocolate desserts because cakes just don’t cut it in terms of delivering great chocolate flavor. Well, after much tinkering and tasting, I whipped up a chocolate sheet cake (because I was going to build mini layered cakes) that was, in a word, awesome! It’s not the fastest cake you’ll ever make. And it can’t be mixed in one pan. There’s no skimping on ingredients. But once you’ve baked it, you’ll agree it was worth the time and effort. I am going to presume you can bake this in two 8” cake tins for a traditional cake. Otherwise, follow these instructions and make fancier mini cakes for you and your guests.
Tip: When buying your chocolate and cocoa powder, splurge on Sharffen Berger, Valrhona or Chocolates El Rey.
The Chocolatiest Chocolate Cake
Yield: (6) 3” diameter mini layered cakes or (1) 8” layered cake
For the cake:
1 cup water
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate melted
1 tbl. plus 1 tsp. vanilla extract
1½ sticks salted butter softened
1 cup crème fraiche
4 extra large eggs
2 extra large egg yolks
1½ cups granulated sugar
2½ cups all-purpose flour
1 tbl. baking soda
2 tsps. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbls. melted butter for brushing the sheet pan
Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Brush the melted butter over the bottom and sides of an 11x16” baking pan with 1” high sides. Place a sheet of parchment paper on the bottom of the pan, smoothing out the wrinkles. Brush another light coat of the melted butter over the paper.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, whisk together the water and cocoa powder. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly to dissolve the cocoa powder. Remove from the heat and whisk in the chocolate, vanilla extract and butter. Stir in the crème fraiche and transfer to a large mixing bowl.
In a separate bowl beat eggs and egg yolks and sugar with an electric mixer for several minutes until they become thick and mousse-like.
Over a bowl sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt to combine. Set aside.
Slowly add the eggs and sugar to the chocolate mixture, whisking to combine. Gently fold in the flour mixture in three batches to incorporate, deflating the batter as little as possible.
Pour the batter into the baking sheet and spread it out evenly. With both hands lift and gently tap the pan on the counter to release any air bubbles. You want the cake as even as possible. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until a toothpick comes out clean and the cake is springy to the touch. Allow to cool.
For the frosting:
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ cup water
3 tbls. corn syrup (I buy organic)
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate melted
2 tbls. cognac
1½ sticks unsalted butter
½ cup powdered sugar
In a small saucepan, whisk together the cocoa, water and corn syrup. Place the pan over medium heat and bring the mixture to a simmer, whisking constantly, until it’s smooth and thickened. Remove it from heat and whisk in the chocolate and cognac. Cool completely.
In a bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer on medium high speed for several minutes until it is light and fluffy. Add the powdered sugar, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
Stir in the melted chocolate mixture by hand. Let the frosting sit in a cool place or refrigerate until it becomes stiff enough to spread (no longer than 30 minutes).
To frost the cakes:
Frost the entire sheet cake before assembling. Reserve one cup of the frosting. Then, with a 3” biscuit or cookie cutter, cut 18 rounds. Stack the cakes with three rounds and use a toothpick to hold them together. With a small cake frosting spatula frost the sides of the cake. Gild the lily by making fresh whipped cream and dot the cakes with whipped cream and edible flowers.