Happy Valentines Day!
Don't worry, I'm not going to get all preachy about love or take the stance that this "holiday" has been poisoned by the greeting card companies. Instead, I would like to talk about chocolate cake. Yes, unassuming, delicious chocolate cake.
There are about as many chocolate cake recipes out there as there are Valentine's Cards in your local Hallmark store. Chocolate pound cake, chocolate fudge cake, chocolate angel food cake, chocolate butter cake, chocolate sponge cake, chocolate layer cake, molten chocolate cakes, flourless chocolate cake, chocolate souffle cakes...and on and on.
I have spent the past two years looking for a good, basic chocolate cake recipe with a great fudge frosting. Sorry chocolate buttercream, you're going to have to sit this one out. So after experiment upon experiment, I think I've finally decided on a delicious moist cake and a fudgy, rich frosting.
PERFECT ALL AMERICAN CHOCOLATE BUTTER CAKE
from: The Cake Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum
1/2 cup + 3 tbsp (lightly spooned into cup) unsweetened cocoa (Dutch-processed)
1 cup boiling water
3 large eggs
2-1/4 tsp vanilla
2-1/4 cups + 2 tbsp sifted cake flour
1-1/2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter (must be softened)
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a medium bowl whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
In another bowl lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa water mixture, and vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1-1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake’s structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides. Scrape the batter into the prepared pans (spray coated with a round of parchment on the bottom) and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that the tops are up and cool completely before wrapping airtight.
from Hershey's Cocoa Cookbook
1 Cup sugar
1/4 Cup a good cocoa powder
1/2 Cup milk
1/4 Cup butter or margarine
2 Tablespoons light corn syrup
dash of salt
1 1/2 Cups confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In medium saucepan, combine sugar and cocoa. Stir in milk, butter, corn syrup and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a full boil. Boil, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool to lookwarm. In small mixer bowl, place confectioners' sugar; stir in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Beat until spreading consistency. About two cups frosting.
Tip: Spend your money on a good cocoa powder. It's going to make all the difference in the world. I am not a fan of Hershey's (sorry Hershey's...it's just too processed).
Enjoy these recipes, they're my valentine's gift to you!
Raspberry Preserves: $3.00
Vanilla Extract: Had
Total: $ 8.78
Whenever I make a chocolate dessert using either the choice of bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, I always go with the bittersweet option. It tends to have a touch less sweetness and a "darker" chocolate flavor. It always seems to make the desserts taste richer than if using semi-sweet.
Fast: Not fast enough. According to the recipe, you'll have to wait at least 1 hour from start to finish to get your chocolate fix. Although, the 30 minute waiting period seems a little overkill. Just let it sit for 10 minutes and serve it hot.
Easy: If you cool the chocolate mixture to lukewarm before adding it to the egg mixture, you'll be fine and this recipe will be a snap. However, if you're in a rush for chocolate goodness, you could add the melted chocolate into the eggs while it's still hot, but you'll have to add a little at a time while whisking to "temper" the eggs. (If you dump all the chocolate into the eggs all at once, you'll scramble your eggs).
Fresh: Since it's valentines day, spring for the fresh raspberries to put on top!
Overall: I like this recipe. It's very good and very easy. You could play with the different types of preserves to make different flavors (orange, apricot, strawberry). The raspberry taste is very subtle, that's why I recommend the fresh berries. Also, I would have taken these cakes out of the oven 3 minutes sooner. The center wasn't as oozy as I would have liked it.