February 26, 2014

Double Chocolate Cake

 On any given no-good day, I’d just about kill for a wedge of Bruce Bogtrotter double chocolate cake—that is, as imagined in my head while reading Matilda as opposed to the awfully glassy and ganache’d version depicted in the movie adaptation. Tall as hell, thick, insanely tender, piled upon by a too-rich frosting, chockablock with ropes of filling, too big for my plate, nearly impossible without a glass of milk—that’s my ideal cake, and it always has been. Upon realizing that I know of nowhere a person might procure a slice of such a cake, and being a woman of much time and butter, I went ahead and made a dream cake for myself after a particularly shitty day last week. And this is it, my dudes. As described, and frosted with the back of a spoon that doubled as a snack stick, which is a method for frosting that I especially recommend if you’re into eating your feelings. (Duh!) Mood cake. Celebration cake. Bruce Bogtrotter childhood dream cake. Whatever your frame of reference, this is the way to enjoy a chocolate cake, and I can’t recommend it enough if you’re seeking to soothe your inner shenanigans or just looking for an old reliable that will make your fellow potluckers swoon.  
Chocolate Cake
Yield: Two or three nine-inch layers, depending on your thickness preference
Serves: One, if you’re Bruce Bogtrotter, or about 16 if you’re not.

3 ounces dark or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 ½ cups hot brewed coffee
2 ¾ cups granulated sugar
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
¾ teaspoon baking powder
1 ¼ teaspoons fine-grain sea salt
3 large eggs
¾ cup vegetable oil
1 ½ cups shaken buttermilk
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter two or three nine-inch pans. My oven only has room for two layers at a time, so I make thick layers with an extra thick center filling, but this recipe yields enough for three layers if you prefer! Line bottoms with rounds of parchment paper and butter the paper.

2.  Finely chop chocolate and combine with hot coffee in a bowl. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

3.  Into a large bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat eggs on medium until thickened slightly and lemon colored, about three minutes. Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until just combined; finish stirring by hand.

4.   Divide batter evenly between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 35 to 45 minutes. Allow layers to cool in pans for ten minutes before unmolding; cool completely before frosting.
Chocolate Swiss Meringue Buttercream
Adapted from Apt. 2B Baking Co.
Yield: enough for one cake!

For the ganache
18 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
1 ½ cups heavy cream (I used coconut creamer, actually—to fine success and deliciousness!)
1 tablespoon super finely ground coffee
½ teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

For the meringue buttercream
5 egg whites
1 ¼ cups granulated sugar
1 pound butter, room temperature, cut into tablespoons
Pinch salt
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1. Make the ganache: Combine chocolate, coffee, and salt in a medium bowl. Heat cream or creamer until steaming, and pour over the chocolate mixture. Let stand for five minutes; whisk thoroughly until the mixture is homogenized, then add the vanilla and whisk again. Let cool to room temperature—sped up by brief stints in the fridge—but do not let harden.

2. Make the buttercream:   In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites and sugar. Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water and whisk continuously until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture is warm to the touch, five to seven minutes.
3. Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg white mixture until stiff, glossy peaks form, and the mixture has cooled to room temperature, about ten minutes; be sure that it’s really room temperature lest the butter melt into the egg whites.
4. Switch to the paddle attachment, reduce the speed to low, add the salt then add butter a few tablespoons at a time, and beat the frosting until smooth. You may find that your frosting breaks at this point. Just turn the speed up on your mixer and it should all come back together. Mix until all the butter is incorporated and frosting is smooth; add vanilla.

5. Add chocolate: Whip temperature ganache into the Swiss buttercream until no lumps remain. The finished buttercream should be glossy, smooth, and fluffy. If yours is too thin, pop it in the fridge for 30 minutes before filling and frosting your cake.


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