Friday, September 26, 2008

Yummy chocolate cake!

Last weekend I threw my friend a surprise birthday party, and we made a chocolate cake! The cake was delicious, and it was also my first layer cake with frosting and all that. The recipe was pretty easy, but with a strange ingredient...

I made one change: I replaced the milk with soy milk for my other friend who is allergic to milk. The soy milk left no aftertaste. We were going to halve the recipe, but I accidentally added the full volume of water, so then we just completed he recipe to make the entire cake.
This brings me to the strange ingredient: 1 cup of boiling water. I was surprised when I first saw, but then I noticed that quite a few other recipes for chocolate cake also use boiling water. I am going to try to find out why.

I found this recipe in Sharffen-Berger's Essence of Chocolate "That Chocolate Cake" (the first recipe), and it is also online, but I pasted it in here to facilitate your life

Here is the recipe, copied straight from Sharffen Berger (with my comments in [brackets])



  • Unsalted butter and flour for pans
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup Scharffen Berger unsweetened natural cocoa powder [really, any brand works, just make sure it's unsweetened]
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup boiling water


  • 1-1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 5 ounces Scharffen Berger 99% Cacao Unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped [Once again, any brand. I used 100% from Ghirardelli]
  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


For the Cake:

Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter the bottom of two 9-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom with parchment paper, then butter and flour the parchment and the sides of the pans.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, mixing on low speed. Min in the eggs, oil, and milk.

Increase the speed to medium and beat for 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the water. The batter will be soupy.

Divide the batter evenly between the cake pans. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. [I baked them 25 minutes in a convection oven]

Remove from the oven and cool on a cooling rack for 5 minutes, then turn the layers out onto the rack and cool completely.

When the cakes have cooled, check the frosting. It should have the consistency of mayonnaise. If it is still too thin, allow it to cool longer. [See, I didn't read the last instruction and didn't wait long enough]

For the Frosting:

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and cream and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce the heat and simmer for 6 minutes. Add the chocolate and butter and stir until melted. Pour into a bowl and stir in the vanilla. [If the frosting starts curdling like mine, just beat it continuously for a few minutes. When it cools it will be normal again.]

To Frost the Cake:

[it will be a lot easier to frost the cake if you let the frosting cool one hour before hand]

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread the frosting with a hot palette knife or icing spatula to give the frosting a beautiful shine. Run the knife under hot tap water and dry with a towel. Spread about ¾ cup of the frosting over the top of the first layer. Top with the second layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake, heating the knife again as necessary.

Serves 8 to 10

Note: The cake was soft and fluffy when fresh, and after three days in the refrigerator it was denser and more intense. You choose.
Also, if the cake is fresh, I recommend slicing it with a serrated bread knife, it will tear the cakeless.

Picture time!


Playing with fire!

A slice!


Cel said...

Mm, cake.

claire said...

hah! i was totally there. i'm the one lighting candles with the lighter.

that cake, it was fun to make.