Posted on: Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Sydney's Double Chocolate Layer Cake

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

Did You Know? At the time Marie Antoinette uttered the infamous quotation "let them eat cake," the word "cake" did not refer to the familiar dessert item that the modern-day French call le gateau. The operative term was brioche, a flour-and-water paste that was "caked" onto the interiors of the ovens and baking pans of the professional boulangers of the era. At the end of the day, the baker would scrape the leavings from his pans and ovens and set them outside the door for the benefit of beggars and scavengers. Thus, the lady in question was simply giving practical, if somewhat flippant, advice to her poor subjects: If one cannot afford the bourgeois bread, he can avail himself of the poor man's "cake."

After a ridiculous conversation about boxed cake versus homemade, I decided to put the argument to rest, and convince my skeptical sister that homemade is the only way to go. We often joke about how off her taste buds are, prefering all the cheap, artficial foods over a nice, healhy meal. She says if she knows one thing, it's chocolate cake (something about an entire Entenmann's?). And she was positive the boxed cake was superior to anything I could bake from scratch (she's kind like that). From that statement on, I was on a mad hunt for the ultimate chocolate cake recipe.

High on the list when Googling "chocolate cake," this particular recipe had it's devoted followers. Originally featured in Gourmet, this cake must have been replicated at least a thousand times since. Declared as Deb's favorite, the layered masterpiece I was about to recreate had my approval. And since I had a skeptic on my hands, I had to buy only the finest quality ingredients. So off to Whole Foods I went. Two pounds of Callebaut later, and thirty dollars lighter (well I guess I wasn't thirty dollars lighter - thanks Mom), I was in my kitchen, and ready to conquer the chocolate cake.



Double Chocolate Layer Cake

I was surprised at the amount of hot coffee the recipe called for. I definitely didn't want a mocha-flavored cake, so that made me nervous. I couldn't have been more wrong. The coffee brought out a depth of flavor from the chocolate that I had never tasted before. And that chocolate. I will never go back to Ghirardelli again. The original called for semisweet. But I could only find bitter and milk, so I bought both and combined the two. The end result was truly amazing. Moist, tender crumbs, sandwiched by a rich chocolate ganache. The flavors were beyond complex. And the debate we had on our hands? Long forgotten.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake


Double Chocolate Layer Cake
Adapted from Epicurious via Gourmet, March 1999

Cake Layers
3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate (I used milk chocolate Callebaut)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Ganache Frosting
1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate (I used a combo of milk and bittersweet Callebaut)
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter


Make Cake Layers
Preheat oven to 300°F, and grease two 10-inch round cake pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

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

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make Frosting
Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).

Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake

37 comments:

  1. Wow, what an amazing cake! Your gorgeous photo has captured every bit of its chocolaty goodness!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Ho.ly. good.ness. yum.

    I wonder how that'd cake would be in a carob version... mmm...

    ReplyDelete
  3. That cake looks divine! Looks so moist and chocolatey! YUM!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Chocolate is my LOVE. That cake looks amazing. Homemade is def. the way to go!

    ReplyDelete
  5. The next time someone requests a chocolate cake for their birthday treat, I'm going to make this.

    Have I mentioned how much I love your blog? I love how every time I read a post, you educate me about something. Such a great idea!

    ReplyDelete
  6. It's hard to find a truly awesome chocolate cake recipe! I'll take your word for it and assume that this is it. I'm bookmarking it for the next special occasion.

    ReplyDelete
  7. That looks out of this world good!

    ReplyDelete
  8. I hope that she will never go back to boxed cake. I have to try this recipe. I love chocolate cake. Yours is beautiful.

    ReplyDelete
  9. These days when I look for chocolate flavored recipes I skip over them if there isn't a bit of coffee in there in some way shape or form. It's funny because I don't like coffee or chocolate. and I definitely don't like mocha. But if you find just the right amount of coffee to add to a chocolate dessert, it's like magic. I make these chocolate cupcakes (http://www.achicabakes.com/2009/01/chocolate-birthday-cupcakes.html) all the time and when I bring them to work, my coworkers go nuts over them. Thanks for this great post.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh Hayley this looks incredible! I'm a sucker for ganache and this cake is my kind of dessert!

    ReplyDelete
  11. isn't the coffee/chocolate combo amazing. i NEVER make a chocolate dessert without it - it is like they were meant to be together. i always have espresso powder on hand to toss into chocolate desserts.

    i really want a piece of that cake!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I can't live without chocolate for even a day! I am not a big fan of cakes with flour--prefer flourless, like Our #1 Favorite Chocolate Cake, which I urge you to try--but this looks pretty irresitible, especially with that ganache frosting.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Hmmm! How great this cake looks! Who don't like chocolate cake? Delish!

    ReplyDelete
  14. no kidding, you bought the good stuff!
    well I must say, you did an incredible job here...I am so impressed (and hungry)!
    Absolutely, hands down wonderful!

    ReplyDelete
  15. So much chocolate. You can't go wrong. We've read that this is one of the most popular chocolate cake recipes. Good to keep in mind!

    ReplyDelete
  16. This cake looks so rich and incredibly delicious, I love your photographs. And thanks again for the Matt's Munchies, I love them!

    ReplyDelete
  17. Now this looks like an amazing chocolate cake! Although I don't think you can ever go wrong when it involves cake :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. love the marie antoinette story! i learn so much from this blog... and the cake looks wonderful, of course :)

    ReplyDelete
  19. Wow!!! that is beautiful! really stunning!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Oh, what a beautiful cake, it looks so moist...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Oh my, that frosting swirl on top is perfect and so much coffee involved, I love it!

    ReplyDelete
  22. that looks like the perfect chocolate cake!!! so rich! yum!!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. This looks like an amazing cake! Callebaut is just the best. I've been using a lot lately.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Oh, my. I think I'm feeling a little faint. . . that looks INCREDIBLE. And OF COURSE home made is better! :)

    ReplyDelete
  25. You can never go wrong with chocolate cake, and that frosting looks so luscious!

    ReplyDelete
  26. Oh, look at this. This is so beautiful! And two pounds of Callebaut? Just wow. The pictures are glorious but I am sure the flavour was out of this world. I am mightily impressed! And yes, next birthday I have coming up, this will be the cake I tackle (provided the birthday boy or girl is a chocolate fan, of course).
    Thanks for the delightful inspiration!

    ReplyDelete
  27. I'm usually sold by "double chocolate," but this time you had me at the picture :P Can't wait to try this (and it sounds so easy, too)!

    ReplyDelete
  28. Looks fabulous! I'm wondering...could this be THE chocolate cake to win me over to the "dark"side? I especially like the idea of adding vanilla ice cream! Why hadn't I thought of that?
    ~ingrid

    ReplyDelete
  29. oh my god, this is the way to go. LOVE the chocolatey goodness! and I love how you always add a bit of education...I have no more reason to feel guilty blog-reading all the time!

    ReplyDelete
  30. I never met a chocolate cake I didn't like :)

    ReplyDelete
  31. Whoa, that cake looks dangerous! It's all about balance right? I've never been into self deprivation...Very interesting about Marie Antoinette

    ReplyDelete
  32. You know when your craving something, but you don't know what it is? For me, it's usually this! xox

    ReplyDelete
  33. You did such a great job on the frosting! I always have a hard time making the frosting look pretty!

    I think that homemade pie beats Entemmans for sure!!

    ReplyDelete
  34. Oh my. That looks amazing. This is the last thing I needed to see before bed.

    ReplyDelete
  35. mmmm it turned out very very well. it's delicious and chocolaty. My only warning to anyone attempting this cake is to grease your pans WELL. and let the cake cool completely before removing it. although no matter how broken it is, it is STILL chocolate heaven.

    ReplyDelete
  36. Friends made this cake for several occasions. I told them it was simply the best cake i've ever had.. he loved to tell the story about using the best chocolate and following each step.. took a long time, cost a lot, but is so perfect. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete