And look at this, I’m back as promised, bearing a recipe in hand! (In some really good news, I found another batch of pictures that was lurking…but it was a bit of a disaster, so I’m not sure if I’ll share them with you now, or if I’ll wait, try the recipe again, and share later…we’ll see how desperate I get).
It was between this cake and the chocolate zucchini cake when my mom had to decide what she wanted me to bake her for her birthday this year – while the chocolate zucchini cake won out, this is a cake that’s very tough to beat. It may be my current favorite cake (I mean, I get to sip beer while I make it, so who’s complaining?). It’s rich, moist, and divine. It’s also a little bit tricky, so I’ve experimented with several different things to make it as fool-proof and easy as possible. This is also, in no way, a one or two bowl recipe. This recipe is a “You’d better have all of your ingredients, pay a dishwasher for the day, and put on an apron” recipe, and as much as I love it, you definitely want to be prepared before walking into this one.
On the other hand, if you have a geologist in your family, this cake can also be your running joke and a true delight. The first time I made it, one of the layers cracked, and my dad cracked a joke about earthquakes. The second time I made it, I didn’t want to chop chocolate; my dad got out his hammer and his pick and he saved me a lot of time be cracking the chocolate the way he would rocks in the field. (This is also the only cake that I’ve seen my dad eat the way my sister does: cake first, frosting saved for last. He’s a tough guy to sell frosting to, but I’m pretty sure that this frosting would win anyone over, including your pickiest frosting eaters – the reason why? No butter).
So, in short, pull on your big girl panties when you prepare this cake, but have this recipe on hand to pull out when you’ve got someone to wow.
Chocolate Stout Cake (Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine)
3 oz unsweetened baker’s chocolate, chopped
2 1/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
14 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature (I like leaving this out for about six hours before I start): Save the wrappers to butter your cake pans
1 1/4 cup, plus 3 tbsp sugar
3 eggs, separated
3/4 cup porter (Deschutes Black Butte is my current favorite – the original recipe calls for stout, but I think the porter gives it a great flavor)
2/3 cup coffee (use your leftovers from the morning!)
In a small saucepan over low-medium heat, melt the unsweetened chocolate (this can also be done in the microwave if you’re pressed for time, or if, like me, you fear burning chocolate on the stove – but be careful not to burn the chocolate in the microwave! Stir often). Allow to come back to room temperature once melted. In the bowl of a mixer, combine 1 1/4 cups of sugar with the butter, and cream until combined. Add the egg yolks one at a time and stir after each addition, until the mixture is a bold yellow color. Add the chocolate, mixing until well incorporated. Then add the stout and the coffee. At this point, the mixture will be quite runny, so be careful when you mix. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add to the chocolate mixture in two additions, mixing only until the batter just comes together.
In a separate bowl, combine the egg whites and 3 tbsp of sugar. Beat with electric beaters until stiff peaks form. Fold the egg whites into the cake batter in three increments, folding carefully until the egg whites are just incorporated into the mixture.
Butter two ten inch cake pans, then add parchment paper, butter again, and coat the inside of the pans with cocoa powder. Pour the cake batter into the two pans equally, and bake at 350 F for about 30 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pans for 20 minutes, then run a knife along the outside edges before flipping the cakes onto cooling racks to finish cooling.
1 lb bittersweet chocolate (60%), chopped
2 cups whipping cream
Put the chopped chocolate in a large bowl, preferably one that can be microwaved. Heat the whipping cream in a small saucepan over low-medium heat (if you want to be a daredevil, or are pressed for time, try it on medium-high, but watch it very carefully!). When the cream simmers, pour over the chocolate. Allow to sit for one minute, then whisk together until combined. Refrigerate for one and a half hours, stirring approximately every fifteen minutes. If the frosting gets too fudgy, you can always return it to the microwave to reheat – however, you don’t want it to be too liquidy, either (I’ve had both happen…neither is fun). When you are ready to frost, turn one layer of the cake onto a cake stand or plate, then spoon some of the frosting onto the top. Using a spatula, carefully spread it evenly around the top and sides of the cake. Carefully add and align the second layer (you may want someone to help you with this). Spoon more frosting onto the top of the cake and even out the sides of the cake. Lick the spoon, and maybe the bowl when you’re done.
*Be still, my heart: Oh, how I want this cake right now. Could I get that, please?
**Why did I tell you that I make other things besides desserts? Who was I kidding?