Monday, April 16, 2012

Chocolate Fix.

One of my greatest loves is a great slice of chocolate cake.  Along with a cold glass of milk, nothing quite hits the spot.  I consider myself somewhat of a chocolate cake connoisseur, and take every opportunity I can to "educate" myself on this subject.  I am not, however, a great baker, so I haven't attempted to make my own chocolate cake from scratch.  I decided this would be the perfect item to add to my 30 before 30 list, so it comes in at #13. 

The lucky recipients of this trial were my family and boyfriend on Easter Sunday.  They all enjoyed a slice that day and gave it rave reviews.  My Mother loved that the frosting wasn't too sweet, something that's a downside for her with cake.  We took half the cake home with the intention to distribute it to our work colleagues but...well, my good intentions didn't pan out.  I ate a slice (a big one too) of cake every morning for breakfast for a week and even managed to do a double one day when I dropped in for a quick lunch at my parent's home and took a little slice of their leftovers (sorry Dad!). 

It took forever (I think around three hours start to finish), but I declare this trial a success!  Here's the recipe taken from Epicurious with one minor addition from me (mayo!).

Chocolate Layer Cake with Milk Chocolate Frosting

For cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-process)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 large eggs at room temperature for 30 minutes
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (I substituted bittersweet for unsweetened)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/3 cup mayonaise (regular, not non-fat)
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk

For frosting
2/3 cup whole milk
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
1 1/3 cups confectioners sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 sticks (1 1/2 cups) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon pieces and softened
8 oz milk chocolate, melted and cooled
2 oz unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled (again, I substitute bittersweet for unsweetened)

Make cake:
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350°F. Butter 2 (9- by 2-inch) round cake pans and line bottom of each with a round of parchment or wax paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess.

Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt into a small bowl. Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl using an electric mixer at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes in a standing mixer or 4 to 5 minutes with a handheld. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add chocolate and vanilla and beat until just combined. Add mayonaise.  Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture and buttermilk alternately in 3 batches, beginning and ending with flour mixture and mixing until just combined.

Divide batter between cake pans, spreading evenly, and bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in center of each cake layer comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes.

Cool cake layers in pans on racks 10 minutes. Run a thin knife around edge of each layer, then invert onto racks. Peel off paper and cool layers completely.

Make frosting:
Heat milk in a 1- to 1 1/2-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat until hot. Whisk together yolks, flour, 1/3 cup confectioners sugar, and a pinch of salt in a bowl, then add hot milk in a stream, whisking. Transfer custard to saucepan and bring to a boil over moderate heat, whisking. Reduce heat and simmer, whisking, 2 minutes (mixture will be very thick), then transfer to a large bowl. Cover surface of custard with a buttered round of wax paper and cool completely, about 45 minutes.

Add vanilla and remaining cup confectioners sugar to custard and beat with cleaned beaters at moderate speed until combined well, then increase speed to medium-high and beat in butter, 2 tablespoons at a time, until smooth. Add chocolates and beat until combined well.

Frost cake:
Halve each cake layer horizontally using a long serrated knife. Layer cake, using a heaping 1/2 cup frosting between each layer, then frost top and sides with remaining frosting.

Cooks' notes:
·Cake layers can be made (but not halved) 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature. ·Frosting can be made 1 day ahead and chilled, covered. Bring to room temperature (do not use a microwave) and beat with an electric mixer before using. 

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