Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chocolate Heaven with Dark Chocolate Buttercream

Surprise! There's been another birthday around here, which means another cake. It seems like I bake a lot of cake. It seems that way because I DO.

My oldest turned 12! I cannot believe it. I have been walking around in a kind of state of shock for the past month or so. No, she did not just ask me how to shave her legs. No, she did not just grow half a foot taller. No, my tom-boy is not asking for "cute clothes" for her birthday. No, she did not trade in her metal bracketed smile for a more mature braces-free adult toothed smile. Oh, but wait....she did and did and did and DID. I feel like screaming: "What is happening?!" through clenched teeth. It's all happening so fast all of a sudden and there's nothing I can do to stop it or even slow it down. I feel so cliche. Sigh.

What did she request for her birthday? Orange cinnamon rolls for breakfast (the kind you pop out of the can...she's definitely my daughter), cinnamon rolls (homemade this time) to take to her class to school, pot-stickers for dinner, and a no-frills chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for her dessert.

So guess who has had the oven on multiple times over the last couple of days?

THIS girl!

Hey hey hey!

The cake I chose to make comes from a Southern recipe from a bakery in Savannah, Georgia called "The Back in the Day Bakery." It's a good old-fashioned three-layered chocolate cake that stays moist forever, even after it has been refrigerated, with a simple delicious dark chocolate buttercream frosting. No frills. Just delicious. I didn't do any fancy piping of frosting here; just spread big dollops of chocolate frosting all over this cake, with some dark chocolate almonds with turbinado sugar and sea salt centered on top, with a light dusting of cocoa powder.

I did alter the recipe a bit, as the recipe calls for coffee, and since this is a coffee-free household, I subbed the hot coffee for hot water with vanilla extract in it. And just so you know, if you use less chocolate (although I don't know why you would ever want to), it'll still turn out. The first time I made this I mis-calculated and accidentally added just half of the chocolate. The texture and flavor was still awesome. Just not quite as chocolaty.

I also adjusted the frosting recipe to my liking: to make it extra chocolaty. I used that word now two times in the last two sentences: chocolaty. Three times. Alright, this could go on all day....

Here is how to make this simple and delicious cake:

Chocolate Heaven Cake

uses three 9x2 inch round cake pans

3 cups cake flour
4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
9 ounces unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped (this is 2, 4 oz. baking bars plus 1 more ounce from a third bar)
2 cups hot (bring to a simmer) water (or coffee)
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
4 large eggs
1 cup canola oil
1 cup sour cream

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and place the rack in the lower third of the oven. Spray three 9x2 inch round cake pans with cooking spray. Place parchment rounds on the bottom of all three pans and spray the paper with the cooking spray (I trace the bottom of my cake pans on parchment paper and cut it out a little inside the lines). 

2. In your stand mixer bowl (or use a large bowl with your handheld mixer) place the flour, baking soda, salt and sugar together and mix on low for 2-3 minutes. 

3. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Bring 2 cups of water to a simmer, and then pour over the chocolate. Add the vanilla extract. Allow the mixture to sit for a couple of minutes for the water to melt the chocolate. Then stir until smooth. 

4. In a separate bowl, whisk (or blend on high with electric hand mixer for a few seconds) the oil and eggs together until the mixture is thick, satiny, and light in color. Whisk in the sour cream until just combined (it's ok if there are still some white streaks). Pour the melted chocolate into the mixture and mix until just combined. Add this chocolate/sour cream mixture to the dry ingredients in thirds, mixing on medium speed until well blended.
whisking eggs and oil

whisking in sour cream

whisking in melted chocolate
first addition of chocolate/sour cream mixture to the flour. Combine until smooth, and then repeat two more times with the rest of the chocolate/sour cream mixture

5. Divide batter evenly among the prepared pans. Tap the pans firmly on the counter-top to remove any air bubbles. I do this by lifting the pans off the counter about an inch and then dropping them a couple times back onto the counter. 

6. Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, until a cake tester (fancy word for toothpick) comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 20 minutes before sliding a thin knife around the edges and removing the cakes from the pans to cool completely on a wire rack. 

Dark Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

makes about 7 cups

9 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (it is fine to use high quality semi-sweet chocolate chips here)
2 Tbsp. Dutch processed cocoa powder
3/4 pound (3 sticks) of butter (I use salted butter), at room temperature
2 Tbsp. whole milk, cream, or half and half
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2.5 to 3 cups powdered sugar

1. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl (metal or glass) and set over a simmering saucepan of water. Do not let the bottom of the bowl touch the water. Stir the chocolate occasionally until it is completely melted. Remove the chocolate from the heat. Add 1 Tbsp. of the cocoa powder and stir until it is completely smooth. Add the second Tbsp. of cocoa and stir until smooth again. Allow the chocolate to cool to room temperature (about 10 minutes). 

2. Beat the butter (in stand mixer with paddle attachment or in a bowl with a hand-held mixer) until smooth and creamy. Add the milk/cream and mix until completely blended. Add the cooled chocolate and mix until completely incorporated. Add the vanilla and blend again. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar and continue beating, adding more sugar as needed to get your desired consistency. 

Frosting can be stored in airtight container in fridge, or to keep it soft, in an airtight container at room temperature for two days. 

Assembling The Cake

Place one layer of cake on a cake plate and place a dollop of frosting on top. With an offset spatula, spread the dollop over the cake until smooth. Repeat with the second layer of cake. Add the top layer of cake, place a LARGE dollop on top and frost remaining top and sides of cake with big swirls. 


Look at those moist layers!

Now that's heaven!
The cake was a big hit. So were the orange cinnamon rolls, regular cinnamon rolls, cookies n' cream ice cream, and the root beer float she had later that night at youth group. She had to save the homemade cookies that her aunt made her for later. Oh, to be that young again and to be un-phased by all that sugar. 

All in all, it was a great day!

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