Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Simple, Delicious (and EASY) Dark Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

It's birthday season, and end-of-school-year season, and lot's-of-sewing-stuff season (wait, it's always that season), and I'm tired season. So when it came to choosing yet another cake to make for a birthday (and what did little Bean want? Chocolate of course!) I was extremely grateful for a simple recipe that was easy to throw together and not a ton of work (and most importantly, didn't leave a huge mess in my kitchen).

Let's just say that I'm not the cleanest baker....and homemade cakes usually come with homemade frosting which often comes with powdered sugar....ALL OVER. The mess is augmented by the fact that I'm usually in a hurry which means I'm kind of frantically flailing ingredients around. So the best part of this recipe is that it contains very few ingredients and NO powdered sugar.

The frosting is elegant because it's chocolate ganache, but ganache is SOOOOO much easier than a powdered sugar/butter frosting. Which led me to wonder: "why do I bother with any other frosting?" Hmmm...one of life's mysteries to ponder upon. 

Was I in a hurry with this cake? Of course. Did it take long to make? Not at all. Did it stress me out making this cake? Nope! Will I be doing this cake again? Possibly for every birthday from here on out whether it's asked for or not. Do I have a habit of asking myself a question and then answering it in the next sentence? Apparently! 

So, will I actually make this for every birthday now? Probably not. I'd get bored. But I will be making it again. That's for sure. In fact, I may have one baking right now.....

This cake takes about 5-10 minutes for the batter to come together, and then only 30 minutes to bake. And it uses regular all-purpose flour and still gives you a light and airy, moist texture. Mmmm. I also made it the day before and when it was cooled from baking, I wrapped the layers and froze them until a couple of hours before I needed them. I think this helps lock moisture in (keeping the cake moist) until the cake is needed. The buttermilk also helps with the fine, moist texture, as well as using boiling water. The original recipe from Hershey's calls for hot coffee, but I used boiling water (brought to a quick boil in my microwave in a glass Pyrex measuring cup) with a couple of teaspoons of vanilla instead. 

The end result is dark chocolate cake with a rich chocolaty flavor, fine crumb and moist texture. Then by adding a ganache frosting (just cream and semi-sweet chocolate....that's it) that is whipped until spreadable, you've got a delicious very easy, no-stress from-scratch chocolate cake. 

My dad said it was one of the best cakes he's every had. But.....he's my dad :). But this IS my new chocolate cake recipe I'll use now: for it's ease and lovely end result. And of course, because it tastes AWESOME. 

Black Magic EASY Chocolate Cake

2 cups sugar (for an extra-fine texture of your cake, use Baker's extra-fine sugar)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk (or use 1 cup milk and add 1 Tbsp. white vinegar and allow it to "sour" for 5 minutes)
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup boiling water
3/4 cup Cocoa (I used a Dutch-processed cocoa)
1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1. Preheat your oven to 350*. Cut parchment rounds for 2, 9-inch round cake pans (or you can bake it in a greased 9 x 13 pan). Grease and flour the cake pan(s).

2. In a large bowl, whisk together until well-combined the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Then add the eggs, oil, buttermilk, hot water, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. The batter will be thin. 

3. Evenly distribute the batter between the pans and bake for 30 minutes, or until a cake tester/toothpick comes out just clean. Remove from oven and cool the cakes in the pan for 10 minutes. Then run a thin knife around edges of the pan and remove cakes to completely cool on a wire rack. Then either frost the cake, or wrap and freeze it until you are ready for it!

fresh out of the oven

cooling completely on the rack

Chocolate Ganache Whipped Frosting

2 cups heavy cream
24 oz. (1 pound plus 8 ounces) of semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (I confess that I used Costco semi-sweet chocolate chips here and it worked out awesome. 

1. Place chocolate (chopped) in a large bowl. Bring the heavy cream just to a boil on the stove. Pour the cream over the chocolate and stir until chocolate is mostly melted. Let sit for a few minutes, then stir until completely smooth. 

2. Cover and place frosting in the fridge until it is spreadable without being runny. If it gets too hard, place it in your microwave on reduced power (50%) for 10-second intervals, stirring in between to make sure you don't melt it too much. But if you do, just place back in the fridge for a bit for it to thicken it. When the frosting is spreadable, you can use it as-is and spread it on your cake, or whip it with some beaters for a few seconds. Keep in mind that the more you whip, the cooler the frosting gets and harder it may become (which may mean you will have to soften it again, but it won't ruin it). You can also use this frosting when it is slightly runny as a glaze to pour over the cake. You can't really mess it up, and it tastes great. And no powdered sugar! 

Enjoy! I know we sure did! (Especially the birthday girl...sniff sniff....who turned 3 and is growing up).

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