Monday, March 24, 2014

Chocolate Party Cake AKA Stress Cake

I needed a cake for a party and hit the internet for inspiration.  I kept seeing accolades for the Double Chocolate Layer Cake from Gourmet Magazine, March 1999, thankfully preserved on the Epicurious recipe website.  This recipe makes a TON.  It calls for two 10x2 round pans, which I do not have in my collection.  The batter filled three 9" round pans plus two 1 cup ramekins.  SO MUCH CAKE.

Since I was bringing a cake to a gathering with only four people, I used exactly half the cake layers in my first rendition of the cake - one whole round split in two horizontally, and half of another.  I wrapped the remaining layer and a half in plastic for later.  I put ganache between the layers and on the outside as directed, but I also layered raspberry jam (slightly heated and stirred) directly onto the cake first.  I chilled the cake overnight, but chilling it changes things.  I think if you can avoid it at all, don't let it anywhere cold, just allow longer for the ganache to set. 

Meanwhile, in another arena of my life, stressful events were occurring.  I recreated the cake, heavier on the jam the second time, and cut it into wedges.  I wrote little notes with each wedge, deeming it Stress Cake.  Does chocolate solve anything?  No, but it can definitely make life a bit easier to handle.

Double Chocolate Layer Cake
 (recipe from Gourmet March 1999, on


For cake layers
  • 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as 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

 For ganache frosting
  • 1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter
Special equipment
  • two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease 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.

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