There is nothing not to love about this cake, which explains why Dorie Greenspan chose to use it as the cover illustration for her most recent book, Baking, from My Home to Yours. First, it is stunning to look at. From afar, the cake appears to be covered with chocolate shavings or sprinkles, but upon closer inspection, you can see that it is decorated with cake crumbs. Patted gently into the sides of the white frosted cake, the crumbs give it an elegant, yet casual, look – the “shabby chic” of cakes.
Second, the white marshmallow filling/frosting is a good contrast for the cake. Sweet and light, it balances the rich tasting chocolate cake. It is very easy to work with, spreading smoothly with very little effort. The only drawback with it is that it is a bit time consuming to make, since you have to wait for a sugar syrup to come up to a very high temperature, then beat the finished frosting until it has cooled. It is worth the time investment, though. Unlike some other marshmallow-type frostings, this one holds up very well once it is finished, which means that and leftover cake can be kept (covered) in the refrigerator for a few days if you can’t eat it all at once.
Finally, the cake itself was excellent. It was very chocolaty, thank to the addition of the chocolate chips in the batter, and had a good depth of flavor. It was substantial and moist, but tender, so it didn’t feel overly heavy as you ate further into each (large) slice. Dorie Greenspan suggested using mini chocolate chips or chocolate shavings in the cake, but I used full-sized chocolate chips to take advantage of the additional texture they provided. From the point of view of the cake-maker, I found the recipe to be very easy to work with. The cake rounds cut cleanly in half without resistance and held together without cracking as I moved them around my workspace and stacked them up.
This is definitely a recipe worth adding to your file for special occasions and celebrations – not because it is particularly difficult to make and should be made only occasionally, but because it is an impressive and delicious cake worth making again and again.
Devil’s Food White Out Layer Cake
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 stick butter, room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 oz. bittersweet/semisweet chocolate, melted and cooled
1/2 cup buttermilk, room temperature
1/2 cup water, warm
2/3 cup chocolate chips (regular or mini)
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease 2 8-inch round cake pans, line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper, and butter the top of the paper.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder baking soda, baking powder and salt
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light. Beat in eggs one at a time, waiting until each is incorporated (1 minute per egg) to add the next, then beat in the vanilla and the melted chocolate.
Combine buttermilk and water in a measuring cup. Working in two or three additions, alternate adding buttermilk mixture and flour mixture to the sugar mixture. Scrape sides to ensure batter is even. Stir in chocolate chips and divide batter into prepared pans.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.
Let cakes cool in their pans for 5 minutes, then turn out onto wire racks and peel off parchment paper. Cool completely.
Once cakes are cool, slice each in half. Three slices will be used for cake layers. One should be set aside and crumbled to make the topping.
4 large egg whites, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 cup water
1 tbsp vanilla extract
Put the egg whites in to bowl of an electric mixer or a large bowl with a hand mixer nearby.
Combine sugar, cream of tartar and water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cool until syrup reaches 242F (use a candy thermometer).
As syrup nears correct temperature, begin to beat egg whites to soft peaks. Slowly stream in the hot sugar syrup, followed by the vanilla extract. Beat for about 5 minutes after everything has been incorporated, or until frosting reaches room temperature.
Place one layer of the chocolate cake on a cake stand or serving platter. Top with a generous amount of white frosting and spread into an even layer. Repeat with remaining two layers. Spread frosting down the sides of the cake and use a large, offset spatula to keep everything even. When the cake has been completely frosted, take the extra, crumbled cake layer and pat the crumbs into the sides of the cake (I went up the sides and over the top, but left the center of the top white).
Refrigerate for at least one hour and up to overnight before serving.