Archive for: chocolate cake
As much as I enjoy a good layer cake, most of them don’t have a lot going on texture-wise. Tender, fluffy layers of cake are sandwiched with creamy frosting. It is a wonderful contrast no matter what flavor cake you’re enjoying – no doubt about that! – but sometimes it is nice to have some nuts, chocolate chips or other elements to add some texture and a little extra flavor.
This Chocolate Chip Layer Cake with Chocolate Chip Buttercream has chocolate chips in the cake batter and in the buttercream frosting. Regular or miniature chocolate chips will both work well for the cake, adding bursts of chocolate throughout. Miniature chocolate chips are light enough to be stirred into the batter, while I tend to add regular chocolate chips before baking so the don’t all sink down into the batter. They do add a subtle crunch to the cake (since you can’t frost the cake while it’s still warm from the oven and it must be cooled completely), but you can let them melt on your tongue as you enjoy a slice if you want to maximize the chocolate chip experience.
The cake is light and moist, with a very good chocolate flavor. There is some coffee in the recipe, but it can actually be substituted with water if you aren’t a big fan and would prefer not to use the coffee. It simply enhances the chocolate flavor in this cake and doesn’t make a big impact on the flavor in its own. Overall, this is a great all purpose chocolate cake even without the chocolate chips, and this is a recipe that I like to use for other projects, as well.
The frosting is a simple buttercream that I enriched with a little bit of sour cream and flavored with cocoa powder and a bit of vanilla. It has a clear chocolate flavor, but it is much lighter than the cake layers beneath it. The sour cream makes the frosting extra creamy and adds a bit of a tang that makes the frosting seem lighter and slightly less sweet. Instead of stirring chocolate chips into the frosting (which would have made it a little too lumpy to easily spread on the cake), I finely chopped up some chocolate and stirred it in. This gave my frosting some pleasant texture, as well as some extra chocolate, but didn’t take away from the overall creaminess of it.
Rocky road is a classic ice cream flavor made with chocolate ice cream, walnuts and marshmallows. This snack cake packs all of the elements of rocky road into, well, a cake! As much as I like the ice cream, I have to admit that I just might like this cake a little more. It’s easy to make, easy to snack on and it has a fun look to it.
The Rocky Road Cake has a very tender, brownie-like base to it that is chock full of walnuts. The ingredients for the cake look similar to the ingredients for brownies, but the texture is much lighter than a brownie recipe and it has a soft, almost fluffy texture – not a fudgy one. I used very large chunks of walnut – halves, quarters and other big pieces – to give the cake a lot of texture and make sure the buttery flavor of the walnuts really came through.
This cake is baked in a 9×13 pan, and just before it is finished baking, several cups of miniature marshmallows are sprinkled on top of the cake. The cake goes back into the oven, where the marshmallows puff up and turn into a sweet, sticky topping. A little bit of chocolate fudge glaze is drizzled over the marshmallows to finish off the cake. The fudge glaze is a small-batch version of a marshmallow fudge recipe, and some of the mini marshmallows are actually mixed into it. It makes for a pretty presentation and definitely helps tie everything together.
Allow the cake to cool completely before slicing it, and use a very sharp knife that has been lightly greased with vegetable oil to ensure clean slices. The cake keeps well in an airtight container for several days after baking and is perfect to take to an end-of-summer barbecue or picnic!
Streusel-topped coffee cake gets its name because it is the perfect thing to serve with a hot cup of coffee at brunch or as an afternoon snack, not because it is coffee-flavored. In fact, most coffee cakes have no coffee in them at all – a fact which throws people for a loop sometimes when they actually go in search of a cake that has a coffee kick to it. This Mocha Bundt Cake with Coffee Glaze fits the bill as a “coffee cake” that actually tastes like coffee.
The bundt cake is very moist and has a great balance of chocolate and coffee flavors in it. In some cakes, coffee is simply added to enhance the darker notes of the chocolate and is not expected to stand on its own. In this case, there is a lot of instant espresso powder in the batter that really intensifies that coffee flavor and makes it stand out against the chocolate of the cake, rather than being overwhelmed by it. Instant espresso powder is an ingredient that a lot of grocery stores will stock on their coffee aisles, but if you don’t have any I would recommend opting for a few packets of Starbucks Via as a replacement. Regular instant coffee will work in a pinch, but its flavor is not as intense as either the instant espresso powder or the Via.
I drizzled a coffee-flavored glaze on top of the cake to finish it off and boost the coffee flavor even further. A chocolate glaze would also work well here, if you prefer to emphasize the chocolate aspect of the cake (which is just as tasty). The cake keeps well for a couple of days when stored in an airtight container, so it can be made a day in advance if you want to serve it for a particular occasion (although it is just as good for everyday snacking). To dress it up, serve each slice with a spoonful of whipped cream and a couple of chocolate covered coffee beans!
Vosges is a high end chocolatier who is known for not just high quality chocolate, but the unusual flavor combinations that it it pairs with its chocolate. One of their specialties is a bacon chocolate bar, for instance, and their other exotic bars include ingredients like wasabi, gogi berries, chipotle chiles and more (although they also have plenty of bars that contain more familiar chocolate ingredients, as well). Vosges also has a line of gourmet baking mixes that I’ve seen here and there, but I was recently in a Vosges boutique and was able to pick up a box of their Love Goddess Chocolate Cake Mix to try.
Ever since I tried the excellent Ad Hoc cake mix a few months ago, I’ve been interested in trying more premium cake mixes to see what – if anything – they offer over homemade cakes. The Vosges mix runs $12 per box and includes all natural ingredients. In fact, the ingredient list is simply: organic sugar, all purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. All of these ingredients come bagged separately, so working with the mix is a lot like having had someone do all your mise-en-place for you so you don’t need to measure anything. Otherwise, you add your own butter, eggs and vanilla to the mix and incorporate them in exactly the same way (including creaming the butter and sugar) as you would for a homemade cake. The instructions that come with the cake are very clear and easy to follow.
Flourless chocolate cake is the sort of dessert that should be on standby for everyone who likes to bake. By this, I mean that you should have all the ingredients you need to make this cake on hand at all times. I recommend this because this flourless chocolate cake is delicious, delivers a lot of rich chocolate flavor and happens to be extremely easy to make. On top of that, the cake can be served both warm or chilled (and is excellent both ways), so you can prepare it at the last minute before serving or well in advance. You really can’t ask for more that than in one recipe.
I’ve been making variations on this chocolate cake recipe, which originally came from an issue of Gourmet magazine, for several years now. It has just five ingredients, and the combination of dark chocolate and cocoa powder in the cake gives it a very intense chocolate flavor without requiring a huge amount of chocolate. The cake bakes quickly and can be turned out of the baking pan right onto a serving platter. It is not heavy (so you can eat it in bigger slices!), but it is fudgy and satisfying. It is excellent while it is warm, and at room temperature, and freezes very well if you want to save some for later. The cake itself is relatively thin, so if you a bigger cake, simply bake two layers and stack them up with some chocolate ganache or fresh fruit in between.
Use good quality chocolate for this recipe (I usually use Guittard). Semisweet, bittersweet and dark chocolate will all work very well, so taste the chocolate you are going to use and make sure you like the flavor because that will be the base of the cake. I use dutch process cocoa powder in this recipe because natural cocoa powder typically has a little more bitterness to it and I like the cake to taste as smooth as possible. That said, you can use either dutch process or natural cocoa powder in this recipe and will still get excellent results. I always add vanilla to my cake, but a splash of almond extract, peppermint extract or citrus oil can put a whole new twist on this cake, too.