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Black Chocolate Espresso Cake with Bittersweet Glaze

Many thanks to Ronald of Love Sicily for picking such a delightful theme for this month’s Sugar High Friday. The theme this month is Coffee.

I drink a lot of coffee. I spend a lot of time thinking about coffee. I have toured coffee plantations and roasted my own coffee. I do not, however, often cook with coffee. Thus, this month’s SHF gave me the perfect opportunity to bake a heavily coffee laden cake. There is one shot of espresso for each slice of this cake, and slightly more if you like large slices.

This cake is a Black Chocolate Espresso Cake with Bittersweet Glaze from In the Sweet Kitchen. The batter is quite unusual and very liquid, but the recipe is reassuring on this front, so I was not too apprehensive when I poured it into the pan.. It uses 2 cups of espresso. Technically the recipe calls for dissolving instant espresso in hot water, but I used the real stuff. 16 shots (one ounce each) of the real stuff from my friendly, local baristas in exchange for a few pieces of cake. You can see the logo of the coffee shop on the plate in the photo if you look in the lower right land corner, since I had a little photo shoot in the cafe. You can also see my cappuccino.

The cake is very dense, but incredibly tender. It seems as though it will melt right into your mouth as you eat it. The coffee flavor is apparent and, despite the large amount of sugar, the cake is extremely chocolately without being very sweet. Serve a cake like this to chocolate lovers and there is a good chance that they will just about die after their first bite.

It’s that good.

Make it. You won’t regret it (although you might not sleep too well from all the caffeine).

Black Chocolate Espresso Cake with Bittersweet Glaze
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
7 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups of strong coffee (or cooled espresso)
3 cups granulated sugar
10 tablespoons (5 ounces) coffee-flavoured liqueur
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

10 ounces bittersweet/dark chocolate, chopped
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, in small pieces

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch springform pan with butter, line with a circle of parchment paper and lightly grease the paper.
Combine the butter, both chocolates and coffee in the top of a double boiler or a stainless steel or glass bowl. Set the bowl or insert over a pot of barely simmering water and stir frequently with a wooden spoon until melted. If the melted mixture appears somewhat speckled with what looks like unmelted chocolate, don’t be concerned. (Different chocolates have different cocoa butter and cocoa solids content and when melted with such a large quantity of liquid may seem to separate.) Place the sugar in the bottom of a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of an electric mixer. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and pour over the sugar. Stir to blend and dissolve the sugar, then allow to cool for 10 minutes.
With a wire whisk or the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, add the coffee liqueur and vanilla extract to the cooled chocolate mixture and blend well. Beat in the eggs, making sure they are thoroughly incorporated. The batter at this point
will be extremely thin; don’t worry, just make sure to work each added ingredient into it carefully.
Sift the flours, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. Add dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture in two additions, scraping down the sides of the bowl several times. Beat on medium speed for one minute. The batter may have little lumps, but they won’t affect the finished cake.

Place the prepared cake pan on a baking sheet to catch any leaks and pour the batter into the pan. Bake in the middle of the oven for 1 3/4 hours to 2 hours, rotating the pan several times during that time to ensure even baking. The cake bakes slowly and stays beautifully moist. A crust will form on the top of the cake and may crack. Test for doneness by inserting a wooden skewer in a fault of the crust, poking near the centre of the cake. It should come out clean, or with only very few moist crumbs clinging to it. Remove the cake from the oven and cool completely in the pan set on a rack.

To prepare the glaze, combine the chopped chocolate and butter in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water. Stir frequently until melted, then remove from the heat and cool slightly, stirring occasionally. Run a thin-bladed knife around the cake and loosen and remove the sides of the pan. Using a long-bladed serrated knife, carefully even out the top of the cake, slicing off any domed or uneven part of the crust. Use long, slow strokes of the knife, keeping the blade perfectly parallel with the counter.
Place a dab of chocolate glaze on a 10-inch cardboard cake circle and invert the cake onto the board. Remove the pan bottom and the parchment paper. (If you haven’t got a cake circle or other piece of cardboard cut to 10 inches round, invert the cake into a plate and remove the pan bottom but leave the paper. Re-invert the cake onto a second plate and place the pan bottom on the top of the cake. Invert the cake a third time, ending up with the bottom- side up, top-side down on the metal pan bottom and peel off the paper.) Brush any crumbs from the cake and pour the warm glaze onto the centre. Using a metal spatula or palette knife, coax the glaze to the edges of the cake and over the sides; quickly spread the overflow evenly onto the sides.

Serve the cake with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Serves 16.

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  • boo_licious
    August 12, 2005

    Nic, it sounds like a truly decadent cake!

  • J
    August 12, 2005

    hi nic, that cake looks as fabulously decadent as i’m sure it must taste! cheers,j

  • Mika
    August 12, 2005

    Nic, that sounds delicious. Um, chocolate and coffee melting into the mouth- what more could you ask for? Thanks for a delicious post.

  • Ruth
    August 12, 2005

    Definitely a keeper. Thanks for sharing. I’ve already bookmarked the recipe to try next week.

  • fethiye
    August 12, 2005

    Nic, this sounds good, really.

    So, as a coffee drinker I wonder if you have ever tried Turkish coffee? More details at http://www.yogurtland.com/2005/04/22/turkish-coffee/

  • Rainey
    August 12, 2005

    I’ve never done IMBB but this one might have been perfect! I just made Nancy Silverton’s Muscovado Ice Cream and layered the churned cream into a freezer container with bits of broken up shortbread and drizzles of espresso fudge sauce. The flavor of the muscovado sugar has notes of maple, coffee, molasses and roasted nut. The accent of crispy shortbread for texture and rich espresso flavored chocolate was super. It’s very easy to make and you might enjoy it if you want to do some more cooking with coffee.

  • wenz
    August 12, 2005

    hey.. happpen so to drop by ur blog.. wow.. im already attracted by ur blog..

  • cookie jill
    August 12, 2005

    chocolate + coffee = nirvana


  • Ana
    August 12, 2005

    Nic, what a decadent cake. I’m already getting fat just by looking. I’m certainly going to try it.

  • Kelly
    August 12, 2005

    Hi Nic, this cake looks absolutely delicious! I think I could eat a piece right now!

  • Joe
    August 12, 2005

    Looks so good and decadent! Love coffee and chocolate combos!

  • Nic
    August 12, 2005

    Boo_licious – Very, very decadent. Yum!

    J – Thank you!

    Mika – I guess the only thing to ask for would be decaf, so you can sleep at night.

    Ruth – I’m sure it’ll be a hit. Good luck and trust the recipe instructions!

    Fethiye – I haven’t had turkish coffee, but I’ll have to give it a go.

    Rainey – Thanks for the tip. That sounds gorgeous.

    Wenz – I’m glad you’re enjoying it.

    Jill – Amen!

    Ana – It *is* a cake you can get fat just by looking at it. Make sure to share. 😉

    Kelli – I sure wish I had some leftover right about now…

    Joe – The two were made for each other.

  • Cee
    August 12, 2005

    That looks so unbelieveably rich and moist and gooey and delicious and… I’ve just got to try it!

  • Helen (AugustusGloop)
    August 13, 2005

    Wow. What friendly baristas. I think they got the better deal though. That cake looks outta-this-world!

  • Jessica
    August 13, 2005

    Wow, looks great, but the amount of butter and chocolate is deadly!

  • Amy
    August 14, 2005

    Mmmmm. I no longer drink coffee, but I can’t give up that chocolate/coffee combo in desserts. This looks amazing.

  • Nic
    August 14, 2005

    C&C – It actually managed to be very moist without being the least bit gooey. A perfect balance!

    AG – You’re right. They did get a sweet deal.

    Jessica – Very deadly. And delicious. That’s why I advocate sharing. =)

    Amy – If you don’t want to drink it, eating it (esp. with chocolate) is a great alternative.

  • T
    August 14, 2005

    that looks gorgeous nic! i cant say im a fan of coffee in desserts but i am really tempted by the photo of your cake 🙂

  • galinusa
    August 15, 2005

    Delicious it sounds, as always! Seems like we both chose to go the indulgent route for this SHF 🙂

    By the way, are you using the cookbook where your receipe came from? I saw it over the weekend and contemplated on buying it. Any opinion?

  • Nic
    August 15, 2005

    Tanvi – The sign of a good dessert (or a successful SHF/IMBB post) is that it tempts even the people who aren’t usually fans. Thanks.

    Galinusa – The cookbook is a good one. I haven’t made too many of the recipes in it, but all the ones I’ve tried have been delicious. It has lots of good information besides recipes, too. It also won Best Cookbook of the Year in 2000. I’d say it’s worth getting.

  • pseudo chef
    August 16, 2005

    Mmmm – that is the perfect cake for a indulgent tea time treat 🙂

  • Jennifer
    August 16, 2005

    Nic, I will be making this cake very soon. I can’t NOT make it – it sounds absolutely heavenly. And I love the idea of the trade off you did with the local coffee shop – did you already know someone there or did you go in cold with promises of death by coffee and chocolate?

    Thanks so much for joining in on SHF – I wouldn’t want to do it without you!

  • Nic
    August 16, 2005

    Jennifer – You are too sweet! You have to knock me out to miss a Sugar High Friday.
    I know a few of the people who work at the coffee shop and the rest I know by association. They run a great shop and are appreciative of the occasional baked good delivery. Did I mention they make excellent drinks? Yes, I do usually pay for them, but I’m not above trading a slice of cake for a cappuccino

  • Missy
    August 22, 2007

    hi, just wondering how much is 2 cups of coffee? volume wise… lovely blog!

  • Nicole
    August 23, 2007

    2 cups of coffee is going to be about 16-oz.

  • loz
    May 22, 2008

    what’s a cup?? does anyone have any real measurements?

  • Marsi
    November 11, 2008

    Nic, I don’t have cake flour availablr where I am and I read that it can be substituted with 1 cup of AP flour minus 2T and add 2T cornstarch. So since the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of cake flour, does that mean 1c AP flour minus 1T and add 1T of cornstarch??

  • Jenni=Lynn
    March 1, 2009

    I just finished baking this cake and although it looks great & sounds great, it isn’t really that impressive. Taking into consideration the expense of this cake (liquor, real chocolate vs. cocoa powder, etc.) and the time required to make it, its not really worth it. I know baking is obviously about personal taste, but I made this with friends and none of us would make this again. I would suggest giving this one a miss!

  • Angie
    November 15, 2012

    The best chocolate cake I ever had! It melt in my mouth. This is my second time making this cake. The second time for the glaze, I used semi sweet because bittersweet is too much since the cake is already very chocolatey 🙂 All my guinea pig friends love it!

  • Angie
    November 15, 2012

    By the way, thank you so much for posting. This is a keeper and its easy to make 🙂

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