Chocolate cake is a reliable form of currency, and everyone should know how to make a good one. The frosting is a simple version of chocolate buttercream.
The frosted cake may be frozen several days in advance. Place it in the freezer for an hour to solidify the buttercream, then remove, cover with plastic wrap and return to the freezer. To serve, remove from the freezer and unwrap while the cake is still frozen. Place it on a cake stand and allow 3 hours for it to come to room temperature.
- For the cake
- 2 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 2 eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 cup milk
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup boiling water
- For the frosting
- 8 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate morsels
- 3 tablespoons brewed coffee
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
- 2 to 3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)
For the cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease and flour three 9-inch-round baking pans.
In a large bowl, combine the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, baking soda and espresso powder. Use a whisk to blend in the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla extract; beat about 1 minute. Whisk in the boiling water and scrape down the sides of the bowl. The batter will be thin. Pour the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Transfer the pans to a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then unmold the cake layers onto the racks and cool completely.
For the frosting: In a medium microwave-proof bowl, combine the chocolate morsels and coffee; microwave on high for 1 minute. Whisk the chocolate until smooth, then add the eggs and the confectioner's sugar, mixing well. Transfer the mixture to a medium saucepan over medium heat and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened. Pour the cooked chocolate mixture into a large bowl (or the bowl of a stand mixer) and cool completely. (It's best to refrigerate it overnight.) Using a hand or stand mixer on low speed, beat the cooled chocolate mixture for 30 seconds. Add the softened butter and beat for about 1 minute, until it is completely incorporated and the frosting becomes fluffy. Add the vanilla extract, if desired. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat for few seconds.
To assemble: Trim the tops of the cake layers to make them level, if necessary. Place one layer on a 9-inch cake circle and cover the top with a 1/2 -inch coat of frosting. Repeat with the second layer. Place the third layer on the cake. Spread a thin coat of frosting around the side of the cake and on the top layer to catch any loose crumbs on the surface of the cake. (This is called the crumb coat.) Refrigerate the cake for at least 1 hour. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and frost the sides of the cake first, then the top, reserving 1 cup of frosting for decoration. Place the remaining frosting in a pastry bag fitted with a star tip (or make a pastry bag by cutting off one corner of a resealable plastic food storage bag) and pipe decorations on the cake.
The recipe for this cake's batter comes from the back of the Hershey's cocoa powder can, with a few minor adjustments by David Hagedorn.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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