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Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

This chocolate cake and ganache frosting recipe came out of a Food and Wine magazine from the 90’s, but I have made one important change:  I use brewed coffee instead of water, which makes a very intense, dark chocolate cake, very moist, and just sweet enough. 

The frosting is creamy and rich, not too sweet, and not a hint of sugary grit.  It’s a snap to make, despite all of my verbose instructions.  Vanilla or coffee ice cream would be great with it.

For two 8 cake inch pans 

Preheat over to 350, Convection if you have it. 

For the Cake

2 cups flour
2 tps baking powder
2 tps baking soda
1 tps salt
2 cups sugar
4 oz unsweetened chocolate
6 tbs unsalted butter
1 tps vanilla
2 eggs, slightly beaten

For the Frosting

1-1/3 cup heavy cream
1-1/2 cups sugar
6 oz unsweetened chocolate
1 stick, 2 tbs unsalted butter
1-1/2 tps vanilla
pinch of salt

Bake the Cake:

  • Butter and flour cake pans, line bottoms with parchment paper then butter and flour the paper. 
  • Sift together the dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt)
  • In a saucepan, combine the sugar with 2 cups brewed coffee, and bring to a boil until sugar dissolves.  
  • While the sugar and coffee are heating up, roughly chop the chocolate and place into a large bowl.  Cut the butter into chunks and add it to the bowl. 
  • Pour the coffee and sugar mixture over the butter and chocolate.  Stir until all of the chocolate is melted.  This may take a few minutes.
  • Add the vanilla. 
  • Using a hand mixer or large wisk, beat the eggs into the chocolate mixture, then add the dry ingredients, beating until just smooth.  Don’t overbeat once you add the flour, or you will get a tough cake. 
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pans, never filling more than 2/3 full.  If you have leftover batter, put it into cupcake tins and bake after the cakes are done.
  • Place the cakes into the pre-heated oven, on the center racks.  The cakes are done when a toothpick comes out almost clean. 
  • Cool the cakes in the pans for about 10-15 minutes, then invert onto a rack to finish cooling.  
  • If you are making the cake in advance, let them cool completely, then wrap in plastic wrap and then foil and freeze until you are ready to assemble.  You can frost them frozen if you wish, just leave the cake at room temperature for several hours before serving.  

Make the Frosting: 

  • You will need two bowls for this method.  One of the bowls needs to sit inside another bowl that is half-filled with ice and some water.  You want to be careful not to let any of the ice water splash into the frosting mixture while you are beating it, as that will cause the frosting to seize up.  Try out a couple of different size bowls before you start. 
  • In a saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a boil, reduce to simmer, stir until reduces, about 6 minutes.  
  • While the cream and sugar cook, roughly chop the chocolate, and the butter and place into the smaller bowl. 
  • Add the cream and sugar mixture to it, then the vanilla and salt.  Stir until the butter and chocolate are completely. 
  • Set the bowl over the larger bowl of ice with a little water.  With an electric mixer, beat until the frosting becomes thick and glossy. 

Assemble the Cake:

  • If your cakes have a domed center, you may want to slide a serrated knife across the tops of the cake layers to level them out.  When you place the layers, always put the bottom of the layer upwards to frost.  This will help eliminate crumbs getting into the frosting as you assemble the cake, and give you a much neater appearance.
  • Tear four pieces of waxed paper, about 4 inches wide, and lay them out on the edges of your cake plate. 
  • Place the first layer upside down on the plate, with the bottom side up, so that the waxed paper is under the cake edges.  
  • Spoon about 1/3 of the frosting onto the first layer.  Use an off-set spatula if you have one.  Spread evenly to the very edge of the cake.  
  • As a rule, I don’t try to swirl the frosting in any pattern until I have the entire cake completely frosted.  Get it evenly spread, and then use your knife to make whatever pattern you wish.  If you are really trying to do a fancy pattern, it’s best to frost in two steps.  First a crumb coat, which is a thin layer of frosting which completely seals the cake, and then is place in the refrigerator until it set.  Then the remaining frosting is spread into whatever effect you are looking for. 
  • Place the second layer of the cake upside down on the frosting. 
  • Spread frosting in sections, up the sides of the cake.  Then put the remaining frosting on the top, and spread evenly on the pushing the frosting to the edge.

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