Last year, I was on a quest. A quest to find the best chocolate cake recipe. I tried cake after cake. My family thought it was funny, and enjoyed being official taste testers.
My dear friend (and personal therapist while walking) Peggy makes the most delicious chocolate cake. She brings it to Pie Night almost every year. Because she doesn’t (gasp!) like pie. Weird, I know. It is a wonderful chocolate cake. We love it so much that my daughter Corrine asked if Peggy would bring it again last year. She did. We ate it up. Why didn’t I just get the recipe from Peggy for her cake, and call it good? Well, that sounds like an easy solution. Problem was, every time I tried to make her cake, it flopped. One time, it flowed all over my oven and I almost had to call 911. Another time, it sank in the middle, and cooked too much around the edges. Maybe I didn’t copy the recipe correctly?? No, a call confirmed I wrote it exactly as Peggy dictated, just a problem with the baker- me.
So, back to the quest. I needed a chocolate cake I could make and use as a tried and true, never fail, have to have it , chocolate-fix cake. You know I LOVE cake, right?? I love pie, but cake, yes, I’m a cake woman. The truth is I love almost ALL baked goods. Cake I love: – boxed, bakery, home made. My fav bakery cakes are Granite bakery and Mrs. Backers Bakery on South Temple in SLC.
Warning- crazy rambling: Every year, for my birthday I want – no, I NEED a chocolate cake with pineapple filling and chocolate frosting from Backers. White with pineapple filling is my second choice. Every year, I start reminding my kids in October, order the cake early, because they don’t make the choc/pineapple combo unless you special order it, and they close on Wed night before Thanksgiving, and don’t re-open until the Monday AFTER Thanksgiving. By then, my birthday is OVER, and I really need this cake.
OK, so where were we?? The quest. You know when you eat something at a social event, and want to be polite and not lick your plate, or ask for some to take home, then you lay, or is it lie? in bed all night thinking- If I could only have one more small bite of that ____ (cookie, pie, chocolate cake). Enter my talented and lovely practically perfect friend Laurie. She made the aforementioned (like my lawyer talk) chocolate cake. She can make ANYTHING. Yes, anything. She cooks like Julia Child, has penmanship like font on a computer, has polished, classic style in decorating, clothing, sews like …um, who sews? Betsy Ross, only more talented than Betsy. Seriously, this woman has “it”. AND she is seriously plagued with perfecting recipes. She makes something and then makes revision after revision until it is perfect. Lucky me. She learned how to make cakes, really great cakes from her friend Amy, who is also close to perfection, herself, I mean she actually is probably perfect too, I just don’t know her well enough to bear testimony of it, her, whatever. I do know, that this cake is wonderful, the quest is now over.
- for cake:
- 1¾ cups boiling water
- 6 oz. semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, OR chocolate chips (for a double recipe, use 15 oz. chocolate chips, which equals 2½ cups.)
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder*
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tsp. baking soda
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 10 oz (2½ sticks) butter, softened
- 1¾ cups packed dark brown sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- for frosting:
- 1¼ cups plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 4½ cups powdered sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (For really dark frosting, use part Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa, about 4 tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons milk
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Line two 9-inch round cake pans with circles of wax paper or baking parchment.
- Pour the boiling water over the chocolate chips.
- Add cocoa and stir until mixture is smooth.
- Set aside to cool.
- Cream the butter and brown sugar.
- Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each.
- Beat in vanilla.
- Add the dry ingredients and half of the chocolate mixture.
- Beat on low to combine, then on high for 1½ minutes.
- Add the remaining chocolate mixture and beat on low until mixed.
- Pour batter into pans and bake 30-40 minutes, or until a cake tester inserted into the middle comes out completely clean.
- Cool for 10-15 minutes; remove from pans.
- Wrap in double layers of plastic wrap while still warm and freeze.
- Double recipe makes two 10" layers plus two 8" layers or four 9" layers.
- Never fill pans more than ⅔ full.
- Frosting directions:
- Cream butter with electric mixer.
- Whisk together sugar and cocoa.
- Beat one-third of the sugar/cocoa mixture into the butter. Mix in vanilla.
- Add the rest of the sugar/cocoa mixture alternately with milk and beat until frosting is smooth.
- When cake is frozen solid, frost between the two layers and spread a thin layer over the whole cake.
- Freeze again for about 20 minutes.
- Frost again.
- Repeat if desired. (Frost the last time on the day you plan to serve the cake and let it stand at room temperature to thaw.)
-*Usually the best type of cocoa at grocery stores is Saco Premium Cocoa, which comes in a round container with a picture of a baker on the front. I love Callebaut Brand Cocoa and have used it exclusively since about 2010. I also love Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Cocoa Powder, but it is usually a bit more expensive than other brands.
-I double this and it makes 4 perfect 9″ layers.
-I liked the frosting best with about 1/2 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa (for dark color) and 1/2 cup Callebaut unsweetened cocoa.
-If you don’t have time to frost and freeze the cake, freeze the layers, and frost the cake while still frozen. Use about 1/4 of frosting between layers, 1/2 on sides of cake and remaining 1/4 of frosting on top of cake.
-When purchasing cake pans, make sure the pans are professional quality. The sides should be straight and the pans should not be able to fit all the way into each other when stacked. If they fit inside of each other, the sides are slightly angled, which will not produce cakes with straight sides. I highly recommend purchasing this pan.