Monday, March 04, 2013

Blackout Cake

Happy Monday, people! Guess what? I baked you a cake. Yes, that's right — a cake. A luscious, layered chocolate cake.

At the beginning of each year I have a tendency to make big promises here on the blog … and then proceed to immediately forget and/or ignore them. In 2010, I declared it the year of cake. I had never made what I termed a "grown-up" cake and stated that I would do so in 2010. I did not.

This year, I promised I would post a recipe a week. I did kinda okay in January: Paris Mushroom Soup, Chicken Tinga TacosChallah Bread. I even made it into the first week of February: Butter Chicken. Then, boom: Nada. Nothing. *sigh.*

You'd think I would learn. I wanted to make it up to you with a cake. A real, tried-and-true grown-up cake. My first tried-and-true grown-up cake. This is a rich, dense chocolate cake—not for the faint of heart, which I know you are not.

Chocolate Blackout Cake
via Food & Wine

1 stick unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
2 1/4 cups cake flour, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
2 cups sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (See Note)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk

3 cups water
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 1/2 cups unsweetened natural cocoa powder (See Note)
2/3 cup cornstarch
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

1. MAKE THE CAKE Preheat the oven to 375°. Butter two 9-inch round cake pans and coat lightly with flour. Line the bottoms with parchment paper. In a standing electric mixer fitted with the whisk, beat the 1 stick of butter with the shortening until creamy. Add the sugar and beat at medium speed until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions. Add the vanilla. At very low speed, beat in the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the 2 1/4 cups of cake flour and the milk in 3 separate alternating batches, scraping down the side and bottom of the bowl occasionally.

2. Divide the cake batter between the prepared pans and smooth the tops. Bake in the center of the oven for about 25 to 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out with a few moist crumbs attached. Let the cakes cool for 15 minutes, then invert them onto a rack and let cool completely.

3. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE FILLING In a large saucepan, combine 2 1/2 cups of the water with the sugar, corn syrup and cocoa powder and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. In a bowl, whisk the cornstarch with the remaining 1/2 cup of water until smooth; whisk into the cocoa mixture. Cook over moderately high heat, whisking constantly, until very thick, 3 minutes. Off the heat, whisk in the butter, vanilla and salt. Scrape the filling into a bowl and press a sheet of plastic wrap onto the surface of the filling. Let cool, then refrigerate until firm, 45 minutes.

4. Using a serrated knife, halve each cake layer horizontally. Break up the less attractive top cake layer and transfer to a food processor; pulse into crumbs. Reserve the two cake bottoms and one smoother top.

5. Set one of the cake bottoms on a cake plate and spread with 1 1/2 cups of the filling. Top with the second bottom layer and another 1 1/2 cups of filling. Cover with the cake top and spread the remaining filling all over the top and side. Pat the crumbs all over the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving.

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