Today is Joe’s birthday (yay!), so I knew a cake was in order. I personally lean towards a fruit-centric dessert, but Joe cannot resist the sweet siren song of a chocolate cake. This one I am about to share with you is a doozy; a real bittersweet behemoth not to be taken lightly, as there is absolutely nothing light about it.
I first made this cake while I was attending culinary school in NYC. The recipe is from the Horseradish Grill in Atlanta, and while I have never eaten there myself, it just might be worth a trip to the chocolate cake motherland to experience the original. Until then I will have to try my best to do the recipe justice…poor me.
I must say this cake is actually pretty easy to make. Maybe not cake in a box easy, or pick it up at the bakery easy, but there’s nothing particularly intimidating about it, and it’s definitely worth the effort.
One word of advice, though; be SURE to line the pans with parchment, grease them, and flour or cocoa powder them. You may think a quick shot of Pam will do the trick, but you are WRONG. I decided to make this cake for Joe’s birthday five years ago, and I was so over-confident in my baking skills in the way most culinary students are. Oh, I was so young and foolish then! I was all fancy free with my Pam and just gave the bottom of the pans a quick spritz and went along my merry little baking way, and let me tell you when I tried to get the cakes out of the pan they WOULD NOT BUDGE. I ran a knife along the edge, I tapped the bottom, I pleaded with the baking gods, I tried to jiggle them loose all to no avail.
The cakes finally came out. In pieces. We had a bunch of friends coming over for dinner and dessert in 10 minutes and there I was still in my pajamas trying to glue the cake back together with chocolate ganache. It still tasted delicious but it definitely looked a little…rustic. Happy Birthday, Joe!
xo, Holly (The Apiarist)
Best Ever Chocolate Cake
Recipe from the Horseradish Grill
This cake goes great with a classic chocolate frosting, but feel free to use your imagination. A simple whipped cream frosting and fresh berries would be lovely as well. I decorated my cake with some candied flowers my mother-in-law brought me back from France. Tres chic!
P.S. Heed my warning about the pans!
For the Cake:
4 ounces unsweetened chocolate — cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 cup hot coffee
2 cups sugar
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
2 large eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 325 degrees with rack in center. Grease 2 9-inch cake pans, line bottom with a circle of parchment, grease again, and then dust with flour or cocoa powder. Set aside.
Place the chocolate in a bowl and pour the hot coffee over it. Set aside. Combine the sugar, flour salt and baking soda in a medium bowl and mix well. Set aside. Whisk together the eggs, oil, vanilla and sour cream in a large bowl. Give the chocolate mixture a quick stir to make sure it is melted and add it to the egg mixture. Blend well. Add the flour mixture in 3 batches, mixing after each addition. Pour batter into prepared pans and bake until cakes are risen and a toothpick comes out clean, about 30-35 minutes. Let cool in pans for 5 minutes, and then flip out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the Frosting:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
16 ounces semisweet chocolate, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1/4 cup double-strength brewed coffee
1 teaspoon vanilla
Combine cream, butter, sugar and salt in a saucepan and bring to just barely a simmer over medium heat, stirring often. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Stir until chocolate is completely melted, and then add the vanilla and coffee. Let chill until it is a good spreading consistency, 1-2 hours. The frosting would be great like this, but I prefer a fluffier frosting, so I beat it with an electric mixer on high speed for a couple of minutes until it lightened in color and almost doubled in volume. If you do this you will have some leftover frosting, but that’s the kind of problem I like to have.