We have a visitor in our apartment, and his name is Frank. I could describe him, but instead I think you should just look at his picture.
In his special way (with little pig grunts and ears pointed at the ceiling), Frank asked me to make him a chocolate cake. In reality, tomorrow is my dear friend’s birthday, and she is in town from Brussels and loves chocolate anything, so I made her a mini-cake that I’ll bring with me to the Willard Hotel tomorrow to surprise her. If Frank doesn’t talk me in to staying home with him.
I adapted this cake recipe from David Lebovitz’s Devil’s Food Cake, and topped it with a glossy and rich chocolate ganache. When I was making the cake, I pulled a Babe Ruth, pointed to center field, and declared that I thought this was going to be the best chocolate cake I’ve ever made. (So far. It’s early).
Chocolate Layer Cake with Chocolate Ganache
Chocolate Layer Cake
Adapted from David Lebovitz
This recipe makes 2 9-inch cake rounds (or two mini-cakes and 12 cupcakes, if you make a mini-cake for your friend’s birthday and cupcakes for your roommate and fellow grad students).
9 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
(natural or Dutch process)
1½ cups cake flour (not self-rising) or all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon of orange extract
½ cup strong coffee
½ cup whole or low fat milk
Adjust your oven rack to the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 9-inch cake rounds and line the bottoms with circles of parchment paper, buttering the top of the parchment paper as well.
Sift together the cocoa powder, flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder into a bowl.
In a mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing electric mixer, beat together the butter and sugar for about 5 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time and the orange extract until fully incorporated. Stop the mixer after the addition of each egg to scrape down the sides with a spatula.
Mix together the coffee and milk in a measuring cup. Stir half of the dry ingredients into the butter mixture and mix until just combined, then add the coffee and milk. Stir in the other half of the dry ingredients and mix until completely combined. Give the mixture one final stir with a spatula to ensure it’s well mixed and to incorporate any of the butter mixture stuck on the bottom (this happens with a stand mixer sometimes).
Divide the batter into the prepared cake pans and bake for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool completely before frosting. You can bake the cakes up to 24 hours in advance, wrap in saran wrap, and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cake.
- The orange extract doesn’t cause the cake to scream orange (although it does cause it to scream “I AM DELICIOUS!”). It really brings out a natural fruitiness in the chocolate, but if you don’t care for that flavor, you can substitute vanilla extract or leave it out.
- For more orange flavor, I might add some orange zest to the cake batter next time.
- I use a French press coffee maker at home, which makes extra strong and wonderfully thick coffee. I recommend brewing the coffee this way if you have one. I also usually stir a few shakes of cinnamon into my coffee beans when I grind them, something I did not at all regret when I made the coffee for this recipe.
1 pound (16 oz.) good quality bittersweet chocolate (Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips work well)
1 cup heavy cream
1-2 tablespoons sugar, depending on desired sweetness
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
If you are using block or bar chocolate, finely chop it.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil, watching to make sure it doesn’t boil over, and whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from the heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Add butter and whisk until smooth.
Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until thick and spreadable. You can do this quickly by stirring the frosting over a bowl of ice water, or stick it in the freezer for 10-15 minutes—but be careful, it gets firm quite fast.
Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.