I am a purveyor of sweets in general, but when it comes to things of the chocolate cake variety, my love runs deep. There are a number of chocolate cakes I make on the regular, and most of them are quite easy, but for this craving I let my 6 year old daughter pick whichever cake she wanted from my Martha Stewart Cakes book – the result was this beast of a beauty that tastes even better than it looks and was so fun to make with my littles. As per usual Martha doesn’t make things simple, but she does generally make things quite delicious. Often “from scratch” cakes are not as springy and moist as I want them to be, but this one had the perfect crumb and was layered with a ganache filling that made it all so decadent. I choose to use my own frosting because her super pretty glossy “rich chocolate frosting” would have required me to chop ANOTHER pound of chocolate, and seriously, even for a chocolate hoarder like me, 2 pounds of good chocolate is hard to part with for one recipe. I used my always good chocolate buttercream, and I’m going to go on ahead and say it turned out about as delicious as a cake can get.
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature (plus more for pans)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder plus more for pans
(tip: I marble my cocoa with dark cocoa at a ratio of about 3 to 1 so any recipe that call for cocoa powder gets a little ride on the dark side)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons boiling water
3/4 cup milk
2 1/4 cups cake flour (she says to sift it, but who has time for that noise)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs lightly beaten
Whipped Ganache filling –
1 pound bittersweet (or semi-sweet if you prefer) chocolate finely chopped
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup butter melted
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
For the Cake:
- Preheat oven to 350. Butter three 9-by-2-inch round cake pans; line with parchment rounds, and butter (or spray) parchment. Dust with cocoa, tapping out excess. Sift cocoa into medium bowl. Stir in the boiling water until smooth; gradually whisk in milk. Set aside to cool.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. With an electric mister on low beat butter until fluffy, 3-5 minutes. Gradually beat in sugar, scraping down sides of bowl a few times. Beat in vanilla.
- Add eggs in 3 batches, beating well after each addition. With a mixer on low speed, add flour mixture and reserved cocoa mixture a little at a time in alternate batches, starting and ending with the flour; beat until just combined.
- Divide batter evenly among prepared pans; smooth tops with an offset spatula. Bake rotating halfway through, until a cake tester comes out clean, 20-25 minutes. Transfer pans to a wire rack to cool 15 minutes. Turn cakes out on racks to cool completely.
- With a serrated knife, trim tops of cakes to level. Place bottom cake layer on a cake stand or platter, and spread evenly with about 1 1/4 cups whipped ganache; top with second layer and 1 1/4 cups ganache. Top with third layer. Spread remaining whipped ganache over top and sides of cake to form a crumb coat; refrigerate until ganache is firm, about 30 minutes.
- Spread chocolate frosting over top and sides of cake, using an offset spatula to create large swirls. If you have chocolate curls they make a pretty decorate topping – I didn’t have any and it still looked pretty and tasted great.
For the Whipped Ganache
- Place chocolate in a large heatproof bowl. Bring cream to a boil over medium-high heat; pour over chocolate, swirling to cover completely. Let sit 10 minutes. With a flexible spatula or small whisk, gently stir chocolate and cream until combined.
- Refrigerate ganache, stirring every 5 minutes or so until mixture is cool to the touch. Whisk ganache until it just barely begins to hold it’s shape and is slightly lighter in color. Do not over-whip, or mixture will become grainy (ganache will keep thickening after you stop whisking) use immediately.
For the Frosting
- Melt the butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk beating to a nice spreading consistency. You may need additional powdered sugar or milk to achieve the right texture. Add salt and vanilla and mix well.
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart Cakes cake book.