Sunday, February 13, 2011

Classy Chocolate Cake (My Go-To)

         Hooray for a new computer and a new camera and a new year! I'm finally back and able to blog, again. Of course, during this time without the means to post anything I seemed to come across a great handful of recipes I wanted to share. I'll just have to catch up! I'm so thankful for insurance that's good and does what it's supposed to when it's supposed to. I've loved getting my computer restocked with songs (with much thanks to my sister who mailed me her entire music collection to aid in replacing my old...amazing!), and piddling around with my stunning new camera. Thankfully, everything's coming back together just fine, with only my sense of security trailing behind (not as easily replaced, I'm afraid). 
        The last couple months have been lined with winter storms and a kajillion snow days I began to covet, briefly regretting not choosing a teaching profession. Though, I do value this season and its many charms: the white hush of snow blanketing the ground, the sharp cold that demands cute scarves and tall boots, the hibernation effect that lures me inside for more warm fare and longer naps. I do enjoy winter. And, as I strolled the neighborhood with Lila yesterday, both of us noticing green peeks of early bloomers, I was reminded that without the brown and cold and starkness of winter, we would be much less relieved by and appreciative of the coming spring. So, thank you, Winter, for doing what you do best. Though I do hope you're about out of snow by now. 
         Now, to the cake. I've mentioned Ina Garten before, and I'll mention her again. She is my go-to chef, the one in whose recipes I can be nearly 100% confident. She knows her stuff, appreciates the innate flavors of each ingredient she uses, tends to keep things simple, and has impeccable taste for delicious and beautiful things. I adore her and learn so much from her (and apparently am now speaking as if we are just shy of close friends when, in fact, I only watch her show. oh well.). This chocolate cake measures right up. Moist, rich, not too dense, with a light, not-too-sweet frosting. Now, it's not your typical chocolate cake. This one has some class and is the kind that should be eaten with Vanilla Bean ice cream and French-pressed coffee. At least I think so. The kick is the coffee mixed in to both the batter and the icing. Ina always claims that coffee enhances the chocolate flavor. In some dishes it does this without making too much of an appearance on the palette. In this cake, however, the coffee stands tall. And I love that. I took this one to work the other day and it was well admired and enjoyed by both coffee and non-coffee lovers alike. Enjoy, friends! And Happy Valentine's Day!  xoxoxo, Lane :)

borrowed from Ina Garten
yields one 2-layer 9-inch cake

butter for greasing the pans
1-3/4 cups all purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, room temp.
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Chocolate frosting (recipe below)

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Butter two 9x2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour pans. 
2. Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and mix on low speed until combined. 
3. In smaller bowl, combine buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. 
4. With mixer on low speed, gradually add wet ingredients to the dry, followed by the hot coffee. Mix just until combined. Be sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as you mix.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then completely on a rack. 
6. Once entirely cool, place one layer, flat/bottom side up, on a plate or cake stand. Spread the top with frosting. Place the second layer on, rounded side up, and drop the frosting in dollops on the top and sides, spreading evenly.  

Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:

6 ounces good semisweet chocolate 
(not chocolate chips. i tried it and it really does make a difference. spend the extra cents on a good quality chocolate. you won't regret it.)
2 sticks (1/2 lb) unsalted butter, room temp. 
1 extra-large egg yolk, room temp.
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1-1/4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant coffee powder

1. Chop chocolate and place in microwave-safe bowl, heating and stirring at increments of 20 seconds until just melted. Let cool to room temperature. 
2. In another bowl, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, around 3 minutes. 
3. Add egg yolk and vanilla and beat another 3 minutes. 
4. With mixer on low speed, gradually add the sugar, then beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy, scraping sides of bowl as you go.
5. Dissolve coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of very hot tap water. Add to chocolate-butter mixture and mix on low speed until blended in. Do not whip it!
6. Spread immediately on cooled cake. 


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