Here is how this story begins:
TD: Can you make one of those chocolate cakes?
ME: Like what kind?
TD: The brown kind.
ME: Can you be more specific?
TD: That doesn’t have pink peppercorns. And is big with chocolate cake and chocolate filling and chocolate frosting.
ME: But no peppercorns?
TD: No peppercorns.
For my valentine? Anything. And so chocolate love cake was born.
The concept for this cake isn’t particularly unique or even fancy. You’ve seen this cake a hundred times. In fact, when you get down to it, this cake is a darned cliche. Like chocolate molten cake or New York cheesecake. But. A cliche is a cliche for a reason and as well worn as this cake is, it does deliver.
The recipe that follows combines what I think is the best of all fudge recipes. The cake has a buttermilk and unsweetened chocolate base (as opposed to a cocoa base) to which I have added mini chocolate chips. The filling/frosting also begins with unsweetened chocolate. Then the whole thing gets covered in toasted almonds (or walnuts or pecans…or well, you get the picture). Shall we get started?
Unsweetened chocolate, sugar and vanilla are added to water and cooked until combined.
The fudge is then cooled down in an ice bath. Stir the cooling sauce often or you get grainy fudge (I know this from experience).
Once chilled, the fudge is added to the usual list of great cake suspects: sugar, butter, yadda yadda yadda. Then the buttermilk and dry ingredients are incorporated by alternating between the two beginning and ending with the flour.
Oh, let’s back up a minute. While your butter is creaming, butter your pans. Then, line the bottoms in parchment and finally “flour” each pan with cocoa. Using cocoa instead of flour keeps your chocolate cake looking chocolatey.
Okay, now back to the finished batter. For this recipe, I’ve used six-inch cake pans. The recipe easily yields enough batter for three six-inch pans or two eight or nine-inch pans. To get evenly sized cakes, I zeroed-out my scale with a separate empty bowl and then transferred the batter to said bowl. I divided the total weight by three and then added the appropriate amount to each of my pans. Alternately, you could just eye-ball it.
Here comes extra-special cake tip #2 (#1 one was the thing about the cocoa if you are keeping track). Once the cakes are completely cool, double wrap them in plastic wrap and freeze them solid. Frozen cake is much, much easier to work with than cake at room temperature.
Level out each frozen cake. Then decide how many layers you’d like your finished cake to be. And then, very carefully, cut each cake with a large serrated knife (I use a bread knife). It’s okay if you don’t get them completely level: that’s what frosting is for.
Now it’s time to frost. The frosting recipe I’ve included below makes plenty for a two-layer cake. For three layers, consider one-and-one-halving the recipe.
After filling your layers, you may want to add a crumb layer to the whole cake before frosting the entire construction project. This is super duper cake tip #3. A crumb layer is a very thin layer of frosting–kind of like putting down a layer of primer before painting a room. It makes your final layer of frosting much neater looking.
Of course, I did this and remembered that I was going to cover the entire cake in almonds. But, I did feel better knowing how nice the frosting looked under the almonds.
Here is cake tip #4. To keep your cake plate clean, slip parchment paper under the edges of the cake. Frost and then carefully remove the parchment. The result is a nice, un-frosted cake plate.
I have to admit, I don’t really have any advice on how to successfully stick your nuts to the outside of the cake (oh, good grief TD, we are still talking about cake). I just took handfuls and carefully pressed the nuts into the side of the still-soft frosting. It worked well save for the huge mess I made on the kitchen counter. Word to the wise: do this over a rimmed baking sheet and you will save quite a bit of time in clean up. I don’t know why I didn’t think of this in advance. Must have been distracted by the nuts.
Behold: Chocolate Love Cake.
Love, love love.
All you need is love.
Love in an elevator…oh wait. Have I gone too far?
Still stuck on the part about the peppercorns? For reasons I don’t exactly understand, TD is convinced that I have an evil plan to infuse peppercorns into all of my baked goods. Pink peppercorns to be specific. Setting aside the fact that we don’t even have any peppercorns in the pantry (pink or otherwise), I’ve decided that this is code for something. I’m just not sure what…
Chocolate Fudge Layer Cake with Chocolate Fudge Frosting
(adapted from Cooks.com)
- 2 C sifted cake flour
- 2 t baking powder
- .5 t baking soda
- .5 t salt
- 3 squares unsweetened chocolate
- .66 C water
- 1.5 C sugar
- 1 t vanilla
- 10 Tbs butter at room temp.
- 3 eggs
- .33 C buttermilk
- 1 C mini chocolate chips or chunked chocolate of your favorite variety
To make cake
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Butter, line with parchment and flour (or cocoa) your pans.
Sift flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into bowl, set aside.
Cook chocolate, water and .25 C of sugar in saucepan over low heat stirring constantly until thick and smooth. Transfer to a bowl set in ice water, stirring often. Add vanilla.
Beat butter and remaining sugar in large bowl until fluffy. Beat in eggs one-at-a-time. Add chocolate fudge mixture and blend.
Beginning and ending with your sifted ingredients, add in flour and buttermilk alternating beating well after each addition. Fold in chocolate chips.
Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for 35 minutes or until the tops of the cakes spring back when touched.
Remove from pans, cool completely and freeze if desired.
(according to the recipe I pilfered this from it is an adaptation of a recipe from Sky High)
- 6 ounces unsweetened chocolate melted and cooled
- 4.5 C confectioner’s sugar
- 24 Tbs (3 sticks) unsalted butter at room temp
- 6 Tbs whole milk, half-and-half or heavy cream
- 1 Tbs vanilla
- 2 cups toasted and chopped nuts of choice
To make frosting
Cream together butter, sugar and milk. Add in chocolate and vanilla, beat until desired consistency. Makes about 5 cups.