I’ve made a few treats recently, including strawberry ice cream and a raspberry buckle, but I was secretly itching for chocolate cake. Do you ever feel that way? That you’re just feeling the need to soften some butter and cream it with sugar and pull a cake out of the oven? I was starting to become desperate.
Sometimes cake can be overwhelming. There are layers. And fondant. And Swiss buttercream. Layer cakes are showpieces, always impressive and festive, but I wasn’t in the mood for one of those. Instead, I craved the beauty of a single layer. And chocolate. I was also looking for the recipe I could make again and again, for any occasion.
In this case, one of my husband’s best friends is getting married next month. Being the exceptional best man that he is, Andrew’s throwing him a cigar-smoking, whiskey-tasting, indoor skydiving affair that has them bunking at our apartment tonight. I’m getting out of town, but I couldn’t leave without leaving a little something sweet for them to eat. And since quality control plays an important role in our kitchen, it was absolutely essential that I test the cake in advance, to be sure it was worthy of a celebration.
I can’t say enough good things about this cake. It’s everything I hoped it would be, and if cooking it twice in one month is any indication, I think it will have a permanent place in my recipe box. My colleagues enjoyed it, and in terms of staying power, it was delicious after having been refrigerated overnight, and fairly moist the day after that, so this cake has some longevity, if you need it.
AUNT SABELLA'S BLACK CHOCOLATE CAKE
Recipe courtesy Saveur
Makes 1, 8-inch round or square cake; Serves 12
Don’t give in to your craving and dip a finger in the melted, unsweetened chocolate. It won’t taste like anything, and you’ll want to rush for a glass of water. Instead, lick the spatula after you’ve poured the batter into the cake pan, because that’s when it will taste incredible. If making the day before, place in an airtight cake box and leave in the refrigerator overnight. Take it out in the morning and let the cake come to room temperature.
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
5 tablespoons, plus 1 teaspoon unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
2 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
5 tablespoons cocoa
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons hot, freshly brewed coffee (I used espresso)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350º. Melt chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over a small pot of gently simmering water over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. Remove bowl from heat and set aside until chocolate is cool. Meanwhile, grease an 8" square cake pan with 1 tsp. of the butter and set aside. Sift flour and salt together in a small bowl and set aside. Stir baking soda into buttermilk in another small bowl and set aside.
2. Beat sugar and the remaining 5 tbsp. butter together in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Beat in egg yolks, then add melted chocolate and beat until thoroughly combined. Add one-third of the flour mixture, then one-third of the buttermilk mixture, beating well after each addition. Repeat process to use all of both mixtures, then pour batter into prepared pan and bake until a toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, 40–50 minutes. Transfer cake to a rack to cool in pan, then invert onto a cake plate.
3. For the frosting: Sift confectioners' sugar and cocoa together in a medium bowl. Stir in butter, then coffee, then vanilla, mixing well with a wooden spoon after each addition, until frosting is smooth. Ice top and sides of cake with frosting. Serve with a large glass of milk.