Very Chocolate Cake, as promised! It took six tries and a ton of frustration to get this posted. Even after it was fixed, it crashed twice more. I have never been so frustrated or relieved to get a post up but here it is and I hope you enjoy it.
The Very Chocolate Cake was our best selling retail cake and one of our most popular wedding cakes. Making the cake is actually simplicity itself but the tricks of getting it put together and finished are here to assist you. While I have often found chocolate cakes made with cocoa to be lacking, this is anything but. It’s incomparably deep chocolate flavor is matched by the simple Cream Glaze that fills and finishes it.
The recipe for the cake was originally inspired from the 50th Anniversary Cake, Rose Levy Beranbaum made for Good Housekeeping Magazine many years ago. (They are probably 75 years old by now!) By exchanging the buttermilk for sour cream, the layers became less crumbly when cut. A few more tweaks were made for personal taste, but as with all of Rose’s recipes, they work to a tee. The only caveat is to beat the ingredients on low for as short a period of time as possible to completely combine them which helps minimize humping in the center. The pan preparation is actually the key to keeping almost any cake layers flat when baking. The center of the pan only is sprayed, lined with parchment paper and again, the center only is sprayed. The cake layers will stick to the side of the pan when risen just like an angel food cake and they will be prevented from sliding down the side as the edges bake faster than the center.
The chocolate I use for the cream glaze is not chocolate chips. They are called callets and look like the chips. I use Callebaut at work and at home. Buy a good chocolate that is around 58 to 62% cocoa butter for the best results. Grocery stores as well as specialty stores sell it. The method for making the glaze is the same one we used at the bakery and prevents the chocolate from burning. When heating the glaze to use, putting it in a double boiler is a good solution or it can be heated on 1/2 power in the microwave for short periods of time. It should be very liquid to facilitate pouring, but watch it doesn’t burn.
The method of putting the cake together is the same one we used at the bakery. We could make 21 of these at a time and they froze beautifully. Because we sold to caterers and hotels our line was frozen unless it was a special order that couldn’t be. Caterers and hotels preferred the desserts to be frozen because they could be plated with no fingers showing in the finishes. They could also be plated really fast. So feel free to freeze the entire cake. Thaw it in the refrigerator overnight and if you can put it under a cover, that is all to the good as the condensation will go to the top of the cover and not to the cake. However, in any case, take it out of the refrigerator hours before serving to reach a total room temperature.
Back to assembly. We used 3″ tall cheesecake pans as opposed to spring molds and I strongly recommend them. Spring molds have a lip on the bottom which makes removing products from them tenuous at best. The springs also, in time, lose their spring and if not stored locked in place can become distorted. I also think they are terrible to clean. By contrast the cheesecake pan has a completely enclosed, smooth side and a flat bottom, making it much easier to remove items and transfer them to a serving platter. They are also very easy to clean with no hidden areas for food to hide. The use of a blow torch (I use a large, industrial one at Tony’s but a smaller, better looking one at home) or a hairdryer set on high works just as well. Just go over the outside of the pan to heat it gently, place the pan on a fat can taller than the cake pan and slide down the sides.
The finishing for the sides of the cake are decortifs by Guittard Chocolate. However, they are also known as Vermicelli by other companies. They are made from real chocolate, taste fine and come in dark or white chocolate. The ones made from cocoa that are thick and short aren’t going to make your cake look great. Vermicelli is readily available on the internet if you can’t find them locally. Getting them on the cake is easy if you follow the photos.
Cake 1 cup hot water
2 1/2 teaspoons instant coffee
2 cups sugar (400 grams or 14 ounces)
1 3/4 cup sifted all purpose flour (245 grams or 8 1/2 ounces)
1 cup dutched cocoa (85 grams or 3 ounces)
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 cup sour cream (225 grams or 8 ounces)
2 teaspoons vanilla
In a mixing bowl, place the water and coffee; whisk to mix and dissolve the coffee. Add the sugar and whisk just until incorporated. It will become very syrupy. Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add to the coffee mixture and mix on low to incorporate – about 2 minutes. It will be very thick. Add the oil, mixing on low, next add the sour cream and then the eggs and vanilla each time mixing completely. Divide the batter between the pans (660 grams or 23 ounces per pan). Bake 28 to 33 minutes or until they spring back when lightly touched or a cake tester comes out clean.
Heat the cream until very hot but not boiling. It should be steaming. Submerge the chocolate in the cream and let sit for 3 to 4 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth and the chocolate is completely melted.
Release the cake layers by going around the edges of the pan with a small, straight metal spatula. Make sure the spatula is to the edge of the pan and not to cake to avoid cutting the cake layer. Place a cardboard cake round, flat plate or cooling rack over the top of the pan and turn it over.Remove the paper from the bottom, keeping it flat to the cake as you pull it off so you don’t take a chunk of cake with it. Immediately place a second cardboard cake round, flat plate or cooling rack on top of the exposed cake and turn it back over so it is right side up. Repeat for the second cake layer.
Spread with 2 cups cream glaze (400 grams or 14 ounces). Place the second layer on top. Cover the layer with one of the parchments that was removed sand press down on the layer to make sure it is about 1/2″ under the rim.
Cover with film and refrigerate 6 hours or overnight.
Pour 1/2 to 3/4 cup over the top of the cake. Rotate the pan to cover the top completely. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to set. Pour another 1/2 to 3/4 cup and rotate to cover the top again.Refrigerate to set for several hours.
With two spatulas, one on each side, move it to a cake board or serving plater. Finish the sides with a thin coat of glaze. Finish with chocolate sprinkles by placing the sprinkles in a pan or bowl. Wipe the edges of the cardboard or platter clean.
Holding the cake in your left hand, pick up a handful of sprinkles with your right hand and press them against the side of the cake, letting the loose sprinkles fall back into the pan. Repeat until the side is covered.