Sweet Sandy B. Bakes

If we are ever to enjoy life, now is the time. Not tomorrow or next year... Today should always be our most wonderful day...

So, let's eat cake!

Notes on my adventure as a mom and baker and life as Sweet Sandy B...

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Chocolate cake. better than a handshake, not as good as .. you know

Full disclosure- I'm not usually a chocolate cake fan. Hands down I go for 'yellow' cake with milk chocolate frosting. Nothing fancy, I want something that reminds me of being 6 and the pure joy of eating cake my mom made.

But, we are changing the dessert menu at work and I knew we needed some ridiculous chocolate to make the cut. SO I started playing around with a chocolate cake, because girls LOVE chocolate.
I put a variation of this cake up on special last week and guess who came in and had a slice? Chris Tucker ;) He loved it so much he asked me out for a drink after. that's another story!

Here is what you need for the cake:

This is a very straight forward cake, but there are few things you MUST do to get the cake right.
First, put all the dry ingredients into a bowl- flour, sugar, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda

mix them together to combine
then, add the vanilla and the SOFTENED butter. NOT melted. not cold. soft, room temp butter. It should look like this:

turn on the mixer and while it is coming together, you HAVE to do this:

Butter and coat two 8 or 9 inch cake pans with COCOA powder. because we are making chocolate cake- you don't want a coating of white flour on the outside of the rich brown cake. it will look gray and gross. We are frosting them anyhow- but trust me.
Now we add the liquids- 2 eggs and some water. Mix for THREE MINUTES. set a timer. THREE minutes. You want the batter to look like this:

It is thick, but you do not want to overmix. This will make the cake way too dense/tough and it won't rise nice and fluffy. You want fluffy and airy.

Pour evenly between the two pans and put in a 350 degree oven for 35-40 minutes (this depends on what size pan you use. Smaller pan = longer bake time. Unless you make cupcakes. duh.

Now. The frosting. This frosting is the one that tastes and comes closest to your favorite Betty Crocker chocolate frosting from the tub. It is f'ing awesome. Here is what you need:

mix the regular sugar and cocoa powder in a pot. then add everything else BESIDES the powdered sugar and vanilla

mix with a spatula and try to smooth out the lumps while you turn the heat up on the stove top because you want to bring all of this goodness to a boil for about THREE minutes. stir continuously. you do NOT want to scorch the cocoa.

after three minutes- take off the burner and put anywhere else to cool for THIRTY minutes, at least. if you can and have room- go ahead and put it in the fridge. you can do this if you are in a hurry too.

this will coincide nicely with the timer going off indicating your cakes should be done. you know how to tell if a cake is done, right? ok good. well mine wasn't done after 35 minutes. so, i let them go for about 5 more minutes but I kept checking because this cake goes from not done to crispy in as little as 2 minutes.
you want it to look like this:

let them cool in the pans for TEN minutes. set a timer. TEN minutes. they need to cool a bit in the pan or they won't come away cleanly. BUT, if you leave them in too long, they will overcook and dry out. both things are bad. so SET.A.TIMER
and in the mean time you can keep futzing with the frosting mix because you want it to cool enough to look like this:

you want to be able to divide it like the red sea and see the bottom of the pot. you should be able to touch the bottom of the pan and it be cool.

alright turn the cakes out on a wire cooling rack and let them cool for at least an hour.

now pour the frosting mix into the mixer and start whipping it up. we want to incorporate as much air as possible so it will get light and fluffy. while the whisk is going, you can start pouring in the powdered sugar and the vanilla. and keep whipping! you want it to get thicker from the powdered sugar, but still whip up enough to frost the cake so it doesn't look like just a ganache.

see how the whisk is leaving marks in the frosting? it's getting thick enough!

so- i had some time left for the cake to cool and i started chatting on the phone and after an hour I was like- ooooops gotta torte and frost the cake. So I forgot to take pictures of that step but basically, I cut each layer in half and put frosting in between each layer. Then frosted the outside and it looks like this:

and then because I need the "triple" in the "triple chocolate" I added chocolate chips on top. you can add anything at this point- white chocolate shavings, or shavings from any candy bar, chocolate sprinkles- whatever makes your heart happy.

ta da! and now put it in the fridge and let it set up. and then the next morning wake up and give it to a friend, like me :)
FYI- i didn't eat ANY of this cake while baking, decorating or even after it was set up. I was fasting for a blood test.
talk about torture.
it might have been more torturous for my friend that was watching me decorate it and couldn't eat it either. zing!

So, if you are inclined- here is the recipe:
Chocolate Cake
2 1/4 c all purpose flour
1 2/3 c sugar
3/4 c softened butter
2/3 c cocoa powder
1 1/4 c water
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs

Chocolate Frosting
1 c sucrose
1/2 cocoa powder
1/2 c WHOLE milk (or heavy cream or half and half)
4 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. corn syrup
pinch of salt
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Take aways- the timer is your friend w/ this cake. USE IT.
also, this cake tastes amazing with a raspberry sauce, or just a tall glass of milk.

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