This chocolate cake recipe comes from Rose Levy Beranbaum's The Cake Bible (a must-own book if you ever plan to make a cake) and is the best chocolate cake recipe I have found. Also, although this cake calls for an unusual preparation (the butter is mixed into the dry ingredients rather than the other way around), the cake is also almost absurdly easy to make. Two nights ago, I coupled it with Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream from the book Martha Stewart's Cupcakes and was very pleased by the results. The bittersweet chocolate flavor of the cake is the perfect match for the sweet fluffy buttercream, and, while I am usually not much of a sweets person, I couldn't keep these out of my mouth this weekend. I've taken this cake to several parties and at one of them, I heard someone whisper as she bit into the soft cake, "Oh my God, this is the best chocolate cake I've ever tasted!" Enough said. Go ahead and give it a try.
*Cupcake Notes: The chocolate cake is supposed to be made using Dutch-processed cocoa powder. However, since I only had regular cocoa powder on hand, I added 1 tsp of baking soda to the water and cocoa mixture. This keeps the cake from tasting bitter, and is a must-do if you use regular cocoa powder.
And, just in case you are wondering, those are cows on the top of the little cupcake. Several years ago, my sister (see Yoganomics) gave me one of those bottles split into four quadrants; each quadrant contains sugar barnyard animals one can use to top cupcakes and such. Here, the cows tumble happily over the fluffy buttercream before entering my mouth and slipping down my gullet. Happy, happy cows.
Perfect All-American Chocolate Butter Cake
(Also known as Victory Cake because it is the cake I made to take to an election party the night Obama was elected)
from The Cake Bible
1/2 c plus 3 T lightly spooned into to measuring cup Dutch-processed unsweetened cocoa
1 c boiling water
3 large eggs
2 1/4 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c sifted cake flour
1 1/2 c sugar
1 T baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter, softened
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour 2 standard 12-cup cupcake tins.
2. Whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
3. In another bowl, lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture, and vanilla.
4. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to blend. Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed and beat for 1 1/2 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. Scrape down the sides. Gradually add the egg mixture in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients. Scrape down sides.
5. Scrape the batter into the prepared cupcake pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 25-35 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center of one of the cakes comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. Let cakes cool on racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and turn out onto racks. Let cool completely before frosting.
*You can also make this cake in two 9-inch by 1 1/2 inch greased cake pans or 1 9x13 inch greased pan.
Fluffy Vanilla Buttercream Frosting
1 1/2 c (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 lb (4 cups) confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1. Using an electric mixer, beat butter on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
2. Reduce speed to medium. Add the sugar, 1/2 c at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the sides. After every two additions, increase speed to high and beat for 10 seconds to aerate frosting, then return to medium.
3. Add vanilla and beat until smooth.
*Frosting can be kept for 10 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Before using, bring to room temperature and beat at low speed until smooth, about 5 minutes.