Sometimes I feel like eating a really rich, decadent dark chocolate cake. Butter cream frosting simply does not satisfy when I get in that CHOCOLATE mood. This is one of my most favorite chocolate cakes to make for those times – but consider yourself warned: it is a really rich cake – a little slice will go a long way!
The recipe below makes a 9″ two layer cake, but I’ve included directions at the end of this post to turn it into an 11″ X 15″ birthday sheet cake, if desired. I made the “Thumper Cake” immediately below for my brother’s 30th birthday party just a few days ago (Yes, Disney’s Thumper, the rabbit from “Bambi“… and yes, my brother is 30! What can I say, my brother is strange…)
- 2 c. flour
- 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. salt
- 3/4 c. unsalted butter
- 2 c. sugar
- 3/4 c. cocoa powder (Hershey’s Special Dark)
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/4 c. water
- 1/4 c. milk
Chocolate Ganache Frosting:
- 15 oz. good quality chocolate
- 1 1/2 c. heavy cream
1. First, make the frosting. Weigh out 15 oz. of chocolate. (I used four 3.5 oz bars of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate for a total of 14 oz., and added about 1 oz of chocolate chips to bring the total weight up to 15 oz.)
2. In a large 2 cup measuring cup, microwave the heavy cream for 4 minutes. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and allow to sit for about 5 minutes.
3. Whisk the chocolate and cream together to make the ganache. It will appear grainy at first, but will smooth out after a minute or so.
4. Cover the surface of the ganache with plastic wrap, and set aside at room temperature for a couple hours until set and firm enough to frost the cake.
5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl.
6. Cream the butter for several minutes until smooth, and gradually add the sugar. Continue beating for 2-4 more minutes.
7. Add the vanilla and cocoa powder and combine thoroughly. (I used Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa powder to give this cake more of a dark chocolate taste.)
8. Add the eggs, one egg at a time, making sure each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.
9. Combine the water and milk in a 2 c. pyrex measuring cup, and microwave for 2.5 minutes.
10. On low speed, slowly add the flour to the butter mixture. Then, gradually mix in the hot water/milk mixture, being careful not to splash hot batter out of the bowl. (The batter will be somewhat watery).
11. Divide the batter between two greased 9 inch round cake pans.
12. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove the pans from the oven, and allow to cool for 5 minutes before inverting on a cake rack to cool.
13. Wait until the cake is completely cool before frosting. Spread about 1/3 the ganache on top of the first layer. Place the top layer over the ganache, then frost the sides and top of the cake with the remaining ganache.
Double the recipe for the cake batter, and bake in a greased (and waxed paper lined) 11″ X 15″ sheet cake pan – you will need to bake it at 350 degrees for 35 – 40 minutes. Allow the cake to cool for 15 minutes before removing from the pan by inverting it onto a large wire rack (or two normal sized racks, pushed together). Cool completely. Use a large serrated knife to slice the cake horizontally into two layers. Slide a flat cookie sheet pan under the top layer to remove.
To frost the cake, I made two large batches of ganache – Batch #1 = 25 oz. chocolate + 2 1/2 cups heavy cream. Batch #2 = 15 oz. chocolate + 1 1/2 c. heavy cream. Once the ganache is set (about 2 hours), use an electric mixer to whip ganache batch #1. You can add up to 5 T. of liqueur for flavoring, if you like (I added Kahlua). Spread about 65-75% of the whipped ganache over the first layer, and top with the second layer of cake. Reserve the remaining whipped ganache for decoration/piping.
Use ganache batch #2 (unwhipped) to frost the sides and top of the cake. You can decorate the cake with the reserved whipped ganache. I also used some chocolate covered espresso beans for garnish on the top of my birthday cake.