Great Desserts begin with a basic Chocolate Cake

If memory serves, the first time I baked this chocolate cake  I was alone on a Friday night.  I got the simple recipe put together, in the oven and settled down to watch ‘Chocolat’ on DVD.  By the mid point in the movie, the timer went off and the cake came out of the oven and cooled.  Before the credits rolled, I was noshing on  a big wedge of chocolate cake nestled in a puddle of chocolate ganache, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar and garnished with fresh raspberries.

As a chef, I am always tinkering with recipes.  This one is perfect, just the way it was written.  Thanks to Gourmet magazine, I have made this cake literaly hundreds of times.  It’s been made into cupcakes, sheet cakes, wedding cakes, petit fours, mini cakes and other shapes and sizes already forgotten.  Iced in mocha buttercream and ganache for my son’s birthday, filled with fresh raspberries and whipped cream, or with a coconut cream filling w/ganache – this cake never fails to satisfy.  Also completely satisfying is the cake simply dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

At a recent Seafood Connection cooking class, I served this cake in cupcake form, crown side down with ganache, whipped cream, raspberries and mint.  I should have leveled the cakes so they sat properly on the plate.  Resting them upside down gave a sort of Frank-Sinatra’s-hat-devil-may-care attitude to the dish.  But rave reviews insued, so I shan’t apologize. 

Everyday Cocoa Cake

Perfected by Gourmet Magazine

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 3/4 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/3 cups tap water

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Butter a 9×2″ cake pan and dust with flour.  (For a traditional layer cake, use 2 – 8″ cake rounds.)

Whisk together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt.  Beat together the butter and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  Add eggs, 1 at a time and beat until well incorporated, then add the vanilla.

Beginning with the dry ingredients, alternate the addition of the dry and wet ingredients in five distinct additions:  1/3 of the dry, 1/2 of the wet, 1/3 dry, 1/2 wet, and end with the remaining dry ingredients.  After each addition, allow the mixer to run long enough to thoroughly incorporate the ingredients, scraping the bowl occasionally. 

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan, and bake in the middle of the oven until springy to the touch and a tester inserted comes out clean.  This cake will bake nearly an hour, and the top may crack a bit.  This is normal.  Insert the toothpick or an instant-read thermometer shaft to test the cake.  The top may give you the false impression that the center is done. 

Cool the cake for a bit, then run a knife around the edge of the pan.  Invert the cake onto a rack, then turn right side up to cut and serve.  Makes 10-12 servings.

Ganache:  Heat 1 cup heavy whipping cream, 1 tsp unsalted butter, 1 tsp sugar to a boil in a small sauce pan.  Turn off the heat and add 1 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and shake the pan to submerge the chocolate.  Wait 5 minutes and stir gently with a small whisk to smooth out the ganache.



2 responses to “Great Desserts begin with a basic Chocolate Cake

  1. Thanks for the recipe. How long would it take to bake in the cupcake form? Dan

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