Cake is another word for celebration. Let them eat cake? You bet, since most special events like anniversaries, birthdays, and weddings mark the occasion with cake. And the most popular flavor? Chocolate.
Today is National Chocolate Cake Day. Chocolate didn’t start out as a flavor of cake. The first chocolate cakes weren’t cakes at all. In 1765 a doctor and a chocolate maker teamed up in an old mill. They ground cocoa beans between huge millstone to create a thick cocoa syrup. The liquid was poured into molds that were shaped like cakes. These cakes were intended to be transformed into a beverage with the addition of hot liquid.
The idea of putting chocolate into dessert cakes didn’t come about until sometime are 1847, and then it wasn’t the cake we know today. These cakes were white cakes with bits of chopped chocolate added. Eventually chocolate cake evolved to a multitude of chocolates and textures to choose from. Anything from Bittersweet to milk chocolate. And layered cakes with jam fillings to mousse cakes with chocolate shavings.
The best part about celebrating National Chocolate Cake Day is that we can share all the deliciousness of the day with friends and family. Any excuse to gather with loved ones works for me.
As long as we’re marking the day with cake, let’s bake a cake that is just as special as those we share it with. Happy Chocolate Cake Day!
Chocolate Truffle Layer Cake
10 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, finely chopped
6 large Eggs, divided
1/2 cup unsalted Butter
1 tablespoon Vanilla Extract
1/3 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 cup Water
2/3 cup Crème Fraîche (6 ounces)
1-1/2 cups Sugar
1/2 cup Brown Sugar
1-1/4 cups Flour
1 tablespoon Baking Soda
2 teaspoons Baking Powder
1 teaspoon Salt
Heat the oven to 350-degrees. Butter two 15-by-12-inch jelly roll pans; line the bottoms with parchment paper. Set prepared pans aside.
Finely chop the bittersweet chocolate, set aside. Separate 3 egg yolks from whites. Allow 3 remaining eggs to warm slightly.
In a medium saucepan, melt 6 ounces of the chopped chocolate with the butter and vanilla over very low heat, stirring gently. Remove the chocolate mixture from the heat and let cool slightly.
In a small saucepan, combine the cocoa with the water and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Let cool slightly, then whisk the mixture into the melted chocolate. Whisk in the crème fraîche.
In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the whole eggs, egg yolks and both sugars at medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Beat in the chocolate mixture. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda, baking powder and salt and transfer to a sifter or a sieve. Sift the dry ingredients and fold into the cake batter with a large spatula until fully incorporated.
Spread the batter evenly between the prepared pans and sprinkle with the remaining 4 ounces of chopped chocolate. Bake the cakes in the lower and middle third of the oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until the centers spring back when lightly pressed; shift the pans halfway through baking. Let the cakes cool completely in the pans.
White Chocolate Ganache
16 oz White Chocolate
3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
2 tablespoons unsalted Butter
Chop white chocolate. Set aside.
In a medium bowl set over a medium saucepan of simmering water to create a double boiler. Melt the white chocolate in the bowl. Remove from the heat.
Pour the water out of the saucepan and wipe it dry. Return pan to low heat. Add the heavy cream and butter to the saucepan; heat until the butter is melted and small bubbles appear around the edges.
Whisk the hot cream mixture into the white chocolate. Set the bowl in a cool place until the ganache is firm enough to hold its shape, at least 1 hour.
Dark Chocolate Ganache
10 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
1-1/3 cups + 2 tablespoons Heavy Cream
Chop chocolate, place in a heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a medium saucepan, heat the cream until small bubbles appear around the edges. Pour the hot cream over the chopped chocolate. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes, until the chocolate has melted, then whisk until smooth. Set the bowl in a cool place until the ganache is firm enough to hold its shape, at least 1 hour.
Bittersweet Chocolate Frosting
2 cups (1 lb) Butter
4 oz Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped
3/4 cup Powdered Sugar
3 tablespoons Sugar
1/4 cup Corn Syrup
6 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons Water
1 tablespoon Brandy
Let butter soften on the counter. Meanwhile, chop the bittersweet chocolate, set aside. Sift Powdered Sugar, set aside.
In a medium saucepan, melt the chocolate over very low heat, stirring frequently.
In a small saucepan, whisk together the granulated sugar, corn syrup, cocoa and water and bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from the heat and whisk in the brandy and melted chocolate. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a wire whisk, beat the butter at medium speed until light and fluffy. Add the cooled chocolate mixture. At low speed, beat in the powdered sugar.
Set frosting aside and prepare cakes for assemble.
Optional Finishing Touches
Bittersweet Chocolate Shavings for garnish
White Chocolate Shavings for garnish
Cut out a 5-by-11-inch cardboard rectangle. Place a sheet of parchment or wax paper over each cake; top with a flat cookie sheet or cutting board. Invert the cakes and remove the pans.
Keeping the paper attached, trim each cake to an even 15-by-11-inch rectangle, then cut each cake into three 5-by-11-inch rectangles; for a total of 6 rectangle cake layers.
Spoon a small dollop of the chocolate frosting onto the cardboard rectangle and transfer one cake rectangle to it; peel off the paper. This will be the base. Spread half of the white chocolate ganache on the base and top with another cake rectangle; peel off the paper. Spread half of the dark chocolate ganache on the cake and top with another cake layer, peeling off the parchment. Spread 1-1/4 cups of the chocolate frosting over the cake.
Repeat with 2 more layers, peeling the parchment off the cake rectangles; spreading with the remaining white chocolate ganache and dark chocolate ganache.
Note: Keep the sides even as you build the cake by smoothing them out with a metal cake spatula.
Top with the final cake rectangle and peel off the parchment. Coat the sides and top of the cake with a thin, smooth layer of chocolate frosting; refrigerate briefly to set the frosting.
Spread the remaining frosting over the cake and garnish with the chocolate shavings.
Keeping the cake on its cardboard base, carefully transfer the cake to a rectangular platter. Refrigerate until firm.
To serve, Use a hot knife to cut the cake into slices while still cold. Let slices come to room temperature before serving.