Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I can’t believe I haven’t posted about this cake yet. I have made this cake more than any other…well, besides the old family stand-by. But this cake is SO GOOD. It has a really nice cocoa flavor, not super deep-rich chocolate, so it’s great for all palates. And the frosting is so fluffy and buttery, it just melts in your mouth. I’ve made this cake for numerous birthdays, get-togethers, and just because we want cake. It’s not super difficult, as far as cake recipes go. If you’re looking for a good, old-fashioned, super moist and chocolatey cake recipe, this is IT.

World's Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

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My mom gave me the recipe several years ago, in an article cut out of her local newspaper. It was literally called the “World’s Best Chocolate Cake” (I did not give it this ridiculous name). I don’t remember the specifics of the article…someone won a cake contest, or a cake connoisseur happened upon it at a dinner at a friend’s, or something along those lines. I tried to find the original article, to no avail, so I can’t tell you the real story. All I can remember is that the writer thought this cake was the best he had ever had, and I had to see for myself. It’s pretty darn good.

Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

World's Best Chocolate Cake - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

TIPS AND TRICKS:

There’s a few things that I’ve learned after making this cake numerous times.
flour and cocoa

For one, and this goes for most cakes I make, when sifting the dry ingredients, I use the following method: I cut two pieces of waxed paper, and set them side by side on the counter. I first sift the flour onto the first piece of paper, then put the sifter on the other paper and measure out the flour, putting it back into the sifter. Then I place the rest of the dry ingredients in the sifter with the flour and sift them all together onto the second piece of waxed paper. Then I just set that aside until I need to add it to the batter. It’s pretty easy to add it, just carefully picking up the paper at each edge, creating kind of a funnel, and slowly pour it into the mixer. Save your waxed paper for later…you can use one to sift your powdered sugar onto, and the other for my trick below.

batter

chocolate cake batter

Secondly, don’t be alarmed when the batter looks curdled after you add the water and vanilla. It will smooth back out after the addition of flour and buttermilk. No worries.

preparing to frost

Third. When preparing to frost the cake, cut up one of the pieces of waxed paper and slide them under the first layer. It takes four strips, make sure the plate is completely covered. Then when you’re frosting the cake, the frosting isn’t getting on your serving plate. When you’re done frosting, carefully slide the strips out from under the cake and voila! Clean plate.

World’s Best Chocolate Cake

The Cake:

Have all your ingredients at room temperature. Line two 9″ round cake pans with parchment paper and spray with baking spray with flour (or butter and flour the pans). Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup cocoa
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup butter
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup water
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup buttermilk

Sift together flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt, and set aside. Cream the butter in a bowl with an electric mixer (or use a stand mixer-my recommendation). Gradually add the sugar, and beat at medium speed for one minute, until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating for one minute after each egg. Gradually add the water and vanilla on low speed, and then beat on medium for one minute more. With the mixer on low speed, add one third of the flour mixture, and beat on low until completely combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add half of the buttermilk, beat on low, scrape down the sides of the bowl, and then beat on low until completely combined again. Alternate the flour and buttermilk in this fashion, ending with the last third of flour mixture. Pour into pans, and bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on racks for 10 minutes, then remove from the pans and cool on rack until completely cooled.

The frosting:

1 six oz. package high quality semisweet chocolate chips, or semisweet chocolate chopped up (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups sifted powdered sugar
Bowl of ice

Combine chocolate chips, whipping cream and butter in double boiler over barely simmering water, stirring constantly until smooth (I use a large mixing bowl set on top of a medium saucepan…less to clean up). Remove from heat and add powdered sugar. Set the bowl in a larger bowl filled with ice, and using an electric hand mixer, beat on high speed until the frosting holds its shape, about 10 minutes. Make sure you take it out of the bowl of ice immediately, so that the bottom of the frosting doesn’t freeze.

add powdered sugar to frosting

making frosting

chocolate frosting

World's Best Chocolate Cake

Margaux says . . .

I’m attracted to any cake recipe that has the word caramel in it.  I don’t know why, but I’m always searching for the elusive “perfect caramel cake.”  Actually, I do know why…one of my favorite local restaurants, Feed, had a caramel layer cake for dessert one night when we were there, and it was the best thing I think I’d ever tasted.  They haven’t had it since, and I’ve been trying to find a recipe that is similar to re-create it, but haven’t found it yet.   I realize that this cake is not caramel cake, but applesauce cake with caramel glaze, but it still piqued my interest because I also love apples in cake.  And I happened to have some homemade applesauce that needed to be used up very soon.  Desmond’s birthday was the week that I got this recipe in my weekly Food 52 email, so I decided to make it (even though his party wasn’t actually until the following weekend…but a kid has to have a cake on his actual birthday, too, right?).  It was delicious…very spicy, and moist.  I think next time I’ll make the glaze a little thicker, because most of mine rolled off, and it was wonderfully caramel-y, and a waste to see it fall to the foil underneath!  I used the full cup of powdered sugar, and might increase to a cup and a quarter next time.

Aunt Suzy says . . . .

After seeing Margaux’s post, I decided to make this cake for my book club get-together this month.  It is a Wow!!  The cake is very moist, not too sweet and my hunch is that the black pepper accentuates the other spices.  I could not get enough of it so I’m glad it was a bundt – plenty to go around.  I will also mention that I added more powdered sugar per Margaux’s suggestion.  It turned out to be a little more like frosting than glaze, but it was delicious and pretty.  I placed the cake directly on the serving plate before adding the frosting.  I heartily recommend this cake!

Applesauce Cake with Caramel Glaze

from Food 52 blog

Serves 10

For the cake:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened (preferably homemade) applesauce
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

For the caramel glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 to 1 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and butter and flour a 12-cup Bundt pan. Sift together the flour, baking soda, salt, pepper and spices and set aside. In a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the eggs with both sugars until light. Mix in the applesauce, oil and vanilla until smooth.

2. Using a spatula, fold in the dry ingredients, being careful not to over-mix. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for about 45 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean. Cool the cake for 10 minutes in the pan on a rack before turning it out and cooling completely on the rack — make sure the cake is not at all warm before you make the glaze.

3. TheRunawaySpoon wisely advises that you put a piece of foil or paper under the cooling rack to catch any drips before you start the glaze. Put the butter in a medium saucepan with the brown sugar, cream and salt and set over medium heat. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute exactly, and then pull it off the heat.

4. Leave the pan to cool for a couple of minutes, and then gradually whisk in the powdered sugar until you have a thick, but pourable consistency (you may not need all the sugar). If the mixture seems too thick, just add a splash of cream to thin it out a little. Immediately pour the glaze over the cake, moving slowly and evenly to cover as much surface area as possible. Let the glaze set before serving the cake.

Note: If you’re serving this cake to demanding or hyper-observant guests (What? Did I say that?), you may want to glaze the cake right on the plate you plan to use to serve it, forgoing the rack. As soon the glaze has even the slightest chance to set, it will crack if you try to transfer the cake from rack to serving plate.

Margaux says…

I actually made this cake awhile ago, and am finally getting around to posting about it.  It was the first cold snap of the year, and I was really getting in the mood to bake fall-like things, but didn’t have a ton of time on my hands.  This spice cake was the perfect fix for my autumnal dessert yearning, and it was super easy to make.   Also, the ingredients are things that most cooks and bakers have around all of the time, so it’s a great cake for your spontaneous baking repertoire.   It’s perfectly spicy, and has a dense and moist texture.  The browned butter icing adds the perfect amount of sweetness.

Velvet Spice Cake
from The All New Joy of Cooking

Have all ingredients at room temperature, 68-70 degrees F. Preheat oven to 350. Grease and flour one 9-inch tube pan or one 8-10 cup fluted tube or Bundt pan.

Sift together twice:
2 1/3 cups sifted cake flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp freshly grated or ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp salt

In a large bowl, beat until creamy, about 30 seconds:
12 tbsp (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter

Gradually add and beat on high speed until lightened in color and texture, 2-4 minutes:
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar

Beat in one at a time:
3 large eggs
1 egg white

Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with, in 2 parts:
3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp yogurt or buttermilk

Mix until just incorporated, preferably by hand. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 45-55 minutes. Let cool in the pan on a rack for 10 minutes. Slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan, or tap the sides of the fluted tube or Bundt pan against the counter to loosen the cake. Invert the cake, then let cool, right side up or inverted, on the rack.

Browned Butter Icing

6 tbsp butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, constantly swirl the pan over the heat until the butter becomes deep golden brown, about 6-8 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in powdered sugar and vanilla. Scrape it into a bowl and beat until smooth and spreadable. Use immediately, while still warm, so that it will pour over the cake more easily.