The Best Chocolate Cake
Sometimes, a great chocolate cake isn’t enough. Shocking—but true. As homey, rich, moist, and delicious as it is, there are those special people among us who just want to take it to the next level.
Thankfully, there's an answer. Lucky for me, because my oldest son is a chocolate extremist. No chocolate is chocolatey enough for him. That is, except for this chocolate fudge cake.
This is the platonic ideal of chocolate cake. Instead of cocoa, this recipe uses straight melted chocolate. The result is a rich, moist chocolate fudge cake that is out of this world. The recipe is really easy. Despite the word fudge in the name, don’t think you’re about to get into candy making. No thermometers, and no boiling sugar involved here. This works just like most of the other quick and easy butter cakes. However, simply melting the chocolate and working it into the butter, sugar, and eggs results in an intense flavor and incredible fudge-like texture. Melting chocolate instead of using cocoa is the trick. It's my son's birthday cake of choice, and even his sweet tooth is satisfied with this luscious layer cake.
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 ounces of unsweetened chocolate
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup butter, softened
- 1 3/4 cups sugar
- 3 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3/4 cup milk
- Preheat oven to 350F. Butter and flour two nine-inch, round layer-cake pans. Set aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all-purpose flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
- In a microwave-safe mixing bowl or large measuring cup, melt chocolate and water by microwaving on high for thirty seconds. Stir. Continue to heat in 10-second intervals, stirring in between, until completely melted, combined, and smooth. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the vanilla and mix well. With the mixer running, add chocolate in a steady stream and mix until fully incorporated.
- Starting and ending with the flour, add the flour mixture alternately with the milk until all is used. Divide batter evenly among prepared pans.
- Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick or skewer inserted into the center of the cake comes away clean and the cake has pulled away from the sides of the pans. Allow cakes to rest in their pans for 10 minutes then turn them out onto wire racks to cool completely before frosting. Frost and layer when completely cool.
The Creaming Method
Yes, there is baking soda in this cake, and it helps with leavening—or helps the cake to rise. But it also relies on the creaming method. The creaming method is the mechanical beating of butter and sugar together. If you go at it long enough, the butter and sugar turn light and fluffy. This happens as the sugar crystals cut into the fat of the butter. The lighter and fluffier it becomes at this stage, the more it helps the cake to rise in the oven.
This is also why it's important to use only slightly softened butter, not butter that has begun to melt. Let your butter soften on the countertop until you can just dent it with your finger. Don't try to skip and use the microwave. The butter will soften, but it won't cream well when you beat it. Just a bit of patience works wonders here.
Pick a High Quality Chocolate
I'm a bargain hunter and typically will choose the least expensive option for any ingredient I buy—as long as I can get away with it. You can't really get away from it here. The chocolate you buy plays a huge role in the final, rich, fudgy taste of the cake. This is one time you want to splurge a bit and get the best possible chocolate you can afford.
The most common bars of baking chocolate are good—don't get me wrong. I use them all the time. However, if you have a chance to use some of the more high-end, more refined bars of chocolate, do it. You'll be amazed at what a difference it makes. Even a tightwad like me loosens the purse strings for something like this. Lindt and Ghirardelli often rank highest in performance and taste tests. While I've never actually seen Lindt baking chocolate in a store, it's always available online, and Ghirardelli is carried in so many stores that it's even available in my little town.
© 2012 Jan Charles