hello birthday! meet cake.

Last week was Casey’s birthday…which meant cake time! Because, let’s face it, at this stage in our lives, besides maybe an all expenses paid trip to Montreal, Prague, Paris, Brazil, insert location here; we don’t need anything. I’ll admit the last time I made a cake from scratch, I was 12 or 13. I couldn’t find the baking powder, so just used extra baking soda. The cake tasted like salt, of course. Lesson learned. So with baking powder in hand, I knew I wouldn’t make the same mistake twice.

I spent the weekend before Casey’s birthday thoroughly spring cleaning the house searching for recipe after recipe. I found one, adapted by the delightful Deb at Smitten Kitchen. After all, there are few people who can resist a double chocolate cake. Especially this one, with its decadent ganache frosting and deep, rich chocolate cake. I know that I ate it once at work, once for Casey’s birthday, and then again two days later for breakfast.

The recipe below is for 2 10-inch cake rounds. I used two 8-inch rounds, which left some extra batter and allowed me to bake a small “test” cake (or, a work cake, for the office). I also used Nutella as the filling between the layers. A word the Nutella fans: it’s delicious, but does not bind the cake together well. In future iterations of this recipe, I’ll probably stick with either ganache in the center or some fruit filling (cherry, raspberry).

Chocolate Cake with Nutella Filling

For the Cake. -Pre-heat the oven to 300 degrees. Grease two cake pans, fit the bottom of the pans with parchment paper and grease those.

3 ounces quality semisweet chocolate (finely chopped)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee

Combine the chocolate with the hot coffee and allow to sit for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt

Sift the above ingredients together and set aside.

3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the eggs for about 5 minutes until they are thickened. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Once combined, slowly add the chocolate/coffee mixture. Add the mixture of the dry ingredients a little bit at a time until completely combined. Pour the batter into the pans and place in the oven. Bake for about one hour, perhaps 1 hour 15 minutes depending on your oven. Be sure to test the cakes before removing them (a toothpick stuck in the center the comes out clean is perfect). Cool the cake pans completely, then carefully remove the cake from the pans. Remove the parchment paper, and cool the cakes completely. If you’re making the cake ahead of time, wrap well in plastic wrap and store at room temperature.

For the ganache frosting

1 pound quality semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, cut into small squares

Over low heat, bring the cream to a boil. Add the sugar and the light corn syrup. Remove the pan from the heat, and add the chopped chocolate to the mixture, whisking until combined. Add the chopped butter to the frosting, and whisk until combined. Getting the frosting to thicken is the “tricky” part. I have to give another shout out to Deb for her solution of putting the bowl of frosting over a bowl of ice (and a shout out to my mom for being my extra pair of hands). Whisk until combine. I noticed that the frosting closest to the ice would thicken faster; when this occurred, I would remove the frosting bowl and stir vigorously until combine. The frosting thickens nicely. You can also chill the frosting if the ice-bowl-theory sounds intimidating.

Assemble the cake, using either the ganache in the center or nutella, and serve.

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