Birthday Cakes Cake Chocolate Recipes

Dark Chocolate

Sometimes, cakes don’t turn out EXACTLY like I plan. This was supposed to have brown butter icing, and a beautiful chocolate drippy top. I’m terrible at the drippy top. I practiced on my pan. I thought everything was the right consistency and temperature… and then it glopped. SO, we get this more “rustic” looking cake. But it’s Soooooooooo good.

What You Need
For the Cake:
6 oz. chopped unsweetened chocolate
¾ cup whole milk
1 ½ cups brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter at room temperature
3 eggs at room temperature
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. baking soda
¾ cup buttermilk (or 3/4 cup whole milk + 1 Tbsp. vinegar)
1/4 cup brewed coffee at room temperature

For the Icing:

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter

1 tsp. vanilla (not immitation)

4 1/2 cups powdered sugar

5-6 Tbsp. whole milk

*optional: 1/4 tsp. salt


For the Ganache:

1/3 cup heavy cream

2-2.5 oz. dark chocolate, chopped

Make The Cake:

Preheat oven to 350-degrees (F). Grease the sides of three 6″ x 2″ cake pans with shortening (or pan goop) and line the bottom of the pan with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, combine 6 oz. chopped chocolate, 3/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup of the brown sugar. Stir constantly to prevent the chocolate from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

When all of the chocolate is melted, remove pan from heat and let cool to lukewarm.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 2 cups flour, 1 tsp. salt, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder and 1/2 tsp. baking soda. Set aside.

Combine the 1 tsp. vanilla, 3/4 cup buttermilk (or milk + vinegar), and 1/4 cup cooled, black coffee. Set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream the 1/2 cup butter and remaining ¾ cup brown sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add each of the 3 eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each egg. 

Add half of the flour mixture to the mixing bowl. Mix at low speed until just combined.

Add the melted chocolate mixture. Mix.

Add the rest of the flour mixture. Mix.

Add the milk mixture. Mix until well combined, scraping down the bowl at least once.

Pour 1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups of batter into the prepared pan(s). (I use Bake-Even Strips to help keep my cakes more flat while baking. This helps later when you want to stack the cakes.)

Bake on center rack of 350F oven for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick inserted near the center comes out dry with few crumbs on it.

Immediately place pan on cooling rack. After 10 minutes, invert the cake onto a cooling rack to cool.

Let cake cool completely.

Make the Icing/Frosting:

Seriously, this icing is SO amazing. I want to eat it all day every day.

Melt all three sticks of butter on medium heat in a light-colored pan. (This is important because you need to see the color change.) — Yes, there are only two in my pictures. That’s because I didn’t make enough to fill and cover this cake. You will likely have some extra with 3 sticks of butter, but it’s fine, because you’ll want to sit down and tuck into it with a spoon anyway.

Stirring constantly, watch the butter as it first forms a white foam…

Then gets separated and very bubbly and spluttery…

Then the bits begin to turn light brown on the bottom of the pan.

REMOVE from the heat immediately, when the browning happens. It can burn quickly. You will smell a major difference when it starts to brown. It smells like heaven.

Immediately pour into a small heatproof bowl to cool (30 minutes or so).

When the butter is at room temperature, alternate adding 2 cups of powdered sugar and 2 Tbsp. of milk. Mixing completely after each addition. 

2 cups powdered sugar. Mix. 2 Tbsp. milk. Mix. 

2 cups powdered sugar. Mix. 2 Tbsp. milk. Mix. 

1/2 cup powdered sugar. Mix. 1-2 Tbsp. milk + 1 tsp. vanilla. Mix. (Use 1 Tbsp. if you like the icing a little more thick. 2 Tbsp. if you like it a little more thin.)

Assemble the Cake:

Each 6″x2″ round cake should be leveled and torted or cut into two layers. (I prefer using a cake leveler. — the best $5-$10 kitchen gadget around — but you can also use a bread knife. Just be sure to make a mark along the side so that you can line it up when you re-stack them to keep things even.)

Spread a scant 1/4 cup icing between each layer. Then, cover the cake with icing. (As I said above, I didn’t make enough icing, so you can see mine is rather thin. Yours should cover the cake better.) 

Place in the refrigerator for at least an hour to let the icing firm up and get cold.

Make the Ganache:

You will want to make the ganache right when you’re ready to drizzle it, or else it will cool too much and not drip — that wasn’t exactly what I did wrong, but I’ve messed it up that way before.

Heat 1/3 cup heavy cream in the microwave for 30 seconds on high. Add the chocolate to the cream, and let set for 30 seconds. Stir to combine using a small whisk or fork. It will look like a mess at first, but will eventually come together into a gorgeous ganache. Be patient. And know that you will slosh some out at first. 

If you want to do a beautiful dripping cake… hopefully, you will be better than I was. Practice on an overturned cake pan if you’ve never done it before. I’d show you with my pictures, but I didn’t take any… and then I failed. (Here’s a link to a cake that I kind of succeeded with the drippys.)

So, you can also spread the ganache all willy-nilly around the cake, mixing and swirling with the brown butter icing, and make it “rustic.”

Then… slice, and enjoy the heck out of this amazingly yummy cake!

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