Thursday, December 19, 2013

Amanda Hesser's Chocolate Dump-It Cake

This double-chocolate cake is good. I mean damn good. If you are a cake lover, you'll be in heaven. If you are not a cake lover, which neither my husband nor myself are, you'll still be in heaven. So there!

This cake is very rich but also light somehow, so you won't feel like you're about to have a heart attack after just a few bites. Amanda notes that her family refrigerates this cake, which was a big reason why the recipe appealed to me, and I highly recommend the chill. The result is a dense, rich, moist, cool cake that is simply everything a cake should be (but so very rarely is). 

I do have to say that the recipe is a bit fussy, or rather the frosting is, but after a couple of run-throughs I'm sure it feels like a no-brainer and the frosting is good enough (chocolaty, creamy and not too sweet) that it's definitely worth learning. 

Amanda Hesser's Chocolate Dump-It Cake from Food52
Yield: 10 respectable slices
cups sugar
ounces unsweetened baker's chocolate
1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, plus more for greasing the pan
1 cup water
cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the pan
teaspoons baking soda
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon iodized sea salt
cup milk (I used low-fat)
teaspoon apple cider vinegar (I used Bragg's, shaken)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
teaspoon vanilla
sliced almonds for decoration (optional)

For the frosting:
1 1/2 cup Nestle’s semisweet chocolate chips, melted then cooled but still viscous
1 1/2 cup sour cream, warmed slightly

First things first, set your sour cream out on the counter so it will come to room temp and then begin to warm up by the time you are ready to ice this bad-boy.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. 

Place the sugar, unsweetened chocolate, butter and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir occasionally until all of the ingredients come together, then remove from the heat. The chocolate may look a little grainy but this is ok.  

Stir the milk and vinegar together (to make quick buttermilk) and set aside. 

Sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt together and also set that aside.  

Grease and flour your cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment, which you should also grease and flour. Amanda suggests using a 9-inch tube pan as the batter is quite wet/soupy and the edges can become dry before the center sets. I don't have a tube pan, so I used two 8 x 1 1/2 inch cake pans and tried to be sure not to over-bake.

Set the pans on a cookie sheet(s) to catch any drips. Mine didn't even come close to dripping/overflowing but if you use a tube pan and it's rather full, I'd be sure to follow this step just in case.

When the melted chocolate mixture is just warm to the touch, whisk it into the milk mixture and then add the slightly beaten eggs and vanilla. Then whisk in the dry ingredients until just combined. If the batter is very lumpy, which mine was despite having sifted the dry ingredients, you may want to pass it through a sieve using your whisk to get the flour lumps out. 

Pour the batter into your prepared pan(s) and bake in the middle of the oven for about 30 minutes (but check at 20-25) until a toothpick in the center comes out clean

Let the cake cool in it's pan for about 10 minutes or so, then remove it, being sure to support the cake while you do so. Finish cooling it on a rack.

Now for the frosting, and sorry I didn't take any photos of this process...

While the cake cools, melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler. The melted chocolate and sour cream must be at about the same temperature to mix without becoming lumpy/grainy, so this part is a bit tricky. 

The chocolate will start to solidify at room temperature, or at least mine did, so I set it in a cold water bath to cool it while I set my sour cream on top of the warm oven to warm it gently to get the cooling/warming timing to aline more quickly.

I occasionally stirred both (separately) to get rid of any cold/hot spots. Using an instant read thermometer, I then checked the temps until each got both to about 78 degrees. I then briskly whisked a small amount of each together in a separate bowl to check to see if they'd meld and they did. 

Once you reach this step and the temps are good, just dollop a generous scoop of each in the new bowl and briskly whisk together a little at a time until smooth. NOTE: if you get a lumpy frosting, you can set the bowl in a warm water bath and whisk to try to get it to come together again. You can also try passing it through a sieve to remove the lumps.

Be sure the cake is completely cool before icing with an offset spatula for the best results. Press sliced almond onto the sides for a pretty finish if you like. 

After icing, refrigerate for at least an hour before serving. The frosting is soft, so refrigerating helps it to set up nicely. I liked the cake even better the next day. Yum, yum, yum!