Do you know what the best thing is when you cook and learn new recipes alongside your grandmother? You also get to teach her new recipes. While at home, grandma Vicki and I made an old favorite, revisited a classic, baked a popular pie, and gave my grandma’s pork roast recipe a facelift. But I also lured my grandma into baking together my spectacular-special-occasion-go-to chocolate cake.
The first time I ever made Barefoot Contessa’s Double-Chocolate Layer Cake was for Adrian’s 30th birthday; we were smitten at first bite, including myself especially since I’m not that much of a dedicated chocolate eater. But this cake was something special. I instantly knew that I had to share this recipe with my grandmother. So, I took the recipe with me on my trip home and right before boarding our flight to Europe, I also grabbed the anniversary edition of Food & Wine magazine. Thumbing through the magazine I stumbled upon the magazine’s pick for Best Chocolate Dessert – Barefoot Contessa’s Double-Chocolate Layer Cake. I was stoked! I knew I discovered a winner and was not looking for validation; but it’s funny how the choice of a renowned magazine can suddenly give you an extra boost of confidence that you indeed selected a special recipe!
The first time I made this cake was also the first time I had ever tackled a two layer cake. Back then, I was still rather tentative at undertaking such an ambitious baking project and the timing was questionable to say the least. I knew I wanted to make something special for Adrian’s birthday, but to try something new on such a memorable occasion could have been a calamity into making. Just the sole thought of failure made me break out into a sweat. But it was a coup! In the end, this ambitious baking project was a breeze to complete and a pleasantly soothing chocolaty experience. The best part – my grandma and my entire family in Romania loved this cake.
This cake will forever change your perspective on chocolate cakes. It’s so dazzling and imposing that it makes you swoon just staring at it; it’s moist and light, silky and fudgy, and the good bit of caffeine kick will easily make you skip that extra cup of coffee. You can also give the cake a more festive treatment like my grandmother’s signature decoration that you can easily achieve by gliding the tip of a fork through the frosting; or you can leave it unadorned just with the old fashioned messy look. Embellished or not, you’ll go for seconds in a heartbeat!
Double-Chocolate Layer Cake
Adapted from Beatty’s Chocolate Cake by Barefoot Contessa
Makes: 10-12 servings
Ingredients for the Cake:
· Butter, for greasing the pans
· 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
· 2 cups sugar
· ¾ cups cocoa powder
· 2 teaspoons baking soda
· 1 teaspoon baking powder
· 1 teaspoon salt
· 1 cup buttermilk, shaken; OR 1 cup sour cream
· ½ cup vegetable oil
· 2 large eggs, at room temperature
· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
· 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Ingredients for the Chocolate Frosting:
· 6 ounces semisweet chocolate
· 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
· 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
· 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
· 1 ¼ cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
· 1 Tablespoon instant coffee powder
Instructions for the Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter two 8-inch x 2-inch round cake pans. (I used two 9-inch x 2-inch round cake pans and the result was beautiful.) Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.
In a large bowl, sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Mix until combined. Using an electric hand mixer, combine the buttermilk (or sour cream), oil, eggs, and vanilla in another bowl. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With the mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scrapping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35-40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.
Instructions for the Chocolate Frosting:
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
In a large bowl, using an electric hand mixer, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla extract and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scrapping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip!
Place 1 layer of the cake, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, evenly spread the top with one-third of the frosting. Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.
Poftă Bună! (Bon Appétit!)