Is there a more quintessential birthday treat than cake and ice cream? When I asked a certain man in my life what he wanted for his birthday dessert, he answered, “Cake.” What kind? (I already knew. Chocolate. Duh.) Served with ice cream? Didn’t even need to bother asking that one.
Now, although I would rarely turn down almost any boxed or store-bought cake, there is something special about finding just the right recipe for a cake made from scratch. And chocolate ganache? It’s the grown-up answer to frosting in a can, and surprisingly easy to make. Plus there’s the bonus of making your home smell like a chocolate wonderland and the privilege of licking all your used bowls, whisks, and spatulas squeaky clean.
A very happy birthday to you, J.
3-Layer Chocolate Cake
(Courtesy of AllRecipes.com)
Makes one 9-inch cake, or 30 cupcakes
3 cups packed brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups sour cream
1 1/3 cups boiling water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, cream brown sugar and butter using a hand or stand mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat on high speed until light and fluffy. Blend in vanilla.
Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Add alternately with sour cream to creamed mixture. Mix on low just until combined. Stir in water until blended.
Pour batter into three greased and floured 9-inch round baking pans. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes, then remove cakes and place on wired racks to cool completely. To make cupcakes, bake at 350 degrees for 25-28 minutes.
This recipe makes just enough to frost a 9-inch 3-layer cake (unless you love to pile it on, then by all means, double it!)
14 oz good-quality chocolate (milk or dark, whichever you prefer) finely chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Carefully pour the hot cream over the chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
At this point, the ganache can be cooled slightly and poured over a cake. Otherwise, let it cool and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until thickened. Whip with a whisk until fluffy, frost your cake, and enjoy!