The many (happy) faces of chocolate cake

Chocolate stout cake

The past couple of weeks have been filled with chocolate cake.  I know, oh woe is me.  Alas, I don’t have pictures of the first cake, a two-layer devil’s food cake with fudge frosting, but I will share the recipe (see the end of this post).  It’s not difficult to bake, and the recipe doesn’t ask you to blow your week’s grocery budget on expensive chocolate.  I frosted it with a quick buttercream with melted, unsweetened chocolate added.  Some other delicious choices would be a Seven-Minute Frosting (we call this the marshmallow frosting at our house) or a vanilla or orange-flavored buttercream.  I made it for a Thanksgiving birthday, so I actually baked the cake layers a few days in advance, wrapped them well, and froze them.  It didn’t take too long to frost the cake in the midst of the rest of the Thanksgiving preparations.

Flour, sugar, baking powder, salt
The major players

Next up: Chocolate stout cake.  I’ve seen this recipe all over the place, but hadn’t tried it.  I needed a dessert for a women’s club meeting last week, so boozy cupcakes sounded like just the thing.  The cake, baked with a cup of Guinness, butter, sour cream and cocoa, has a fine crumb, but stays moist with a deep, dark chocolate flavor.  I’m assuming most of the alcohol from the Guinness bakes out, but add a little buttercream spiked with Bailey’s Irish Cream, and it’s a party!  (The bottle of wine in my purse may have added to the festive feeling.)

Fluffy buttercream
Eggs and sour cream

But what about the children, you ask?  (Oh, wait–that was them I heard whining, “Where’s MY cupcake?”)  Lucky for them, we celebrated another birthday on Saturday.  This time I made the cake in a bundt pan and poured some ganache on top.  I resisted the temptation to spike the ganache, but there’s always next time.

Go get the recipe here (Smitten Kitchen again), but be assured that you can pick and choose what frosting you use (buttercream? ganache? both? none?).  I didn’t adapt the recipes in any way but to reduce the amount of confectioner’s sugar in the buttercream.  But the instructions for that are in the Smitten Kitchen recipe, too.  If you need cake for a big crowd, you can double the recipe and make a three-layer cake.

As luck would have it, tomorrow we have yet another occasion that calls for chocolate cake:  the little cherub, Two, is turning Three.  He told Grandma that his favorite flavor was “chocklit.”

I’ll see what I can do.

Chocolate stout cupcakes with Bailey’s buttercream

Devilish Cake
from Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Chocolate Desserts

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch process, but I used regular this time)
3/4 cup boiling water
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup sour cream (light is fine)
2 cups all-purpose flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line the bottom of two 9-inch round pans with a circle of parchment, wax paper or foil; grease and flour the pans and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the cocoa and boiling water until smooth.  In the large bowl of the mixer, cream the butter.  Add vanilla, salt and sugar and beat well.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating until smooth.

In a small bowl, stir the baking soda into the sour cream.  (It will get foamy!)  With the mixer on low speed, add the flour to the bowl in three additions, alternating with the sour cream mixture.  Scrape the sides of the bowl with a spatula and beat just until smooth.  Then add the cocoa and beat just until smooth.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans.  Shake the pans a little to even out the batter.  Bake for 30 minutes, until the layers barely begin to come away from the sides of the pan.

Cool in the pans for 15 minutes.  Invert the layers onto a rack and cool completely.

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