We're sharing this chocolate cake with you today not to cure something, but to celebrate something.
This week marks the beginning of the ninth (ninth!) year of The Bitten Word.
It's our blogiversary, y'all!
We're celebrating eight full years of The Bitten Word in two ways this week, beginning with chocolate cake. Later in the week, we'll share some reflections on the past eight years. Last year's reflections are a doozy, and this year's are shaping up to be something you won't want to miss.
But first: cake.
When we heard a historic snowfall was on its way a couple weeks ago, we rushed to the supermarket, not for bread and milk, but for cake ingredients. If we were going to be trapped inside, we were going to be trapped inside with a massive chocolate cake.
This "Chocolate Cake That Cures Everything" was among the recipes we most wanted to make from Ruth Reichl's My Kitchen Year. She promised that it made a massive cake.
And she wasn't kidding.
Here's what you need to know about this cake:
This cake is, indeed, huge. You make two layers in two 13x9x2 baking dishes. That is a whole lot of cake. It turns out to be an insanely large creation. The recipe says it serves 20 to 25. It could serve that many easily, if not more. (And no, we didn't eat the entire thing ourselves. Clay took most of it to his office, where the resulting empty Tupperware looked like a crime scene by about 11 a.m.)
The flavors are phenomenal. As chocolate cakes go, this one is pretty straightforward. But the chocolate flavor is excellent, made with only a hefty amount of unsweetened cocoa powder. The cake itself is moist and rich. The whole thing is perfectly sweet without being too sugary, and nicely chocolate without being challenging. Basically if you google "perfect chocolate cake," this is what you'd find.
The icing is excellent (but we could have used a little more of it). We loved this icing, made with whipped cream cheese. But for us, there just wasn't enough of it. The icing-to-cake ratio was too low, and we ended up with a few spots on the sides of the cake that were left un-iced. (The horror!) If you appreciate more icing versus less, we suggest making 1 1/2 servings of the icing, so you can ice to your heart's content.
So make this cake yourself! Bake to cure something, to celebrate something, or to hoard away for yourself while trapped indoors by winter.
Cheers to eight years together. Let's get on with year nine!
Serves 20 to 25
1 1/8 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
3/4 cup whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white sugar
In times of stress, only excess will do: this is an enormous cake. But it keeps very well. And there is no such thing as too much chocolate cake.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Butter two large rectangular baking pans (13x9x2) and line them with waxed or parchment paper. Butter the paper and dust the pans with cocoa (you could use flour, but cocoa adds both color and flavor to your cake). Hold the pans over a sink and give them a gentle tap so the excess cocoa floats off.
Measure the cocoa powder into a bowl, and whisk in 1 1/2 cups of boiling water until it is smooth, dark, and so glossy it reminds you of chocolate pudding. Whisk in the milk and vanilla.
In another bowl, whisk the flour with the baking soda and 3/4 teaspoon salt.
Put the butter into the bowl of a stand mixer and beat in the sugars until the mixture is light, fluffy, and the color of coffee with cream (it will take about 5 minutes). One at a time, add the eggs, beating for about 20 seconds before adding the next. On low speed, beat in the flour mixture in 3 batches and the cocoa mixture in 2, alternating flour-cocoa-flour-cocoa-flour.
Pour half of the batter into each pan and smooth the tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out clean, 25 to 35 minutes. Let the pans rest on cooling racks for 2 minutes, then turn the cakes onto racks to cool complete before frosting.
Assemble the cake by spreading about a third of the frosting on one of the cooled layers, putting the second layer on top, and swirling the rest of the frosting over the top and sides.
5 ounces unsweetened chocolate
1 cup whipped cream cheese
2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
3/4 cups (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
Chop the chocolate and melt it in a double boiler. Let it cool so that you can comfortably put your finger in it. While it's cooling, mix the butter with the whipped cream cheese. Add the chocolate, the vanilla, and a dash of salt, and mix in the confectioner's sugar until it looks like frosting.