Last month, I shared my Nutella Cream Puff Squares recipe as the January entry for Dessert Wars. There is a brand new theme, for February — dark chocolate and hearts. Being more of a milk chocolate girl, I don’t have many dark chocolate recipes in my files, but I decided I was going to use a tried and true family-favorite, making some adjustments to create the deep, rich chocolate flavor we associate with dark chocolate.
My husband laughed as I pulled the recipe card from my file. It HAS been used a time or two. 🙂 It’s in my mom’s handwriting and she copied it off and sent it to me, when David and I were married. It’s condition belies our twenty-seven years of marriage and cake baking. When someone in our family says, “Cake”, this is the recipe they are talking about. We use it for birthdays, anniversaries, company meals and potlucks. You’ll never make another chocolate cake from a mix after tasting this scratch version. It’s moist and dense, no dry crumbs. It’s the way cake was intended to be and the world just forgot after the advent of box mixes. Mmmmm…I love it, even without frosting, but my family mutinies if I even suggest that. Personally, I love it best when it is cold from the fridge, but no matter how you like it, it will make you a kinder, happier person. Wherever you serve it, people will want the recipe and you’ll probably become famous! 🙂 I will include printables of the original and of this dark chocolate version for those of you hard-core dark chocolate fans. Since this post is about Dessert Wars, I will post the dark chocolate one in the tutorial. Whichever one you choose, you won’t be disappointed!
Dark Chocolate Cake with Ganache & Raspberries
(Original Milk Chocolate Version in Printable Format, Below)
Yield: 12 servings
- 1 cup butter
- 2 cups sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk
- 1 cup cocoa powder
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup boiling water
- Cream butter and sugar together.
- Add the eggs and mix well.
- Add the milk and beat hard. I’m always a few steps into a recipe when I realize I should have changed my beaters, paddles, etc. Today was no exception. You will need to beat the mixture fairly hard to incorporate the milk. Even when you are done, it will almost look granular or curdled, until the next step. I didn’t want the appearance to freak you out. 🙂 That’s the way it should look.
- Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Mix into the wet ingredients.
- This is the moment when you will need to resist the urge to just forget making cake. You will want to eat this thick, (and I do mean thick. That’s what it should look like.) rich, chocolatey batter with a giant spoon. 🙂 It’s that good! But, don’t give in too temptation. The next step is what will make this the best chocolate cake you’ve ever eaten. I promise, you won’t regret waiting. (You’ll definitely need to sneak a taste, though! )
- This is the key step in the process! Add the vanilla and the boiling water. The boiling water is what will transform this batter into a smooth, creamy, probably still thicker than you’re used to for cake batter, consistency. It’s the secret to the dense, moist final product.
- Normally, I would bake this in a 9×13 cake pan, but for Dessert Wars, it needs to be hearts and I wanted something special. It’s no secret to those of you who read my blog regularly, that I ♥ Wilton. I trust their recipes, techniques and products. The products are sturdy and durable and they have a tool for just about every baking need. My kitchen boasts many, many of their products and my Dimensions® 6 Cavity Mini Hearts Pan is one of them. I love how thick and durable the metal is. I also love the detail and dimension it adds to my projects.
- I added one cup of batter, to each of the six cavities in the well-oiled pan. (I just used a store brand pan spray and it worked perfectly.
9. One cup filled the cavities about 4/5 full. I tapped the pan on the counter to burst any air bubbles and level the batter in the pan.
- As you can see the pan is very deep. I baked these at 350° for 35-40 minutes. A toothpick inserted in the center will come out clean. I did not take into account, what I already knew about this recipe — this is a high-rising cake. The cake batter rose and spilled over the top of the cavities as it baked. Other than a drip or two in the bottom of my oven, this was not a problem, since I was able to trim away the excess after they cooled. Next time I use this pan, I will fill each cavity with only about ¾ cup of batter.
- I placed a cookie sheet on top of the cake and flipped the whole thing over. The cake actually slid from the pan very easily and I left the whole thing to cool on a cooling rack.
Dark Chocolate GanacheYield: I forgot to measure this, but I’m guessing about 4 -5 cups. It was way more than I needed for these cakes and I wonder, can you freeze ganache?
- 1 lb. bittersweet chocolate
- 1 pint of heavy cream (whipping cream is the same thing)
- 5 Tablespoons of butter (not margarine)
- Heat cream and butter over low heat, until butter is completely melted and can be whisked into the cream.
- Chop the chocolate into small pieces, while the cream and butter heat.
- Pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate.
- Whisk until the chocolate is melted and completely incorporated into the cream and butter.
Assemble This Delectable and Romantic Dessert. First of all, you should think through the serving sizes. These pans were filled with the batter I normally use to make a 9×13 cake and cut into 12 GIANT servings. My Wilton pan made 6 LARGE cakes, that in my opinion are perfect two-serving sizes. They would be perfect for a special dessert for a date night at home. The decorating possibilities are limitless and since this cake freezes incredibly well, I would recommend baking them, using one for the two of you and freezing the remaining 5, so you can just pull one out when you have a chance to share it with someone special. 🙂
- baked and cooled cakes
- fresh raspberries
Okay, for this competition, I used the ganache to fill the heart-shaped cavity in the top of the cake and to frost the sides of the heart. I tossed fresh raspberries in sugar and used them to garnish the cake. The tartness of the raspberries was perfect for cutting through and balancing the richness of the chocolate. Beautiful and delish!
The list of prizes and sponsors for February’s Dessert Wars is: