Friday, May 20, 2005


Mocha Chocolate Cake

I’m not much of a baker girl. Oh sure, I make a mean bread pudding, and my crème brulee is to die for, but for the most part, baking is not where my heart (or skill set) is. I always say cooking is an art, while baking is a science (decorating on the other hand, is its own art) and I’m no scientist, so I leave the baking to the nice girls who like things all pretty and sweet.

Yesterday though, in a fit of domesticity I decided to bake the boy a cake, which didn’t seem like that hard-core an idea when I came up with it, but turned out to be quite the task. You see, his kitchen is not exactly bakers haven, and I had to do everything by hand. And kids, I don’t mean from scratch, I mean by hand. No cookbook, no kitchenaid, no hand mixer, no microwave, (to melt the chocolate) not even a (non food encrusted) decent cake pan. And frankly, even my ingredients were a little sketchy. (Why do I suspect the Sainsbury brand chocolate bar I found in the cupboard isn’t exactly Scharffen Berger?) All that and the oven dials are CELCIUS. (Can someone please explain to my why temperature gauging is not universal? Hmm? Why?) All I can say is thank goodness for the internet.

Joyously, while I thought the outcome was going to be dry and awful, thanks to a heavy hand with the booze and a stout heart, I did manage to bake a pretty darned tasty mocha-chocolate layer cake. The birthday was saved (or was that because of Agent Provocateur? I forget.)
and I have the pictures to prove it. (AhHEM, I mean I have pictures of the CAKE...)

So this was the recipe I concocted. The cake tasted really good, just the way I like it, not overwhelmingly chocolate (but the ganache helps) and dense not cakey. I’m guessing had I not had to cream the butter by hand, and whip the cream by hand, it would have taken about 15 minutes to pull together (minus baking time.) Try it, and enjoy!

4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, melted

2 cups All purpose flour, sifted with
¼ teaspoon salt

1 ½ cups whole milk mixed with
2 tablespoons instant coffee (Hey, it works perfectly for baking. No shame there) and
1 tablespoon vanilla

1 ½ cups white sugar
¾ cup butter, at room temp.

2 eggs, room temp

Amaretto to taste

Heavy cream (for whipping)
¼ cup white sugar
Splash of Amaretto

4 oz chocolate, broken into small pieces
1 teaspoon instant coffee (again)
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons heavy cream

2 9-inch cake pans, buttered and lined with parchment circles.

Preheat your oven to 325 F.

In a mixer, cream the butter and the sugar together until smooth (you really want there to be no noticeable graininess from the sugar) about 3 minutes. When creamed add the eggs one at a time and beat until combined.

Add the chocolate and mix to combine.

Add the dry ingredients and the milk mixture in three parts, ending with the flour. Mix just to combine. Pour into prepared cake pans and bake for 35 minutes or until a knife (or cake tester) inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. (Meaning, with no batter on it.)

While the cake is baking, in a cold bowl with cold mixers, whip together the cream, sugar and a splash of Amaretto until stiff peaks form. Refrigerate until use.

Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes, then remove and allow to cool completely on a cake rack.

Liberally sprinkle one layer of the cake with Amaretto keeping ¼ of an inch from the edge.

In a small saucepan, melt the remaining chocolate, instant coffee, butter and cream together over a very low flame. Stir until smooth, then remove from the heat.

When the cake is completely cool, leave on the cake rack, and evenly spread the whipped cream over the soaked layer of cake to about ½ inch thickness. Carefully place the second layer of cake on top and pour the ganache over, allowing to spill over the sides.

Chill 10 minutes, slice and serve.


Percentage of Americans who believe they have never eaten genetically modified food: 70

Estimated percentage of British food-poisoning infections caused by bottled water : 12 - Harpers Magazine

Definition of Mocha: Mocha is the "Gran Cru" coffee of Yemen; and the world's oldest cultivated coffee. It gets its name from the Red Sea port of Al-Mukha, the original 17th Century point of origin for coffee of commerce. While bearing the name of the old port, the coffee itself comes from small farms producing exquisite tasting beans on the fertile spring fed terraces dug into mountainsides in the interior. Yemen Mocha is, by its nature, organically cultivated, even though it does not have official stature as "Organic". - Gillies


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