Thursday, January 29, 2009

Coffee-Cocoa Fudge Cake

"And above all, think Chocolate!"
- Betty Crocker

This has got to be one of my favorite cooking-with-chocolate resources of all time:

"The Best of Fine Cooking; Chocolate"

This book isn't really a book at all. It's just a magazine. About yea high:

But this magazine has the unique ability to make me salivate, even if I happen to be thumbing through it while eating a salami sandwich.
Not that that's ever happened or anything. I'm just sayin'. It could. If it wanted to.

It has everything a chocolate lover could possibly dream about:

Chocolate for Breakfast... (glad I'm not alone in that area:)...Cookies...

Brownies and bars... Cakes...

Mousses and Souffles (ok, to be honest, I haven't attempted either - YET)...and many kinds of toppings...

What I'm trying to say, using psycho-babble techniques, and a multitude of useless pictures is this: if you're a chocolaholic, acquire this magazine by any means necessary. Bodily force, if necessary.
You will thank me.
And you'll thank Fine Cooking.

What I'm also trying to say is this: the other night, after agonizing for a good 20 minutes over which recipe I should try from this magazine, I selected this one:

I wasn't real sure how it would turn out, especially since I pretty much dumped it all together like so much goulash.
But let me inform you - it turned out heavenly.

If you care to prepare this food of the angels, here's what you'll need:

10 TBS. very soft butter, or 1 stick plus 2 TBS, if you're a simple-minded baker like me.
White sugar...

2 eggs. At room temperature.
At this point, it was probably around 9:30, and after staring at the words ROOM TEMPERATURE for a few annoyed seconds, I decided to put the eggs in a bowlful of warm water until I was ready to use them. It would have to do.
And it did.
I never knew the difference.
Next, flour. Of the all-purpose variety.

unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)

And then a few of those pesky, unimportant ingredients;
baking soda
baking powder...
...And some good quality brewed coffee. Cooled to warm. -ish. Again with the time thing, I just let it sit in a bowl of icy water for a few seconds before I gradually added it in. And once again, no discernible adverse side affects.

So to begin, cream the very-soft butter together with the sugar.
While watching the mixer go round and round, and sneaking a fingerful or two, I pondered this deep thought: I wonder how much butter/sugar creamed mixture I've consumed through my entire life thus far.
And I concluded that it's probably somewhere in the pounds family. Yike.
I wonder, does kilograms sound any less repulsive?

No matter. What's done is done. My thighs may hate me (or vice-versa), but that's another point entirely.

Next, add those hastily water-warmed eggs, and cream until fluffy.

And now, let your eyes rest upon these two heinous words for a few seconds:

I realize there are more than two words...but I was referring to the two prominent ones. By hand.

I hadn't realized how spoiled I'd gotten with the Kitchen Aid mixer doing all the hard work for me. (Hard? I'm hearing some raised eyebrows. Yes, I can hear them.) But whatever. I like whisks. Whisks are cool.
And so came forth the whisk:

Whisk in the vanilla and salt.

Then sift all those dry ingredients right over the creamed mixture.

Before you mix that up, add the coffee, slowly, if you're a perfectionist cooking freak-o, and quickly if you're a chocolate craving non-perfectionist cooking freak-o.
Due to my freak-o status, (guess which one), I dumped it all in rather quickly, and had mixed it up before I even remembered to take a picture.

Looks yummy, no?
It looks yellow. But that's ok. I'm a picture-taking rookie.
Besides, it won't for long.

Pour it into your prepared pan...

...And then realize that it really wasn't your prepared pan. Not completely, anyway. You forgot to flour it. What's wrong with you?!!
Don't feel too bad, because apparently, the same thing's wrong with me.

So, since I just happened to have another identical pan, I just dumped the batter back into the bowl, prepared the other pan - and floured it this time - then poured the batter. Again.

And now bake at 350 for about 43 minutes. A little more, if you are able to abide by the directions and use a 9x9 in. pan. But I don't own one, so I had to use one a bit larger.

And now, as for that frosting...
I had to use a bit of imagination, because I didn't have the ingredients needed for the ganache that the recipe suggested (i.e., heavy cream). I can give you the ingredients I used for my frosting, but I'm afraid that's all. There was no measuring involved.
Besides, you'll probably want to use the ganache recipe, anyway. Because I bet it's good enough to melt your socks off. Or rot your teeth out, if you're a glass-is-half-empty type of person.
Nevertheless, here's what I dumped into a saucepan, melted together and drizzled over my cake:
chocolate chips
sweetened condensed milk
very strong coffee
creamer (half and half)

So there you have it. The texture of this cake is perfect: thick, but not too dense. Moist, but not wet. And the flavor is a perfect balance of coffee and chocolate.

Please, I beg you: make and enjoy!!!

Coffee-Cocoa Fudge Cake
10 Tbs. very soft unsalted butter; more for the pan
1-2/3 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. table salt
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pan
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup unsweetened natural cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1-1/2 cups good-quality brewed coffee, cooled to warm

1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Generously butter a 9-inch-square baking pan. Line the bottom of the pan with a square of parchment, butter the parchment, and then flour the bottom and sides of the pan. Tap out any excess flour.

2. If mixing by hand, put the softened butter and sugar in a medium bowl. Using a wooden spoon, cream them until smooth, about 1 minute. Switch to a whisk and blend in the eggs one at a time. Stir for another 30 seconds, until the batter is smooth and the sugar begins to dissolve. (If using a stand mixer, put the butter and sugar in the bowl and, using the paddle attachment, cream until smooth, about 1 minute. Blend in the eggs one at a time, mixing just until incorporated, about 20 seconds. Then switch to a whisk and blend in the rest of the ingredients by hand.)

3. Mix in the vanilla and salt. Sift the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and baking powder directly onto the batter. Pour in the coffee. Gently whisk the ingredients until the mixture is smooth and mostly free of lumps.

4. Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with only moist crumbs clinging to it, 40 to 43 minutes. Set the pan on a rack to cool for 20 minutes. Carefully run a knife around the edges of the pan, invert the cake onto the rack, and remove the pan. Invert again onto another rack and let cool right side up until just warm.

8 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 cup heavy cream; more as needed
Granulated sugar (optional)

1. Put the chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan, bring the cream to a boil.
2. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and whisk gently until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth. (If using a 70% bittersweet chocolate, the ganche might be a bit thick; add more cream, a tablespoon at a time, to thin it. You might also want to add a couple of teaspoons of sugar when you add the hot cream.


  1. Oh wow! Your pictures alone are making my teeth hurt! :) And your frosting looks fantastic!!!!

  2. You can rarely go wrong with chocolate cake, and your pictures are fantastic- It looks incredible!