A serious chocolate cake for a special lady

July 5, 2012 at 11:10 am Leave a comment

My mom’s 50th birthday is coming up, and since she will be out of town the next few weekends, my aunt and I decided to have a cake for her at our family 4th of July picnic yesterday.

Side note: for each of their 50th birthdays, my mom and her friends decided to go on group vacations. My mom’s trip with her friends is in a couple weeks, but the catch that she doesn’t know where she’s going!

Anyway, my mom is very picky about food so I knew I couldn’t get too creative with the cake in terms of flavor and ingredients. Instead, I decided to go pretty hardcore with the homemade factor, and wanted some kind of festive decoration. This recipe was perfect for what I wanted.

Homemade, classic chocolate cake. Delicious ganache. Made-from-scratch whipped cream with amped up flavor. Fresh, festive fruit.

Although the recipe calls for a three layer cake, that seemed like too much, so I opted for the one-layer rectangle cake. I’m glad I did, and overall everything about this recipe was definitely the right choice. Here is the original recipe, with my changes in pan and bake time in bold:


  • 2 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chopped
  • 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons hot coffee
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cup sugar, divided
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 4 large egg whites


1. Butter a 13x9x2 cake pan, lining the bottom with parchment. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Over a double boiler, melt both kinds of chocolates together with the 6 tablespoons of coffee. Stir until smooth, then set aside until the chocolate reaches room temperature.
3. With an electric mixer, beat the butter and 1 1/4 cup of the sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. While beating, slowly drizzle in the melted chocolate, following with the egg yolks one at a time.
4. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
5. Mix half of the sifted dry ingredients into the creamed butter, then add the buttermilk and vanilla. Follow with the rest of the dry ingredients.
6. In a separate bowl, beat the egg whites until they hold soft peaks. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and continue beating until stiff peaks form.
7. Fold half of the egg whites into the cake batter to lighten it up a bit, then fold in the rest, stopping just when there’s no trace of egg white visible. Do not overbeat or you will flatten the batter.
8. Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan. Smooth the top of the batter with your finger and bake for about 40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
9. Cool cake completely before decorating.

This was not an easy recipe to make, let me just say that. I mean it wasn’t stressful, but it was kind of complicated for my skill level. For example, I did not, before this experience, know how to separate eggs. I had fun learning though, and luckily didn’t have to rush through it. It did take all morning though.

I used the chocolate ganache and whipped cream recipes linked to from the page with the cake recipe on it, and I was happy with the result. I felt especially proud of the whipped cream – I had never made it from scratch before and found it very satisfying.

Basically, I drizzled the ganache over the top of the cake  to cover it (once the cake cooled!) and let it ooze over the edges, too. When we got to  my aunt’s house, M and I piped a bunch of whipped cream all over the cake and put pieces of fruit on each dollop. We used the same premise as the original recipe, just again with one rectangle cake.

And the cake was a hit. Just a couple slices leftover, which M will surely devour after work tonight.

This was a challenge, and definitely quite indulgent. But worth it to celebrate my awesome mom for her 50th birthday!


Entry filed under: Leisure, Recipes. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , .

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