There is something sacramental about eating cake, especially chocolate cake in good company.
Growing up, my sisters and I were on a mission to do just that, but never thought to bake a cake from scratch. It never crossed our minds. We only baked Betty Crocker or Duncan Hines premixed cakes. Chocolate and even German Chocolate were on heavy rotation, along with white, confetti, lemon, orange, and even banana. Alas, there was always wishful thinking, hope even, that the cake would look just like the picture on the box.
A bit of oil, eggs, and water or milk. Some mixing then everything was poured into a cake pan (my favourite was the heart shaped one), and popped in the oven, easy as 1-2-3. It even said that on the box. But the easy process, did not make up for the lacklustre results. Looking nothing remotely like the picture on the box, our dry, flavourless cake was never any good.
The icing was even more disastrous. Either it came out of a container, or we thought mixing a bit of milk and icing sugar with food colouring, which always was green for some mysterious reason, would make for a rich whipped icing. Silly girls. We were always sadly disappointed. We added sprinkles in an attempt to make it look prettier, but it never did.
After many pre-mix cakes, we gave up on our cake making efforts. Instead, store bought cakes and ice cream cakes were preferred. This was required since our family gatherings were growing in size and included many extended family members. There was no time for disastrous cake episodes, good impressions were necessary.
I started baking cakes, when I was bored and my while my parents were at work. Every Saturday, as I baked, I watched Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, intent on memorizing every line. It’s fair to say, I had many, many cake disasters. I didn’t understand that baking was a science and following the directions was imperative. It didn’t help that I was always distracted by Ferris’s antics.
I seldom crave chocolate, and if I am going to eat anything chocolate it has to be near awe-inspiring. Even though I am not a chocoholic, I’m a firm believer that one chocolate cake recipe should be in everyone’s arsenal. Personally, I have strict requirements of what this represents: moist, dense, and able to stand up to a thick frosting. After baking my way through what seems like hundreds of chocolate cakes (no joke), comparing the flavours and textures, I can attest this (my) chocolate cake is incredible. So amazing that I am willing to attach my name to its title. For those who know me, this act alone is supremely rare. My incredible chocolate cake, being cocoa-based is deeply chocolaty and unbelievably moist. It surprises me every single time, especially because it is so easy.
This is my go-to chocolate cake recipe because it always comes out perfectly. If you’ve never really attempted a good homemade cake, this is a great one to try. Be warned though, this is the rajah of chocolate cakes and in my books should only be made for special people [chocolate cake + good company = sacramental].
Weeks before my niece and nephew visit, they call requesting it. They dream about this chocolate cake. Really. Sometimes it even shows up in my dreams. It’s a crowd pleaser. It converts non-chocolate cake lovers into devotees.
When it’s baked, cooled, iced with luscious frosting and then chilled in the fridge, making it cold and delicious…it beckons me to plunge into it for breakfast, lunch, and of course at dessert.
What I love about it most, everything gets tossed into the largest mixing bowl you can find. It has a few surprises in it, namely, a generous teaspoon of chili powder, an extra-large pinch of ground masala, lots of buttermilk, a bit of coconut milk and coffee. These all blend into the batter to create an incredibly fudgy creation.
There is no finicky business of creaming butter and sugar, or alternating between dry and liquid as in typical cake recipes, just throw it all in. Mix it around, the batter will be very, very liquidity, don’t let that worry you. Pour into your very favourite prepared cake pan. Lately, I love my Bundt cake pan, but I have used this recipe to make sheet cakes, layer cakes, cupcakes, really, you cannot go wrong. Lastly, in the oven it goes.
This cake pairs extremely well with the chocolate cinnamon icing. Not too sweet, it helps to cut through the decadence of the cake. Moreover, I love how the spices mesh beautifully. *One caveat, in the picture, I have served this cake with a Coconut Cardamom Caramel Sauce. Versatile and unique, it tastes just like the Indian confectionery treat, Barfi. The recipe makes an appearance in an upcoming blog post.
Jessie’s Incredible Chocolate Cake
1 ½ cups sugar
1 ¾ cups flour
¾ cup cocoa
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1 generous pinch of ground masala
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup coconut milk
½ cup butter, melted
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 cup of strong coffee
Preheat the oven to 350F, and grease and flour your favourite cake pan(s).
Put all the ingredients into the largest mixing bowl you can find. With a large whisk or electric mixer, mix everything until all incorporated and smooth. (Takes about 3 minutes)
Pour batter into pan(s); smooth tops. Bake until cakes pull away from sides of pans, 40 to 45 minutes (Keep an eye on it after 35 minutes). Let cool in pans 10 minutes. Run a knife around edges of pans and invert cake onto a plate or wire rack. Let cool completely.
When cool using an offset-spatula or wide table knife, spread top with Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting.
Chocolate Cinnamon Frosting
¼ cup semisweet chocolate, melted over a double boiler
2 Tablespoons Cream Cheese
½ cup butter, room temperature
1 ½ to 2 cups powdered (icing) sugar
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
To make the icing, beat the butter, powdered sugar, cinnamon, vanilla until fluffy. Melt the chocolate with the cream cheese in a double boiler. Drizzle in the melted chocolate mixture into the icing while the mixer is going, add the heavy cream, and continue to beat on high for another 6-8 minutes, until frosting is very light and fluffy. Smooth frosting over completely cooled cake.