November 3, 2005
Food: Chocolate cake makes everything better
How to make this most heavenly dessert even more moist
Chocolate cake is the only kind of cake that matters.
Vanilla cake is boring, sponge cake is just plain weird and carrot cake
is way too healthy to be considered a true cake. And when was the last
time you asked a kid what kind of cake he wants for his birthday? The
odds-on answer is going to be chocolate. Kids just know: itís not a real
cake unless itís chocolate.
ďA good chocolate cake should have a moist consistency, but not too
heavy,í said Debby Mansor of Creative Cakes by Debby, located in Nashua.
ďIt should be rich, but it should have a fluffiness to it so you donít
feel overwhelmed by trying to eat a slice.Ē
And of course, itís all about the chocolate. Thereís nothing worse than
a so-called chocolate cake that has only faint traces of actual
chocolate. Most professional chefs in the pastry business swear by the
high-end chocolate squares that have a high percentage of cocoa butter.
The fat in the butter is what gives the chocolate its smooth consistency
and makes it easier to melt and work with. If you have a hard time
finding pure chocolate in a grocery store, check with some of the
specialty cooking stores, or a bakery.
When following a cake recipe, the timing of adding the ingredients is
important. Experts agree that adding items at specific intervals during
the recipe is done for a reason. Make sure your measurements are
accurate. Also, the cooking time is important. Overcooking the batter
results in a dry cake, while undercooking it leaves the finished product
Youíll know the cake is done when the top of it springs back when you
touch it. The toothpick test works well, too. Poke a toothpick into the
center of the cake, and if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
If youíre going to be frosting or decorating your cake, itís best to do
the baking a day ahead of time. Remove the cake from the baking pan
about 10 minutes into the cooling process and wrap it in plastic wrap.
Store the cake, still wrapped, overnight in the refrigerator. By the
next day, it will be firmer and easier to work with, but will still
retain its moisture.
One great way to ensure your cake will always turn out moist and
chocolate-y is to use a mixture called a ganache. It consists of pure
melted chocolate and heavy cream, and can be used as a topping for the
cake in its liquid form, or as filling in its more dense form. Ganache
can be made ahead of time and stored in an airtight container in the
refrigerator for up to two weeks. The mixture is easy to make and adds
an intense flavor to any cake.
Death by Chocolate
Chocolate from the Cake Doctor by Anne Byrn, Workman Publishing,
8 oz. dark semisweet
chocolate (50 percent cocoa butter if possible)
2/3 cup butter
1 cup sugar
4 heaping tbsp.
4 tbsp. unsweetened
1 1/2 tsp. baking
1 tsp. vanilla
4 tbsp. sour cream
2/3 cup heavy cream
or whipping cream
9 oz. semisweet
Preheat oven to
350į. Line a circular 10-inch cake pan (or two smaller pans) with
nonstick paper and grease the sides of the tin. Break or chop the
chocolate into small pieces and melt it, with the butter, over hot
water in a double boiler. Beat the eggs with sugar, then add flour,
cocoa powder, baking powder and vanilla extract. Slowly fold in the
melted butter and chocolate mixture. Add sour cream. Pour into cake
tin and bake about 50 minutes, or until cake passes the toothpick
test or is springy when touched with your fingers. Cool about 10
minutes, then remove from pan. Let cake continue to cool. When
totally cool, cut cake in half horizontally (if using only one pan).
For frosting: heat
2/3 cup heavy cream in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Just before
boiling, remove from heat and add chopped chocolate. Stir until
melted smoothly. Let it cool. Mixture will thicken. Use 1/3 of the
mixture between the two layers of the cake as a filling. Put the
cake into the refrigerator and let the filling firm. When cake is
firm, heat remaining ganache mixture (about 30 seconds in the
microwave) to liquid form and pour over cake top. Smooth on with a
spatula. Chill until firm. Cake will have a smooth, shiny surface.
Decorate as desired.
Where to buy chocolate cake
Pastries 819 Union St., Manchester, 647-7150
Creative Cakes by
Debbie 3 Michelle Dr., Nashua, 882-1666
Black Forest Cafť
and Bakery 212 Rte. 101A, Amherst, 672-0500
Elegant Flour Bakery
435 Baboosic Lake Rd., Merrimack, 424-3632