Hippo Manchester
November 3, 2005


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Food: Chocolate cake makes everything better

How to make this most heavenly dessert even more moist and delicious

By Michelle Saturley   msaturley@hippopress.com 

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 heavy.

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

Adapted from Chocolate from the Cake Doctor by Anne Byrn, Workman Publishing, 2001


8 oz. dark semisweet chocolate (50 percent cocoa butter if possible)

2/3 cup butter

1 cup sugar

4 eggs

4 heaping tbsp. all-purpose flour

4 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder

1 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 tbsp. sour cream

Frosting ganache:

2/3 cup heavy cream or whipping cream

9 oz. semisweet chocolate

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

Michelleís Gourmet 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