There are 2 things in the world that I love more than anything else: my son Danger (I’m a stage 5 clinger/helicopter mom) and chocolate cake! So deep is my affection I even have a chocolate cake hat designed by Christine A. Moore, who gifted me her creation after learning of my obsession. Thank you, Christine!
Danger shares my infatuation for the world’s best confection and we can think of no better way to spend our Saturdays than to hunt down the perfect slice. We’ve found some real knockouts in our neck of the woods (Alcove, Proof, Republique) but Danger still thinks my chocolate cake is the best. This declaration obviously got him all the kisses and also inspired me to share my recipe.
My Triple Threat Chocolate Cake is a perfectly moist chocolate butter cake topped with a tangy, dark chocolate creme fraiche ganache and then glazed with a glossy, bittersweet chocolate cream. It is decadence in every bite. I recommend making this for someone you love with your whole heart. Or for someone that’s mad at you, because chocolate cake’s powers are so strong it can even fix broken relationships. I’ve seen it happen.
Before you get started though, remember that chocolate cake can be tricky, so in order achieve perfection follow these tips:
- Use the highest quality ingredients you can get your hands on. That means butter that has at least 82% butterfat. Reach for the more expensive, tangy European kinds of butter, like Plugra, Kerrygold, President, or even Land O Lake European Style butter. The chocolate you use for ganache and glazes should be unsweetened, dark and have at least 70% cocoa solids. Try brands like Scharffen Berger, Guittard, or Callebaut. Also, make sure to use high-quality cocoa powder for your cake. I crush hard on Valrhona cocoa powder.
- Bake your cake in a shiny pan, not a dark one. Shiny pans reflect heat to prevent a crispy overcooked outside. Bonus points if you dust your pan with cocoa powder instead of flour to give you an even bigger chocolate punch.
- Don’t cool your cake on the counter and let all that steam escape! As soon as your fingers can handle it, take your cake out of the pan, place it on a cake round, and wrap it tightly in a couple of layers of plastic wrap. Cool it in the freezer for about ten to fifteen minutes. Not only will you be able to cover it in ganache faster, all the steam you’ve trapped inside will give you the moistest cake ever.
My Triple Threat Chocolate Cake has never lasted a whole day at my house, but yours might be filled with people who have self-control. In that case, the cake can stay at room temperature, covered, for two days. You can also store it in the refrigerator, covered, for up to 2 weeks. My theme song for this preparation is Chocolate Choco Choco. Don’t judge me.
A double boiler set up (a small pan and bowl big enough to sit on the pan but not IN the pan)
9 inch shiny, round cake pan
Toothpick or metal tester
KitchenAid stand mixer, or lots and lots of elbow grease
9-inch cardboard cake round
Sheet pan with rack
Ingredients for Dark Chocolate Creme Fraiche Ganache
8 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
8 oz creme fraiche, room temperature
2 tbsp corn syrup
Directions for Dark Chocolate Creme Fraiche Ganache
- Add 2 inches of water to a small pan and bring that water to a gentle simmer.
- Place the chopped dark chocolate in a bowl and place it on the pan. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl.
- Stir the dark chocolate until just melted. Do this gently with a spatula and not a whisk as you don’t want to create air bubbles.
- Take the bowl off the heat and mix in the creme fraiche and corn syrup. Do this gently with a spatula and not a whisk as you don’t want to create air bubbles.
- Let the ganache cool at room temperature.
Ingredients for Chocolate Butter Cake
2 oz cocoa powder, more for dusting the cake pan
6 oz water, boiling
4 egg yolks, room temperature
2 tsp vanilla paste
6 oz sifted cake flour
7 oz baker’s sugar
2 tsp baking powder
.5 tsp salt
6 oz butter, room temperature, more for greasing pan
Directions for Chocolate Butter Cake
- Preheat your oven to 350. Most home ovens are not calibrated. Use an oven thermometer to verify that your oven is at the correct temperature and adjust accordingly.
- In a medium bowl whisk cocoa powder and boiling water together and cool in the freezer for about 10 minutes, until it has reached room temperature.
- Prepare a 9 inch shiny, round cake pan by greasing the bottom and sides with butter. Cover the inside bottom of the pan with parchment paper. Grease the parchment paper with butter as well. Dust the inside of the pan (bottom and sides) with cocoa powder.
- In a large bowl mix together the egg yolks, vanilla paste, and ¼ cup of the cooled cocoa mixture. Do not use a hot mixture as it will cook your eggs yolks.
- In the bowl of your KitchenAid stand mixer mix together the sifted cake flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a low speed and mix for 20 seconds.
- Add the room temperature butter and what is left of the cooled plain cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients have been hydrated.
- Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat the mixture on medium speed for a minute to add air to it and lighten it.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl again and add one-third of the egg mixture. Mix on low just until incorporated, about 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat this step two more times until all the egg mixture has been incorporated into the batter.
- Add the batter to the prepared cake pan. Make sure your oven is at 350 degrees and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not open your oven to check on your cake until at least 25 minutes have gone by, as the fluctuation in temperature will cause your cake to fall.
- At 20 minutes take a look at your cake. If the cake is starting to pull away from the pan edges, it is overcooked. Remove it immediately. Otherwise, at 25 minutes check to see if the middle of the cake looks cooked through. If it looks cooked through, open your oven and touch the middle of your cake gently to see if it springs back. If it springs back, insert a toothpick or metal tester in the middle of your cake. If it comes out clean, your cake is ready.
- Cool cake for a few minutes, just until it doesn’t burn your hands to take it out of the pan. Place your 9-inch cardboard cake round on top of your cake and turn the pan over to invert the cake onto the round. Gently wrap your cake in two layers of plastic wrap and cool in the freezer for 10 to 15 minutes, or until room temperature.
- Once the cake has cooled use your icing spatula to frost it with one layer of ganache. Place in freezer for five minutes. Add a second layer of ganache. Place in freezer for five minutes.
Ingredients for Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
8 oz bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
7 oz heavy cream
Directions for Bittersweet Chocolate Glaze
- Place chopped chocolate in a bowl.
- Warm the cream in a small pan until little bubbles form around the edge of the pan and the cream starts to steam.
- Add the cream to the chopped chocolate and do not stir. Tilt the bowl to make sure the cream is covering all of the chocolate.
- Let the chocolate mixture sit for five minutes and then mix gently until smooth.
- Pass the mixture through a sieve to remove any chocolate solids.
- Set your cake on a rack set over a sheet pan. Drizzle the chocolate glaze over your cooled cake. You can enjoy your cake as is or decorate it with berries and edible flowers like I did.