You may find this shocking, but for most of my life I did not like cake. I have to attribute this to the fact that my experiences with cake were mostly limited to what was served at birthday parties, which more often than not were grocery store bakery cakes. I absolutely hated (and still hate to this day) that fluffy, gritty, way-too-sweet frosting with confetti sprinkles. Gross.
Needless to say, my feelings about cake changed when I started baking them myself, and cake and I are now on very good terms. My favorite is carrot cake (with cream cheese frosting, of course!), but Stephen, who always prefers things that are simple and classic, loves chocolate cake. The fudge cake I made this week is actually his (somewhat belated) birthday cake, and in his words, it is unbelievable.
I did run into a couple problems along the way to the finished product, but as you'll see, all's well that ends well. My first problem was that I don't have a food processor, so I had to chop the baking chocolate by hand. Since I couldn't get the chocolate as finely chopped as a food processor would have, there were tiny chocolate chunks throughout the batter.
Most of the chunks melted while the cake was baking, but there were still bits and pieces in the finished cake. Luckily, Stephen had actually requested a chocolate cake with chocolate chunks, which I had forgotten about, but ended up doing by accident anyway! Success.
The other problem I encountered was that the frosting didn't "lighten and hold its shape" like it was supposed to. Having been thwarted by this problem before, I decided to just pour the frosting onto the warm cake and let it set up overnight. I felt a little rebellious for not following the instructions, but my gamble ended up paying off. The frosting was rich and fudgey, and it was the perfect complement to the delicate chocolate flavor of the cake. This is definitely the best chocolate cake I've made so far, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
Fudge Cake with Chocolate Frosting
Adapted from Alton Brown
For the cake:
1/2 cup unsalted butter
2-1/4 cups brown sugar
3 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
1 cup boiling water
For the frosting:
1 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup whipping cream
1 cup unsalted butter
2-1/2 cups powdered sugar
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Butter and flour a 9x13-inch rectangular pan.
2. Finely chop the baking chocolate by hand or using a food processor until only very small chunks of chocolate remain. Combine the chocolate with the flour, baking soda, and salt, and whisk to combine.
3. Beat together the eggs and vanilla extract.
4. Cream the butter in an electric mixer on medium speed for about one minute. Add the brown sugar gradually until all of the butter disappears into the sugar.
5. Reduce the speed to stir. Add the egg/vanilla mixture gradually, scraping down the bowl as needed.
6. Add the flour mixture in three batches, alternating with two batches of sour cream.
7. Add the boiling water and continue mixing until the batter is free of lumps. The batter will be very loose.
8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300˚F and bake for another 30 minutes. The cake is done when the internal temperature is between 175˚F-180˚F. A cake tester will come out clean halfway between the edge and the center, but will not come out clean in the center. The cake will continue to cook as it cools.
9. Allow the cake to cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring it to a cooling rack. Allow the cake to cool completely before frosting. Or, do what I did, and pour the frosting onto the cake while it is still warm and allow it to set for several hours or overnight.
To make the frosting: Combine the chocolate, cream, and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until melted and smooth. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the powdered sugar. When the sugar is completely dissolved, place the pan in a bowl filled with ice and beat with a hand mixer until the frosting lightens and holds its shape.