When you have a special occasion coming up like a birthday, today’s Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Lavish Chocolate Frosting is a winner! Rich and luscious, this is the cake that the chocoholics in your life will dream of.
Chocolate layer cake is always spectacular and guaranteed to be loved. While I prefer sheet cakes because they are easier to make and transport, sometimes a layer cake is the perfect way to celebrate the special moments in our lives.
I promise this is a chocolate layer cake that your family and friends will be talking about for years, begging you to make it for them again!
To help you improve your baking efforts, here are some thoughts and information about my favorite baking ingredients.
My Favorite Baking Ingredients
- Flour – I use my favorite gluten-free blend in my home these days and always make it with Authentic Foods gluten-free flours. Authentic Foods’ superfine ground flours guarantee no grittiness in your baked goods. If you are converting an old recipe, use 120 grams for each cup of flour called for. If you are not gluten-free, I recommend King Arthur Flours. They are employee-owned and offer both conventional and organic flours. Their products are always consistent and they use quality grains.
This consistency is due to precise flour specifications (the narrowest in the milling industry), superior milling, protein content, and no unnecessary chemicals. This results in top-quality flours that guarantee exactly the results you are looking for. Their online baker’s catalogue is where I go to purchase unusual or hard-to-find ingredients and equipment.
- Sugar – I only use cane sugar, never beet sugar. There are many reasons, but consistency is most important for me. Sugar beets are a root and grown beneath the ground while sugarcane, a grass, grows above ground. Beet sugar’s trace minerals and proteins can cause havoc in baked goods.
You can buy any bags that are labeled, “pure cane sugar.” If the package doesn’t state a source, it is most likely beet or a combination of beet and cane sugar. Supermarket brands often vary from week-to-week and occasionally even bag-to-bag which can cause inconsistent results in your baking.
The San Francisco Chronicle has an article based on experiments done by master baker, Carolyn Weil that fully explains the differences and reasons for using cane over beet.
- Salts – Salt is one of the foundation seasonings and varies widely. Table salt is very finely ground, typically contains iodine, and melts easily. Kosher salt has a cleaner taste, the flakes don’t melt as quickly as crystals do, and because the surface area is greater, it is more efficient at drawing liquids out of meats and other foods. (Think of salting eggplant or cabbage to release their liquid.) But the most important point in my opinion is that kosher salt contains less sodium than regular table salt. Nearly 3 to 1! A teaspoon of regular table salt is the same as about 1 tablespoon kosher salt.
There are two varieties commonly sold in the United States. Diamond Crystal has less sodium than Morton’s and is my recommendation.
Sea salts, as the name implies, are formed by the evaporation of seawater. Their flavors vary widely because they have the mineral composition of whatever body of water they are taken from. Sea salts, often considered a finishing salt, are perfect for sprinkling over the top of foods like salads when you want the crunch and flavor to be prominent.
- Eggs – The standard size of eggs for today’s recipes is “large.” Every commercially printed cookbook uses this standard. It was surprising to me to learn that an extra-large egg can add as much as another half an egg to a recipe. If you are concerned about animal welfare and want to support those who treat animals humanely, look for “pasture raised” on the carton.
If you are reducing a recipe and need only half an egg, break one into a bowl, whisk until combined and then use half of that mixture in your recipe.
- Butter – There is a lot of controversy about the use of animal fats in cooking and baking. While some choose to use margarine, I avoid using products that contain a lot of chemicals, preferring natural and organic options. In baking, substituting margarine for butter can create problems primarily due to the increased percentage of water. Even small variants in ratios can cause huge failures. In the long run, I bet scientists will find that ingesting chemical laden foods is more harmful to us than eating natural animal fats.
Using the same ingredients all the time will help you fine-tune your recipes. You will quickly get used to the results you get and can make small adjustments as needed. I buy butter in bulk and store it in the freezer. That way I always have fresh butter on hand.
When I want an indulgence for myself and The Artist, I buy Kerrygold butter from Ireland. It is incredibly smooth and full flavored. There is nothing better for your special baking projects or slathered on toast in the morning!
Kitchen Tools I Use to Make This Recipe:
- 8-inch round baking pans
- Parchment paper rounds
- Mixing bowls
- Medium saucepan
- Medium offset spatula
I hope you love the Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Lavish Chocolate Frosting recipes included below. You will be thanking me for a killer cake recipe!!
Happy Chocolate Monday!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
To help keep your serving plate clean while frosting the chocolate layer cake, use sheets of parchment paper or waxed paper to cover the surface (see photo above). Then place your cake layers on top and frost them. Any drops or smears wind up on the parchment and you can carefully slip the pieces out before serving. Using an offset spatula will guarantee you don’t accidentally drag your hand through the frosting!
Use your favorite gluten-free flour product such as Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1, King Arthur Flour, or Pamela’s flour blend for example. I always use my own blend for all my cooking and baking, keeping it in a bucket on my counter so it is always ready whenever the baking mood strikes. It also makes it easier for The Artist to bake his own loaves of gluten-free bread!
- 2 cups (240 g) all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour blend
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar
- 2 cups (16 oz) water
- 4 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 6 tbsp (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1-1/3 cups heavy whipping cream
- 1-1/2 cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- 6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
- 1 stick (4 oz; 8 tbsp) plus 2 tbsp unsalted butter, cubed
- 1-1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- Pinch kosher salt
Make the Cake: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour two 8 x 1-1/2-inch round cake pans. Line the bottoms with waxed paper or parchment circles. Lightly butter the parchment; set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt; set aside.
In a medium saucepan, combine the sugar with water. Bring to a boil over high heat and stir until the sugar dissolves; then pour into the large bowl of your stand mixer. Add the chocolate and butter and let sit, stirring occasionally, until melted and slightly cooled. Start the mixer on low and beat for about 1 minute to help cool mixture. Stir in the vanilla.
When the bowl is almost cool enough to hold in your hands, slowly pour the eggs into the chocolate mixture, beating constantly at medium speed until combined. Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat at medium speed until smooth.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans and bake for about 25 minutes, or until the top springs back when pressed lightly and a cake tester comes out clean. The cakes will start to pull away from the sides of the pans.
Cool the cakes in their pans for about 25 minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool completely. Once cool you can wrap them in plastic and store in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days before frosting and serving.
Make the Frosting: In a medium saucepan, bring the cream and sugar to a boil over moderately high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the liquid reduces slightly, about 6 minutes. Pour the mixture into a medium bowl and add the chocolate, butter, vanilla and salt. Let stand, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate and butter are fully melted.
Put the chocolate mixture straight into your mixer’s bowl. Place this bowl into a larger bowl filled with water and ice. Nestle it down into the cold water. Let the mixture chill, stirring occasionally with a spatula, for about 10 to 15 minutes.
Remove bowl from water, wipe off bottom and transfer to the mixer. Using the paddle attachment beat on medium-high until thick and glossy. Set in refrigerator for 15 minutes to firm up slightly before frosting cake.
Frost the Cake: Set one cake layer, top-side up, on a serving platter. Using a medium offset spatula, spread one-third of the chocolate frosting evenly over the top of the first layer. Set the second cake layer (also top-side up) on the frosted layer and frost the top and sides with the remaining frosting.
Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 939 Total Fat: 53g Saturated Fat: 33g Trans Fat: 0g Unsaturated Fat: 17g Cholesterol: 141mg Sodium: 631mg Carbohydrates: 108g Fiber: 6g Sugar: 71g Protein: 10g
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