The Perfect Chocolate Cake

Perfect? I kid you not!

My friend's nephew celebrated his birthday this past weekend. He turned 5 years old and wanted an Iron Man cake. I was super excited that they asked me if I would like to make the cake. Um, heck yah?

The recipe I selected comes from Smitten Kitchen and is absolutely delicious. Divine. Perfect. The cake is super moist and not overly sweet while the frosting is a thick and seductive ganache. Makes me drool just thinking about it. Smitten's version called for a raspberry filling (which I would have loved) but passed on. A 5 year old's palette isn't quite there. At least not this one- he's one of the most picky eater's on the Earth.

Grease and flour 2, 10x2 inch circle pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper. Preheat oven to 300.

Cake:

3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Ganache:

1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate
1 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

For the cake... finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. I used Ghiraddeli chocolate chips so they were already chopped! Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

In a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer beat, eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well.

Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature. I made the cake they day before and it was insanely moist the following day.

For the frosting... Finely chop chocolate (or use chips!). In a small saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency). I found that stirring this over a bowl of ice water did a great job of cooling it off quickly and evenly-- truth!

Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Prepare yourself... this cake will make your mouth sing.