My birthday is this month, so I have requested a luscious and rich home-baked chocolate cake. And by chocolate cake I mean the kind you can put candles on, not the flourless variety. My husband has gallantly offered to make it, but if he gets too busy, I have no problems getting in the kitchen and whipping it up myself: my birthday, my cake, my prerogative.
I have tried many chocolate cake recipes over the years, always searching for the perfect one. But as with a search for anything great (say a life-changing novel or the perfect kiss), so much can go wrong. Some had a deep chocolate flavor, but were a little dry, while others just weren’t chocolaty enough. Worst of all were the cakes the barely held together. Like sloppy kisses, they were well meaning, but a little too wet.
After many calorie-filled attempts, I have settled on a recipe that I feel is truly the ultimate for chocolate cake. Beatty’s Chocolate Cake is made with good cocoa powder, buttermilk and freshly-brewed coffee. With an intense chocolate flavor that is both nuanced and bold, this flirt of a cake teases out its flavors and leaves you wanting more. I didn’t create this recipe. Ina Garten, aka The Barefoot Contessa, gets all the glory; or, rather, her friend Beatty for whom the cake is named. Take note that the coffee makes the batter a bit soupy (which worried me a little), but in the end, its flavor accents the chocolate nicely and gives the cake a velvety richness it wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Although I love Ina and Beatty’s cake, I veer from their advice when it comes to the icing. Skipping the chocolate frosting Ms. Garten pairs with her cake — as I find a chocolate on chocolate combo a bit overwhelming — I instead went with a vanilla cream cheese frosting. I have found over the years that vanilla makes chocolate taste more robust, and this is definitely the case here. The frosting has the added bonus of having a thick but not stiff texture, so it lays evenly on the cake. It also takes only about three minutes to make and is delicious.
I can’t disclose the cake’s recipe here — it isn’t mine, after all — but can share my frosting recipe. So if you’re having a birthday soon, or are just in the mood for a good old-fashioned chocolate cake, it’s time to indulge.
Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting
Makes: Frosting for one cake
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
1 box of powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
1. Combine all ingredients together in a bowl and mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
2. Frost cake and devour.