Saturday, November 23, 2013

Midnight Chocolate Cake

The more I get to know Carla Gonzales from Good Cook, the more I become convinced that we're twin sisters in some alternate universe. We were chatting the other day and she told me how she's got a lot of purple stuff in her house, because it's her favorite color.

Uh ... my car is purple.

And then she said that her mom's last name was Curry. With a "y" not an "ie" like mine. But still ... weird. In that alternate universe, not-quite-exactly-the-same kind of way.

Then she went on to describe her favorite birthday cake, and when she said that she didn't want to cut into a chocolate cake and find a filling with bananas or strawberries. Well, I almost fell out of my chair right there. Because although I like bananas and strawberries, I don't want to see either of them in my chocolate cake, either.

And her favorite frosting is ganache. Me, too. Hands down. No doubt.

And if there has to be a filling inside a chocolate cake, it's okay if it's whipped cream. Oh yeah, now we're talking. She's just like me.

But when that alternate universe thing is on some sci-fi show, there's always one thing that's completely out of whack. One thing totally opposite, right? And there's one thing where Carla and I are about as opposite as you can get.

One thing. Can you guess?

Probably not. So I'll tell you.

Ya see, she doesn't actually cook a lot. Nope. We were on the phone one day, and she said, "Whatcha doin'?" and I said I was making some mashed potatoes. And she said, "You know you can just buy those in a box?"


But I decided I'd give her a pass on that since she works for Good Cook. So, I decided to bake her a birthday cake (which, of course, I will valiantly volunteer to eat) since today is her birthday.

This is a very dark chocolate cake, thanks to the black onyx cocoa powder - with a ganache frosting. No whipped cream filling, since it's just one layer. But if you wanted to bake two layers or decorate with whipped cream, I wouldn't stop you. I might even join in.

I named it Midnight Cake for two reasons. First, it's really really dark. Second, at about midnight, you'll hear this cake calling you ... and the next thing you know, it's midnight and you've got a milk mustache and chocolate crumbs on your jammies.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Midnight Cake

For the cake:

1 ounce good "good" chocolate*
1/3 cup cocoa powder (I used about half black onyx and half standard cocoa)
1 cup boiling water
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the ganache:
8 ounce "good" chocolate*
3/4 cup heavy cream

To make the cake:
Spray a 9-inch cake pan with baking spray and preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium heatproof mixing bowl, combine the chocolate (chopped) and the cocoa. Add the boiling water and stir until the chocolate is melted and it's smooth.

In another bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir or whisk to blend.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, where you'll mix with an electric mixer), beat the white and brown sugars with the mayonnaise until it's all well mixed. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined, scraping down the bowl as needed.

Add the flour mixture in thirds, alternating with two additions of the chocolate mixture, beating just until everything is well combined.

Pour the cake batter into the pan. Bake at 350 degrees until the cake bounces back when lightly touched in the center and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 45 minutes. This cake is very moist so the toothpick might seem damp, but you shouldn't have any wet batter.

Let the cake cool for 5 minutes in the pan, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely.

To make the ganache:
Chop the chocolate and put it in a heat-resistant bowl.

Bring the cream just to a boil (I did this in the microwave in a heatproof measuring cup, or you can heat it in a small saucepan on the stove).

Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and stir or whisk until the chocolate is melted.

To finish the cake:
To frost the cake, just pour the ganache over the top of the cake - when it's slightly warm, it will be a nice pouring consistency. If it gets too thick, you can gently re-warm it - you want to loose enough to pour, but not completely liquid.

Smooth the top of the frosting - let some drip over the edge, if you like.

The frosting will stay relatively soft at room temperature - it will firm up when you refrigerate the cake. Since the ganache has cream, I do suggest refrigerating for longer-term storage.

*Use a decent chocolate sold for baking or a higher-end bar - not one of the kiddie chocolate bars. I used Ghirardelli 60% for both the cake and the ganache.