Last Thursday was my birthday (and I’m not saying which one!). I am a big lover of homemade birthday cakes, and since it was my big day, I knew I wanted a home-baked rich chocolate cake. Although my husband gallantly offered to make it, I knew he was busy going to the grocery store for my big dinner and then cooking, so I decided it would be fun to make the cake with my daughters.
But which chocolate cake recipe should I use? One with melted bittersweet chocolate or cocoa? A flourless cake or a traditional one? Should it be topped with fruit, a ganache, whipped cream, or frosting?
And then I remembered an episode of the Barefoot Contessa (aka Ina Garten) I saw a few months ago when my mother was visiting. I recalled that the cake she made looked rich and moist, and that she used some freshly brewed coffee. I easily found her Beatty’s Chocolate Cake recipe at the Food Network site and after giving it a quick look, decided I had all the ingredients on hand and then called in my daughters to help. We made the cake and I have to say it’s one of the best I’ve ever had. Although the batter looks incredibly soupy (which worried me a bit), in the end, the coffee accented the chocolate flavor nicely and gave the cake a velvety richness it wouldn’t have had otherwise.
I decided at this point to skip the chocolate frosting Ms. Garten pairs with her cake as I find the chocolate on chocolate combo can be a bit overwhelming. I also think that pairing chocolate cake with a vanilla frosting simply makes the cake taste richer and more chocolaty. After a little consultation with my husband, I decided to use the frosting I usually make with my carrot cake. It’s a simple cream cheese and vanilla frosting that takes about three minutes to make and is delicious. It also has the added bonus of having a thick but not stiff texture, so it frosts cleanly.
8 oz cream cheese
1/4 cup softened butter
1 box of powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Just combine these together with a mixer until smooth.