July 4, 2011

Happy Fourth of July!

Happy Independence Day!

I had intended to make some red-white-and-blue mini fruit tarts (what would have been a new endeavor for me) to mark the fourth of July holiday.  But with the hustle and bustle of the last few weeks and keeping busy with my little one now that school is out, that exciting project had to be deferred.  In its place, I decided to make a little birthday cake to celebrate our nation's birthday if you will.  Yes, I admit I'm always looking for an excuse to make a cake. 

This relatively simple one-layer cake is chocolate, of course.  The recipe for the cake batter is the same one I used for my very first post on chocolate cupcakes.  I think it's fun to use one recipe but mix it up between cupcakes and a traditional cake.  Chocolate ganache frosting is my absolute favorite frosting and I'm using it again here.  I think "ganache" may be one of my all-time favorite words because it conjures up that incredible taste and texture for me.  It's amazing what chocolate and cream can become together.
On Independence Day, I think a little about my life here in the States.  Not having been born here, I occasionally wonder what my life would have been like had our family stayed in Hong Kong, where I'm from.  No doubt, that life would've been vastly different from the one I'm living now and there's really no way to know just how.  It's interesting to think about all the forks in the road during our lives and how one turn, one decision, can lead to an extremely different path and outcome.  All I know for sure is I'm glad to be where I am and couldn't imagine or want my life any other way. 

Now back to the food, this cake is dark and deep in chocolate flavor.  As I mentioned, the recipe is the same as the I used for cupcakes back in April.  It's very moist and tender with the help of yogurt and some canola oil.  The deep chocolate flavor comes from a little bit (just an ounce) of chocolate mixed with some freshly brewed coffee.  It's similar to that super moist chocolate cake that I raved about (it is soo good) except that this recipe uses yogurt instead of buttermilk.  The chocolate ganache frosting adds another layer of chocolate and richness - perfect for all us chocolate lover.

The photo below shows the majority of ingredients needed to make this cake.  The dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa-powder, baking soda/powder, salt) are whisked together to combine.  We also use a quarter cup of canola oil, half a cup of whole-milk yogurt, a bit of vanilla extract, as well as an ounce of semi-sweet chocolate that is melted into a half a cup of hot coffee.
I beat an egg for about a minute until it turns pale and then add the wet ingredients, including the chocolate-coffee mixture.  Once that's combined, the dry ingredients are added and mixed until just combined.  
The batter is thick and pudding-like...
...and very moist and tender when done.
I let the cake cool in the pan for about half and hour before carefully turning it out onto a cooling rack.  While you're waiting for the cake to cool completely, it's time to make the ganache frosting.  All you need is chocolate and cream (sometimes, a bit of corn syrup is used to add some shine and a bit more sweetness).  To make enough for this 9-inch one layer cake, I used 4 ounces of chopped semi-sweet chocolate and half a cup of heavy cream.  Heat the cream to a boil and pour on top of the chocolate.  Stir with a whisk until smooth and incorporated.
I allowed the ganache to sit at room temperature for about an hour, whisking occasionally, until it was thick enough to spread around the cake.  The amount of time it needs to sit will also depend on the temperature that day so check on it periodically and give it a whisk.  If you would like to coat the cake with a looser glaze, you can let it cool and sit for a shorter period of time and pour the more liquid mixture over the cake.

I love frosting a cake, particularly with luscious chocolate frosting!
A little extra frosting can hide any imperfections, like broken pieces from the cake.  Very often, I lose a little piece of the cake when moving it to the plate because it's so moist. 
A little bit of our July 4th red-white-and-blue sprinkles finishes it off.
Happy Birthday to the USA!
Have a happy and safe Fourth of July celebration!  
The recipes:

Tender and Moist Chocolate Cake
From Molly Wizenberg's book, A Homemade Life.

- Makes one 9-inch cake (or 12 cupcakes) -

1 ounce semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup canola oil
1/2 cup well-stirred plain whole-milk yogurt
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Grease a 9-inch cake pan and line the bottom with a round of parchment, also greasing the parchment.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

Put chocolate into a bowl with the hot coffee.  Let sit, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is smooth.

In another bowl, whisk the sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt together.

In the bowl of a standmixer, beat the egg on medium speed until pale yellow, about 1 minute.  Add oil, yogurt, and vanilla, beating well.  Gradually pour in the melted coffee and chocolate mixture and beat to combine.  Add the dry ingredients all at once and beat on low speed until the batter is just combined.  Scrape down the the sides and bottom of the bowl and stir the batter around briefly to make sure all ingredients have been incorporated together.

Pour batter into the prepared cake pan.  Bake for approximately 50 minutes to an hour, until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.  Let the cake cool in the pan for at least half to 1 hour (since it's so tender) before turning out of the pan and cooling on a wire rack completely. 

Frost cooled cake with ganache below.

Ganache Frosting (to frost one 9-inch cake):

4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/2 cup heavy cream

Finely chop chocolate and place into a heat-proof bowl.  Heat cream until it just comes to a boil and pour over the chocolate.  Let sit for a minute, then whisk together until combined and smooth.

Let the mixture cool and sit for about an hour (note the time will vary depending upon the temperature of the day), whisking occasionally.  If you need to speed up the process, you can place the ganache into the refrigerator.  The ganache is ready once it's thickened enough to spread over the cake.


  1. I love that book and her blog--
    I think I will try this for charlie's party next weekend!
    I wanted to do the ice cream cake but she just wants an all chocolate cake.
    This looks sooo good!

  2. Hi Jaime...Charlie has great taste picking chocolate! Whatever you guys end up having, I hope she enjoys her birthday!!

  3. Oh! You have to love a nice moist chocolate cake with ganache frosting. Mmm. I'm always after my ideal recipe! I had one, but I can't find it. :(

  4. Hi Alyssa - I think I love ganache frosting a little bit too much though!

    Have you tried Ina's chocolate cake (well, really Beatty's) - that one is my absolute favorite. It's buttercream frosting on that one, which is not my favorite usually, but it works really well with that cake, which is so moist and chocolaty: http://playingwithflour.blogspot.com/2011/04/super-moist-chocolate-cake.html



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...