Making chocolate 3-layer "magic" cake

Have you heard of 3-layer "magic" cake?  I hadn't until a couple of weeks ago when I saw it on POPSUGAR.  That was when I found out about this cake where you make one batter and, "magically", it bakes up into three separate layers.
I wanted to give it a try and, naturally, I opted to make the chocolate version (there is an original one as well as other versions such as lemon and Nutella that you can check out from Jo Cooks).  The batter sounded fairly easy to make (there are a few steps involved but any cake that doesn't involve frosting is comparatively simple to me) and I was just plain curious as to whether I'd really get 3 layers from the single batter.  I thought it would be a neat trick to show my son.
Well...I followed directions and made the cake batter, which involves incorporating separately beaten egg whites into a chocolate base that ultimately results in a thin consistency.  And I did get 3 layers...but maybe my magic wand needs to go in for maintenance because my layers didn't quite turn out exactly as described.

I was supposed to end up with: a top layer of sponge cake, a middle layer of custard, and a denser, somewhat "fudgy" bottom.  It seems my order got shaken up a bit because while I certainly got that top sponge cake layer, the other 2 parts were flipped!  I ended up with that darker, fudgy layer in the center and the custard was at the bottom!  I've actually seen an image online that looks identical to the result I got; however, I have seen plenty of images of the "magic" cake how it's supposed to be. I am still feeling confused!
Another thing that bothered me is the "skin" that formed at the bottom of my cake - similar to a skin that would form on a pudding.  My husband insists he actually likes that but I removed it for the rest of us who preferred the cake without it.

So this was an interesting experience that left me scratching my head a bit.  It certainly was not a wasted effort because taste-wise, it was a good cake.  My favorite part was actually my dark center - that thin layer was moist and the most chocolaty part of the cake.  This cake tastes deceptively light and with that, the cake did do a magic act...by disappearing quickly!  I'm not sure I'll be attempting this particular trick again but I sure would love to know if anyone has tried it and achieved a different result.


There are a few steps involved with this cake batter and I tried to pay close attention in executing this "magic trick".  It's like a 2 step process, incorporating the base chocolate component (involving egg yolks, melted butter, cocoa, 2 cups warm milk...) with separately beaten egg whites. 
Because the chocolate component is quite thin and loose, the two need to be combined in increments.  Eventually, you're left with a very thin batter to pour into your baking pan.  Notice I lined the cake pan with a piece of parchment paper; I often do this when baking in a square or rectangular pan to easily lift the finished cake/brownie out of the pan.  In this case, I would actually recommend not using parchment lining.  In my experience, I found that some of the thin batter had gotten under the paper and there was some custard stuck to the bottom of my pan in this case.  
Baking time is also a little tricky.  One hour in a 325 degree oven is the guideline but mine seemed done closer to 45 minutes.  The thing to look for is a completely set top. Plus, the middle of the cake should jiggle slightly when moved.  You can't use the cake tester method since the other layers are custard and quite moist.  I didn't want to over-bake the cake but I was certainly worried about under-baking and potentially having a wet, leaking custard.  I think I could have pulled my cake out a few minutes earlier if anything but I played it safe.
The cake must be completely cooled and set before slicing so leave it alone to sit for a few hours.  Then, it's time to reveal the "magic trick"...maybe we can just pretend that however it turns out is how it's supposed to be?  It was neat to see the 3 layers forming in this one batter even if it came out a little differently than what I expected.  
And no one complained about eating chocolate cake!

Recipe:

Chocolate Magic Cake
From Jo Cooks via POPSUGAR

- Makes one 8x8 inch cake - 

4 eggs, yolks and whites separated
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon water
1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 tablespoons cocoa powder
6 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 cups milk, warmed
1 teaspoon white vinegar
Powdered sugar, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Light grease an 8x8 inch pan with non-stick spray.

In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a handheld mixer), cream the egg yolks, sugar, and water together on medium-speed until light and creamy.  Slowly add in the melted butter, salt, and vanilla, beating until fully incorporated and the mixture is light and fluffy.

In a bowl, whisk together the cocoa powder and flour.  Add the dry ingredients into the mixer in 3 batches, mixing thoroughly after each addition.  Once the dry ingredients have been incorporated, gradually add the warm milk (the milk should be warm enough not to cool the butter), a little at a time.  The mixture will be very thin.

In a clean bowl, whip the 4 egg whites and vinegar using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (if using the same one, make sure it is clean and dry) on medium-high speed.  Whip until stiff peaks form, about 4-6 minutes.  

Add a scoop of the whipped egg whites into the chocolate mixture and gently fold it in. Reverse the process and add a little of the chocolate mixture to the egg whites, folding until incorporated.  Continue until all the chocolate mixture has been folded into the egg whites and a smooth, fluffy, thin pancake like batter forms.  

Pour the loose batter into the prepared baking pan.  Bake for roughly 60 minutes, or until the top is set and the middle still jiggles slightly when moved.  Let cake cool completely before slicing and serving with a dusting of powdered sugar on top.





22 comments:

  1. This looks simply amazing! All 3 layers are just gorgeous.

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    1. There are definitely 3 distinct layers...even if it's not in the supposed order! ; )

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  2. I really need a piece of your cake right now. It looks so delicious. I haven't baked any cake since August... you gave me the motivation to play with flour. Kisses

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    1. Aww, thank you! : ) It's always nice to make a simple cake at home even when you have so many options elsewhere...

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  3. Wow! This is genius! Love how distinct the layers are...yet so choclatey. Every one of them.It made my day:-)

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    1. I thought it would be a fun experiment. : )

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  4. This cake looks so incredible, Monica! I love all three layers, they are perfect! It would definitely disappear quickly at our house too :)

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    1. haha - thanks, Kelly. It satisfied my curiosity...

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  5. I have been dying to try this magic cake and it looks to me like yours was a complete success. The layers are really gorgeous! You nailed it! Have a happy weekend :)

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    1. Oh Tricia - I would LOVE for you to make this cake and see if you get the results/order that they say!! Please!! haha : )

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  6. hahah this line totally cracked me up!! ---> "the cake did do a magic act...by disappearing quickly"

    This is so interesting with this cake and the way it bakes up! Even with the head scratching part - it still looks pretty darn cool with those layers!

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    1. haha - totally corny but true, Ashley!!!

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  7. LOVE this! So magical! The layers are distinctive with different textures. I have seen a few magic cakes over the internet, but none of them is chocolate. Now with this chocolate version, I am totally making it! Can't wait to dig in. :)

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    1. I hope you do make it and I can see how your version turns out! You guys have such skills and I would be so happy to know if it turns out differently for you!!

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  8. This looks very delicious and magical. I am keen to try it out.

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    1. haha - thanks, Bal. It was fun to try. You would make a great version!

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  9. This looks so good! I have been myself wanting to try magic cake for long and now you have motivated me to give it a try!

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    1. I might be one of the few people who only heard of this cake a few weeks ago! I hope you try it one day!!

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  10. Nope, I haven't heard about 3 layer magic cake. But after looking at these pictures I so want to have this beauty in my life. Love how distinctive and different these layers are. Wonderful share, Monica.

    Anu
    http://www.mygingergarlickitchen.com/

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    1. Definitely an interesting cake I had to try for myself. Have a great weekend!

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  11. That looks perfect. I have already made Jo's regular version without chocolate and it tasted great, but didn't look as good as yours. I have to try it again.

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    1. That's great to know, thanks! I'm wondering if you had the layers in the order they're supposed to be? I had the custard in the bottom instead of middle really...I'm still confused about it! haha

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