Sunday, April 19, 2009

Perfect Chocolate Cake

Cobbled stones and an herb garden, 

She read one day.

The room so spare.

from "The Essay"

So much to do in so little time. Our sweet Stella is coming for her first visit and we want everything to be perfect so she will want to come back. Albeit, she will only be six month's old, but one can never be too prepared! We've polled for food, sleeping arrangement, and toy preferences, and have begun work on our back yard in hopes of impressing her! Following is an extra-delicious chocolate cake recipe from my own childhood.  

Perfect Chocolate Cake
McCalls Cooking School recipe
Serves 10 - 12

1 cup unsifted unsweetened cocoa
2 cups boiling water
2 3/4 cups
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 6-ounce package semisweet chocolate pieces
1/2 cup light cream
1 cup butter
2 1/2 cups unsifted powdered sugar

1 cup heavy cream, chilled
1/4 cup unsifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In a medium bowl, combine the cocoa with the boiling water, mixing with a wire whisk until smooth. Cool completely! Sift the flour, with the baking soda, salt, and baking powder. Preheat the oven to 350ºF.

Grease and then lightly flour three 9x1-1/2-inch layer cake pans.

With a mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla, scraping the bowl occasionally, until light; about 5 minutes. At low speed, beat in flour mixture, in fourths, alternately with the cocoa mixture, in thirds (beginning and ending with the flour mixture.) Don’t over beat the batter!

Divide evenly into the pans, smoothing the tops. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the surface springs back when gently touched. Cool cake layers in pans on wire racks for 10 minutes. Loosen the sides of the layers from the pans with a spatula, remove from pans, and cool on racks.

In a medium saucepan, combine the semisweet chocolate pieces, cream, and butter, stirring over medium heat until smooth. Remove from heat, and with a whisk, blend in 2-1/2 cups powdered sugar. In a bowl set over ice (especially in August!), beat until it holds its shape.

Whip cream with sugar and vanilla. Refrigerate.

Assembling the cake:
On a pretty plate, place a layer, top down. Spread with half the filling. Place second layer atop, top down, again, and spread with remaining filling. Top with third layer, topside up!

Frost with spatula, sides first, covering the filling first. Swirl rest of frosting on top. Refrigerate 1 hour before serving (I find a minimum of 3-4 better). Use a thin-edged sharp knife to cut.

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