Seven years ago, when I decided to make my own wedding cake(s) I started out by researching on the web and countless cookbooks. While I had been teaching myself cake decorating , I had not done anything on that scale and knew I needed some help.The book that I finally settled on was The Wedding Cake Book by Dede Wilson. I read it cover to cover (more than once) and it was an incredible learning tool on instructing me on how to put it all together. It is still one of my favorite cake decorating books and I really love Dede’s recipes. She was also kind enough to make some suggestions to me when I contacted her 2 years ago about planning a wedding cake for a dear friend of mine. It was 90+ degrees (F) in August and an outdoor wedding! Anyway, her latest book is titled Unforgettable Desserts and I am starting to bake my way through it. While many of her recipes have a long list of ingredients and may be slightly challenging for beginner bakers, all of her recipes have very clear instructions and so I would tell people not to be afraid of going a little farther in their baking level. That being said, the following recipe is actually super easy! It is a black cocoa blackout cake and I made it this past weekend to bring to a friend’s dinner party. I think this could be my new signature cake… It is simply outstanding. Warning: you must love chocolate. It is super intense and flavorful. The secret is “black cocoa” a specialty product sold by King Arthur Flour. It has the color and flavor of Oreo cookies and when combined with natural cocoa in this recipe, it gives the cake an extra deep chocolate boost. I am sure that if you didn’t have it though you could also use the best cocoa available to you.The filling is a rich homemade chocolate pudding, which is best if made the day before so it has time to thicken up. This cake is out of this world……
1/4 C sifted cornstarch
2 C whole milk
1 C heavy cream
1 1/4 C sugar (I used 1 cup)
6 ounces good quality unsweetened chocolate, finely chopped ( I used 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 72%)
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
(I also added 1 egg yolk for extra richness)
Put the cornstarch in a small bowl.
In a measuring cup, combine the milk and cream.Drizzle a few tablespoons of the milk mixture over the cornstarch and whisk until smooth (this is commonly called a slurry). Pour the remaining milk/cream into a saucepan with the slurry,sugar,chocolate and salt. Cook over medium-low heat,whisking often, until the chocolate melts, then watch it carefully as you bring it to a gentle boil. Whisk it often, it should thicken up in about 2 minutes. If you are adding the egg yolk, temper it with a few tablespoons of the hot pudding and then whisk in the warm yolk to the pudding before cooking it the 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla, and transfer to an airtight container. Place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the surface and then cover with the lid. Refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight.
3 C all-purpose flour
2 C sugar
1/3 C sifted black cocoa
1/3 C natural cocoa
1 Tablespoon instant espresso powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 cups warm water
2/3 C flavorless oil, such as canola or sunflower
2 Tbsp apple cider or distilled white vinegar
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 (F). Coat two 8 inch round cake pans with nonstick spray, line the bottoms with parchment paper, and then spray the parchment.
Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Whisk together the wet ingredients and pour over the dry ingredients, whisking until well combined. Divide the batter evenly between the 2 pans. Firmly tap the bottom of the pans to dislodge any air bubbles.
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center shows a few moist crumbs when removed.Cool the cakes for 10 minutes then unmold and cool completely. If necessary, trim the layers to be level, reserving the scraps.
To assemble the cake:
Slice both cake layers in half horizontally. Three layers will be used to assemble the cake and the 4th layer crumbled by hand into a bowl with any other scraps; these will be used for the exterior of the cake. Place one layer on a serving plate, bottom side down. Cover with thick layer of pudding. Top with another layer of cake and another layer of pudding. Top with the 3rd layer of cake, bottom side up. Cover the top and sides of the cake with the rest of the pudding (it will be thick enough to cling to the cake). Cover the sides (and top) of the cake with the cake crumbs, pressing them gently into the pudding to adhere. Refridgerate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours (if you can wait) before serving