True story… I’ve never been much of a cake person.
Well, let me clarify… I’m not a plain cake person. One of those cookie cutter, store-bought yellow or white sheet cakes slathered with icing just isn’t my thing. However, my excitement over cake goes up exponentially if the cake is either chocolate or contains lots of awesome flavors (I’m talking things like coconut, caramel apple, pineapple or *ahem* peanut butter).
I’ve always had a soft spot for chocolate cakes that are uncomplicated in nature with a bit of a flair… things like Coca-Cola cake, Mrs. Dill’s chocolate cake, better than “anything” cake, and ho ho cake. This cake definitely falls into that category – it’s a very simple chocolate cake that has a devil’s food flavor to it, and is topped with the most amazing whipped ganache frosting. With espresso powder and Kahlua, it’s certainly not for the faint of heart!
I’ve probably mentioned it before, but I’m a huge Ina Garten fan… she’s my food and entertaining hero. When she comes out with a new cookbook, I read it cover to cover. I did just that when her Make It Ahead book was released and immediately bookmarked three quarters of the recipes. This cake was one of those recipes and I was dying to make it… a simple chocolate cake with a fabulous flair – right up my alley! My Chief Culinary Consultant stood over the finished cake and said it smelled so good that he wanted his smash his face into it… now that’s a sure sign of a successful cake!
If you love chocolate and coffee and silky smooth ganache, you’ll want to run into the kitchen to make this.
Make the Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch pan; set aside.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda, then stir in the salt.
Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed for 5 minutes, until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl, then add the vanilla and beat in the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated and the batter is smooth.
In a medium bowl or large liquid measuring cup, whisk together the hot water, cocoa powder and espresso powder until smooth. Add the half-and-half and whisk until smooth.
With the mixer on low, add the flour and chocolate mixtures alternately in thirds, beginning and ending with the flour. With a rubber spatula, scrape down the bowl and ensure that the batter is well-mixed.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, smooth the top, and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan on a wire rack before frosting.
Make the Frosting: Place the chocolate, butter and espresso powder in a large bowl. Pour the cream into a small saucepan and place over medium heat until it simmers. Remove from the heat and pour it evenly over the chocolate mixture. Let stand for 1 minute, then gently stir with a rubber spatula until everything is melted and smooth. Stir in the Kahlua and vanilla extract until thoroughly combined. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Scrape down the bowl and beat the frosting with a handheld mixer on high speed for ONLY 15 to 20 seconds, until the mixture forms soft peaks (if you overbeat it, it will curdle). Immediately spread on the cake and serve. The cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to 4 days.
Note: Half and half is a common ingredient sold in the U.S. - it is a 50/50 blend of whole milk and heavy cream.Nutritional values are based on one serving