Every once in a while, after a super savory supper, I get a serious craving for something chocolate; deep, dark, chocolate, in the form of a cookie or cake, brownie or bar, something to satisfy the strongest of cravings. Chocolate is the quintessential treat to me, and when it’s baked into a decadent dessert, I have a great excuse to have a huge hunk of it. A huge hunk of pure chocolate? Seems excessive and like a no-good idea, but baked into layers of flour, butter, sugar and vanilla, a thick slice sounds like just what the doctor ordered. That’s horrific logic if I’ve ever heard it, but it works for me!
This cake was the product of one of those craving-filled evenings, when I had a craving in the worst way and wanted something sinful and indulgent to cure it. I pulled out one of my cookbooks that I hadn’t used in forever, The Art and Soul of Cooking, and quickly came upon this recipe for Velvet Chocolate Cake. I’d never heard of such a thing except with “Red” in the title, so I was pretty intrigued, and wondered where the name came from. It only took one bite of the finished cake to figure it out.
The cake is really easy to make, and uses cocoa powder which I think is 100 times better than chopped chocolate in a recipe. The flavor, to me, is much more authentic chocolate, with less sugar and additives to muddy the flavor. It uses basic ingredients that you’d generally have in your pantry already, and simple techniques to assemble. I didn’t have any cream on hand to make a ganache for the top, so I made a simple chocolate glaze, and it’s slightly sweeter and satiny texture really complemented the rich chocolate cake.
The delicate crumb on this cake is what lends the velvety texture, and gives the cake it’s intriguing name. Unlike red velvet cake which is often fluffier and has a larger crumb, this cake is extremely dense and not crumbly at all, but still very moist. It has such a wonderful, almost soothing chocolate flavor – I think it could heal even the worst of days. It’s like a best friend who’s known you forever, and can cater to your every need. It’s dangerously easy to eat, as a snack, along with a cup of coffee, after dinner heated up with a bowl of ice cream… seriously bad news, or good depending on how you look at it!
If you this this cake sounds amazing (which it is), you have a chance to WIN IT! From January 22nd through January 28th, Amanda of Kitchen Misfit is running a virtual bake sale through her blog to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society – a cause near and dear to her heart, that she is supporting by running the BOSTON MARATHON this April! Please check out her blog and her bake sale, and support a great blogging friend and member of our local blogging community!
Check out the items for bid here starting January 22nd.
If you’re interested in donating straight to the cause, you can check out Amanda’s donation page here.
Chocolate Velvet Pound Cake
adapted from The Art and Soul of Baking
1 ½ sticks (170g) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ¼ cups sugar
1 teaspoon water, at room temperature
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder, such as Medaglia d’Oro
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
½ cup unsifted unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
¼ teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
½ cup buttermilk, at room temperature
Preheat the oven to 350°F and position an oven rack in the center. Lightly coat an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan with butter then coat with flour, tapping out the excess. (I used a bundt pan but the cake came out small, so I’d probably try individual bundts or a loaf pan next time.)
1) Place the butter and sugar in the bowl of the stand mixer and beat on medium-high until light—almost white—in color, 4 to 5 minutes. You can also use a hand mixer and a medium bowl, although you may need to beat the mixture a little longer to achieve the same results. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
2) In the small bowl, stir together the water and espresso powder until smooth. Add the eggs and beat to blend. With the mixer running on medium, add the eggs to the butter mixture about 1 tablespoon at a time, allowing each addition to blend in completely in before adding the next. About halfway through, turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl, then continue adding the eggs. Scrape down the bowl again.
3) Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into the medium bowl and whisk to blend. With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add the flour mixture and the buttermilk alternately, beginning with one-third of the flour mixture and half of the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk, ending with the flour. Scrape down the bowl and finish blending the batter by hand, if necessary. The batter should be smooth and satiny, with no lumps.
4) Scrape the batter into the prepared baking pan and smooth the top. Bake for 45 to 55 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer to a rack to cool completely. When cool, remove from the pan, peel off the parchment paper, and serve.