How to make the perfect chocolate cake:
- Purchase Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh’s new cookbook, Sweet. This cookbook is a work of art. Alluring exotic fruits and colors splash and ripple across each page, but if you are not in the mood for a fruit dessert, you might be in the mood for the dark and stormy richness of a divine chocolate cake.
- In the “Cakes” section, find the “Take-Home” chocolate cake. You’ll choose this as soon as you see the swirls of ganache and beautifully cracked-crisp top.
- Make it and be transported into chocolate paradise.
Well, there may be a few more steps than that…but really, the picture of this cake was so beautiful that when we turned to it, we knew we were baking it that night. It is as close to perfect as you can get.
The recipe starts with a chocolate cake baked in a 9-inch springform pan. The result is hearty slices of cake with the ease of a single-layer cake. In fact, the batter is quite simple too, requiring no fussy steps nor foreign ingredients.
The cake itself is undoubtedly chocolate velvet! It’s rich and tender and somewhat light but holds itself together neatly once sliced. It has a rich, deep chocolate flavor (thanks to both dark chocolate and Dutch-process cocoa powder) but isn’t overwhelming or too heavy. The cake is then topped with a layer of silky ganache. To cut through the richness, the cookbook suggests serving it with a dollop of espresso cinnamon mascarpone cream. We loved the mascarpone cream, but think vanilla ice cream or regular whipped cream would be equally tasty and still provide balance. You’ll want to bring any leftovers of this cake home with you after upcoming holiday gatherings (if there are leftovers…)!
Take-Home Chocolate Cake
Makes 1 generous 9-in. cake, serving 10-12
For the cake:
- 1 cup plus 1 1/2 tablespoons/250 grams unsalted butter (2 sticks plus 1 1/2 tablespoons), softened to room temperature and cut into 3/4-in. cubes
- 7 ounces/200 grams dark chocolate(70 percent cocoa solids), chopped into small pieces
- 1½ teaspoons instant coffee granules, dissolved in 1 1/2 cups boiling water (we used instant espresso powder prepared according to directions and found it suitable)
- 1¼ cups/250 grams granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1¾ cups plus 2 tablespoons/240 grams self-rising flour
- ⅓ cup/30 grams Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
For the chocolate ganache:
- 7 ounces/200 grams dark chocolate (70% chocolate), chopped roughly into small pieces
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
For the espresso cinnamon mascarpone cream:
- 1½ cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- ¾ cup/190 grams mascarpone cheese
- Seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean
- 2½ teaspoons finely ground espresso (we used 2 tsp. instant espresso)
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2½ tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit/170 degrees Celsius. Grease a 9-inch/23-centimeter round springform pan with butter and line with parchment paper, then set aside.
For the cake:
Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a 9-inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place butter, chocolate and hot coffee in a large heatproof bowl and mix until everything has melted together and is smooth. Whisk in sugar until dissolved. Whisk in eggs and vanilla extract until combined. Sift cocoa powder and salt together into the bowl and whisk; then sift in flour and whisk. The batter should be liquidy.
Pour batter into the springform pan and bake for about 1 hour, until the cake is cooked and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean or with only a couple dry crumbs attached. The top will form a nice crust and crack a bit. Leave the cake to cool in the pan for 20 minutes before removing it from the pan, then set on a wire rack to completely cool.
For the ganache:
Place chocolate pieces in a food processor, process until pretty fine and set aside. Combine cream and corn syrup in a small saucepan and warm over medium-high heat. As soon as bubbles begin to appear (just before boiling), remove from the heat. With the food processor running and the chocolate still inside, pour in the hot cream in a steady stream. Process for 10 seconds, and then add butter. Process until the mixture is shiny and smooth.
Use a spatula to move the ganache into a bowl. You can either pour over the ganache now so that it forms a thin layer over the cake. Or, for a spreadable ganache, cover it with plastic wrap so that the plastic wrap touches the top of the ganache, and let it sit for room temperature for 2 hours.
For the cream and serving the cake:
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat all of the ingredients for the mascarpone cream together for 1-2 minutes, until soft peaks form.
Peel the parchment from the bottom of the cake and transfer it to a serving platter. Spread ganache over the top and cut the cake into wedges, serving mascarpone cream on the side.
The cake will keep for four-five days.