{the best chocolate cake ever}

{chocolate cake} by {how sweet life is}

Recipe courtesy of the lovely Ina Garten aka the Barefoot Contessa

“This is the most fabulous chocolate cake that I’ve ever made,” says Ina Garten, host of Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa. “It’s so easy and so moist and light. There’s buttermilk and a cup of coffee in the batter! The frosting is just buttercream and a little coffee.”

I made this cake for Victor’s birthday this year, and I don’t think he will ever let me make another cake again.  It was, by far, his favorite cake ever!  I plan to make this again for our Thanksgiving dinner, so I thought it would be nice to share the recipe again for those looking for non-traditional dessert ideas this year.

Double-Chocolate Layer Cake

For the Cake:
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk*
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
For the Frosting:
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon instant coffee granules
*If you do not have buttermilk, make your own:  Pour 1/2 tablespoon vinegar into a liquid measuring cup, and top off to the 1/2 cup line with whole milk.  Let stand for 5 minutes before using.  Voila!*
Make the Cake:
1.  Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line them with parchment paper; butter the paper. Dust the pans with flour, tapping out any excess.
2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, mix the flour with the sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt at low speed. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk with the oil, eggs and vanilla. Slowly beat the buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients until just incorporated, then slowly beat in the hot coffee until fully incorporated.
3.  Pour the batter into the prepared pans. Bake for 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert the cakes onto a rack to cool completely. Peel off the parchment paper.
Make the Frosting:
1.  In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the chocolate at high power in 30-second intervals, stirring, until most of the chocolate is melted. Stir until completely melted, then set aside to cool to room temperature.
2.  In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter at medium speed until pale and fluffy. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, scraping down the side of the bowl. At low speed, slowly beat in the confectioners’ sugar, about 1 minute.
3.  In a small bowl, dissolve the instant coffee in 2 teaspoons of hot water. Slowly beat the coffee and the cooled chocolate into the butter mixture until just combined.
Assemble Your Cake:
1.  Set a cake layer on a plate with the flat side facing up.
2.  Evenly spread one-third of the frosting over the cake to the edge.
3.  Top with the second cake layer, rounded side up. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and side of the cake. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing.

{cake assembly in progress} by {how sweet life is}

Make Ahead Tip:  The frosted cake can be refrigerated for 2 days.  Let stand for 1 hour before serving.
{Happy Baking!}
xo
~the sweetest mami~
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Featured Recipe: Pina Colada Cupcakes

Pina Colada Cupcakes by Sweetest Creations

I’m ready. I’ve been baking cupcakes for a while now, and am now ready to take it to the next level. Inspiration: the Food Network’s Barefoot Contessa meets the lovely Martha Stewart. Hey, why not, right?

I would say I started baking cupcakes because they are the easiest (mess-free) way to serve a group without having to deal with the whole ‘cut and serve’ process that comes with a traditional cake.  My favorite cupcake (so far) is my coconut cupcake, and I love it so much I needed to see if I could make it better…which I did, when I decided to add pineapples to it –this idea turned out to be a huge hit — and thus was born my first original creation: the pina colada cupcake.

My mantra when it comes to cupcakes is to keep it simple, keep it pretty, and keep it sweet!  I am going to start playing with some new flavors now, as well as continue to refine the flavors I’ve made in the past — chocolate ganache, carrot cake, vanilla, and of course coconut!  I’m excited to explore new ideas for inspiration, from my newest cook book ‘Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes’.  I just got this for my birthday from my oh-so-thoughtful husband.

I hope you enjoy sharing this journey with me, as well as an actual cupcake here and there from my many future batches.  I look forward to expanding my collection under Sweet Creations– my new sweets venture.

{happy baking}

xo

~the sweetest mami~

Pina Colada Cupcake Recipe

Ingredients

  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 extra-large eggs at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons pure almond extract
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk {no buttermilk? no worries! see substitution below}
  • 2 cups sweetened, shredded coconut
  • 1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped finely

For the frosting:

  • 1 pound (2 oz bars) cream cheese at room temperature
  • 3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 3 cups confectioners’ (aka powdered) sugar, sifted

Directions

Before you begin, prepare your mise en place:

  1. Set aside all ingredients that need to be used at room temperature — butter, eggs, and cream cheese
  2. Sift your ingredients– (1) flour, with baking powder, baking soda, and salt; (2) confectioners’s sugar
  3. Prepare your muffin tin/cupcake pan — line with cupcake liners
  4. Make your own buttermilk, if using substitution [see below]

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and mix well.

In 3 parts, alternately add the sifted flour mixture and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold in 1/2 of the coconut and all of the fresh pineapple.

Fill each liner to the top with batter. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until the tops are brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove to a baking rack and cool completely.

Meanwhile, make the frosting:

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, on low speed, cream together the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla and almond extracts. Add the confectioners’ sugar and mix until smooth.

Set aside the remaining 1/2 cup shredded coconut in a shallow bowl.  Frost the cupcakes and top with coconut, by ‘dipping’ each cupcake into the bowl of coconut until covered completely.  Sprinkle the remaining coconut onto the cupcakes once they’ve been transferred to your serving platter or dish.

Enjoy!

Buttermilk Ingredients:

  • Milk (just under one cup)
  • 1 Tablespoon white vinegar or lemon juice

Preparation:

1. Place a Tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup.

2. Add enough milk to bring the liquid up to the one-cup line.

3. Let stand for five minutes.