July 20, 2014

Double Dark Chocolate Cake with Black Velvet Icing

You guys, I am flipping out just a little over here right now. You know I'm a little self-conscious of my photography skills, and layer cakes are the bane of my existence. No mater what I do, they look all skeewompus, and could not for the life of me figure out how people got those PERFECT cake shots! I'd set up the shot JUST like the pictures I admired, perfect slice, perfect angle, perfect plate, perfect light... and it just didn't work. It was like the fun house mirror version, every time. That's why the cake shots you get from me look like this:

Instead of this:


Turns out, I need one of these:
Look at that lens! What a beast! My Dad was nice enough to let me play with his completely awesome camera this week, and all I had to do was stand all the way across the room (so weird), point, and click... And it was PERFECT!!! I squealed. And danced. And cried, just a little. So. Apparently I need a giant beastly lens to get cake pictures that don't look like the leaning tower of Pisa, or force me to only photograph a corner of the darn thing. Or something. I shall be lens shopping for the foreseeable future... I love my camera, despite its non-DSLR-ness, so I need to discover the equivalent lens for my camera. Should be fun! And lots cheaper than buying a new camera! I'm soooo excited. This means I am not just food-photography challenged! There is hope after all!

Double Dark Chocolate Cake with Black Velvet Icing (adapted from Alexandra Cooks)
*High altitude adjustments given in italics*
Printable Recipe

3 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee (or boiling water with 1 tsp espresso powder)
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder *See Note*
3 cups sugar (minus 3 Tb)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (plus 1-2 Tb)
2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp baking powder (skip the baking soda, use 1 1/4 tsp baking powder)
1 1/4 tsp salt
3 large eggs (4 large eggs)
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla

*Note: To get this crazy deep black color, use Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder, or dutch-procesed. However, I find that if you use ALL dark cocoa powder, it becomes bitter, so I used 1 cup dark cocoa and 1/2 cup regular cocoa.*

Preheat oven to 300 degrees (315 degrees for high altitude) and grease two 9 inch cake pans. Line the bottoms with parchment paper and lightly grease the parchment. Set aside.

Place the chopped chocolate in a medium bowl with the cocoa powder (and espresso powder, if using). Pour hot coffee/water over the chocolate and cocoa, and stir until melted and smooth. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together, and set aside.

Beat eggs until lightened in color and thickened slightly (about 3-5 minutes). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until well combined. (Test the chocolate first: if it is still hot, stir in some of the buttermilk to cool it before adding to the eggs). Add dry ingredients and beat on medium speed until just combined. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Start checking at 50 minutes, check often, and be careful not to overbake! While your cake is baking, make your awesome icing!

Black Velvet Icing:
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/3 cup powdered sugar
3 eggs, well beaten
4 Tb butter, room temperature

In a small saucepan over low heat, melt the chocolate. Add about a third of the sugar, and whisk until smooth. Add half of the beaten eggs, whisking constantly, until combined. Repeat with the next third of sugar, last half of the eggs, and remaining sugar, whisking until smooth after each addition. Stirring constantly, cook until the mixture thickens and the whisk leaves trails. Stir in the butter one tablespoon at a time. Mixture should resemble cake batter. Transfer to a bowl or pour-able measuring cup to cool.

When your cake is finished baking, transfer to wire racks and let cool completely in the pans. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

To assemble: carefully sliced the domed tops off of one or both of the cake layers. Place one layer, cut side down, on a serving plate. Spread with about half of the icing, almost to the edge. Place the other layer, flat (or cut) side down (you can leave a dome on the top layer if you'd like!) and spread the remaining icing over the top, allowing the excess to fall down the sides.
Okay, first of all, that icing. I have never in my life heard of Black Velvet icing, but it is insanely good. It's like silky smooth, no-raw-eggs, deep dark brownie batter. All those times you licked the spatula after baking brownies? Like that, but better. It's not fluffy, not super-sweet, and a little goes a long way. It's crazy good!
So if the icing is like the perfect edible brownie batter, the cake itself is the child of that brownie batter, all grown up, and the darkest chocolate cake you've ever eaten. It is dense and rich and fudgey, lightened up just enough to be called a cake. Double chocolate, with the cocoa powder AND melted chocolate, so flipping delicious! I don't drink coffee, and made this once with straight water and once with espresso powder. If you can find it, I recommend adding the espresso powder if you don't have a favorite coffee. It doesn't remotely taste like coffee, but it truly enhances the dark chocolate awesomeness.
Normally I like a higher ratio of icing to cake (and you could easily double the recipe if you want more) but this cake is perfect just like this. Decadent dark chocolate set off with just a taste of the sweet, silky icing. It's addicting. I'm totally eating some for breakfast. Apparently, my chocolate aversion has faded just enough to loooooove dark chocolate again! This is dangerous... :)


  1. April, this cake looks amazing and the photos are making me want to eat my phone! Tamie and I have always been on the fence about using coffee and espresso powder and alcohol (wine) to cook with.. I am curious to know your thoughts on that? Great job on the cake and photos!

    1. Thanks Brook! I only cook with beer/wine if the dish is going to be cooking for hours, so the actual alcohol is cooked out (or nearly). And I only bake with coffee/espresso powder if it isn't super strong. In this recipe, for example, you can't even taste the coffee, it just bumps up the chocolate flavor. Like adding vanilla, which is technically alcohol too! I used to use instant decaf, but that stuff is just nasty. :)

  2. Wow! This looks great! I'll have to try the across the room shot with my layer cakes too (I also have woes about photographing cakes). Brownie batter frosting sounds like heaven in a large spoon to me!!

    Luci’s Morsels – fashion. food. frivolity.

    1. Standing further away helps a lot, but I have to give most of the credit to that darn lens!! It's nice to know I'm not the only one who worries about my photos :)

  3. Why oh why do I have to have a husband that hates chocolate cake. Sigh. This looks to die for and your photos are fabulous! I would love to have a great camera with a fab lens like that. Just my good old point and shoot. It will have to do until I win the lottery! xxoo

    1. I feel your pain, with all desserts apple related! I just find excuses to make them for other people so that I can have some, like when we have guests or missionaries over! This cake would be perfect for an occasion like that!

  4. Oh my goodness, this cake looks amazing!! Your photographs are lovely (both the ones with and without your Dad's camera). Love the richness of this cake recipe. Will be pinning and sharing. Thank you for sharing with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  5. Can I replace vegetable oil with unsalted butter? If yes, how much butter should i use?


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