Thursday, February 14, 2008

Coffee-Frosted Chocolate Cake

Tuesday, I had to bake. I really wanted to try making a cake from scratch, so I pulled out a random cookbook from our collection and flipped to the dessert section. The cookbook I was using was 1,001 Low-Fat Vegetarian Recipes, by Sue Spitler and Linda R. Yoakam. The recipe: Coffee-frosted Chocolate Cake.

Unfortunately, I was almost out of unsweetened cocoa powder, and the weather on Tuesday was pretty miserable. I didn't feel like trekking a mile to the grocery store through wet, icy snow; nor did I feel like scraping the 4-5 inches of snow and ice from my car to make the journey on slick, congested roads full of panicky drivers. Since the CVS right across the street from my apartment didn't carry cocoa powder, I almost gave up. But then I decided that the need to bake was strong: so I bought a bar of Lindt 85% dark chocolate, which I melted down as a supplement to the 2 TBSP of cocoa powder that I did have.

The results were lackluster, in my opinion. The cake was kind of dry (i.e., required lots of milk for washing down), even with the addition of the melted chocolate. Luckily, I was helped in eating most of it by my friends at Tuesday night coffee at Oh Yeah!. They all seemed to enjoy it, so maybe I'm just picky.

Eventually, I want to make the most delectable cake on the planet. I'm just not sure how to go about experimenting. So hopefully I'll find a good cookbook that will help me along a little.

I've adapted the recipe's instructions to be a little more enlightening.

Coffee-Frosted Chocolate Cake

1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk

1 TBSP instant coffee granules
1 TBSP hot water
2 cups confectioner's sugar
2-3 TBSP milk

Preheat oven to 350˚F. In a large bowl, cream the sugar and butter with an electric handmixer until fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Add in the vanilla extract (if substituting melted chocolate, add that in as well, making sure it's not too hot), and mix until incorporated.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Slowly mix with a spatula about 1/3 of the flour mixture with the wet ingredients. Then mix in 1/3 cup of milk. Repeat this alternating process until all the dry ingredients and milk are just incorporated. Do not over-mix.

Divide the batter between two 8-inch round cake pans that are greased and floured. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean. Cool completely (on wire racks if you like).

To make the frosting, dissolve the coffee in the hot water. Using an electric handmixer, slowly add the confectioner's sugar, then add enough milk to smooth out the consistency.

Frost the cake with the frosting (or just drizzle it on, like I did because I used too much coffee).