Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Chocolate-Espresso Cake

This, my friends, is the stuff from which cravings are made. I started making this cake in response to weekend luscious chocolate cake cravings, which a store-bought slice from a coffeeshop just didn't satisfy. I'm hemmed and hawed all weekend -- neither one of us has a sweet tooth, we never finish an entire cake, it'll be an awful lot of work for just one plateful of pleasure... As usual with me, rationality prevailed for exactly 48 hours, then caved. And the photos in Ina Garten's "Barefoot Contessa at Home" looked so tempting...

Barefoot Contessa's Chocolate Cake
Originally uploaded by Neenabeena

Barefoot Contessa's Chocolate Cake
Originally uploaded by Neenabeena

I baked the cake on Monday, but didn't have confectioner's sugar for the icing and got distracted by that whole getting-admitted-to-the-grad-school-of-my-dreams thing. Then last night we got home bloated from Citronelle and with our heads full of Texas exit polls. So, today, finally, it happened. And it was glorious. The recipe can be found on page 165 of her cookbook or here.

I used espresso instead of normal coffee in the batter, simply because we have only a stovetop espresso maker. *insert snobbish comment about espresso vs. drip coffee in a foreign accent here* It was pretty intense, and D. wasn't too sure if that was a good thing for the first few bites. In the end, it adds an addictive extra layer of spice and complexity to an otherwise normal chocolate flavor. And the icing is great because it's not too sweet -- 1 1/4 cups of confectioner's icing instead of the usual entire box (okay, all you health foodies, you can stop gagging now. Just don't ask me how many sticks of butter went into the affair!). The cake layers were a little dry, but I'm sure languishing unwrapped in the fridge for a couple days will do that to the best of us.

But, for the record, icing a two layer cake is a BITCH. There's another reason to postpone kiddies. I inherited the cake pans from my mother, and I remember wondering at the time why she had so many. Answer: KIDDIE BIRTHDAY PARTIES!!!! AAUGH. I'm going to have nightmares, I know it. In the mean time, any tips on how to ice a cake?

So here we are, with a gi-normous, gorgeous, two layer chocolate-espresso cake, and we're going to NYC tomorrow. Not the most brilliant exposé of rationality ever, but then again the Royal We threw rationality into the wind when We decided to bake the damn thing in the first place. Does cake freeze? Maybe I'll send a third to D's colleagues, take a third to my own, and put another third in the freezer as an experiment? I'd hate to give it all away, it was so luscious...


Kevin said...

That cake looks nice and dark and chocolaty and good!

mums said...

After it is completely cooled, freeze your cake before doing the icing/frosting. Be sure to wrap it well to prevent dehydration. Frost it in a frozen state: you'll find this simplifies life considerably; there will be fewer crumbs that detach themselves and mess up your frosting/icing job. Cake defrosts easily. And yes, it refreezes well. I would do an initial quick chill to get the frosting/icing hard THEN cover it with plastic wrap. Remove plastic wrap when you take it out of the freezer. In this way, the frosting/icing does not get damaged. This idea is not mine but came out of a kiddie party book.