I made this cake for my brother's birthday. This was the first time I'd tried any of Beranbaum's recipes. The chocolate cake was every bit as good as she'd promised. I don't usually care for buttercreams but decided to try the milk chocolate buttercream she recommends to go with the chocolate fudge cake. Unfortunately, I still didn't like it, and it didn't go well with Cafe Johnsonia's tasty peanut butter mousse. I filled the cake with the buttercream and mousse, used some buttercream for a crumb coat, and covered the whole thing in faux buttercream.
I have to say, this is by far the ugliest cake I've ever made. It was fun to put together, though, and I learned some interesting things for next time. (For instance, I didn't know that the frosting color would continue to darken with exposure to air. By the time I got the cake to my brother, it was much darker than in these pictures.)
chocolate fudge cake (from The Cake Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum)
3 oz. unsweetened cocoa (Dutch-processed) (3/4 C + 3 TB) or 1 C nonalkalized cocoa (e.g. Hershey's)
12.5 oz boiling water (1.5 C)
3 large eggs
1.5 tsp vanilla
10.5 oz sifted cake flour (3 C)
15.25 oz light brown sugar (2 C, firmly packed)
2.25 tsp baking powder (if using nonalkalized cocoa, eliminate baking powder and use 1.25 tsp baking soda)
.75 tsp baking soda
.75 tsp salt
8 oz unsalted butter (1 C)
Preheat the oven to 350.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the cocoa and boiling water until smooth. Cool to room temperature.
In another bowl, lightly combine the eggs, 1/4 of the cocoa mixture, and vanilla.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the remaining dry ingredients and mix on low speed for 30 seconds. Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture. Mix on low speed until the dry ingredients are moistened. Increase to medium speed (high speed if using a hand mixer) and beat for 1.5 minutes to aerate and develop the cake's structure. Gradually add the egg mixture in three batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition to incorporate the ingredients and strengthen the structure. Scrape down the sides.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pans and smooth the surface with a spatula. The pans will be about 1/2 full. Bake 20-30 minutes or until a tester inserted near the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly in the center. The cakes should start to shrink from the sides of the pans only after removal from the oven.
Let the cakes cool in the pans on racks for 0 minutes. Loosen the sides with a small metal spatula and invert onto greased wire racks. To prevent splitting, reinvert so that tops are up and cool cfompletely before wrapping airtight.
Grease two 9 x 1.5" cake pans, line the bottoms with parchment or wax paper, and then regrease and flour. (If you only have 2"-high pans, either do 2/3 the recipe for 1 layer or 1 1/3 the recipe for 2 layers.)
milk chocolate buttercream (from The Cake Bible, Rose Levy Beranbaum)
1 lb milk chocolate
8 oz dark chocolate
12 oz unsalted butter (softened)
Break the chocolate into squares and place in the top of a double boiler. Set over hot but not simmering water on low heat. The water must not touch the bottom of the double boiler insert. Remove the double boiler from the heat and sitr until the chocolate begins to melt. Return to the heat if the water cools, but be careful that it does not get too hot. Stir until smooth, and cool until no longer warm to the touch. (The chocolate may be melted in a microwave oven if stirred every 15 seconds. Remove before fully melted and stir, using residual heat to complete the melting.)
In a bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixture at medium speed and beat in the cooled chocolate until uniform in color.
peanut butter mousse (from Cafe Johnsonia)
2 cups peanut butter (not natural)
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup heavy cream, chilled
Using an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and cream cheese. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until combined.
Beat the cream to soft peaks; fold into the peanut butter in two additions.