I’m not really a chocolate person. Of course I’ve always gobbled up all the chocolate candy bars from my trick-or-treating loot every Halloween, but when faced with a choice for anything else–ice cream, cake, pudding, milkshakes, cookies–you name it–I would rather have vanilla or strawberry or caramel. Give me a flan or panna cotta or crème brûlée or New York-style cheesecake over chocolate cake any day. I do like chocolate in candy bars, but I prefer white chocolate over milk or dark, and white stuff isn’t even really chocolate anyway. I always found chocolate cake a bit too dry for my liking.
However, that all changed last November when I went to Vapiano Sihlcity for dinner. My companion ordered their Death by Chocolate cake for dessert, and it didn’t look like much but tasted really dense and decadent. Being the thrifty person that I am, I started wondering if it was something I could replicate myself at home.
Internet searches for “death by chocolate” revealed different types of cakes, but I finally found a picture of one that kind of looked like what we ate at Vapiano. I didn’t have the proper baking pan that the recipe called for, so I tried to make do using the KONCIS baking dish from IKEA. This gave me some problems down the line because I couldn’t cut the cake cross-wise in half properly to stack on top of each other and frost. So I just tried to cut the cake in half and stack the two halves on top of each other, forming an awkward rectangular shape. As the cake didn’t bake evenly, the corners were kind of sunken in (or missing), and that made for a non-existent edge to adhere frosting to. I tried to fill in the gaps the best I could, as the frosting dripped down all over the place and formed weird holes on the sides of the cake.
But despite the ugly appearance of the cake, it turned out D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S! Super yummy and moist, the cake was very rich and decadent. This was probably the best-tasting cake I’ve ever eaten in my life.
Shortly afterwards, I decided to make this cake again for a dinner party. This time, I borrowed a larger cake tin from another friend to get the proper round shape. However, I faced another problem when trying to slice the cake in half… it was too thin to slice easily! I didn’t have regular unwaxed dental floss, which I think is the recommended method for slicing cakes? So I just used the largest knife I had, which was a bread knife. I suppose the proper way was to measure and mark the cake with toothpicks for even cuts, but I couldn’t be bothered with that. Freeform sawing through that puppy caused uneven layers, so I ended up with a hole in the top of the cake where my knife skills went awry.
I tried to patch up the cake the best I could, using broken pieces that had fallen off during the sawing process. Then I stacked the layers on top of each other and topped everything with a generous amount of frosting. When it dried, it actually looked presentable enough to bring to the dinner party, and the guests where none the wiser. 😉
So here it is, folks… the recipe for the best chocolate cake on earth, courtesy of cacaoweb. I pretty much followed the recipe but also added some rum. But I kept forgetting to add it to the cake batter before baking, so I ended up pouring in the Havana Club straight into the frosting both times. I’m not really fond of alcohol in my desserts, but I think the rum actually enhanced the taste of the cake here. Even my friend who doesn’t like alcohol in her cakes also found the taste pleasant and not too strong.
Death By Chocolate
Yield: 12 servings.
- 8 oz (225 g) dark semisweet chocolate (40-50% cocoa)
- 2/3 cup (140 g) butter
- 1 cup (210 g) sugar
- 4 eggs
- 4 heaped tablespoons (1 dl) all-purpose flour
- 4 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1½ teaspoon baking powder or 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 tablespoons sour cream
- Optional: 3 tablespoons of rum
Ingredients for frosting
- 2/3 cup (1.6 dl) heavy cream or whipping cream
- 9 oz (260 g) semisweet chocolate (40-50% cocoa)
- Preheat oven to 350 deg F (Gas mark 4 or 180 deg C).
- Line a circular 10 inch (25 cm) cake tin (3 inches tall) with grease proof or other non-stick paper and grease the tin. (Please note that the cake will rise to 3 inches and collapse somewhat when cooled. If your cake tin is less than 10 inches wide and 3 inches tall we recommend that you use two cake tins.)
- Break the chocolate into small pieces and melt it with butter over hot water.
- Beat the eggs with sugar, mix with flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and vanilla extract.
- Slowly fold in the melted butter and chocolate and the sour cream. Add the rum here if you are using it.
- Bake at 350 degrees until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 40 to 50 minutes (if using 2 cake tins 20-30 minutes may be enough).
- Cool the cake completely. When it has obtained room temperature place it in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes before removing the cake from the tin (the cake is sticky and difficult to cut when it is warm!) Remove the crusted surface on the top of the cake, and cut in half, horizontally.
- Heat 2/3 cup (1.6 dl) of heavy cream or whipping cream in a sauce pan.
- Remove from heat, add 9 oz (260 g) of finely chopped dark semisweet chocolate, stir until smooth, and let it cool until in thickens.
- Use one 1/3 of the frosting between the two layers, 1/3 on top, and the rest around the cake. Put the cake into the fridge for one hour or more to harden the frosting.
- Serve at room temperature.