Saturday, August 25, 2012

Ben's Chocolate Cake

Pin It

One of the reasons Madame Mere came to visit us at this time of the year was to celebrate her great grandson's birthday last weekend.  I could have gone to the store to buy a cake but you know me...if I am going to put calories and wheat in this mouth it has to be for a good reason.

I had saved a recipe for a chocolate cake I had seen on the cover of Fine Cooking awhile back and I was itching to try it.  What better excuse...

The cake has some quirky steps that where a bit questionable in my mind, but I have a philosophy to always make a recipe the first time the way it is written.  Changes can come later.  As it turned out everyone, including Ben, loved it.  It is moist and gooey and everything a chocolate lover would want in a cake.  One caveat, the cake is best the second day after all its chocolateness has blended together.  Store in the refrigerator and bring out at least 3 hours before.  You want that frosting on the softer side.

The recipe includes homemade marshmallows that I skipped and instead decorated with store bought minis.  The cake has enough personality and,  in my mind, you don't need to guild the lily. Nevertheless I have included the recipe should you be so inclined.

This is a big cake that I would not make unless I had a big crowd.  My mother warned me, but I did not listen.  It was enough to feed us all, the neighbors on both sides and Madame Mere for a couple of "I don't want it to go to waste" occasions.  I ended up sending some to my daughter's office when I couldn't stand to see it another day.  Make sure you use 9 inch cake molds or you will end up, like me, with Alice's  Eat Me cake! The Mad Hatter Cake!

Madame Mere and great grandchildren
The birthday boy

 For the recipe click below

Adapted from Fine Cooking

Hot Chocolate Cake With Homemade Marshmallows

 Serves 16


For the cake
6 oz. (3/4 cup) unsalted butter; more for the pans
13-1/2 oz. (3 cups) unbleached all-purpose flour; more for the pans
3/4 cup canola oil
4-1/2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 cups granulated sugar
2-1/4 oz. (3/4 cup) natural unsweetened cocoa powder
3 large eggs, at room temperature
3/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
2 Tbs. pure vanilla extract
2-1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
For the frosting
2-1/2 cups heavy cream
3 oz. (6 Tbs.) unsalted butter
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped out
6 oz. bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 cups granulated sugar
6 oz. (2 cups) natural unsweetened cocoa powder; more for decorating
1/2 cup Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
For the marshmallows
Three 1/4-oz. envelopes unflavored powdered gelatin
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 cup plus 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar; more as needed


Make the cake
Position racks in the bottom and top thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Butter three 9x2-inch round cake pans and line each with a parchment round. Butter the parchment, then dust with flour and knock out the excess.

In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the butter, oil, chopped chocolate, and 1 cup water. Heat over medium heat until melted.

In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, and cocoa powder. Pour the hot chocolate mixture into the sugar mixture and whisk until combined.

Whisk in the eggs, one at a time, then whisk in the buttermilk, vanilla, baking soda, and salt. Divide the batter evenly among the prepared pans.

Set two pans on the top rack and the third on the lower rack. Stagger the pans on the oven racks so that no pan is directly over another. Bake, swapping and rotating the pans’ positions after 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of each cake comes out clean, 35 to 40 minutes. Cool on racks for 10 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks, remove the parchment, and cool completely.

Make the frosting
In a 4-quart saucepan over low heat, combine the cream, butter, and vanilla bean and seeds and stir until the butter is melted. Remove the vanilla bean and whisk in the chopped chocolate until melted. Whisk in the sugar, cocoa powder, syrup, and salt until smooth—be sure the cocoa powder dissolves completely. Pour into a 9x13-inch pan and freeze until firm, about 2 hours, or refrigerate overnight.

Make the marshmallows
Pour 3/4 cup cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer. Sprinkle the gelatin over the water. Attach the bowl to the mixer and fit it with the whisk attachment.

Clip a candy thermometer to a 3-quart saucepan; don’t let the tip of the thermometer touch the bottom of the pan. In the saucepan, boil the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 3/4 cup water over medium heat without stirring until it reaches 234°F to 235°F, about 10 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, pour the hot sugar mixture into the gelatin in a slow, thin stream.

Add the vanilla, carefully increase the speed to high, and beat until the mixture has thickened and cooled, about 5 minutes (the bottom of the bowl should be just warm to the touch). Line a 9x13-inch pan with foil, leaving an overhang on 2 sides. Sift 1 Tbs. of the confectioners’ sugar into the bottom of the pan, then pour the marshmallow mixture into the pan and sift another 1 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar on top. Let sit at room temperature until set, at least 2 hours.

Assemble the cake
Remove the frosting from the freezer or refrigerator. Transfer to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes to soften. Change to a whisk attachment and beat at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.

Put a cake layer on a flat serving platter or a cake stand lined with strips of waxed paper to keep it clean while icing. Top the layer with 1-1/2 cups of the frosting, spreading it evenly with an offset spatula to the cake’s edge. Repeat with another cake layer and 1-1/2 cups frosting. Top with the last cake layer.
Put 1-1/2 cups of the frosting in a small bowl. With an offset spatula, spread this frosting in a thin layer over the top and sides of the cake. Refrigerate the cake until the frosting firms enough to seal in the crumbs, 20 to 30 minutes.

Spread the remaining frosting in a smooth layer over the top and sides of the cake. If necessary, you can rewhip the remaining frosting to loosen and lighten it. Remove the waxed paper strips.

Use the foil overhang to lift the marshmallow from the pan. Using a knife that has been dipped in cold water, cut along the edge of the marshmallow to release it from the foil. Transfer to a cutting board and remove the foil.

Put the remaining 1 cup confectioners’ sugar in a medium bowl. Cut the marshmallow into cubes of different sizes, from 1/4 to 3/4 inch (you will need to continue to dip the knife in cold water as you cut the marshmallows). The marshmallows will be very sticky—dip the cut edges in the confectioners’ sugar to make them easier to handle. As you work, toss a few cubes at a time in the sugar to coat, then shake in a strainer to remove the excess. Mound the marshmallows on top of the cake (you’ll need only a third to half of them). Sift some cocoa powder over the marshmallows.

Make Ahead Tips:

You can bake, cool, wrap, and store the cake layers at room temperature for up to 1 day or freeze for up to 1 month. You can refrigerate the frosting for up to 3 days. The assembled cake can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours (return to room temperature before serving). Wrapped well, leftover marshmallows keep at room temperature for up to 1 month.


  1. Like you I always follow a recipe exactly the FIRST time -- tweaks are for the following times. Looks like a good cake and like you I would have used store marshmallows -- IF I have a special occasion, I may make this -- thanks for sharing!

  2. I'll bet it's the buttermilk that makes this cake so special. My mother who is a fantastic baker uses sour cream. That does seem to be an awful lot of chocolate considering the size of the cake.

    Your wonderful family pictures gave me a smile.
    --Road to Parnassus

  3. Chocolate---yummers!

    Your grandchildren are adorable, and what a pretty lady your mother is, too!


  4. Madame Mere is a great-grandmother??? Wow!
    She looks REALLY young! What's her secret?? For real !

  5. What a gorgeous cake and how lucky you are to have a visit from "Madame Mere!"


  6. William, Sally, Tracy,

    Madame Mere is 87 and she will bury us all for sure. She does look great and her secret is GENES.


    yes, despite all the work, it was fun.

    Martha, dearest, it is a good cake, albeit a bit troublesome.

  7. Although I much, much, much prefer homemade mashmellows to store-bought, I would break my ban for this delicious looking cake!

  8. I thought you were the Queen of Gilding the Lily! Maybe it was the champagne. The cake looks so yummy! And it's so TALL!

    What a cutie pie birthday boy--looks very happy with his cake and presents too. And a good sister to join to fun.

  9. You certainly outdid yourself! What a gorgeous cake; your Mother... wow, can't believe she's the same as age as mine. Quel difference...
    Glad you made it through the festivities!


Thank you for visiting Lindaraxa. Your comments are much appreciated.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Pin It button on image hover