Sometimes I have a hard time deciding what kind of cake to make for someone’s birthday. Maybe they would want something fun and adventurous, or maybe they like classic flavors but I want to liven it up a bit. But sometimes it’s all about an over-the-top decadent chocolate cake. Something along the lines of a brownie base with a chocolate cake top, filled with chocolate mousse and covered in chocolate ganache. Even people who claim they don’t overly love chocolate cake rave about this one!
My boss made this decision easy. After making this cake for her last year, she’s made it extremely clear how much she loves this cake. How do I know it’s her absolute favorite cake?
There are several steps to this cake, but it all goes by really fast. First, you’ll want to start out by making the brownie base and chocolate cake layer. Though her recipe calls for you to bake both at the same time, I decided to use my springform pan for the cake layer. Since my round cake pans are sloped, I knew from past experience that the cake would end up uneven and no amount of ganache can fix that. Trust me, I tried!
Since I was commissioned to make this cake for a weekday party, I decided to get started on it early. I baked both layers on Sunday night and placed them in the fridge. Make sure you properly cover your cakes and remove anything offensive, like onions! (Remember my cherry-vanilla cake? Although I cling wrapped my leftover slices, onions made a lasting impression on a couple of slices. Onion-cherry cake anyone?)
Once the layers are baked, you can start on the chocolate mousse filling. This tastes exactly like chocolate whipped cream and would probably make a really yummy sundae topping, though I know nothing about that! *whistle*
Once the mousse is ready and the layers have cooled, it’s time to assemble!
Trim the top of your cake layer, if needed. And don’t throw out the cake remnants! These are wonderful with ice cream and a little of that chocolate mousse I said I knew nothing about making a really good sundae topping!
Spread the mousse on the brownie layer using an offset spatula, then top with the cake layer (place it upside down for a flat surface). Chill it for at least an hour and then release it from the springform pan. (“Be free, cake – be free!”)
While the assembled cake is chilling out in the fridge, the chocolate ganache can be made since you’ll want it to come up to room temperature before spreading. I, personally, hate working with the stuff. It tastes wonderful, but I’m one of those people that likes their cakes to look smooth. To make less of a mess, I decided to place the cake on a wire rack so that the excess could fall through. This worked wonderfully but you’ll have to be careful lifting it off. Since the brownie layer was still cold, I had no issues, but I can’t guarantee the same success for everyone.
Once the ganache is spread, stick your cake back in the fridge and clean up the chocolate mess you’ve made. Or maybe you’re neater than I am and don’t have it all over your hands and counter!
The recipe has you reserve a cup of the ganache to use for a piped border and rosettes. I opted not to do this as I failed miserably the first time I made this cake. Ganache and I just do not get along! I still reserved a cup, though you could easily use it to make a thicker layer on the cake. For as much as I felt like I used, it would have been fine with a bit thicker of a layer. What did I use my cup of reserved ganache for, you might ask? Well, I can yet again attest to not knowing how great it tastes on ice cream. *ahem*
This was the third time I’ve made this cake and I can honestly agree with it’s creator that while the instructions seem intimidating, the recipe is surprisingly easy and straightforward. The dark chocolate makes for a rich and decadent flavor – and the most important part is that it tastes heavenly! Plus, if you reserve your cake trimmings, a little mousse, and a couple tablespoons of the ganache, you can make one sinfully awesome sundae to enjoy while your cake is chilling in the fridge! (But again, that’s just my guess! *cough*)
Chocolate Overdose Cake
Adapted from: Confections of a Foodie Bride
Makes a 9-inch round cake
5/8 cup (1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons) (72 grams) (cake flour
1/4 teaspoon (2 grams) salt
1/2 teaspoon (2.5 grams) baking powder
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 chunks
1 & 1/8 cups (1 cup + 2 tablespoons) (225 grams) sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons (8 grams) vanilla
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 cup hot water
7/8 cup (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) (175 grams) sugar (split into 1/4 cup [50 grams] and 5/8 cup [125 grams])
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
7/8 cup (1 cup minus 2 tablespoons) (109 grams)unbleached, all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon (4 grams) baking soda
1/2 teaspoon (4 grams) salt
1/2 cup buttermilk (or 1/2 tablespoon vinegar + scant 1/2 cup milk if you make your own)
1 teaspoon (4 grams) vanilla
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into half-ounce pieces
1 & 7/8 cups (2 cups minus 2 tablespoons) heavy cream
1 tablespoon (13 grams) sugar
1 & 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
18 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into half-ounce pieces
To make the chocolate cake layer:
1. Preheat oven to 325-degrees F.
2. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round springform pan with parchment and spray bottom and sides with baking spray.
3. Combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in a medium heatproof bowl. Set the bowl over a saucepan containing 1-inch of simmering water and stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted (about 2 minutes). Once melted, add 1/4 cup sugar to the chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy (1-2 minutes). Remove the bowl from heat and set aside to cool.
4. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Set aside.
5. Combine the buttermilk and vanilla in a small bowl and set aside.
6. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whisk the eggs and an egg yolk on medium-low speed until combined (about 10 seconds). Add remaining sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color (about 2 to 3 minutes).
7. Replace the whisk with a paddle attachment. Add the cooled chocolate mixture to the egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated (about 30-45 seconds), pausing to scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Add the softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing for about 10 seconds after each addition.
8. Add about one-third of the flour mixture followed by half of the buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds). Repeat using half of the remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the remaining flour mixture. Mix at medium-low speed until the batter is thoroughly combined (about 15 seconds). Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the batter once or twice with a rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.
9. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth to the edges of the pan with an offset spatula.
10. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool the cake in the pan for 15 minutes, then invert onto a wire rack and cool completely.
To make the brownie base:
1. Preheat oven to 325-degrees F. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom and line the sides of a 9-inch springform pan and spray with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Whisk to combine the flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Set aside.
3. Melt the chocolate and butter in a large heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in the microwave, heat the butter and chocolate in a large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments. Do not let chocolate burn!)
4. When the chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove the bowl from the saucepan and gradually whisk in the sugar. Add the eggs one at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in the vanilla. Add the flour mixture in two additions, folding with a rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.
5. Transfer the batter to the prepared pan. Using a small offset spatula, spread the batter evenly and smooth the surface. Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached (about 25-30 minutes). Cool on a wire rack to room temperature (about 1 hour). Do not remove the springform ring or parchment collar.
To make the chocolate mousse:
1. Place the bowl of a stand mixer and the whisk attachment in the freezer or fridge.
2. Heat 1-inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place the semisweet chocolate in the top half of the double boiler and tightly cover the top with cling wrap and allow to heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate to a stainless steel bowl and set aside until needed.
3. Place the heavy cream and sugar in the well-chilled bowl and attach the well-chilled whisk attachment to the mixer. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form (about 1 1/2 minutes).
4. Remove the bowl and by hand, whisk to combine 1/4 of the whipped cream into the melted chocolate until smooth and completely incorporated. Add the chocolate mixture to the remaining whipped cream and use a rubber spatula to fold together.
To make the chocolate ganache:
1. Heat the heavy cream and butter in a 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil.
2. Place the semisweet chocolate in a stainless steel or glass bowl. Pour the boiling cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 5 minutes. Stir until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of the ganache and chill for 1 hour. The remaining ganache should be brought to room temperature (about 40 minutes).
1. Spread the mousse over the top of the brownie base evenly. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to smooth the top.
2. Place the cake round over the mousse, pressing down lightly. Chill for at least 1 hour.
3. Carefully remove the springform ring and parchment collar. Use a spatula to smooth the room temperature ganache over the cake top and sides, covering evenly.
4. Cut the cake with a hot, dry knife. Serve chilled and store leftovers in the fridge.
To make the rosettes and border (optional):
Place the chilled ganache into a piping bag fitted with a #18 tip and pipe a shell border around the base. Replace with tip #1M and pipe 12-16 rosettes around the top of the cake to indicate servings.