Friday, May 28, 2010

Happy Birthday to Le Chef: Devil's Food Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting

Eric’s (Le Chef’s) birthday is today. I affectionately refer to Eric as “Le Chef” because he’s as old-school and meticulous about cooking technique as my LCB chef instructors were. In other words, he’s just as much a hard-ass and can be as insufferable as a French chef. Fortunately, he’s only that way in the kitchen, and otherwise, is pretty easy going. I’m not very structured in the kitchen but am uptight about everything else, so we’re a pretty well-matched pair of opposites.

I decided to make a chocolate birthday cake to celebrate his birthday. Eric’s not much for dessert and usually bypasses all sweets, but he does have a soft spot for chocolate cake. He is human, after all, and who doesn’t like chocolate cake? So, I pulled out a recipe from a class that I recently volunteered for at Central Market’s Cooking School. The Beat Divas hosted the class, called Dishin’ with the Divas, and made a Devil’s Food Cake with a chocolate ganache frosting for dessert. I didn’t actually get to taste the Divas’ cake because we had a full house and there wasn’t enough to go around, so I was hoping the recipe would turn out okay. Cakes, you may remember, are not my forté. I’m happy to report that the cake turned out just fine and is delicious. Le Chef approved and gave it high marks!

Devil’s Food Cake with Chocolate Ganache Frosting
adapted from the Beat Divas

The Divas’ recommended using Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips in their ganache. I prefer to use a fruity, dark chocolate such as Callebaut’s Tanzania 75% Origin chocolate. Also, I subbed 1 T of vanilla for their recommended 2 T of Frangelica since I don’t like alcoholic desserts. The vanilla nicely complemented the fruity dark chocolate.

15 oz dark chocolate, finely chopped
1 ½ c heavy cream
1 T vanilla

2 c all-purpose flour
1 ½ t baking soda
¾ t baking powder
¾ t salt
12 T unsalted butter, at room temp, and additional for greasing pans
2 c + 2 T sugar
¾ non-alkalized cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
2 t pure vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temp
1 ¼ c water
¼ c milk

1. Prepare the ganache before starting the cake as you will need to allow time for it to set up. Put chopped chocolate in a large, heat proof bowl. Bring the cream and vanilla to a boil in a small saucepan, remove from heat, and immediately pour over the chopped chocolate. Tilt the bowl slightly to allow the cream to settle and then allow to sit for approximately 4 minutes to melt the chocolate. When chocolate has melted, whisk the mixture until smooth. When cooled, cover with plastic wrap and allow to set up at room temperature for two hours or put in fridge to set.

2. To prepare the cake, place rack in the middle of the oven and pre-heat to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 9-inch parchment lined cake pans.

3. In a medium bowl, sift the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

4. In a mixer with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth for approximately 2 minutes. Increase the speed to medium-high and begin slowly pouring in the sugar. Continue to beat for approximately 4 minutes until light and smooth. Be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula before the addition of each of the next ingredients. Add cocoa powder and vanilla and beat at medium speed for approximately 1 minute.  With the mixer running on medium-low, add eggs, one at a time, and beat for one minute between additions.

5. Combine the water and milk in a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Remove from heat.

6. With the mixer on low speed, add in the flour mixture, approximately ¼ c at a time. Then carefully pour the hot milk and water mixture into batter. Remove the bowl from mixer.  Using a rubber spatula, combine the batter until smooth. Pour the batter in even proportions into each pan.

7. Bake cakes approximately 30-35 minutes until the center springs back when lightly touched. Cool cakes on racks for approximately 10 minutes before removing from pans. When fully cool, trim cakes to level. Spread 1/3 c of ganache frosting on top of one cake layer and then place the other cake layer on top. Frost sides and top to fully cover. 


  1. @ Ashleigh- thanks! I checked out your blog as well. Your daughter is beautiful. And so are your enchiladas- I'm going to give your recipe a try. Honey sounds like a wonderful and unusual addition to enchiladas.

    @ Gabriel- Le Chef says thanks. Wish your mother a Happy Birthday for us. I hope you enjoy the cake!