Nothing says party like cake... and for me, nothing says delicious like a homemade chocolate cake. I've used this recipe for so many years, I cannot remember where I first got it. I know it did not come from my mother because she rarely made cakes and because my father didn't like chocolate, she certainly never made a chocolate cake. I started making this cake when I was in high school for parties I'd have at my house. There may have been a bakery in our neighborhood in those days but I never went to it because we made everything from scratch. There was a time when I made 7-Minute Icing for this chocolate cake but 7-minute icing is finicky and people seem to like the chocolate on chocolate better.
Make sure to use fresh baking powder and baking soda so you get a nice, fluffy cake.
PERFECT CHOCOLATE BIRTHDAY CAKE
2 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
1 recipe Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (recipe follows)
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour three 8-inch round baking pans. (You can use Baker's Joy but I prefer the outcome using the grease-flour method)
Sift together the sugar, flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt and add it to the bowl of your mixer. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time. Add the milk, oil, and vanilla and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Remove from the stand. Stir in the boiling water (the batter will be thin). Pour the batter into the prepared pans.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Allow to cool completely before icing with the Perfect Chocolate Buttercream Frosting recipe below.
(For a sheet cake, use a 13x9x2 pan and bake for 35-40 minutes)
CHOCOLATE SWISS MERINGUE BUTTERCREAM
A Swiss buttercream is made using egg whites and not just butter (or shortening as some old recipes call for) to make it extra fluffy and lighter than a butter only buttercream. I like both but wanted to share this one-- or you can make traditional buttercream using just butter, powdered sugar, and chocolate. The one on the Hershey's Cocoa box is perfect. Can't go wrong with that!
1 pound bittersweet chocolate
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
3/4 cup egg whites (4-5 extra-large eggs), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/2 pounds unsalted butter, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Chop the chocolates and place them in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
Mix the egg whites, sugar, cream of tartar, and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Place the bowl of egg whites over the pan of simmering water and heat the egg whites until they are warm to the touch, about 5 minutes. Return the bowl to the electric mixer and whisk on high speed for 5 minutes, or until the meringue is cool and holds a stiff peak.
Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, while beating on medium speed. Scrape down the bowl, add the melted chocolate, vanilla, and mix for 1 minute or until the chocolate is completely blended in. If the buttercream seems very soft, allow it to cool, and beat it again. If you want to make it extra special or cannot get your icing to look exactly perfect, top with chocolate curls like I did in the photo above. There are easy to make.
HOW TO MAKE CHOCOLATE CURLS
Melt some chocolate using a double boiler. Remove from the heat. Take a clean baking sheet and spread a thin layer of the chocolate onto it and place it in the freezer for 5 minutes. To make the curls, use a thin metal spatula or a clean putty knife. Press the edge of the spatula under the edge of the chocolate and push it forward... the chocolate will roll up. Place on another baking sheet lined with parchment paper and put back into the freezer to firm up. When you are ready to use, simply decorate the cake as desired... also a great garnish for ice cream!