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I used to be a big fan of the dense, fudgy, flourless chocolate cake.  You know, the low, smooth, intense sliver that’s usually topped with raspberry sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.  But lately, as I mentioned last week, I’ve been more drawn to the classic layer cake, with its fluffy interior and thick layers of frosting.

Of all the great chocolate layer cakes out there, this one is my current favorite.  It manages to be both light and tender, and dark and intense, all at the same time.  The cake is fluffy and moist (using 1 1/2 cups brewed coffee), but the frosting is more like a ganache-y glaze, packed with melted chocolate.  It makes an enormous two-layer cake.  I usually cut the recipe into 1/3 and bake it in a square 8×8 pan.  That makes just enough for me and my little family to be very happy for several nights in a row of blissful dessert.

Double chocolate layer cake

Adapted from Gourmet magazine

For cake layers
* 3 ounces fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
* 1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
* 3 cups sugar
* 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
* 3 large eggs
* 3/4 cup vegetable oil
* 1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
* 3/4 teaspoon vanilla

For ganache frosting
* 1 pound fine-quality semisweet chocolate such as Callebaut
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
* 1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter

Special equipment

* two 10- by 2-inch round cake pans [This makes a LOT of batter.  Don’t use smaller pans, or they will overflow like crazy]

Preparation

Make cake layers:
Preheat oven to 300°F. and grease pans. Line bottoms with rounds of wax paper and grease paper.

Finely chop chocolate and in a bowl combine with hot coffee. Let mixture stand, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.

Into a large bowl sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another large bowl with an electric mixer beat eggs until thickened slightly and lemon colored (about 3 minutes with a standing mixer or 5 minutes with a hand-held mixer). Slowly add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and melted chocolate mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar mixture and beat on medium speed until just combined well. Divide batter between pans and bake in middle of oven until a tester inserted in center comes out clean, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes.  [If you make 1/3 batch in the 8×8 pan, bake ~ 40 minutes.]

Cool layers completely in pans on racks. Run a thin knife around edges of pans and invert layers onto racks. Carefully remove wax paper and cool layers completely. Cake layers may be made 1 day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

Make frosting:
Finely chop chocolate. In a 1 1/2- to 2-quart saucepan bring cream, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over moderately low heat, whisking until sugar is dissolved. Remove pan from heat and add chocolate, whisking until chocolate is melted. Cut butter into pieces and add to frosting, whisking until smooth.

Transfer frosting to a bowl and cool, stirring occasionally, until spreadable (depending on chocolate used, it may be necessary to chill frosting to spreadable consistency).

Spread frosting between cake layers and over top and sides. Cake keeps, covered and chilled, 3 days. Bring cake to room temperature before serving.

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