Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake and Frosting

Let’s face it, a nice creamy chocolate cake does a lot for a lot of people; it does for me.  – Audrey Hepburn

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Layer Cake
Cooks Illustrated All-Time Best Recipes, David Pazmino

Note: Don’t make the frosting until the cakes are cooled, and use the frosting as soon as it is ready.  If the frosting gets too stiff to spread easily, wrap the mixer bowl with a towel soaked in hot water adn mix on low speed until the frosting is creamy and smooth.  Refrigerated leftover cake should sit at room temperature before serving until the frosting softens.

12 Tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, very soft, plus extra for greasing pans
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting pans
4 oz unsweetened chocolate, coarsley chopped
1/4 cup dutch-processed cocoa powder
1/2 cup hot water
1 3/4 C sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
4 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat to 350 degrees.  Grease two 9-inch round by 2 inch high cake pans with butter; dust pans with flour and knock out excess.  Combine chocolate, cocoa powder, and hot water in medium heatproof bowl; set bowl over saucepan containing 1 inch of simmering water and stir with rubber spatula until chocolate ins melted, about 2 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup sugar to chocolate and stir until glossy, 1-2 minutes.  Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl.  Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl.  In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds.  Add remaining 1 1/4 C sugar, increase speed to high, and whis until fluffy and lightened in color, 2-3 minutes.  Replace whisk with paddle attachment.  Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30-45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed.  Add softened butter 1 tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition.  Add about 1/3 of flour mixture; followed by half of buttermilk mixture mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds.)   Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture (batter may appear separated.) Scrape down sides of bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds.  Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour.  Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans; smooth batter to edges of pan with spatula.

Bake cakes until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, 25-30minutes.  Cool cakes in pans 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack.  Cool cakes to room temperature before frosting, 45-60 minutes.

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Frosting
Cooks Illustrated Best Recipes Issue, 12/09

16 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I measured 16oz chocolate chips on a kitchen scale, it’s a teeny bit more than 2 1/2 cups.)
8 Tbs (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tbs corn syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp table salt
1 1/4 cups cold heavy cream

Melt Chocolate in heatproof bowl set over a saucepan containing 1 inch of barely simmering water, stirring occasionally until smooth.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Meanwhile, heat butter in small saucepan over medium-low heat until melted.  Increase heat to medium; add sugar, corn syrup, vanilla, and salt and stir with heatproof rubber spatula until sugar is dissolved, 4-5 minutes.  Add melted chocolate, butter mixture, and cream to clean bowl of stand mixer and stir to thoroughly combine.
Place mixer bowl over ice bath and stir mixture constantly with rubber spatula until frosting is thick and just beginning to harden against sides of bowl, 1-2 minutes (frosting should be 70 degrees).  Place bowl on stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment and beat on medium-high speed until frosting is light and fluffy, 1-2 minutes.  Stir with rubber spatula until completely smooth.  *If you find after beating, your frosting is still too soft for your liking, try chilling in the fridge until it sets up a little more.

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