I started with Ina Garten's recipe for Double Layer Chocolate Cake from Food & Wine. We decided that what we wanted was a really dark almost black cake, so I used Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa. The cup of strong black coffee helps with the color and enhances the chocolate flavor. You really don't taste the coffee flavor at all.
So, actually our first attempt was a FAIL. The center didn't rise and it couldn't be torted, it turned out pretty ugly. But it was a test cake anyway so we had to force feed it to the children. They cried, please don't make us eat chocolate cake for breakfast again!
I spent about 5 hours reading up on the science of cakes. Who knew that cakes involve actual science and can succeed or fail from just a slight mis-measurement? I finally decided that our problem could be one of about a few dozen reasons, which I narrowed down to either over beating, oven temperature, pan size (I used 9" instead of the 8" the recipe calls for) altitude or something else. Ina lives on the east coast and we are about one mile higher than that. So I just took a stab at adjusting a few things.
I assembled the ingredients again and this time I added one egg, reduced the sugar by 3 Tbl and reduced the baking powder by 1/4 tsp. I also took care to mix only until the ingredients were incorporated.
The layers came out nice and even this time. Yay!
We decided on Rose Levy Beranbaum's ganache recipe for filling and frosting. But we whipped it to make it soft and fluffy. One bag of bittersweet and one bag of semi-sweet and almost a quart of heavy cream. It was a LOT of chocolate and this process requires a lot of tasting to be sure you have it right. It was also messy and required a lot of hot water and cleaning the food processor several times. Yuck.
K was going to post this picture with her entry to prove that the cake was actually homemade. But I guess I was in a chocolate coma by the time we finished it and couldn't get the pics uploaded last night.
The final version with swirls and chocolate curls looked like a sure winner to us.
Ahhh, but we didn't win. Perhaps it was just too decadent. Some people confided that they did not to vote for it because they believed it was bought from a bakery. And I guess some people are just not choco-holics if you can even believe that!!!
And the winner of the spa gift card was... I am not lying here... something that involved graham crackers, vanilla pudding and cool whip and cherry pie filling. But I heard it WAS really good.