My son is a superhero.
Well, he was named after one. My husband has always loved Superman. He knows any fact or trivia tidbit on the comic, movies, cartoons, you name it. We were at a loss for names once we knew we were expecting a boy so we threw every one we could think of onto the table. The name Clark was naturally mentioned. I loved it. It was strong and unique...just like him. It was perfect.
He is "moving up" from Pre-K to Kindergarten and the Grande Finale was Friday. In honor of this great moment in his life, I made him a simple chocolate cake. No nuts or fancy raspberry filling. No great piping or marzipan fruits. Just chocolate on chocolate, with a hint of coffee in the frosting (He loves it, goofy kid!) It's the purest way I can show my five year old that we are so proud of him. (You know...aside from all the hugs and kisses and "just being there" kind-of-stuff.) I know I will always remember this moment. I hope when he looks back, he will always remember how proud we were; the smiles on our faces. And the cake.
Ingredients for Cake:
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for the pans
- 2 c granulated sugar
- 3/4 c cocoa powder
- 2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup buttermilk (or substitute 1 cup milk mixed with 1 Tbsp. white vinegar)
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 cup freshly brewed hot coffee
Ingredients for Chocolate Frosting:
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate baking bar
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 extra-large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
- 2 Tablespoons hot espresso (or use 1T instant coffee powder mixed with 2 tsp hot water)
Directions For Cake:
Preheat the oven to 350. Prepare two 8" round cake pans by buttering them and lining them with parchment paper. (This saves a great deal of headaches later on!) Butter the parchment paper and sprinkle a few Tablespoons of flour inside the pans. Tap the edges while rotating the pans to ensure flour coverage on the bottom and sides. Discard the excess flour. Sift together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cocoa. Pour into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Turn the mixer on low and slowly start adding the wet ingredients until just incorporated. Then while the mixer is still on, start pouring in the hot coffee. Be sure to scrape the bowl with a rubber spatula since the dry ingredients will stick. Pour the batter into the pans evenly. I use Alton Brown's tip of using a food scale to weigh the pans, ensuring the same amount in both. That way they should cook evenly. Bake for 30 minutes and test with a toothpick, which should be dry and have just a few crumbs on it when tested. Let the cakes cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then invert onto a cooling rack to let cool completely before frosting. Meanwhile, make the buttercream.
Directions For Frosting:
Place a glass bowl over a pan containing about 3 inches of simmering water. Chop the chocolate bar into smaller pieces and place in the glass bowl. Once you see it starting to melt, carefully stir with a silicone spatula (don't touch the bowl without a towel or mitt and watch out for the steam!) Once the chocolate is just about melted, set the bowl aside to cool to room temp. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a mixer, beat the butter until it's pale yellow and fluffy. Add in the yolk and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, mix in the confectioner's sugar and then chocolate. Keep the mixer on while pouring in the espresso. (Don't over whip.) Once just incorporated, turn off and assemble the cakes.
There should be more than enough buttercream to not worry about skimping on the middle layer. Also, in the past I have spread a layer of Nutella on the first layer before covering with frosting. Raspberry preserves would be great too. Get as creative as you like, but this cake is decadent enough to stand on it's own. To keep the calorie count at bay, I cut it into 16 slices, but feel free to be more generous. The superheroes in your life won't complain!
Original recipe (modified slightly) from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa at Home