UPDATE: For those who asked for a picture, I made another one of these over the holiday weekend as a birthday cake for my bestie and my niece. I also made two batches of the frosting. I put Batch #1 between the layers, then refrigerated the cake while I made Batch #2, then frosted the outside. Then I chilled the whole cake in the fridge for about an hour. Scruuumptious!
Full disclosure to start: I got this recipe from Hershey’s website, hershey.com – they call it “Hershey’s ‘Especially Dark’ Chocolate Cake,” and it’s a perfectly coherent and usable recipe. I’ve just added my usual goofiness in the hopes that it will make the actual execution easier for any kitten who decides to give it a try – learn from my pain, darlings, learn from my pain.
The Evil Genius and I were blessed this past weekend with a visit from two of my beloved aunts from out of town, Kathy from Florida and Neina from Maryland. Magnolia that I am, I always put a cake on the cake dish when we have overnight company, but for them, I wanted to make something really spectacular. I think this fit the bill nicely. I wish I had taken a picture, but it didn’t hang around long enough. It’s so chocolate, it’s almost black, and within 24 hours, it was gone, baby, gone. The next time I make it, which will be soon, I’ll try to restrain myself and the EG long enough to take a snapshot.
This uses a very specific product – Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa. Ordinarily I’m all for grabbing the type or brand of ingredient you like best, but not this time. Unless there’s another brand of super duper ridiculously dark cocoa on the market I don’t know about, this will only work in these proportions with this particular variety of Hershey’s. You don’t have to worry about being left with a bunch of cocoa; this uses most of the can, and you’re going to start craving another one of these cakes as soon as the first one is gone anyway.
One last note: You’re gonna want a mixer for this. Mine is a good hand mixer, and it worked just fine. (Trust me, prairie princess; you don’t want to stir this by hand.)
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk (I used 2%, and it worked just fine)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup of boiling water
1/2 cup butter or margarine (1 stick)
2/3 cup Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa
3 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup milk (again, I used 2% and noticed no ill effects)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions for cake:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and put water on to boil. Grease and flour two 9-inch round cake pans. (I used a spray with flour in it because I’m lazy and uncoordinated.)
With a wooden spoon, stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer for two minutes. (Having made a lot of scratch cakes, I was amazed that you could just dump everything in like you would with a cake mix, but you totally can – get your dry ingredients well incorporated with one another first, then just throw everything else in the bowl and use the mixer.) Use your wooden spoon to stir in a cup of boiling water. The original recipe reads that the batter will be thin; I found it a little thinner than a pound cake batter, but not really thin – again, much like a cake mix. Pour half the batter in each pan.
Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. (With my oven, it took exactly 30 minutes.) Cool ten minutes in pans, remove from pans to wire racks, cool completely.
Directions for frosting:
Melt butter. Stir in cocoa – I used the mixer on its lowest speed. Notice that it looks remarkably like clumps of damp potting soil – don’t worry; it’s supposed to. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency – with each addition of sugar, start on low speed so you don’t powder your kitchen cabinets, then turn it up to high speed to get the sugar incorporated. You’ll think there’s no way in East Hell you’re going to get that much sugar mixed into that tiny little bit of milk and chocolate sludge, but trust me, you will. Just keep beating. You can add a few more drops of milk if you absolutely must to get the right consistency, but you’ll be happier if you don’t because the texture is just gorgeous and a dream to spread. Beat in vanilla. This makes about two cups of frosting, which I found to be plenty to frost a layer cake.
My sister says this cake reminds her a lot of Chocolate Lovin’ Spoon Cake at McAllister’s Deli, and that is a glowing recommendation. (Though we agreed to really get that, we’d have to double the frosting recipe and put a really thick layer of frosting between the cake layers.) The cake is a bit denser than the usual layer cake, not as delicate, but VERY moist, and it makes beautiful slices. My desserts usually taste divine but look ridiculous; this looked gorgeous. Very definitely worth the effort.