I made this Sour Cream Chocolate Cake for Ella's birthday party. I found out it is NOT a "chocolate-lover's cake." It is a milk chocolate cake --- an excellent one, but I was still looking for a deep, rich cake. But.....the plus side is that my husband, who doesn't normally like chocolate cake (I know, huh!?!) really liked this. And the kids ate it up like crazy. And the birthday girl, who picked it, loved it. A WINNER! (Even if I was still looking for something with more chocolatey oomph.)
The recipe comes from The Cake Book, by Tish Boyle. If you look closely at the photo I posted above, you will see something that caught my eye the very moment I unwrapped this book on Christmas: the frosting on top of the cake is ultra thin! Almost paper thin at the tip of the triangle. Wha...?! The covers of books usually have the frosting piled up several inches. This is unheard of! What a renegade, that Tish.
Turns out, I actually do wish it had been thicker on the cake, and I'm not a frosting person. The recipe says that the frosting will leave you with so much extra that you can actually do a bunch of fancy flowers and such on top of the cake. I'm here to say that it just ain't so. I didn't do a single fancy thing, and it was just barely enough. Next time I'll do 50% more (a 1 1/2 recipe).
In case you're wondering about the party, it was great! I'm a sucker for a big party for kids. I agree that it's a lot of work, but it's super fun for the kids (16 kids -- 8 girls, 8 boys. All came). I figure I can get through anything for a couple of hours, so why not? The only thing that I didn't like is that at age 6, we start allowing our kids to have "present parties." And when you have that many kids over, it just feels greedy. Your kid is opening presents for what feels like ages, and a bunch of parents are standing there watching, and it just feels very... precious. Like "There's my little princess! Opening her presents. Stand back, kids. Give her room." Ugh. That was the only part I didn't like. But before age 6, when we still have parties but don't allow gifts, people act like it is a tragedy, and they're reluctant to invite my kids to their own houses, because they think we have a moral objection to gifts or something. It's all very confusing and frustrating. If I ruled the world, kids parties would be huge. They'd be at people's houses with loads of friends, loads of games, and loads of dancing, but they would never be over-the-top in terms of expense at some fancy place with a fancy entertainer. And NO post-party treat bag! But that's just me. Most people I know don't do parties at all because of all the hassle and fuss and "expectations" from other kids/parents. It's sad. (Last year, one kid who came to Adam's party walked in and said FIRST THING "What's going to be in the treat bag?" A bunch of kids asked where the treat bag was when the party was over. They got a tiny pumpkin to take home, but no treat bag. Ella's friends got a "potato pal" at her party--a potato that they decorated to look like a buddy. Hilarious, I know, but they loved them.)
Sour Cream Chocolate Cake
- 2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, at room temperature
2/3 cup sour cream, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
10 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2/3 cup safflower oil or corn oil
1 1/4 cups ice-cold water
Position oven rack in center of oven; preheat oven to 350°; grease the bottom and sides of two 9-inch round cake pans; line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment paper and grease the paper; dust the paper and sides of the pans with flour.
Into a bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; whisk to combine then set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together the eggs until blended; whisk in the sour cream and vanilla extract until blended; set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, mix the melted butter and oil together on low speed.
Add in the cold water and mix to blend.
Add in the dry ingredients all at once and mix on med-low for 1 minute,
Add in the egg mixture and mix for another minute, until well blended, scraping down the sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pans, dividing evenly.
Bake the cakes for 35-40 minutes, until a pick comes out clean. Cool the cakes in the pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Invert the cakes onto the racks, peel off the paper, and cool completely.
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Put the chocolate and 1/3 cup of the water in a medium stainless steel bowl and place the bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl from over the pot and set the chocolate mixture aside to cool until tepid.
In small, heavy saucepan, combine the sugar with the remaining 1/3 water. Place the pan over medium-high heat and cook, stirring constantly, just until the sugar is dissolved. Stop stirring, and increase the heat to high.
Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, begin beating the egg yolks at medium speed while the syrup cooks to the correct temperature. When the sugar syrup reaches 225°F on a candy thermometer, increase the speed of the mixer to high. Continue to cook the sugar syrup until it reaches 238°F on a candy thermometer. Remove the pan from the heat and with the mixer off, immediately pour about 1/4 cup of the hot syrup over the beaten eggs. Beat at high speed until blended, about 10 seconds. Turn the mixer off and add another 1/4 cup syrup. Beat at high speed for another 10 seconds. Repeat this process until all of the syrup is used. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the side of the bowl and continue to beat at medium-high speed until the egg mixture is completely cool, about 5 minutes.
At medium speed, beat the softened butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the egg mixture. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat the buttercream until it is smooth and shiny, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the cooled chocolate mixture, mixing just until blended. Stir the mixture by hand a few times to make sure it is well blended. Use the buttercream at room temperature.