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Death By Chocolate Cake

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When it comes to desserts, I go for the chocolate all the way.  To me, there is nothing better than a big piece of chocolate cake.  Two years ago I had the best piece of chocolate cake ever at a restaurant called The Mustard Seed in Charleston, SC.  A few of our favorite restaurants in the Charleston area are owned by the same people and they get their desserts from The Village Bakery in Mt. Pleasant, so I have been lucky enough to have had plenty of opportunities to try this cake.  One thing I noticed about it right away was that the layers were different; it wasn’t just one cake recipe made into layers.  The bottom layer was very dense and the other layer was very moist and light.  Since we are three and a half hours away from Charleston, I wanted to be able to recreate this cake so I could enjoy it at home.  I was excited when I saw that Shawnda tried to do the same with a cake she had in a restaurant.  It turns out that our favorite chocolate cakes are quite similar.  I kept waiting for an excuse to try it, and finally I decided to go for it one night when we had some chocolate-loving friends over for a movie night.

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This cake is not for the weak!  With 19 ounces of chocolate, this is for the true chocolate lover.  This is definitely the best cake I have ever made.  I couldn’t believe how wonderfully chocoalty it was.  I went back and forth between using a brownie base for the bottom layer and using a flourless chocolate cake as the base layer.  I might have to try this again to see how it works with this cake, but I’m not complaining about this version.  The mousse filling was a dream- light and fluffy, but so rich at the same time.  Shawnda used a ganache for the topping, but I have never been quite satisfied with ganache on a cake.  I think a cake needs a good frosting, so I used a recipe I found on Peabody’s blog and slightly adapted it.  The frosting was the perfect topping to this cake, and I will keep using it when I need chocolate frosting in the future.  This cake was so worth it- as my friend Austin said, it was totally bitchin’!

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Death By Chocolate Cake

Brownie base
5/8 cup (1/2 cup + 2Tbsp) cake flour (I used 5/8 cup millet flour plus 1 teaspoon xanthan gum)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped fine
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into six pieces
1 1/8 cups sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Chocolate mousse filling
6 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into 1/2-ounce pieces
1 7/8 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon granulated sugar

Chocolate cake
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, soft
7/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I used 7/8 cup millet flour plus 1 teaspoon xanthan gum)
2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/8 cup Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 cup hot water
7/8 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 large egg yolk

Fudgy Chocolate Frosting

9 ounces semisweet chocolate
1 ½  cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter
3 cups powdered sugar
1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract

To make the brownie base:
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Cut parchment paper to fit the bottom and line the sides of a 9-inch springform pan. Spray lined pan with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk to combine flour, salt, and baking powder in medium bowl; set aside.

3. Melt chocolate and butter in large heatproof bowl set over saucepan of almost-simmering water, stirring occasionally, until smooth. (Alternatively, in microwave, heat butter and chocolate in large microwave-safe bowl on high for 45 seconds, then stir and heat for 30 seconds more. Stir again, and, if necessary, repeat in 15-second increments; do not let chocolate burn.)

4. When chocolate mixture is completely smooth, remove bowl from saucepan and gradually whisk in sugar. Add eggs on at a time, whisking after each addition until thoroughly combined. Whisk in vanilla. Add flour mixture in two additions, folding with rubber spatula until batter is completely smooth and homogeneous.

5. Transfer batter to prepared pan; using a small off-set spatula or bench scraper, spread batter evenly and smooth the surface. Bake until toothpick or wooden skewer inserted into center of brownies comes out with few moist crumbs attached, 25-30 minutes. Cool on wire rack to room temperature, about 1 hour (do not remove the springform ring or parchment collar).

To make the cake:
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 325 degrees. Line the bottom of a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment and spray bottom and sides with baking spray.

2. 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 is melted, about 2 minutes. Add 1/4 cup sugar to chocolate mixture and stir until thick and glossy, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove bowl from heat and set aside to cool.

3. Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt in medium bowl. Set aside. Combine buttermilk and vanilla in small bowl and set aside.

4. In bowl of stand mixer fitted with whisk attachment, whisk eggs and yolks on medium-low speed until combined, about 10 seconds. Add remaining sugar, increase speed to high, and whisk until fluffy and lightened in color, 2 to 3 minutes. Replace whisk with paddle attachment.

5. Add cooled chocolate mixture to egg/sugar mixture and mix on medium speed until thoroughly incorporated, 30 to 45 seconds, pausing to scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add softened butter one tablespoon at a time, mixing about 10 seconds after each addition. Add about one-third of flour mixture followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until incorporated after each addition (about 15 seconds).

6. 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. Pour into prepared pan; smooth batter to edges of pan with an offset spatula.

7. Bake until toothpick inserted into center comes out with a few crumbs attached, about 30 minutes. Cool cake in pan 15 minutes, then invert onto wire rack and cool completely.

To make the Chocolate mousse filling:

1. Place stand mixer bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer or fridge.

2. Heat 1-inch of water in the bottom half of a double boiler over medium heat. Place the semisweet chocolate in the top half of the double boiler. Tightly cover the top with film wrap and allow to heat for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth. Transfer the melted chocolate to a stainless steel bowl and set aside until needed.

3. Place heavy cream and sugar in the well-chilled bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a well-chilled whisk attachment. Whisk on high until stiff peaks form, about 1 1/2 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer.

4. By hand, whisk to combine 1/4 of the whipped cream into the melted chocolate until smooth and completely incorporated. Add the combined whipped cream and chocolate to the remaining whipped cream and use a rubber spatula to fold together.

To make the Frosting:

1. Put chocolate in a stainless steel bowl and place bowl over a pot of barely simmering water. Heat, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Remove the bowl from the pot and set the chocolate aside to cool.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the powdered sugar and beat at high speed until light and creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the cooled chocolate at low speed, mixing until blended and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Increase the speed to high and beat until slightly aerated, about 1 minute.

To assemble the dessert:
1. Spread mousse over top of the brownie base evenly. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to smooth the top.

2. Place cake round over mousse, pressing down lightly. Chill for 1 hour.

3. Remove springform ring and parchment collar. Use a spatula to smooth the room temperature ganache over the cake top and sides, covering evenly.

4. Place the frosting into a piping bag fitted with a #18 tip and pipe a shell border around the base. Replace with tip #1M and pipe 12-16 rosettes around the top of the cake to indicate servings. Serve chilled and store leftovers in the fridge. Cut the cake with a hot, dry knife.

Yields 12-16 servings

Source: Brownie Base, Cake, and Mousse from Confections of a Foodie Bride, frosting adapted from Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

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23 Responses

  1. I should have known you’d be all about this recipe! I’d love to try it sometime, but I have no idea when I’ll find someone besides me to eat it.

  2. Best way to die, haha :-D

  3. Holy moly – have you tried the Death by Chocolate from Marcel Desaulniers? I made it last year for my birthday – but now I’m going to have to make this one to compare!

  4. I love super rich chocolatey desserts like this!

  5. wow, that is one rich dessert! I love it!

  6. This cake looks absolute divine!

  7. what a beautiful cake. i love how you decorated it

  8. Oh man! This cake looks killer. I am a chocoholic, and that’s putting it lightly! Your pictures make me want to cry tears of joy. How amazing! I bow to you: this cake is incredible. I cannot, cannot WAIT to make it!

  9. Oh wow, it looks amazing! I would love to have a piece right now!

  10. This looks fantastic and I would easily polish off a slice! :)

  11. Holy moly, this looks amazing!! SO much chocolate…YUM!

  12. I’m drooling all over myself! Looks amazing!

  13. This looks amazing! Great job!

  14. Wow, that is quite a cake! It looks amazing.

  15. [...] Death By Chocolate Cake When it comes to desserts, I go for the chocolate all the way.  To me, there is nothing better than a big piece of [...] [...]

  16. Hi there!

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  17. I made this cake for my friends birthday party, people loved it and my friend sliced it so thin because she didn’t want to share much of it with others:) Now they are all asking me if I would bake Death by chocolate again..

  18. Holy. What incredibly lucky friends!!!

  19. I made this cake yesterday for Mother’s Day. Wow! It was a big hit for a family of chocolate lovers. I can’t wait to get home from work and have another piece. Thanks!

  20. HI,
    I was wondering have you ever made this as a flat sheet cake? I am needing to convert it for a wedding anniversary cake. ANy suggestions??? Thanks!

    • I haven’t made it into a sheet cake. Since the layers are different, I’m not sure it would work. If you want a good sheet cake recipe though, I would recommend Paula Deen’s Texas Sheet Cake. Good luck! :) Erin

  21. [...] I remember. It was called Death by Chocolate Cake (Editor’s note: this isn’t the recipe we used, but it looks off the hook. Plus, there’s a gluten-free [...]

  22. [...] my partner into making a cake of my choosing. I had an urge for chocolate and found the most over the top recipe. Luckily she was up for the challenge and spent 4 hours making a stupendous chocolate cake.This [...]

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