I'm reading a vintage 1988 book I picked up at the Dexter Library used book sale Christmas Memories with Recipes featuring many great food writers like Evan Jones and Edna Lewis with their memories of the holiday. Also included was a young "Martha Kostyra Stewart" ....her essay was written at her beginnings and her bio talks about her catering business and her book "Entertaining" and her video tapes. Since Martha was on my mind, when my daughter requested dark chocolate cake with dark chocolate ice cream for her birthday, I went right to the Martha Stewart website for ideas. I found a dark chocolate cake with a ganache, but I wanted to make a piped icing, so I found a dark chocolate icing recipe from her cupcake book online.
Recently, I got a pair of 6 inch round cake pans because I've decided 9 inch cakes are just too much cake for us. I've had good luck with making smaller cakes, except I have found that the cake seems to dome on the top. I usually just cut it off, but this time I left the top layer domed for a unique look. I've yet to try the cake strip idea, but might do it the next time I bake a cake. Here's how I scaled down Martha's recipe for my smaller cake:
Dark Chocolate Cake
1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pans
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch processed cocoa plus more for pans
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cups + 3T packed lightbrown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 large egg yolks, room temperature
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
Divide batter between prepared pans; smooth tops. Bake until a toothpick inserted in center of a cake
comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool in pans 15 minutes; run a knife around edge of each pan, and
invert cakes onto a wire rack to cool completely.
For the icing, I was worried because there were comments suggesting that it came out too greasy or liquid, but in the prologue of the recipe, it said "this deep, dark, satiny frosting (thanks to the addition of melted semisweet chocolate) is a favorite of Martha Stewart Living food editors, since it has just the right consistency for spreading or piping into beautiful swirls." I knew I wanted to do some piping, so I thought I'd give it a shot. Reading through the comments, I found that those that had success followed the recipe temperatures exactly: the butter can't be too soft, the chocolate warm, etc. My only question left is the recipe said it "serves 5". What does that mean? Originally, the recipe came from Martha's cupcake cookbook, so I thought maybe it meant 5 cupcakes? But that wouldn't be enough to frost even this small cake. The rose cake decorating takes a ton of frosting. I ended up making the amount the recipe originally called for and it was the perfect amount to ice a 6 inch cake. I still don't know what "5 servings" means. Here's how I made the recipe....make sure to follow the temperature instructions.
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder
1/2 cup plus boiling water
2 1/4 cups (4 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 10 oz. bags Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet chocolate chips , melted and cooled
Combine cocoa and the boiling water, stirring until cocoa has dissolved. Let it cool! With an electric mixer on medium high speed, beat butter, confectioners' sugar, and salt until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Add melted and cooled chocolate, beating until combined and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
At this point, I made the mistake of refrigerating the icing bowl until the cake was cool. Don't do that! It came out of the fridge like a hard stick of butter. I had to beat it again to get it to the right consistency. Room temp is perfect for piping the roses. I am not a great cake decorator, but the rose cake technique is very easy. I use a Wilton 1M tip that I got from this set. The roses don't need to be perfect to make a stunning cake. Here is how to do it: