Valentine’s Day is a special day to celebrate love and affection and is the sweetest day of all in my opinion. To celebrate this beloved feast day, I thought it would be appropriate to share two of my favorite recipes for decadent CHOCOLATE cake.
The first is Stella Parks’ recipe (from NYTimes Cooking- a subscription that my son recently introduced to me). “The all-butter triple-layer chocolate cake with a shockingly tender crumb and deep, fudgy flavor” is delicious and the marshmallow frosting is beyond exquisite. (Full disclosure, I was not able to lightly torch the frosting since I do not own a blowtorch, so I improvised and added fresh raspberries around the edges of the creation). The cake is a true showstopper and will surely win the heart of your Valentine.
Devil’s-Food Cake with Toasted-Marshmallow Frosting
Ingredients for the chocolate layer cake:
-1 ½ cups butter
-1 ½ cups black coffee
-1 cup Dutch-processed cocoa powder
-1 ¼ cup finely chopped dark chocolate
-2 packed cups plus 1 Tbsp light-brown sugar
-1 Tbsp vanilla extract
-1 tsp kosher salt
-6 large eggs
-3 large egg yolks
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-1 Tbsp baking soda
Ingredients for the marshmallow frosting:
-1 cup egg whites
-1 ¾ cup sugar
-½ tsp kosher salt
-1/4 tsp cream of tartar
-1/4 tsp vanilla extract
Place oven rack in the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 3 8-by-3-inch anodized-aluminum cake pans with parchment paper and grease them.
Combine butter and coffee in a 5-quart saucepan and set over low heat to melt. Remove from heat, and whisk in the cocoa, chocolate, brown sugar, vanilla and salt, until there are no lumps of cocoa or un-melted chocolate. After mixing, add the eggs, and yolks, and whisk well to combine. Sift flour and baking soda right into the pan, then whisk thoroughly to combine, making sure there are no pockets of flour. Divide batter among the three cake pans.
Bake for 30 minutes or until the cakes are firm, but a light touch with a finger still leaves an impression, and a few crumbs cling to a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake. Careful to not overbake.
Set aside on a wire rack until the pans, and the cakes, are completely cool to the touch, about 90 minutes.
Fill a 3-quart pot with 1 ½ inches of water and place over medium-low heat. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the egg whites, sugar, salt, cream of tartar and vanilla. Place the bowl over the steaming water bath and use a spatula to stir and scrape down the bowl, keeping the mass moving over the steam for about 10 minutes, or until a digital thermometer inserted into the mixture reads 175 degrees.
Place the bowl in the stand mixer with the whisk attachment, and whip on high speed until it quadruples in volume and turns thick and glossy, about 5 minutes.
Loosen the sides of the cakes with a knife and invert them onto a wire rack. Peel away the parchment paper, then flip cakes right-side up again. Use a long-serrated knife to evenly trim the puffy tops off the cakes (set these aside for snacking).
Place one cake (cut side up), onto a serving plate. Top with a cup of frosting and spread it into an even layer with a small palette knife or the back of a spoon. Repeat with the second and third layers, placing these cut-side down. Finish the sides of the cake with remaining frosting, then lightly torch with a blowtorch, so the frosting turns golden brown.
I recently prepared and served this next CHOCOLATE cake recipe at a dear friend’s birthday celebration. To make an even greater impact, I adorned the creation with beautiful fresh flowers. Everyone raved over the scrumptious delight and several of the attendees asked for a second serving- the true measure of a cake’s success!
Susan Hughes’ Fabulous Chocolate Cake
Ingredients for cake:
-1 ¾ cup flour
-2 cups sugar
-1 tsp baking powder
-3/4 cup cocoa powder
-2 tsp baking soda
-2 large eggs (room temp)
-1/2 cup vegetable oil
-1 cup buttermilk
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 cup freshly brewed coffee
Ingredients for frosting:
-6 Tbsp butter
-1 lb pkg confection sugar
-1/4 cup light cream
– 1 ½ tsp vanilla
-2 (1oz) squares unsweetened chocolate
Preheat oven to 350. Use two 8 -in by 2-in round cake pans. The cake pan must have 2-inch sides because the cake will rise and spill over if they are shallow, or the batter is not poured evenly in each. Or use two 9-inch pans. Line pans with parchment paper. (The cake is tender and will fall apart if not on paper). Then butter the paper and the sides of the pans and flour.
Sift together dry ingredients (flour, sugar, cocoa, soda, powder, and salt).
In a separate bowl, with an electric mixer, mix buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla.
On low speed, add wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
At the last minute, add the coffee. STIR to combine. Do not “mix”.
Bake 35-40 minutes until toothpick comes out clean. Cool 30 minutes, then cool completely.
Prepare the frosting. Cream butter, add ½ of the sugar, two Tbsp cream and vanilla. Gradually add sugar and cream. Lastly add melted chocolate.
Carefully frost the cooled cake and enjoy!
Another wonderful idea to celebrate Valentine’s Day or Galantine’s Day is with FLOWERS. This year my two daughters (one lives locally and the other resides in Miami) and I look forward to participating in a fabulous (VIRTUAL) floral arranging workshop through a company known as Alice’s Table. Alice and her talented staff offer multiple classes on floral arranging, wreath creation as well as gourmet culinary workshops nationwide. I have enjoyed a few of these classes and every time I learn something new😊. It is important to sign up on-line ahead of time since space is limited and the classes are in high demand! The farm fresh flowers and vase are delivered to your doorstep a few days beforehand. The morning of the event, live streaming instructions will be sent to your email. All you need to do is hydrate your flowers, grab a nice glass of your favorite bubbly, and tune in on your laptop or tablet a few minutes before the workshop. Founder Alice will teach you step-by-step how to create a beautiful arrangement in a vessel while sharing her top floral secrets and suggestions. Additionally, for my mother’s birthday this past January, I thought long and hard on how I could create an exciting celebration for her from afar. Alice’s Table workshop was perfect. She loved the birthday gift and more importantly the new (virtual) experience during the pandemic! Here are some of our lovely creations:
And for my sweet husband this Valentine’s Day, I wanted to surprise him with something new and lively! While most couples will be dining out at their favorite restaurant, we will be participating in our very own date night–living room DANCE lessons from the comfort (and privacy) of our home and on our timeline. We will begin series 1 of “Show Her Off” (there are three courses total). Date Night 1 consists of eighteen separate instructional videos which include eleven different swing dance moves and can be easily accessed from your television or streaming devices. We hope to show off our moves at the next wedding we attend.
This February 14th will be a day my husband will surely remember! As for myself: CHOCOLATE, FLOWERS, and DANCING –what better way to spend Valentine’s Day this year.
Until next time….