Editor’s note: Living in the Colorado High Country is pure joy. Baking in it isn’t. High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips to make baking in the mountains successful.
This chocolate cake is a stand-out dessert ... rich, moist and deeply flavored. The complexity and welcome bitterness provided by the combination of semisweet and unsweetened chocolate, the dense, fudgy texture and the velvety filling make it memorable.
While this one is unadorned, I’ve decorated the cake’s frosted top with a variety of things. A rim of chopped nuts, chocolate curls or chopped English toffee is a nice touch.
The cake is so lush that frosting the sides is unnecessary, maybe even over-kill. But if you want to do so, just increase the frosting recipe by half.
Double Chocolate Cake
Adjusted for 8,000 to 10,000 feet in altitude. Make in an 8 1/2 inch springform pan or an 8-by-2 inch cake pan.
3 ounces high-quality semisweet chocolate
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
2 tablespoons sour cream
3 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
1⁄3 cup plus 1/4 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Grease and flour the pan. If using a cake pan, line it with a circle of parchment paper and grease and flour the paper. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees with a rack in the center position.
Chop the chocolate, cut the butter into pieces and combine in a microwave-safe bowl. Using a low setting for bursts of a minute, melt until a few lumps are still visible. Remove from heat and stir until smooth. (This can also be done in a double boiler.) Set the mixture aside. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking powder and whisk vigorously. Set aside. Place stir sour cream in a bowl and set aside.
Using an electric mixer, combine the eggs, egg yolk, sugar and vanilla and beat until doubled in volume, pale in color and thickened. Add melted chocolate and mix until well blended. Using a rubber spatula, fold in flour mixture, half at a time. Add sour cream. Try not to deflate the eggs. The batter should be thoroughly combined. Scrape into the pan until it is two-thirds full, and bake until a toothpick comes out clean. Start checking at about 35 minutes; it may take up to 45 minutes. Remove to a cooling rack for 30 minutes, turn out of the pan, onto a cake circle. Refrigerate uncovered until cool to the touch. You can wrap it airtight and refrigerate overnight or freeze for up to a month.
Make the frosting by combining the chocolate and corn syrup. Warm the cream until it just starts to boil, remove from heat and pour over the chocolate and corn syrup. Let the mixture sit until half the chocolate is melted. Gently stir until the frosting is smooth. Cool until it thickens. Cut the cake into three layers while you wait.
Place one layer, cut side up, on a serving platter, spread the frosting, taking it all the way to the edge of cake. Continue with the next two layers. Serve or store in the refrigerator. The cake cuts most easily when cool. Use a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cleaning it between slices.
The cake is a variation of one in Desaulnier’s “Death by Chocolate.”
Vera Dawson, a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute, lives in Summit County, where she bakes almost every day. Her recipes have been tested in her home kitchen and altered for our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.