At the moment, I think this is the perfect chocolate cake recipe. It's not as difficult as it looks, and it's completely worth the effort.
Perfect Chocolate Cake
serves about 12
First make this cake: (Though, I think it's best to make it a day ahead of time.)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups white sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup strong brewed coffee
1 cup buttermilk (or if you're lame like me, pour 1 tb of lemon juice in to an empty 1 cup measure and pour milk to fill it, let it curdle for a few minutes)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Generously grease and flour two 9 inch round cake pans. Then cut circles of parchment paper by tracing the bottom of the pan. Place the parchment paper in to the pan (it will keep the cake from sticking to the bottom of the pan)
2. In large bowl combine flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Make a well in the center.
3. Add eggs, coffee, buttermilk, oil and vanilla. Beat for 2 minutes on medium speed. Batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans.
4. Bake at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) for 30 to 40 minutes, or until toothpick inserted into center of cake comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes, then remove from pans and finish cooling on a wire rack.
5. When the cake is fully cool, use a cake leveler (like four bucks at a craft store!) to trim off the dome of the cakes to make them flat. Then cut each piece in half horizontally so that you have discs of cake.
6. Stack the four pieces on a plate with wax paper in between them. Cover the small tower of cake with saran wrap and place in the freezer for at least a few hours (ideally overnight). This is to keep the crumbs from messing up the frosting.
When the cake pieces are frozen, make the ganache:
1 1/2 heavy cream (12 oz)
12 oz. baking chocolate (or 2 cups of chocolate chips)
2 Tb. butter
2 Tb. Sugar
1.Place the chocolate chips in a glass bowl.
2. Heat the cream, butter and sugar in a small pan. Once the cream is just barely simmering, pour it over the chocolate and allow it to sit for 5 minutes.
3. Then whisk until perfectly smooth. Allow the ganache to cool another 10-15 minutes before assembling layers.
Pull the cake out of the freezer and put one disc on your serving plate. Spread 1/3 of the ganache evenly on that disc and place another on top of it. Repeat until you have four cake layers with ganache in between them.
Return to the freezer while you make the frosting:
4 cups powdered sugar (sifted, if you aren't lazy like me)
1 cup cocoa powder
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
1/3-1/2 cup whole milk (start out with 1/3 cup of milk and add more milk to your desired consistency)
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1. Cream butter
2. add everything else, and mix.
Remove the cake from the freezer and spread about half of the frosting on top of the cake. Spread it out evenly over the top and let it spread on to the sides.
When the top is sufficiently frosted, use most of the remaining frosting to spread evenly on the sides. Smooth with a frosting spreader or large knife.
Use additional frosting to garnish as desired, or add fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, bacon, etc.