Valentine’s Chocolate Cake with Mocha Frosting

Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, y’all!  I hope you had a Friday FULL of love.  I have been living for this weekend– between Valentine’s on Friday, Barrister’s Ball on Saturday (law school prom, basically), and a day off on Monday, these are a very exciting couple of days!  Since we were getting all gussied up to go out on Saturday, BF and I decided to have a relaxing evening for Valentine’s.  Besides, we are VERY committed Olympics viewers, and we didn’t want to miss any of the action!  It never even occurs to me that other humans don’t watch the Olympics with the same committed fervor that I do.  They’re SO exciting, and they make you feel all of the feels.  I cry at least once every single night during the Olympic broadcast (frankly, if I only cry once it’s been a very good night).  It’s all just so beautiful!  BF thinks I am crazy, but I know you’ll understand…won’t you?  Hello?  Is this thing on?

My favorite flower from my favorite guy!  Roses are great and all, but tulips are where it's at in this girl's humble opinion.

My favorite flower from my favorite guy! Roses are great and all, but tulips are where it’s at in this girl’s humble opinion.

Since we were staying in, I wanted to cook something special for my honey, and when I started planning I realized that I hadn’t cooked meat for dinner a single time in 2014.  While we eat meat pretty rarely, we DO occasionally have fish or chicken, so this has been a bit of a long stretch.  So I figured I’d give BF a break from my  vegetarian ways and make something solidly carnivorous.  I made my mom’s recipe for beef burgundy, one of my favorite (super easy) winter dishes, and threw in some roasted asparagus to give our arteries a break 😉

Yet again wine manages to sneak into my dinner, forcing me to drink the rest.  Like Sisyphus and his boulder, I cannot shake my burden.

Yet again wine manages to sneak into my dinner recipe, forcing me to drink the rest. Like Sisyphus and his boulder, I cannot shake my burden.

Since I chose decidedly simple recipes for dinner, I had a lot of time on my hands to make something a little more work-intensive for dessert, and I decided chocolate HAD to be the way to go.  I’m pretty sure it’s written as law somewhere that Valentine’s cannot be celebrated without chocolate.  I like that law.

Any law that mandates eating THIS is a very, very good law in my book.

Any law that mandates eating THIS is a very, very good law in my book.

Truth be told, this cake isn’t actually THAT much work.  Yes, it is more work than buying a boxed mix and a jar of frosting at the grocery store.  But any homemade recipe is going to lose that battle.  Besides, when you’re done you get to tell whoever you feed with this cake that you made it from scratch.  And there is something about a cake made from scratch that is very impressive to most people, so you’ll bask in their praise and feel like such a special flower that any extra work you had to put into the cake is totally worth it.

Love at first sight (I refuse to take the obvious route and make a "bite" pun here.  Even I cannot sink to that level of cliche pun.  Sort of.)

Love at first sight! (I refuse to take the obvious route and make a “bite” pun here. Even I cannot sink to that level of cliche pun. Sort of.)

Since everything about her food and her life is perfect, I knew Ina Garten’s “Beatty’s Chocolate Cake” recipe was the way to go, and she did not disappoint.  I’ve added a bit of coffee to chocolate baked goods before and it gives great richness to the cake’s flavor without leaving any coffee taste behind, but adding it to the frosting creates delicious mocha-flavored magic.  If I made this again I think I might do a raspberry filling between the cake layers– raspberry plays perfectly with the chocolate and coffee flavors of the cake, and it would be a nice surprise in the middle!

Can every day be eat-as-much-chocolate-as-you-can day?

Can every day be eat-as-much-chocolate-as-you-can day?

I followed Ina’s recipe (we’re on a first name basis, you see) almost to the letter, but I’ve replicated it here with the few tweaks I did make.

Beatty’s Chocolate Cake

  • 1 and 3/4 c. All-Purpose Flour
  • 2 c. Sugar
  • 3/4 c. Cocoa Powder
  • 2 t. Baking Soda
  • 1 t. Baking Powder
  • 1 t. Salt
  • 1 c. Buttermilk (to make, pour 1 T. White Vinegar into a measuring cup and fill the rest of the cup with milk; let sit 5 minutes until thickened)
  • 1/2 c. Vegetable Oil
  • 2 Eggs, room temp.
  • 1 t. Vanilla
  • 1 c. fresh-brewed hot Coffee

Preheat oven to 350 and butter two 8″ round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then butter and flour the pans.

Sift flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a large bowl and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the coffee and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Mocha Frosting

  • 6 oz. Semisweet Chocolate
  • 2 sticks Unsalted Butter, room temp.
  • 1 Egg Yolk, room temp.
  • 1 t. Vanilla
  • 1 and 1/4 c. sifted Confectioner’s Sugar
  • 1 T. Instant Coffee Powder

Chop the chocolate and place it in a microwave-safe bowl; heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring in between sessions until just melted.  Set aside until cooled to room temperature.

Beat butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the egg yolk and vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners’ sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 t. of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don’t whip! Spread immediately on the cooled cake.

Mocha Frosting

Place one cake layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with frosting.  I ALWAYS use too little on this step, because I get paranoid that I’m not going to have enough for the rest of the cake.  Trust me, you will have enough, so don’t skimp!  Place the second layer on top, rounded side up, and spread the frosting evenly on the top and sides of the cake.  For added cuteness whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not, dot raspberries around the edge and use a cookie cutter to make a chocolate chip heart in the center.

This cake is delicious, and I’m looking forward to pawning it off on everyone I know in the DC metro area in the next few days.  There is more chocolate in this apartment right now than in the entire nation of Belgium, so we’re gonna need some people to help share the love.  And isn’t that just the nicest way to end a post about Valentine’s Day?

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