I love devil’s food cake. Because I love chocolate, and devil cake has two kinds of it in the batter, plus chocolate frosting, and some chocolate candy for garnish. In other words, if you are (or know) a woman in need of comfort, make this. You’ll be a hero.
The occasion for this particular cake is a birthday for a friend. And the occasion does not need to involve children to use awesome dinosaur candle holders. My husband backs me up. Of course, he also says “RAWR!” like a four-year-old, but that can’t possibly make my point any less sound.
Devil’s Food Cake
modified from the New Best Recipe
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/4 cup boiling water
1/2 pound (2 sticks) butter
1 3/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sour cream
1 t vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
Preheat your oven to 350º. Butter three eight inch cake pans. Then ignore your cake pans for 20-30 minutes and hope your cats don’t jump on the counter and ruin them before–oh, dang it! If you have cats, butter your cake pans later.
Make chocolate soup: Chop up the unsweetened chocolate, add cocoa powder, and pour boiling water over it all. Resist the temptation to begin whisking immediately. Wait a minute (yes, a whole minute.) Now you can whisk. Mix until a smooth liquid chocolate forms. (My egg whisk always looks that sad. I don’t know why. Maybe he doesn’t like being dressed as Santa.) Put the chocolate somewhere safe while you make the rest of the batter. The microwave is safe. The edge of the counter, not so much.
Get a good sized mixing bowl, and beat the butter until fluffy with an electric mixer. Add sugar, beat again. Then eggs. everybody says to add eggs one at a time and beat separately, but I’ve honestly never ever done that, and it has never made bad cake or cookies or anything else. Mix in sour cream and vanilla.
Now it’s time for the dry ingredients. Most recipes want you to sift these into a whole separate bowl, as though you had infinite counter space, before even creaming the butter. I just dump the flour, salt, and baking soda into my sieve and shake it for five minutes, sifting right into the batter. Mix on medium-high until smooth.
Almost done! Don’t forget the chocolate. It’s in the microwave. Pour into the batter, mixing as you go. You may want to stir things up with a rubber spatula to make sure there are no chocolate-free pockets.
Divide batter into your buttered cake pans. The trick here is to sort of scoop the batter away from the center, making a gentle bowl shape with your rubber spatula. It helps keep the cakes from being too dome-shaped when they come out of the oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, at which point the cake should not jiggle if you shake the pan. Let cool while you make the frosting.
Oh, the frosting. This is my mom’s recipe, and it does not mess around. Most cream cheese frosting recipes call for butter. Not this one. Vanilla? That would just undercut the cream cheese. No, just cream cheese, cocoa powder, and powdered sugar, thanks.
Mom’s Cream Cheese Frosting
1 8-ounce package of cream cheese. Please don’t use the light stuff. It will make me sad.
1/3 cup cocoa powder
4 cups powdered sugar
With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and cocoa powder together. add two cups of powdered sugar, and beat on low until the sugar is damp enough not to explode in your face, then add the other two cups and do the same. It should look like a pack of murdered Oreos. Beat on medium-high until smooth and thick, just a couple of minutes. Frost layer 1, put layer 2 on top. Frost layer 2, put layer 3 on top. Frost layer 3, then the sides, and then you’re done. Add decorative Whoppers and/or dinosaurs if desired.
Oh. I realized that my salt cellar is staring at you in all these pictures. He’s a very helpful little owl and I love him very much, but he has no business playing with cake. Sorry, Mr. Owl.