During times of uncertainty, I always turn to food. My trusty, reliable friend that never lets me down. Ever. For me, baking is my preferred method of self-care and therapy. And gives me a reprieve from the constant news and chatter that feels downright overwhelming and mentally exhausting. Simply put, baking is my safe space away from all the pandemic chaos. And, I think we can all agree that chocolate is always the answer in times of need. Which is why I’m bringing you this easy peasy, fluffy chocolate cake with whipped chocolate ganache frosting. My COVID-19 emergency kit necessity.
This no-fuss, one-bowl chocolate cake recipe from Guittard Chocolate uses pantry staples and comes together in no time. The chocolate cake is super moist and fluffy and even tastes good on its own as a snack cake. I can personally vouch for that. I literally ate both tops of the cakes that I leveled off and all the scraps. Because I’m THAT person.
You can make it in one bowl (yay for less dishes!) or your electric stand mixer. Simply mix the wet ingredients with the dry ingredients and you’re done. No fancy techniques or tools needed. And another thing that I love about this recipe is that it uses cocoa powder that has been dissolved in hot boiling water instead of melted chocolate. Again. No double boiler or extra dishes required. Yes, please.
But, don’t worry. The cocoa powder delivers a rich, chocolate flavor. The recipe calls for dutch-processed cocoa powder but Hershey's special dark and regular cocoa powder will work just fine too.
HOW TO MAKE BUTTERMILK USING WHOLE MILK
This chocolate cake recipe also calls for buttermilk to help tenderize the cake from the acid. But, if you're like me and cannot find buttermilk anywhere or don't want to buy a whole carton just for this recipe, then use this quick and easy hack. You can sub in 1 cup whole milk plus 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Give it a stir and let the milk and vinegar or lemon juice sit for about 10 minutes at room temperature until the mixture has curdled. Et voila! Done!
And now you've got yourself homemade buttermilk. Although it won't be as thick and creamy as regular buttermilk, it will still work perfectly fine. The vinegar or lemon juice will provide the necessary acid needed to tenderize the cake just as buttermilk would do. You can use this buttermilk substitute hack for pancakes or biscuits. A simple and effective way to get buttermilk without having to make a trip to the grocery store.
WHAT IS WHIPPED CHOCOLATE GANACHE?
If you’ve never had whipped chocolate ganache, then you are missing out. Even if you’re not a big frosting person. Trust me. Neither am I. I’m usually 100% team cake. Yep. I’m that person that scrapes off the frosting of store bought cakes. I know, I know. It’s true. But this whipped chocolate ganache is an exception to the rule and is hands down one of my favorite frostings.
And, although “whipped chocolate ganache” may sound fancy, it’s not and I can assure you that it’s easy to make. Just as the name implies, whipped chocolate ganache is simply chocolate ganache that has been cooled, thickened and whipped into a light and airy chocolate cloud. And it only calls for two ingredients: chocolate and heavy cream.
The texture is luscious, light, and airy and can be used as a frosting or filling for cakes, cupcakes, and cookies. Orrrr, you can just eat it by the spoonful if you’re a true chocolate lover like me. It’s also packed with rich chocolate flavor but the fluffy, silky smooth texture will keep you coming back for more.
I DON’T HAVE A 6” CAKE PAN. CAN I USE AN 8” CAKE PAN OR A CUPCAKE PAN?
This recipe is intended for two 6” cake pans. But, since we are all quarantined at the moment, then use what you already have on hand. Don’t have a 6” cake pan? No problem. You can use a cupcake pan or even two 8” pans. You will just need to shorten the bake time. However, I do want to mention that when baked in two 8” cake pans, the cake layers will be just a little shorter than normal. But who cares when it tastes so good, right?
And, when baked in two 6” cake pans, the layers will be super tall which will allow us to make four layers. Simply level the cakes and cut each layer in half to make four layers. Which makes the cake look extra fancy without much effort. And it also provides more opportunities for extra whipped chocolate ganache. A win in my book.
I hope you’re all staying safe and healthy. Let there be chocolate cake to help pass the time. Enjoy!
Easy Chocolate Cake with Whipped Chocolate Ganache FrostingPrint Recipe
For the chocolate cake
- 2 cups (255 grams) all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled* (see note below)
- 1 ¾ cups (350 grams) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon (6 grams) kosher salt
- 3 teaspoons (15 grams) baking soda
- 1 cup (220 grams) water, boiling
- ½ cup (50 grams) dutch processed cocoa powder or Hershey's special dark
- 1 cup (230 grams) buttermilk (or 1 cup whole milk plus 1 tablespoon vinegar)
- ⅔ cups (135 grams) vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ½ teaspoons (6 grams) vanilla extract
For the whipped chocolate ganache
- 8 oz chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
- 1 cup (8 oz) heavy cream
For the chocolate cake
- Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease and line two 6” round cake pans with parchment paper. Position the oven racks in the middle of the oven.
- Bring the water to a boil and mix with the cocoa powder. Stir well to ensure there are no clumps. Let cool and set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, sugar, kosher salt, and baking soda. Mix on low to ensure all the ingredients are incorporated and evenly dispersed.
- Add the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract all at once and mix on low for 2 minutes, scraping down the bowl to ensure the ingredients are incorporated.
- Add the cocoa powder and water mixture and mix for 30 seconds until combined, scraping the bowl to ensure everything is combined.
- Divide the batter into two prepared 6” cake pans.
- Bake for 45-50 minutes. Let cool in cake pans for 20 minutes and then transfer onto a wire cooling rack until completely cool.
For the whipped chocolate ganache
- In the meantime, place the chocolate chips or chopped chocolate in a heat-safe bowl.
- In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a boil on medium heat. Keep an eye on it so it doesn't boil over and pull it off the heat as soon as you start to see bubbles.
- Pour the heavy cream over the chocolate. Do not stir. Let sit for 5-10 minutes. Then whisk the chocolate and heavy cream until combined.
- Transfer the ganache to the refrigerator and let chill, stirring every 10-15 minutes. The ganache should be cool and thickened but still soft and not hard.
- Once the ganache is cool, transfer to an electric stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until light and fluffy and light brown in color, about 1-2 minutes. The ganache will continue to thicken over time. Be careful not to overmix or else the ganache will turn grainy.
For the assembly of the cake
- Once the cakes have cooled, level the cakes and cut each cake in half to make four layers.
- Evenly spread the whipped ganache over each cake layer.
- Cut and serve immediately.
*Buttermilk substitute: If you don’t have buttermilk, you can substitute with whole milk plus one tablespoon vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let sit for 10 minutes at room temperature until curdled.
*Using 8" cake pans: If baking in two 8” round cake pans, decrease bake time to 30-35 minutes.
Recipe adapted from Chef Donald Wressell of Guittard Chocolate