Ultimate Chocolate Cake

This deep, rich confection topped with fudgy frosting is ideal for special occasions or simply for chocolate lovers. Martha's uses Valrhona cocoa powder; for best results, use the highest-quality ingredients you can find. For an impressive presentation, let the layers cool completely before assembling, dust off any loose crumbs, and use the better layer for the top.

  • Yield: Makes two 8-inch layers
Ultimate Chocolate Cake

Source: Martha Stewart Living Television, May 1999

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Valrhona cocoa powder, plus more for dusting
  • 3/4 cup strong coffee, boiling
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature
  • 2 3/4 cups cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • Ultimate Chocolate Frosting

Directions

  1. Place rack in middle of the oven. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-by-2-inch round cake pans. Line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment, and dust with cocoa powder; tap out excess. Sift cocoa; whisk in boiling coffee and milk. Let cool. Sift together cake flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

  2. Using a rubber spatula, mix the butter in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Gradually add sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, stirring well after each addition. Pour in the cooled cocoa mixture. Mix until fully incorporated.

  3. Add the sifted dry ingredients to the chocolate mixture, stirring until just combined. Pour the batter into the prepared pans (about 4 cups in each pan). Bake for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, and bake for an additional 15 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean when inserted into the center.

  4. Remove the cakes from the oven, and allow to cool in pans for 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Carefully run a small offset spatula around the edge of the cakes to loosen them from the pan. Remove cakes from pans, and invert onto a wire rack. Let cool completely, about 1 hour.

  5. To assemble, using a serrated knife, level the top surface of each cake layer. Place four strips of parchment paper around the perimeter of the cake stand. Spread with 3/4 cup of frosting. Top with the remaining layer, bottom side up. Using a swirling motion, cover the outside of cake with the remaining frosting. Remove parchment-paper strips.

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