This poor cake. It's been ignored and left behind for almost a month now. Not the actual cake, no, that was gobbled up long long ago. But the sharing of a delicious recipe. It deserves better treatment, a brighter spotlight, at least some recognition for being a terrific birthday cake. Don't you think it dressed up nicely for the occasion?
I saw a few different incarnations of this Mexican Chocolate Cake around the internet; baked as a loaf or in a 9"x9" square baking pan, but there's something about celebratory cakes being round that just feels right. A loaf seemed too everyday, so did the square, both were left unadorned with nothing except a light dusting of powdered sugar. So I changed it up. Baking it in a 9" spring form (the better to unmold after making) and drizzling some ganache over the top. Instant transformation. It went from looking Plain Jane to completely birthday appropriate. (By the way, I used these Martha Stewart cake stencils to do the design on the top of the cake, I seriously love the added touch they give. Thank you Martha.)
And the flavors! It's like those little orange chocolate balls you get in your stocking on Christmas, banging them against a hard surface to crack them into segments, but with a little something more. The cinnamon isn't very pronounced but makes for a nice background flavor and the coffee just deepens the chocolate. It's incredibly moist with a tighter crumb, neither a bad thing in my book. And if you eat straight out of the fridge, it's a little like fudge.
Mexican Chocolate Cake
Adapted from Gourmet, April 2004
Sometimes, I get lazy when I'm baking and cooking. I got lazy here; I didn't sift the flour and other dry ingredients, whoops! What? You don't like little white specks throughout your chocolate cake? But you all are smarter than me and I'm sure you won't make my mistake. Otherwise, this cake is pretty straight forward and such a pleasure to eat. To keep the ganache from slip sliding away down the sides, I kept the cake in the fridge and just brought it out a few minutes before eating.
Cake:2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup water
2 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla
zest of 1 orange
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 oz semisweet chocolate
1/2 cup heavy cream
Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 350F.
Release the ring around a 9" spring form pan. Across the bottom piece, lay a piece of foil, shiny side up, over it and close ring around it. Some foil may stick out the sides which is what you want, just push them up around the outside. Spray the inside with non-stick spray.
Melt butter in a microwave safe bowl. Once melted, then whisk in cocoa. Add coffee and water and whisk until smooth. Whisk in separately sugar, eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and orange zest.
Sift together flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt into a bowl, then sift again into cocoa mixture and whisk until just combined. Pour batter into the spring form pan and bake until a wooden pick or skewer comes out with only a few crumbs adhering, about 60 minutes.
Cool cake in pan on a rack 20 minutes, then loosen loosen the ring and invert onto a plate. Peel the foil slowly off the bottom and invert again onto the cooling rack until the cake is room temperature.Meanwhile, chop the chocolate into small pieces and place in a bowl. In a small sauce pan heat the heavy cream to just a simmer and then pour over the chocolate. Stir constantly until the chocolate is melted and the mixture looks satiny. Cool for a few minutes in the fridge until it begins to thicken to a spreadable consistency.
Pour over the top of the cake and spread to edges so the ganache can drip down and cover the sides.