Monday, June 12, 2006
I'm beginning to think I'm not a fan of chocolate cake or cookie recipes that rely on cocoa. I've recently tried cocoa-based brownies and cocoa cookies but in both I found the cocoa flavor a bit violent without the richer nuances of chocolate.
I then bought myself yet another silicone mold, this time a bundt cake pan. I looked for a recipe to try it out, and came upon this one from Cooks Illustrated, which relies on both bittersweet chocolate and cocoa. I thought the two together would be the right combination.
The result was successful in terms of shape and texture. The cake looked impressive and had a moist tender crumb. But it looked too black, not chocolate-brown, and the flavor was not as chocolaty as you might expect from the dark color (but perhaps my cocoa was a bit passed its prime? Oh and also I don't know if it was natural cocoa or dutched cocoa. Probably the latter).
I'll include the recipe even though I have reservations, because our guests seemed to like it, and it does make a pretty-looking cake. Also, I didn't use real brown sugar, juste sucre "vergeoise", no espresso powder and my cocoa may not have been up to par. So perhaps if I remedied these three things, the result would be more satisfying. I haven't given up hope on cocoa but I'm a little skeptical.
Recipe: Chocolate Bundt Cake
Source: Cooks Illustrated (1/2004)
From Cooks: "Natural (or regular) cocoa gives the cake a fuller, more assertive chocolate flavor than does Dutch-processed cocoa. In addition, Dutch-processed cocoa will result in a compromised rise. The cake can be served with just a dusting of confectioners' sugar but is easily made more impressive with Tangy Whipped Cream and Lightly Sweetened Raspberries (recipes [do not] follow). The cake can be made a day in advance; wrap the cooled cake in plastic and store it at room temperature. Dust with confectioners' sugar just before serving."
Serves 12 to 14
- 1 tablespoon butter , melted
- 1 tablespoon cocoa
- 3/4 cup natural cocoa (2 1/4 ounces)
- 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
- 1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional. I left it out)
- 3/4 cup water (boiling)
- 1 cup sour cream , room temperature
- 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
- 2 cups packed light brown sugar (14 ounces)
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 5 large eggs , room temperature
confectioners' sugar for dusting
1. FOR THE PAN: Stir together butter and cocoa in small bowl until paste forms; using a pastry brush, coat all interior surfaces of standard 12-cup Bundt pan, see illustration below. (If mixture becomes too thick to brush on, microwave it for 10 to 20 seconds, or until warm and softened.) Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees.
2. FOR THE CAKE: Combine cocoa, chocolate, and espresso powder (if using) in medium heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temperature; then whisk in sour cream. Whisk flour, salt, and baking soda in second bowl to combine.
3. In standing mixer (I used a wooden spoon) fitted with flat beater, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to medium and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after first 2 additions. Reduce to medium-low speed (batter may appear separated); add about one third of flour mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and mix until just incorporated, about 20 seconds. Scrape bowl and repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining chocolate mixture; add remaining flour mixture and beat until just incorporated, about 10 seconds. Scrape bowl and mix on medium-low until batter is thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Pour batter into prepared Bundt pan, being careful not to pour batter on sides of pan. Bake until wooden skewer inserted into center comes out with few crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert cake onto parchment-lined wire rack; cool to room temperature, about 3 hours. Dust with confectioners' sugar, transfer to serving platter, and cut into wedges; serve with Tangy Whipped Cream and raspberries, if desired.