Sunday, October 10, 2010

Cappuccino-Heath Chocolate Cake

Every so often, I crave chocolate. I'm not talking about something that can be fixed with a few Hershey's kisses, this craving requires a really obscene amount warm, gooey, dark chocolate. Granted, this is usually something women can identify with more than men, but I know more than a few guys who are happy to participate in chocolate-fix night.

My favorite Dairy Queen blizzard used to be their Cappuccino-Heath version. In addition to chocolate, I loved the added texture of chewy toffee and hint of bitter coffee to balance out the cavity-inducing sweetness of the chocolate ice cream. So when I had an epic Iowa vs Penn State tailgate and a friend's birthday in the same week, I decided to get creative and turn a blizzard into a cake (much easier to share!) This isn't quite as death (or orgasm)-by-chocolate as many candy-based cakes are, but that actually works better because there are those people out there who don't want to require insulin to offset the cake sugar rush.

I took this idea from a previous baking of this cake, which was termed the "earthquake cake" at a recent game night. While adding an entire bag of Reese's minis are a fantastically excessive idea for the earthquake cake, my decision to add toffee bits to the cake batter was somewhat better in theory than practice. The problem is that toffee melts during baking, becoming a flat sheet of gooey-ness at the bottom of each cake layer. It worked out alright, but I would consider leaving out of the batter if you aren't looking for that type of sticky, chewy, gooey (or if your crowd has braces/loose teeth/false teeth).

Cappuccino-Heath Chocolate Cake
Dark Chocolate Cake batter, adapted from The Kitchn's Dark Chocolate Cake
Makes two 9" round cakes

2 cups white sugar
1 3/4 cups wheat pastry flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk *or whipping cream, if that's all you have on hand :)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup boiling water
2 Tbs instant espresso powder
1 bag Heath toffee pieces, if desired

1. Heat oven to 350ºF, grease and flour your cake pans.
2. Mix the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
3. Add the eggs, milk, oil and vanilla to the dry mixture and beat on medium speed for 2 minutes.
4. Dissolve the espresso powder into the boiling water, then mix into the batter.
*The batter will look thinner than usual cake batter, but no worries!
5. If you want, add the bag of Heath toffee pieces and mix evenly, with a spoon, throughout the batter.
6. Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
7. Cool the pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes before gently tapping the cakes out.
*If you added the toffee pieces, run a knife around your cake edges several times during the cooling process, to avoid the toffee layer sticking to the pan.
8. Let the cake cool completely before frosting.

Dark Chocolate Frosting

6 Tbs butter, softened
2 2/3 cup sifted powdered sugar
1/2 cup Dutch-process cocoa
6 Tbs whipping cream (milk can be substituted, but the cream version is worth it)
1 tsp vanilla

1. Beat the butter with an electric blender, on medium, until fluffy.
2. Combine powdered sugar and cocoa in a separate bowl. Combine cream and vanilla its own bowl.
3. Alternating between the dry and wet ingredients, beat the sugar/cocoa and cream/vanilla in with the butter using a low speed.
4. Ice the top of the bottom cake. Carefully place the 2nd cake directly on top.
5. Frost the entire outside of the double layer. Sprinkle Heath pieces over the top and push onto the sides, if desired.

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