Monday, June 2, 2014

Another Giveaway! In Honor of Brides & Grooms & Dads

What’s cooking? Chocolate Fudge Cake with Mocha Espresso Buttercream Frosting

It’s true. My friends at Hamilton Beach thought it would be nice to have another giveaway – such generous folks! – in honor of the month of weddings and Father’s Day. They sent me their 6-Speed Stand Mixer and their SoftScrape™ 6-Speed Hand Mixer to play with, and now you have a chance to win one or both (new machines, sent from Hamilton Beach) for your own kitchen playtime.

All you have to do is leave a comment either at the bottom of this post or on the Spoon & Ink Facebook page. Be sure to sign it! We’ll be drawing two names – one for each of the appliances – so if you want only one in particular, make sure to note that in your comment. Otherwise, I’ll just include everyone in the drawings for both.

Either of these machines would make a great wedding gift, anniversary gift, or Father’s Day gift. Or maybe you’d just like one for yourself. Sort of a Happy June gift. I’ll be drawing the names of the winners on Monday, June 9, so you have exactly a week to enter.

The Kitchen Goddess is not normally a cake baker. But the opportunity to try out these machines had her daring to challenge herself. What could she make that would take advantage of both? How about a cake with buttercream frosting? she thought lustily. Chocolate with mocha frosting – her taste buds were humming even before she unpacked the boxes.

I turned to Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Cake Bible – really the most comprehensive guide to cake baking ever. And as luck would have it, my book group would be meeting the week I was testing the mixers, so I’d have mouths to feed whatever I made. It was important not to be trapped in the house with a big bowl of buttercream frosting. To say nothing of the chocolate cake.

The Machines

What fun. Before the cake, I practiced on the stand mixer with a batch of brownies (thick batter with nuts) and meringues (thin batter, high speed). It worked fine with both. The mixing action of the Hamilton Beach stand mixer is the same as a KitchenAid® – the single mixing head rotates around the bowl as it spins, so you get better bowl coverage than with a two-beater style. It’s a lot lighter in weight than the competition, so it’s easy to move from cabinet to counter; and it has these nifty little suction cups that keep it from dancing around your countertop while it’s running. The bowl (3.5-quart capacity) is slightly smaller than the KitchenAid Classic (4.5-quart), but perfectly adequate to hold the batter for a two-layer cake. It was a little noisy, but not enough to be a problem. And the price is about half that of The Other Brand.

I must admit that I haven’t used a hand mixer since my single days, so was pleasantly surprised by how easily I managed the Hamilton Beach model. Rose actually recommends using a hand-held mixer for the buttercream, in that it’s easier to keep the beaters away from the stream of sugar syrup – you don’t want it all stuck to the sides of the bowl. What I remember most about my hand-held mixer from the old days is the racket from clanking its way around the bowl. Hamilton Beach’s SoftScrape™ beaters (specially coated metal beaters) make that problem go away. But what I liked most about it was the storage case that fits onto the housing and holds all the beaters. Very neat and compact.

The Cake

OMG. You will moan. You will weep with ecstacy. And then you will curse me for giving you this recipe. You will not believe how light and moist and tender – yet still chocolatey –  this cake is. According to Berenbaum, the molasses in the brown sugar gives it “a distinctive and pleasantly bitter edge.” So it’s light and moist and not too sweet – a triple winner. I used Hershey Special Dark Cocoa, which is heavily Dutched (a process that neutralizes the acidity of the cocoa beans), so it produces a very dark color – think Oreo cookie dark – and extra mellow flavor. The husband of my book group’s host announced to no one in particular, “I don’t know if you’re giving prizes for the desserts, but this one wins.”

The frosting had about twice as much butter as buttercreams I’ve made in the past, but I took Rose Levy Berenbaum’s word for it, and was suitably impressed. For starters, it’s not cloyingly sweet, which many buttercreams are. Moreover, she suggests limiting the amount of frosting between layers, so as not to overwhelm the cake. Another excellent idea. The Kitchen Goddess recommends chilling the frosting a bit before spreading – it’s a little slippery otherwise.

Mostly because I can’t help myself, I dressed the final product with a few silver dragées. The cake seemed happy to have them. I should tell Rose.

Kitchen Goddess note #1: Ms. Berenbaum lists her ingredients by volume and by weight. She believes weighing is faster and more precise than measuring. In the classes I’ve taken at the Culinary Institute, they recommend weighing dry ingredients whenever you are baking. I’ve listed both quantities for the dry ingredients, in case you don’t have a scale. But you should get a scale – it makes baking (and many other recipes) more reliable.

Kitchen Goddess note #2: I discovered a product – recommended by Ms. Berenbaum – that takes all the tedium and mess out of greasing and flouring a cake pan. Soooo easy. It’s called Baker’s Joy, a shortening spray mixed with flour. For me, it was worth getting even if this is the only cake I make for a long time. And especially with a chocolate cake, which has a tendency to stick, you can also use Baker’s Joy on the parchment liner in the bottom.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Adapted from Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Cake Bible

Serves 12.

3 ounces (¾ cup + 3 tablespoons, lightly spooned) unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch processed)
1½ cups boiling water
3 large eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla
10.5 ounces (3 cups) sifted cake flour
15.25 ounces (2 cups, firmly packed) light brown sugar
2¼ teaspoons baking powder
¾ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
8 ounces (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened

Special equipment: two 9-inch round cake pans (1½-inch deep), greased, then the bottoms lined with baker’s parchment, then greased again and floured (or spray Baker’s Joy on the whole damn thing); greased wire racks for cooling the layers.

Preheat the oven to 350º.

1. In a small mixing bowl, combine the cocoa and the boiling water, whisking until smooth. Set aside and let cool to room temperature.

2. When the cocoa mixture is cooled, pour about ¼ of it into a medium bowl with the eggs and the vanilla, and whisk lightly until well mixed.

3. Into a large mixing bowl, put the remaining dry ingredients (flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt), and mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine well. Add the butter and remaining cocoa mixture (from step 1), and mix on low speed until the ingredients are evenly moist.

4. Increase the speed on the mixer to medium (high if using a hand-held mixer) for 1½ minutes; this will aerate the cake and help develop the structure. Using a rubber spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl, then add the egg mixture (from step 2) in 3 batches, beating for 20 seconds after each addition and again scraping down the sides.

5. Scrape the batter into the prepared cake pans and smooth the tops. Bake 35-40 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. If you are using two ovens, place the pans in the centers; with one oven, place the pans in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and switch them at about the 20-minute mark.

6. Cool the layers in the pans on racks for 10 minutes, then loosen the sides with a metal spatula or knife and invert onto greased racks. Caution: because the cakes are so moist and tender, you need to be careful when inverting the pans, or the layers will fall out and break apart. (Yes, one of mine did, and I had to “glue” it back together with frosting. So a word to the wise...)

Mocha Espresso Buttercream Frosting

Makes 4 cups, enough to frost two 9-inch round, 1½-inch high layers, or three 9-inch by 1-inch round layers.

6 ounces bittersweet or extra bittersweet chocolate
2 tablespoons Medaglia d’Oro instant espresso powder
1 teaspoon boiling water
6 large egg yolks
1 cup sugar
½ cup water
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons and softened to room temperature

Special equipment: candy thermometer

1. Chop the chocolate into small pieces and melt it over low heat. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

2. Stir together the espresso powder and the boiling water until it forms a smooth paste. Set aside and allow to cool to room temperature.

3. Grease a 1-cup heat-proof glass measure and set aside near the stovetop.

4. Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture comes to a boil. Attach the candy thermometer and check occasionally – don’t stir – until the mixture reaches 238º (soft-ball stage).

5. While you wait for the syrup, using a large bowl and an electric mixer, beat the yolks on high until they are light in color, 2-3 minutes.

6. As soon as the sugar/water mix reaches 238º, immediately pour the syrup into the greased glass measure to stop the cooking. If you are using a hand-held mixer, with the mixer running, pour the syrup in a thin, slow stream into the yolks, being careful not to let the beaters splatter the syrup around the sides. With a rubber spatula, scrape as much of the syrup as possible from the cup. Continue beating until the mixture is completely cooled, 5-6 minutes.

If you’re using a stand mixer, pour a small amount of the syrup into the egg mixture with the motor turned off, then immediately beat at high speed for 5 seconds. Stop the motor and add a larger amount of syrup, then quickly beat at high speed for another 5 seconds. Stop the motor again and add the remaining syrup, scraping with a rubber spatula to get any syrup off the sides of the glass measure, then beat until the mixture is completely cooled, 5-6 minutes.

7. When the egg/syrup mixture is completely cooled to room temperature, beat in the butter (medium-high speed) one tablespoon at a time, making sure to fully incorporate each piece before adding another. Add the melted chocolate and the espresso concentrate and continue to beat until the buttercream is smooth and evenly mixed. Chill 30 minutes before frosting the cake.


  1. Please put my name in the pot (so to speak) for the Stand Mixer. My friend will be pleased that I never have to ask to use hers again! Does it guarantee that my cakes will look as grand as this one does?

  2. O.K., I got way too excited....that last comment didn't have my name...good grief.

    Eileen in Atlanta

    1. So glad you remembered to add your name, Eileen! And I am a complete amateur when it comes to cakes, so who knows? Yours might be even grander looking!

  3. I'm making my own wedding cake, and this would be so helful!

  4. One of my favorite Chocolate Cake recipes. Please put my name in the hat for that hand held one. Sure could use that in my styling kit. I'm also not going to lie when I say winning a slice of that delicious looking cake would be awesome too!

  5. Comment on FB page as Lisa Brown - love the stand mixer :)

  6. What a great recipe. My mouth is watering and the chance to get a stand mixer is irresistible. I've never owned one!

  7. Thanks for the giveaway! I've never owned a stand mixer, but I think this would be great!

  8. Yes! I need a good chocolate buttercream recipe!

  9. Can't wait to try the chocolate buttercream recipe!

  10. I would LOVE to own a stand mixer! Thank you so much for offering such a wonderful giveaway.

    Cindy Aiton

  11. I would like the stand mixer too, but the hand mixer would also be nice! Thanks for the chance. Your cake looks wonderful!
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