A good chocolate cake must be the following three things: moist, dark and crumbly. Achieving all of these with a single recipe is really not rocket science, so don’t fret. Old chocolate cakes in mum’s recipe books would take ages to come together. They’d tend to be very tedious with separated eggs, sieved dry ingredients, and gradually beaten sugar, but today I see no harm or shame in running a whisk through cocoa and flour to aerate it, or simply mixing wet ingredients into dry to yield a delicious cake in just a matter of minutes. The obvious choice for a birthday, this cake recipe is a new classic. I’ve doubled the recipe to yield 4 small layered cakes, each serves two. The buttercream filling uses both milk and dark chocolate, but you can just as easily make it all dark. While the cake is great with just the buttercream, you can up the chocolate in the recipe with an added glaze too. I’ve included a recipe for the same right at the end.
A Chocolate Cake For Two
Serves 8/ Makes 4 mini layered cakes
Chocolate Sheet Cake x Makes 2
Caster Sugar 3 cups
All-purpose flour 350g
Cocoa powder 1 1/4 cup
Baking powder 2 tsp
Baking soda 2 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Eggs 4, at room temperature
Milk 1 1/2 cup, at room temperature
Hot Strong Coffee 1 1/2 cup
Chocolate Buttercream for 4 small cakes
Milk chocolate 200g
Dark chocolate 200g
Icing sugar 1 1/4 cup
Salt 1/4 tsp
Vanilla essence 1 tsp
METHOD FOR THE SHEET CAKES
Preheat your oven to 175 degrees celsius and butter and line 2 brownie sheet pans. Mine were 31cm x 25cm x 3cm.
Melt the butter and set it aside to cool down.
In a large mixing bowl, mix together the caster sugar, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Don’t skip out on the salt just because you’re using salted butter.
To this, add the melted butter, the eggs, the milk and mix this till it has just incorporated. Add the hot coffee and stir until just smooth- mix for the bare minimum time.
Divide the batter between the two brownie pans and bake for 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
Let it cool in the pans for about 15 minutes before turning them out. Invert and let it cool completely.
METHOD FOR THE BUTTERCREAM
In a double boiler, melt the milk and dark chocolates together. Let this come to room temperature and in the meantime get on with the butter.
Cream the butter till pale and fluffy. Add to this the sugar, salt and vanilla essence and beat till incorporated, for a whole minute at least. Finally add the melted chocolate and beat yet again until very very fluffy, for at least 3 minutes.
METHOD FOR ASSEMBLING THE CAKES
Using the biggest round cookie cutter you have, cut six equal circles from the two sheet pan cakes. Place the first layer of the cake on a base set atop a turntable and spread the buttercream, then sandwich with the second, then the final third. Using an offset spatula, spread a layer of the buttercream around the cake. This will be your crumb layer. Place this in the refrigerator for 15 minutes until this layer has set well. Fish out the cake from the refrigerator and spread another layer of buttercream over the cake until you achieve an even surface. You can also dip the spatula in warm water between every pass as this smoothens the surface very well.
You can make cake pops using the leftover cake scraps and icing if you like, so this way nothing goes to waste.
FOR THE CHOCOLATE GLAZE: If you’re going to make an additional glaze for the cakes, start by popping the cakes back in the refrigerator. Then, in a double boiler, melt together 150g of dark chocolate with one stick of butter over a low heat and let it sit on the side till it has reached room temperature. Pour this glaze over the cake and quickly nudge it towards the edges to let it run down the sides of the cake, or alternately pipe it at the edges and let it run down. It will solidify because of the chill from the refrigerated cakes.