A luscious chocolate cake for Valentine's Day
A reminder to all the romantics and chocoholics: it’s February, a favorite month for many of us because it contains Valentine’s Day, but also because it’s Chocolate Month! We’ve had 31 days in January to take off the extra pounds resulting from all the chocolate we enjoyed in December, so it’s time to pack it back on again. There’s no better way than with this Chocolate Truffle Cake.
This cake has been a favorite of ours for a long time. In the late 1980s, when we owned a country inn in New Hampshire, it was our most requested dessert. Mike and our chef, Brian Julian, made it over and over again. It has those wonderful, rich flavors of dark chocolate with the addition of a little twist of orange and a sip of coffee. There’s plenty of filling, so you can generously pile it up between the layers of cake. The frosting is just another way to make the whole thing more decadent.
A few years ago we featured this dessert in another February column. Since then we’ve served it on several occasions and changed it a little each time. People have asked for the recipe. This version is not as complicated as the first one, and the cake layers are no-fail. The filling is very thick and manageable, and the chocolate frosting is just enough for a thin layer all over, but not so much that it’s overpowering. It’s so good it’s worth revisiting.
One time-saver is to make the cake layers ahead of time, freeze them, then thaw them out when you’re ready to assemble. An electric mixer and a food processor make the job easy, but aren’t a necessity. If you must, you can save even more time by using a purchased chocolate cake mix for the layers, dressed up with this truffle filling and frosting. (We won’t tell.) When you’re shopping for ingredients, notice you’ll need to total all of the items for each part of the cake, filling and frosting: i.e. 13 ounces of bittersweet chocolate in all.
So have fun with this. If you’re thinking of giving your beloved a box of chocolates, why not this special cake instead? It’s like one big, luscious bon bon, and sure to make a memorable Valentine’s Day.
Pasquaney Inn’s Chocolate Truffle Cake – Revisited and Revised
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups milk
2/3 cup cooking oil
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons orange zest
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut waxed paper to fit bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans. Lightly grease pans, then place paper rounds in pans.
In the bowl of an electric mixer combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Beat a very low speed 30 seconds. Add milk, oil, vanilla and orange zest, and beat on medium speed 2 minutes; scrape sides when necessary. Add eggs and beat two minutes more. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes in preheated oven, or until a wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake layers on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cakes from pans, and cool thoroughly on wire rack. Follow directions below for assembly.
6 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 ½ teaspoons instant coffee granules
1 ½ teaspoons hot water
1 1/3 cups heavy whipping cream (divided)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Using a Cuisinart fitted with the metal chopping blade, process the chocolate for 20 seconds until finely chopped. In a small bowl, dissolve the coffee granules in the water. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, over medium heat, combine a third of a cup of the heavy whipping cream with the butter; heat just to a gentle boil. With the processor running, gradually pour the hot cream/butter mixture through the feed tube onto the chocolate. Process for 20 seconds, until smooth. Let cool 10 minutes at room temperature.
In the bowl of the electric mixer, whip the remaining one cup of heavy whipping cream at medium-high speed just until it starts to form peaks. Be careful not to over beat. Gently fold in the dissolved coffee powder. Gently fold in the chocolate mixture. Follow directions below for assembly.
7 ounces high-quality bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Follow same procedure used to make the filling (with the chocolate, cream and butter). Cool 10 minutes at room temperature (frosting will thicken a little as it cools). Follow directions below for assembly.
To assemble the cake
Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread the truffle filling evenly over the surface squaring off the edge all the way around. Place the second layer with the flat side (bottom) down on the truffle filling. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate about two hours, until the filling is set. Smooth the frosting evenly over the top and sides of the cake in a thin layer. Decorate, if desired. Keep chilled until ready to serve.