CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- "Looks like chocolate cake, tastes like The Greenbrier." These words tumbled out of my friend's mouth when she tasted the first forkful of standard-looking chocolate cake that I made for her daughter's birthday. Her eyes told her one thing, her taste buds another.
Chocolate cake is rather ordinary. The Greenbrier is reputably extraordinary. Making the extraordinary chocolate cake is so easy there's no need to use a boxed cake mix, and you don't have to travel far for a taste of decadence.
Melt some butter, add brown sugar, whisk in a couple of eggs, some flour and cocoa. The magical transformation occurs with the addition of a secret ingredient: coffee.
Coffee enhances the subtle richness of the cocoa and makes the cake incredibly moist.
This is not difficult. On the contrary, it's so simple, it's a go-to for last-minute parties, bake sales or even after-dinner cravings. The countless variations of this super-easy ultra-delicious recipe will keep you happily occupied at the oven for all upcoming occasions.
Keep some basic baking staples on hand and you're moments from chocolate luxury. Don't just take my word for it. Dust off those cake pans and brace yourself for the onslaught of praise.
Fantastic Fudge Cake and Fast Fudge Frosting
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened natural cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted and warm
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup hot coffee
POSITION a rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven to 350°. Lightly spray the inside of a 9-inch round cake pan with Baker's Joy and spread evenly with a paper towel.
COMBINE in a medium bowl the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Whisk to blend. Sift only if the cocoa remains lumpy. Set aside.
COMBINE in a large bowl the melted butter and brown sugar. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until well blended. Add all of the flour mixture at once. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir just until all the flour mixture is moistened. Pour the hot coffee over the batter all at once. Stir just until the water is incorporated and the batter is smooth.
SCRAPE the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool for about 10 minutes. To un-mold, slide a slim knife around the edges of the cake to release it from the pan. Invert the cake. Turn the cake right side up onto a wire rack and let cool completely.
Fast Fudge Frosting
5 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
Pinch of salt
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the frosting:
MELT the butter in a medium saucepan. Stir in the granulated sugar, cocoa and salt. Gradually stir in the cream.
HEAT, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth and hot but not boiling. Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla. Let cool until thickened to spreading consistency, or use warm for a glaze or a sauce.
FROST the top and sides of the cake. Store any leftover frosting in the refrigerator for up to one week. Re-warm gently over a pan of barely simmering water or in a microwave before using.
1 recipe Fantastic Fudge cake batter
Fresh strawberries, rinsed, dried and hulled (cut large berries in half)
Quick chocolate mousse (recipe follows)
HEAT oven to 350°. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.
PREPARE the cake batter, as for fantastic fudge cake, and divide the batter into the cups.