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How to Make the Best Chocolate Cake: Dark Chocolate Caramel Macchiato Cake

For years, I struggled to find a chocolate cake recipe that was dark enough for me.  I love dark chocolate and for some reason, no cake recipe ever came out dark.  They were all weak and more milk chocolatey than dark chocolatey, so I did a lot of research and came up with my go-to chocolate cake recipe.

What makes this chocolate cake different?

Simply put, this chocolate cake begins with dark chocolate cocoa.  Unlike its weaker Dutch processed cousin, this cocoa is visibly darker, which will translate to a darker chocolate flavor.

Second, this chocolate cake incorporates a tough of coffee to add a layer of smokiness to the cake.  With just a teaspoon of espresso powder or instant coffee, this chocolate cake has a backbone that, in my opinion, deepens the chocolate flavor.

Lastly, this chocolate cake use vegetable oil.  Cocoa powder is a drying agent and needs extra moisture to keep from resulting in a dry cake.  Vegetable oil, as opposed to butter, seems to make a moister cake without being oily.

Combination of Flavors

To me, one of the best ways to enhance and highlight a dark chocolate cake is to pair it with caramel (dulce de leche), raspberries, strawberries, more coffee, coconut, and even stout (yes, beer).  For this particular cake, I pair it with coffee and caramel to create a cake that is both bitter and sweet.

Chocolate Cakes: Dark Chocolate Caramel Macchiato Cake

Ingredients

  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1-1/8 cups dark cocoa powder ( I highly suggest using only dark cocoa. Regular cocoa powder doesn't have enough body/flavor to give you the right flavor.)
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder or packet of instant coffee
  • 3 eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups milk
  • ¾ cup vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups strong hot coffee
  • 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ c. caramel ice cream topping
  • Filling
  • 2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips
  • ¾ c. heavy cream
  • Frosting
  • 1 1/2 c. (3 sticks) butter-softened
  • 1/2 c. shortening
  • ¼ c. cocoa powder
  • 1 c. chocolate chips
  • ¼ c. heavy cream
  • 2 lb. bag powdered sugar-sifted
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • ¼ c. caramel ice cream topping
  • Chocolate Ganache
  • 2 c. dark chocolate chips
  • ¾ c. heavy cream

Instructions

  1. Cake
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift together sugar, flour, cocoa, salt, baking soda, baking powder, and espresso powder. In a small bowl, combine eggs, milk, oil, and vanilla. Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and blend on high for 2 minutes. Whisk or stir in coffee. Pour batter into 3 greased & floured 8″ cake pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool in pans for 10 minutes before removing cakes. With a serrated knife, trim rounded top from each cake. Pour ice cream topping over each layer, allow it to soak in, and cool completely.
  3. Filling
  4. In the microwave, heat cream for 1 minute or until it boils. Add chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth.- Allow to cool until thick enough to spread gently. Spread over bottom inside layer of cake.
  5. Frosting
  6. In the microwave, heat cream for 1 minute or until it boils. Add chocolate chips and let rest for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth.
  7. In a mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening until smooth. Add melted chocolate and mix until completely incorporated. Add cocoa powder and mix well. Slowly mix in half of the powdered sugar. Mix in half of the heavy cream. Add the remaining powdered sugar and mix. Add remaining heavy cream as needed until everything is incorporated. Turn mixer to high and allow to whip for 3-4 minutes.
  8. Chocolate Ganache
  9. Heat heavy cream in the microwave for 2 minutes or until boiling. Add chocolate chips and allow to rest for 2 minutes. Stir until smooth. Allow to cool slightly before using. Pour into a squirt bottle.
  10. Assembly
  11. Place second layer, cut side down, on top of chocolate layer. Top with second layer, cut side down. Crumb coat the cake with frosting and chill for 15 minutes. Finish frosting cake and use a bench scraper to smooth sides and top. Reserve remaining frosting for decorating.
  12. Using squirt bottle drizzle chocolate ganache and allow to drip down sides. Chill for 30-45 minutes to set.
  13. Pipe reserved buttercream around bottom, over any ganache that may have dripped. Pipe rosettes around top rim of cake.
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