I am a butter man. I bake with butter. When I see a recipe that uses oil instead of butter, my first reaction is to keep flipping the pages of that cookbook. Why? Well, probably because I like to eat the batter and I love butter but the idea of eating oil …

I mentioned that perspective to Suzen when I was looking at a chocolate cake recipe last week. She gave me her standard advice: “Don’t be an idiot.”

I am very thankful I followed her advice. She’s thankful now, too. And so will you be. This cake is spectacular. The cake itself is devils-food-style. It is dense but moist — because of that oil — but not oily at all to the palette. The cocoa flavor bursts through. The recipe calls for water or coffee: I used coffee which gave a richer flavor to the cake.

The better part of the recipe is the ganache between the two cake layers. How hard can ganache be?  Well, actually different recipes — and certainly different ingredients — can give you very different results. This ganache recipe has only two ingredients, but very careful instructions. The result is the best ganache I ever made. For chocolate, I use Sharffen Berger and I recommend it: www.scharffenberger.com.

Ah, and now for the best part. No conventional butter frosting on this cake. “Just” a coating of Caramel Whipped Cream Frosting. You have never, never experienced this before. And this frosting is the benefit of the cake: take the leftover frosting — there will be plenty — and use it in your coffee, your hot chocolate, or just eat it. It’s sinful.

Taken together — the cake, the rich ganache, and the amazing caramel whipped cream — and you have chocolate cake unlike any you have ever tasted. I suspect it will become a favorite, to enjoy time after time.

The recipe comes from Baking Unplugged, a new baking book from Nicole Rees.  I am looking at each and every delight she suggests.


Ganache-Filled Chocolate Layer Cake with Caramel Whipped Cream Frosting


Chocolate Cake Layers

1 ½ cups all purpose flour
⅔ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 ½ cups sugar
½cup oil
2 large eggs at room temperature
1 ⅓ cups warm water [or brewed coffee]

Ganache Filling

¾ cup heavy-whipping cream
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate

Caramel Whipped Cream Frosting

1 cup light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup water
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
⅛ salt
2 cups heavy-whipping cream [divided]



For the chocolate cake layers, preheat the oven to 350°F. Butter and flour a 9”- round cake pans. Sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl beat the sugar, oil, and eggs until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.  Alternatively add the flour mixture and the water [or coffee] to the sugar mixture, starting and finishing with the flour. Divide the batter evenly between the pans.  Bake for 23-25 minutes until the top springs back when pressed and a skewer inserted in center comes out clean.  Cool in the pans on wire rack for 15 to 20 minutes.  Remove the cakes from the pans and cool completely.

For the ganache filling, in a small saucepan over high heat, bring the cream to a boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the chopped chocolate. Let stand for one minute; stir until smooth. Let cool to spreading consistency, about 30 minutes at room temperature.

To assemble the cake, trim one of the cake layers to level the top if necessary and place on a serving plate. Spread with the ganache filling and top with remaining cake layer, domed side up. Refrigerate until set.

Meanwhile, for the caramel whipped cream frosting, in a medium heavy skillet or saucepan over medium-high heat, stir together the brown sugar water, 2 tablespoons butter and the salt until dissolved. Bring to a boil. Cover and boil for 2 minutes, letting the steam wash down the sides of the pan. Uncover and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes without stirring until the temperature reaches 260°F. The mixture will darken at the edges and become fragrant as it caramelizes. Tilt the pan to swirl the caramel and ensure even caramelization. Remove the pan from heat stir in the remaining butter and ½ cup of the heavy cream. Pour into a large bowl and let cool until just barely warm — almost room temperature. If it’s thickens so it won’t pour, add a bit of warm water to loosen. Beat the remaining heavy cream to soft peaks. Fold a quarter of the whipped cream into the caramel to lighten it. Gently fold in the remaining whipped cream

To frost, spread the top and sides of the assembled chilled cake with caramel whipped cream. Chill until set. If desired, garnish with chocolate curls. Let stand for 15 minutes before serving

Source: Baking Unplugged by Nicole Rees