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Jan. 27 is National Chocolate Cake Day

Celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day with a simple chocolate sheet cake.

By Carol RamosThe Pastry Chef's Baking / January 27, 2012

Simple chocolate sheet cake is a no-fuss crowd-pleaser for National Chocolate Cake Day.

The Pastry Chef's Baking

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January 27 is National Chocolate Cake Day so of course, I have to post a chocolate cake recipe. Last year, I had posted the Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pecan Cake which is one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes.  This year, I tried out this "Simple Chocolate Sheet Cake." True to its word, it actually is pretty simple, especially if you need a quick and easy recipe for a crowd-pleaser, upcoming Super Bowl party, family picnic, classroom treat, etc.  Because it's made as a sheet cake, this is easy to make, there's no muss or fuss to cut up and serve and it tastes pretty good.
 
I did modify the directions a bit, mostly in how to make the frosting. The original recipe calls for making it like a typical ganache where you chop the chocolate fine, heat the cream, pour the cream over the chopped chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is all melted and smooth. Unfortunately, I find this method imprecise. My chocolate doesn't always melt and I'm left with little bits while the cream has already cooled. Instead, I advocate melting the chocolate first, heating the cream, then whisking the two together. The chocolate will seem to seize at first but keep whisking and it'll smooth out. Or, if you want to play it safe and go with the more traditional method of making ganache, if your chocolate doesn't completely melt with the addition of the hot cream, you can always strain it smooth. But I prefer the other method and save myself the straining.
 
I liked the flavor and texture of this cake – it was as a good chocolate cake should be. However, be sure to use a dark, high quality, unsweetened cocoa – the grocery store/generic brand won't cut it for flavor. I use Pernigotti but you can also use Scharffenberger, Valrhona, etc. You can taste the chocolate flavor from the cocoa in this cake so don't cheat yourself by using anything less than the good stuff. As for the frosting, it came out with a really silky-smooth texture. I myself am not a frosting lover so to me it was "OK," but I wasn't in love with it. It's soft and spreadable when you first make it but it does cool into a firm consistency. Not firm like a pure fudge layer but it won't be spreadable anymore after it's cooled. Because it's a milk chocolate frosting, it makes a nice contrast to the dark chocolate cake. And of course, use high quality milk chocolate in the frosting; you won't be sorry.

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The Pastry Chef’s Baking

Carol Ramos trained to be a pastry chef at the Culinary Institute of America and has her certification in baking and pastry arts, but she has never baked professionally. Baking is just something she loves to do. Her blog chronicles her baking odyssey as she tests out different recipes. Her goals are to share her love of baking and convert people into becoming bakers, one dessert at a time.

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Simple Chocolate Sheet Cake
Adapted from Cook’s Country Chocolate Desserts

1-1/4 cups (6-1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour 3/4 cup (2-1/4 ounces) Dutch-processed cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
12 ounces unsalted butter
4 large eggs
1-/12 cups (10-1/2 ounces) sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 teaspoon baking soda

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees F. 

Line a 13- x 9-inch baking pan with aluminum foil and spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray. 

Sift together flour, cocoa and salt in medium bowl; set aside. Place chocolate and butter in the top half of a double boiler over barely simmering water and stir until melted together. Do not let boil.

Whisk together eggs, sugar and vanilla in medium bowl.

Whisk chocolate into egg mixture until combined. Combine buttermilk and baking soda; whisk into chocolate mixture, then whisk in dry ingredients until batter is smooth and glossy. Pour batter into prepared pan; bake until firm in center when lightly pressed and toothpick inserted in center comes out barely clean, about 35-40 minutes.

Let cool on wire rack until room temperature, at least 1 hour; serve, or ice with frosting if desired.

Creamy Milk Chocolate Frosting

 1/2 cup heavy cream
 1 tablespoon light or dark corn syrup
 Pinch salt
 10 ounces milk chocolate, chopped
 1/2 cup (2 ounces) confectioners’ sugar
 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces and chilled

Combine cream, corn syrup, and salt in liquid measuring cup and microwave until simmering, about 1 minute, or bring to simmer in small saucepan over medium heat. 

Melt chocolate in top half of double boiler. Add hot cream mixture, whisking constantly. Melted chocolate might seize at first but keep whisking and it'll smooth out. 

Pour into food processor, add confectioners’ sugar and process to combine, about 30 seconds. With processor running, add butter 1 piece at a time; process until incorporated and smooth, about 20 seconds longer.  Transfer frosting to medium bowl and let cool at room temperature, stirring frequently, until thick and spreadable, about 1 hour.

Related post: Mexican Chocolate Fudge Pecan Cake

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