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Double Chocolate Cake

Ultimate Birthday Cake? I think so! This cake is for anybody who thinks too much chocolate is never enough. If you want to go totally choco-loco, serve with chocolate ice cream and (gasp!) hot fudge syrup. Just don't blame me if you can't fall asleep because you have a chocolate buzz. Consider yourself warned!

4 1-ounce squares unsweetened chocolate (you can find this in the "baking products" aisle of your store with the sugar and flour)
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 8-inch, round cake pans or a 13 x 9 baking pan.

Place the chocolate squares in a small, microwaveable bowl. Microwave in 30-second increments and stir the chocolate mixture to make sure it is being heated evenly (microwave, stir, microwave, stir). By melting the chocolate in small time chunks you prevent it from burning. Burnt chocolate is nasty and not useable. Let chocolate cool.

Sift (or stir) together flour, baking soda and salt. In a large bowl, cream butter for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Add granulated and brown sugars and mix for 1 minute. Beat in eggs one at a time. Add vanilla and beat until well combined. Add sour cream and mix for 30 seconds. Add melted chocolate and mix until incorporated, about 20 seconds.

Alternately, add dry ingredients and buttermilk (add 1/3 buttermilk, mix for 20 seconds, add 1/3 flour, mix for 20 seconds) until it's all used up. You don't have to measure it, just "eyeball it." Basically, you just want to make sure everything is well mixed and that the dry ingredients don't go flying out of the bowl. Keeping the mixer at a low speed will also help.

Pour batter into prepared pans and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Set a timer (or watch your watch) for the lowest amount of time (25 minutes) and then check. You can always keep it in longer, but you can't save it if it's burnt!

Cool. Remove from pans and frost with Fudge Frosting.

Tester's note: Our cake turned out dense and a bit dry. We'd suggest sifting the flour and being very careful not to bake too long.

Fudge frosting:
3 ounces (3 1-ounce squares) unsweetened chocolate
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk (you can find this in the "baking" aisle, also)
1 stick unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Place chocolate, milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat over low heat. Stir constantly until smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes.

Once thick, turn off heat and add vanilla. Let cool for 5 minutes, then you can use it to frost the cake. If you used two baking pans, place one cake layer on a plate. Ice the top of the cake. Place second cake layer on top, and ice the top and sides of the cake. If you only used one pan, frost the top and sides of the cake.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Baking Time: 22 to 30 min.

Serves: 8 to 10

Faith Heinauer's "Cooking FUNdamentals"

Thursday, October 19, 2000

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