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Big Chocolate Cake

For Michael's 40th birthday, Ruth Reichl made this cake, but increased the recipe 10 times.

For cake layers:

11/2 cups boiling water
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process)
3/4 cup whole milk
11/2 teaspoons vanilla
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 sticks (11/2 cups) unsalted butter, softened
11/2 cups firmly packed dark brown sugar
11/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs

For frosting:

5 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
11/2 sticks (3/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup whipped cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
11/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt

Make cake layers: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pans and line bottoms of each with wax paper. Butter paper and dust pans with flour, knocking out excess.

Whisk together the boiling water and the cocoa in a bowl until smooth, then whisk in the milk and vanilla. Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Beat together the butter and sugars in the large bowl of a standing electric mixer until pale and fluffy, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. On low speed, beat in flour and cocoa mixtures alternately in batches, beginning and ending with the flour mixture (the batter may look curdled).

Divide batter between pans, smoothing tops. Bake in the middle of the oven until a tester comes out clean and layers begin to pull away from the sides of pans, 25 to 35 minutes.

Invert cakes on racks, remove wax paper, and cool completely.

Make frosting: Melt the chocolate in a double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring until melted. Cool to room temperature.

Beat together the butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add remaining ingredients and beat until well combined.

Assemble cake: Put one cake layer, rounded side up, on a cake plate and spread with 11/4 cups frosting. Top with another cake layer, rounded side up, and spread top and sides with remaining frosting. Serves 20 to 25.

"Comfort Me With Apples" by Ruth Reichl

Thursday, May 10, 2001

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