Deep Dark Chocolate Velvet Cake

This has been my go-to recipe for chocolate cake for many years. While it's a fairly standard formulation, it's the quality of individual ingredients that makes this cake exceptional. Using a fruity, premium cocoa powder is paramount. I always use pure vanilla extract — it lifts the chocolate notes. And don't forget the chocolate extract — it intensifies the chocolate flavor. And, if you have a farmers market nearby that sells duck eggs, buy them and use them for baking — it's been my not-so-well-kept 'baking secret' for years.

We like to serve this rich chocolate cake with a light afternoon tea blend such as Wellington Afternoon Blend or Leopard. French Earl Grey is also an excellent pairing with chocolate.   

This recipe will make 2 9-inch round cakes, 1 13 x 9-inch sheet cake, or 24 standard cupcakes.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Cacao-Barry Extra Brute or Valrhona Manjari cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 extra large eggs (use duck eggs, if possible)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon chocolate extract
1 cup hot coffee (or hot boiling water + 1 teaspoon espresso powder)
Butter cream frosting (below)
Fresh raspberries for garnish, if desired

METHOD:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour 2 9-inch round pans or a rectangular pan, 13 x 9 inches. If making cupcakes, line a standard muffin tin with paper liners.  

In mixing bowl of stand mixer, whisk dry ingredients until combined. Add eggs, milk, oil, vanilla and chocolate extracts; beat on medium speed 2 minutes. Stir in hot coffee (or boiling water); batter will be thin. Pour into prepared pans. For cupcakes, fill each cup until batter reaches about 3/4-inch under the top rim of the liner. Be careful not to overfill.

Bake 30-35 minutes for round pans, 35-40 minutes for rectangular pan, or about 22-25 minutes for cupcakes. Let cool 10 minutes in pan, then remove and allow to cool completely.

Frost or pipe cakes with butter cream icing.

Butter Cream Cheese Icing
1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
2 8 oz. bricks cream cheese, softened to room temperature
3-4 cups confectioners’ sugar (more or less)
1 tablespoon milk or cream (more or less)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla
1 teaspoon chocolate extract

In bowl of large mixer fitted with beater, beat the butter and cream cheese until soft and creamy. Reduce speed and add confectioners’ sugar, milk, vanilla, and chocolate extract. Adjust powdered sugar or milk as needed to obtain texture desired. (If piping the icing, I add a bit more powdered sugar.) Whip until smooth. Pipe or spread icing on cakes, as desired.