Taking a break from cookie box recipes this week to share with you a very delicious cake that we had on New Year’s Eve. New Year’s has always been a quiet holiday for me, so for the first time this holiday season, it didn’t feel all that different. In college, I was always home at my parents’ for New Year’s. They would go out with another couple for dinner, and my brother would go out with his friends, and I’d have the house entirely to myself. This almost always meant opening some red wine and getting the most comfort-food-style baked Mac and cheese and darkest chocolate restaurant-style chocolate cake I could find at the local grocery store, all of which I’d consume on the couch in front of Independence Day, one of the best NYE movies you can watch.
This year, we just made it all a bit more grown-up/homemade. I made Ina Garten’s overnight Mac and cheese, a very creamy, covered-in-breadcrumbs baked pasta made with two different types of cheese. Erik made some roasted Brussels sprouts, because having something green seemed important. And I made this 6-inch 3-layer devil’s food cake with milk chocolate frosting. We drank champagne instead of wine, because ending 2020 was worth a celebration, and watched an Avengers movie, which, if not Independence Day, still had aliens.
Overall, it was a great night. And this cake was a big part of that.
Start by getting the frosting going. I actually wish I had done this the night before, because it really should chill in the fridge for at least 6 hours after the first step, and I was cutting it pretty close on when I wanted to use it. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the heavy cream over medium heat until bubbling around the edges and steaming.
Meanwhile, finely chop up the milk chocolate and put it in the bowl of a stand mixer. Pour the hot cream mixture over the top and stir with a whisk until smooth.
Stir in the salt, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate at least 6 hours, preferably overnight. Don’t take out of the fridge until you’re ready to frost the cake.
Then, make the cake. If you want to make this in 8-inch round cake pans rather than 6-inch (I recognize 6-inch cake pans aren’t a standard/practical size, I just think they’re adorable), just double the recipe below.
First, in a 5-quart saucepan, combine the butter and coffee over low heat, cooking until butter melts, and swirling pan occasionally.
Remove from heat and whisk in the coco powder and chopped dark chocolate until smooth.
Add the brown sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk to combine.
Whisk in the eggs and yolks. Sift in the flour and baking soda and whisk thoroughly until smooth.
Pour the batter evenly between 3 6-inch cake pans sprayed with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper. I used a scale for this, which was actually way less stressful than trying to eyeball even layers, and put about 11 ounces in each.
Bake at 350°F for about 25-35 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Allow to cool completely in cake pans on a wire rack.
Once cooled, finish up the frosting. Take the mixture out of the fridge and beat with the whisk attachment of the stand mixer on medium-high speed until thick and spreadable – likely less than 2 minutes.
Then, build your cake! I used a cake leveler to get the layers all flat, and an offset spatula to just go for a smooth frosting job. It did the trick.
We had it at room temperature on New Year’s Eve, but it was getting a bit melty. It now is in our fridge and we have afternoon cake everyday, which really should be a thing all year.
This cake is a great balance of rich dark chocolate lighted up by the soft frosting. Not quite the everything-is-fudgy consistency of restaurant cake, but the right follow-up to rich Mac and cheese.
Devil’s Food Cake
Milk Chocolate Frosting
- 3 cups (24 ounces) heavy cream
- 3 3/4 cups (20 ounces) milk chocolate, finely chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Devil’s Food Cake
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup (6 ounces) black coffee
- 1/2 cup (1.5 ounces) Dutch-process cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (3 ounces) dark chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 cup (8 ounces) light brown sugar, packed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons (.75 ounces) egg yolks
- 1 cup (4.5 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
- Start with the frosting. In a 3-quart saucepan, heat heavy cream over medium heat until bubbling around the edges. Meanwhile, put chopped milk chocolate in the bowl of a stand mixer.
- When cream is bubbling at edges, pour over milk chocolate and whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in salt.
- Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours.
- Next make the cake. In a 5-quart saucepan, heat the butter and coffee over low heat, swirling occasionally, until the butter melts.
- Remove from heat and add the cocoa powder and dark chocolate. Whisk until smooth.
- Whisk in the brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt.
- Add the eggs and yolks and whisk to combine.
- Add the flour and baking soda and whisk thoroughly until smooth.
- Divide batter evenly between 3 6-inch round cake pans sprayed with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper, about 11 ounces in each.
- Bake at 350°F for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out mostly clean. Remove from oven and place cake layers, in pans, on a wire rack to cool completely.
- When ready to ice, remove the frosting mixture from the fridge. Beat on medium high speed of the stand mixer fitted with a whisk attachment until thick and creamy.
- Level each cake layer. Spread frosting over each layer and top and sides.