I generally don’t like dark chocolate. I know that it is blasphemy for a food writer to admit that horrible thing but let me tell you – I don’t like fish either. I don’t like offal, I don’ t like rare meat, I don’t like anything that I consider icky. So take away my Foodie Card and special secret handshake instructions.
Cake is a different matter entirely. I like the deepest, chocolaty-ist, darkest chocolate cake that you can imagine and I am constantly changing and tweaking recipes to arrive at that place of chocolate perfection.
This chocolate cupcake comes close. Very close.
A love – a passion for chocolate runs in the family. I think out of all of my children I only have one that can take it or leave it. This genetic anomaly mystifies me as much as any math problem but I have learned to accept it and move on. My grandchildren all have the chocolate gene, as you can see in this picture of my granddaughter (now three!) from her first birthday. I don’t know how my daughter held the camera steady to get this shot – I would have been laughing too hard. But yes, this is a good representation of how we feel about chocolate around here -
Bells was definitely into that cake – literally. Do feel free to tell me how adorable she is – we all think so, too. She has only gotten cuter in the past couple of years.
The thing most people don’t realize about chocolate is that you need to mix types to get that depth of flavor that really makes your mouth happy. Dark chocolate, milk chocolate, semi-sweet, bittersweet, and unsweetened dark cocoa will work together to create serious flavor. Try it next time you make your favorite chocolate cake. Rather than the chocolate called for use the same amount of a mixture of chocolates and cocoa (1 ounce of chocolate is equal to 3 tablespoons of cocoa plus one tablespoon of organic coconut oil or unsalted butter). I think you will notice a difference.
- I usually use Hershey’s Special Dark cocoa. It is darker than regular cocoa and works with my budget. For something really amazing I will order Scharfenberger or something similar but for most things the Hershey’s Dark works fine for me.
- For the melting chocolate I use a mixture of Ghiridelli chips – usually about 1/2 bittersweet, 1/4 milk chocolate, 1/8 semisweet, and 1/8 dark.
- I always use a recipe that calls for buttermilk because I think it makes a lighter, moister cake.
- Usually I substitute another liquid for part of the buttermilk. Coffee, port wine, merlot, Earl Grey tea, and balsamic vinegar (yes, balsamic vinegar) all help to enhance the flavor of the chocolate.
And that, my friends, are my secrets to the most awesome chocolate cake ever known to man…or woman…or child.
In this recipe I used balsamic vinegar for some of the buttermilk. It has a deep sweet/ tangy flavor that just made more of a difference than I would have imagined. You could taste something but it wasn’t apparent what it was. Honestly, I almost ate most of the batter before it was spooned into the cupcake cups. I a going to try it in brownies next – I’ll let you know how that goes.
The basic recipe for chocolate cake that I always use is the one out of Dorie Greenspan’s Baking, From My Home to Yours. I have only made it exactly according to the recipe once (and it is delicious) but it is an awesome recipe to use as a foundation for trying out your own ideas.
For these cupcakes I used cream cheese frosting but use what ever you like. I have about a million frosting and buttercream recipes on this site.
If you can’t find the Special Dark Cocoa at your local store Amazon has a pretty good price on a package of 6 8-oz cans
And if you don’t have Dorie’s book you are really missing out. I use this book ALL the time.