Best Chocolate Cake Ever
Bubba Durand

This is the chocolate cake I've been searching for. The chocolate cake of my dreams. Four layers of moist, dark, almost black cake, interspersed with rich chocolate ganache, frosted with silky chocolate buttercream.

For the cake:
Crisco, for greasing the pans
Parchment paper
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for pans
2 cups sugar
3/4 cups Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk, shaken
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup hot water + 1 T instant espresso coffee powder

For the Chocolate Ganache Filling:
8 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter, room temperature

For the Chocolate Buttercream:
6 ounces Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet Chocolate
1/2 pound (2 sticks) salted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sifted confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon instant espresso coffee powder

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease 2 (8-inch) round cake pans. Line with parchment paper, then grease (again) and flour the pans.

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until combined. In another bowl, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs, and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry. With mixer still on low, add the espresso and stir just to combine, scraping the bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool in the pans for 30 minutes, then turn them out onto a cooling rack and cool completely.

Split each cake in half horizontally, forming 4 layers.

Place 1 layer, flat side up, on a flat plate or cake pedestal. With a knife or offset spatula, spread the top with ganache. Repeat with remaining layers, leaving the top plain (don't put any ganache on the top layer). Spread the Chocolate Buttercream evenly on the top and sides of the cake.

Chocolate Ganache Filling:
Chop the chocolate and place it, along with the cream, in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. The bowl should not be touching the water; just suspended above it. Stir with a rubber spatula until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth. Remove from the heat, add the butter, and stir until combined. Let the ganache cool at room temperature until thick but still soft enough to spread.

Chocolate Buttercream:
Chop the chocolate and place it in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Stir until just melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and continue beating for 3 minutes. Turn the mixer to low, gradually add the confectioners' sugar, then beat at medium speed, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until smooth and creamy. Dissolve the coffee powder in 2 teaspoons of the hottest tap water. On low speed, add the chocolate and coffee to the butter mixture and mix until blended. Don't whip!

Based on Beatty's Chocolate Cake by Ina Garten

The Johnson Family Cookbook