Who doesn’t love chocolatey, chocolate, double, semi-sweet chocolate cake? If you answered it is you, well, then you are certainly missing out by skipping this recipe from Williams-Sonoma, my favorite kitchen have-to-have purveyor. Baking goes way back in the gene pool of my family. The cookie and dessert section of my recipe book is thick and dense with decadence passed from one generation to the next. I am known for my bread, sweet and warm from the oven, perfectly round Snickerdoodles, Cherry Pie as scarlet as it is tart (Thanks to Mom’s recipe.), and John’s favorite, Pumpkin Pie.
Baking this cake is a journey, indeed. The baking kitchen was warm on this October afternoon. I love how the sun shines through the aprons hanging in the windows. I tied on a worn, favorite apron. This apron is good for baking. I use it to carry eggs, wipe my hands on, and hold my phone. I listen to an audiobook while in my kitchen on weekend afternoons. My current selection is The Help. I love the slow drawls of the women and the familiar sounds of hmmmm=mmmmm. These strong headed women with raspy voices remind me of Aunt Bee, her friend Miss Dot and her other friend Miss Sug, as in Sugar, Harris. I learned to dive in Miss Sug’s pool in Eunice, Louisiana on a hot, steamy August afternoon. I must have been 6, maybe, 7 years old. The women were strong and smart.
These women are in my bones as I knead dough and in my head as I remember how their small town was split by Main Street. The whites lived North of Main and the blacks South. This was a a quiet discrimination – Jim Crow laws had long been discarded. What remained, however, was far more dangerous and subversive. The laws may have vanished but the ways did not. I would not be surprised, these forty years later, to still find the Jim Crow laws in practice in the relationships of this small town. It is hard to remember, but I believe that I learned about the badness of it all from my mother, my father, and the three women who sat by the pool, talking of church, craw-dads for supper, while sipping Coke-Cola’s out of glass bottles with a straw. These women loved us all fearlessly and taught us about the good in Southern life. There was always cake after Sunday supper. Pull up a chair and have a slice.
For the cake:
• 1 cup cocoa powder, sifted, plus more for dusting pan
• 7 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 1 cup boiling water
• 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
• 1 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
• 20 Tbsp. (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter
• 2 1/2 cups firmly packed light brown sugar
• 5 eggs, lightly beaten
• 4 tsp. vanilla extract
• 1 1/2 cups sour cream
• 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
For the ganache:
6 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 cup heavy cream
Have all the ingredients at room temperature.
Preheat an oven to 325 degrees F. Grease a Bundt Cake Pan and dust with cocoa powder; tap out the excess.
To make the cake, in a bowl, combine the 1 cup cocoa powder and the chocolate. Add the boiling water and whisk until the chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and blended. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, 30 to 45 seconds. Reduce the speed to low, add the brown sugar and beat until blended. Increase the speed to medium and continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy, about 5 minutes, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs a little at a time, beating until incorporated before adding more and stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Beat in the vanilla until incorporated, about 1 minute.
Reduce the speed to low and add the flour mixture in three additions, alternating with the sour cream and beginning and ending with the flour, beating just until blended and no lumps of flour remain.
Slowly pour in the chocolate-cocoa mixture and beat until no white streaks are visible, stopping the mixer occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the prepared pan, spreading the batter so the sides are about 1 inch higher than the center.
Bake until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out with only a few moist crumbs attached to it, 60 to 65 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let the cake cool upright in the pan for 15 minutes. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan. Let the cake cool completely, at least 1 hour.
Return the cooled cake to the pan. Using a serrated knife, gently saw off any excess cake that extends over the edge of the pan. Set the wire rack on a parchment paper lines baking sheet. Invert the pan onto the rack and lift off the pan.
Meanwhile make the ganache: In a heatproof bowl, combine the chocolate and butter. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the cream just to a boil. Immediately pour the cream over the chocolate and butter. Whisk until the melt and the mixture is smooth.
Pour the ganache over the top of the cake, allowing the ganache, to drip down the sides. Let the cake stand until the ganache is set, at least 15 minutes.